Start Your Book of Shadows

Start a Book of Shadows: Spells, Pages & Ideas to Complete your Witch Journey

There’s a good chance you’ve come across the term “book of shadows” in your research or practice of modern-day Witchcraft. In this article you’ll find ideas to start your book of shadows, including pictures shared by the Witches at the Infinite Roots Coven (our online coven!) and inspiration on what to put in a book of shadows: spells, recipes, a table of contents, journal pages, cover, and rituals in PDF.

Book of Shadows Spell with Bay Leaf
Bay leaf wish spell

What is a Book of Shadows?

A book of shadows is a collection of instructions and texts for magikcal spells and other practices within Witchcraft traditions such as Wicca. A book of shadows is not necessarily a personal journal but a compilation of magickal resources for a practitioner or a coven (group of seekers).

The contents of a book of shadows certainly depend on each individual as they can vary slightly or significantly based on the spiritual path and personal interests. Keep reading to take a deep dive into having a complete book of shadows!

What is a book of shadows?

Book of Shadows & Wicca

Let’s start with a bit of history. Gerald Gardner, who is regarded the “Father of Wicca”, popularized the term Book of Shadows to describe a Witch or Witches’ grimoire, i.e. a book of spells. In those days, only one book of shadows existed for a coven and it was always in the custody of the High Priestess of that coven. That rule has since been phased out and most witches have a personal book of shadows now.

The purpose of a book of shadows today is to act as a compendium of spells, rituals, invocations, and recipes that can help you organize your spiritual work. By the way, that’s the very same reason we started Spells8, an online collection of spells to share and inspire with Magick. Since then, it has grown into a living community of Witches around the world!

Book of Shadows Printable page
Book of Shadows

How to Start a Book of Shadows

The book of shadows is regarded as a sacred tool (like all other tools of the Witch), and you should treat it with the respect and care all your tools deserve. Here’s how to start your book of shadows:

1. Decide: Physical or Digital Book of Shadows?

While we all would like to have the Charmed Book of Shadows made in vintage paper, with very descriptive illustrations and perfect calligraphy, the best way to start is by following your own personal style and preferences. Maybe you think a digital book of shadows will be more practical and accessible to you, or maybe you love scrapbooking.

Let your intuition guide you towards the best medium so that you will do it with pleasure. A physical journal is the most traditional way to start your book of shadows. If you think you will be printing out lots of pages (such as our printable PDF pages), then a 3-ring binder is the best to easily add and remove pages at will.

2. Book of Shadows Blessing

Before you start adding contents to your Book of Shadows, you may consecrate it along with your magickal tools or while you perform an altar blessing. Here’s a simple spell to bless your BoS:

Guardians of the four directions,
Hear me and lend Thy protection.
May these truths of earth and skies,
Shedded be from prying eyes.
But to the Witches whose map this be,
May the way be plain to see.
And through all the coming ages,
May we find home within these pages.
So mote it be!

3. Book of Shadows Cover

The front page of your book of shadows is a very important one. You will want to add your name (or your Witch pseudonym) and when you started it. Hopefully this will be the first tome of many magickal books.

Using a binder for your BoS can help you become a lot more organized. You can browse through it and remove pages that you don’t need anymore, making space for new material.

Print these! A cover page where you can write your name, and individual pages for each section:

4. Book of Shadows Table Of Contents

As your book of shadows grows, you will need a table of contents to quickly find what you’re looking for. Some prefer to use alphabetical order, while others will opt to keep the most useful pages at the top, such as charts, calendars, correspondences tables and other reference pages, and everything else at the back.

If you need inspiration on what to put in your book of shadows, check out Wade’s index:

Book of Shadows index

5. Book of Shadows Pages

Here’s a good tip for making a book of shadows: Only add information that really interests you. If you don’t like astrology, there’s no reason why you should feel compelled to add pages on astrology. Your book of shadows is personal to you, and even if you will pass it on to someone in the future, the most important thing is that you add the things you are passionate about.

