Witches and books go hand in hand. From days of folklore and fairy tales, the cliche of the witch with the massive grimoire stands as a testament to what the idea of a witch truly is. Studious, curious, and collectors of time and knowledge, witches are nothing without their trusty grimoires. In modern times, practitioners continue this tradition with their own Books of Shadows. But, if you’re new to the craft, you may be wondering: how do I make my own book of shadows? And what is the purpose and power behind them? Tuck in, my friends, and allow this guide to lead you down the path and power of the witch’s grimoire.
Materials of Choice
Not all grimoires require a certain aesthetic. Sure, we may find ourselves inspired by the Books of Shadows we see on TV or in the movies, but some of us do not have the money to splurge on leather tomes and quills. My first Book of Shadows was a notebook I wasn’t using in high school! Many other practitioners I know use Google Docs or the Notes app on their phone as their Book of Shadows because it’s easy to use on the go. Memo pads, sketchbooks, post-it notes on the wall– all of these can be your personal grimoires.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting your grimoire to possess a certain aesthetic. If that is the case, shell out for a leather-bound notebook. These can be found at stores like Barnes and Noble and online via websites like Etsy. Your local metaphysical shop may carry some as well! Any kind of writing utensil works, but prettier options can also be found on Etsy and stationery shops.
Protecting Your Grimoire
Once you have your book and quill, it’s time to start thinking of ways to protect your grimoire. There are multiple options to choose from. My preferred method