If you are a beginner Witch or Wiccan, get inspiration from these printable grimoire pages:

Do not expect to finish your book of shadows in a week. It can take months and even years to record all the information that your are slowly learning, so do not rush. Ultimately, what matters is that you make a compilation conscientiously, with what resonates with you.

6. Book of Shadows Spells

You will likely come across spells and incantations that you want to save for future reference. It’s a good practice to write down your personal experiences with each spell, adding the date of casting, your expectations and results.

Altar by Robin

While the spells you cast as a witch will depend on your specific intentions, as a Wiccan, it’s possible that you cast spells to celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats too:

7. Book of Shadows Journal Pages

Add these pages to your book of shadows to keep a log of your spells and meditations, and journal about your sensations, feelings and thoughts during and after each ritual.

As mentioned above, a book of shadows is not necessarily a type of journal. Here at Spells8, we call that a “Book of Mirrors, the Witch’s developmental journal“. We make the distinction between the two because one is a compilation of general resources which can be shared with others (BoS), while the latter is a record of personal experiences where we keep track of our individual growth in the Craft (BoM).

Book of Mirrors Witch's Development Journal
Book of Mirrors Witch’s Development Journal

The Book of Mirrors course on Spells8 includes printable prompts for creative and magickal journaling, and covers the fundamentals of bullet journaling and decorating your Witch’s journal.

Book Of Shadows Ideas & Tips

Witch’s Alphabet

Many Witches prefer to use a secret alphabet such as a substitution cipher to write their book of shadows. The most common one is the Theban Alphabet. In that link you’ll find a simpler one called pigpen code which can be use to send secret messages too:

pigpen code messages

A book of shadows written in an elvish language or with the Elder Futhark runes may be very attractive to the eye and help you keep your writings a secret, but realistically it can be very difficult to accomplish. Another trick could be to use a special font and print the pages as shown here.

Should the book of shadows be hand-written?

There are many opinions about how the BoS should be crafted. Some argue that writing it by hand helps to transfer one’s energy to the content of the book or to internalize the knowledge. While this might be true to some extent, it all depends on your belief and conviction.

Book of Shadows by Francisco

At the end of the day, there is no universal rule that says it should be hand-written, printed or stored digitally. there is no universal rule that says it should be hand-written or produced digitally.

What’s the difference between Book of Shadows and Grimoire?

A grimoire is a generic term for any book of spells or sacred wisdom, while a book of shadows is specific to contemporary witchcraft currents such as Wicca. Grimoires have existed since the first books were written in the 14th century. Books of shadows are a recent invention dating back to the early 20th century.

Keep reading here: Why Book of Shadows and Grimoire are not the Same.

Grimoire vs Book of Shadows
Grimoire vs Book of Shadows

What is a spell book?

A spell book is a collection of pages containing knowledge, recipes, rituals and spells that a specific witchcraft tradition has preserved over time to be able to transmit to new generations of initiates. Conveying spells, sacred words and incantations is the main purpose of any spell book, including books of shadows.

How do I find a spell book?

There are many ancient occult books including spells, remedies and talismans. Because most ancient spell books are at least 100 years old, they are free from copyright and belong in the public domain. You can find copies of famous books of spells online in PDF format and download them.

Ancient spell books
Ancient spell books

Click here to download free occult books in PDF. Keep browsing Spells8 to find modern-day spell collections too!

Who uses spell books?

Witches (of any gender), Ceremonial Magicians, occultists, and anyone who wants to learn the practice of real Magick can use a spell book. Spells of White Magick can be uplifting, empowering rituals. By activating a healthy practice of Positive Magick, we tune in to our Inner Light.

Click here to print your own Magick Spell Book with our free PDF ritual and potion recipes.

That’s the book of shadows explained in a simple way so you can start creating yours if you want to. Do you already have a book of shadows, or will you be creating one any time soon? Kindly share your thoughts with us. We’d like to know.

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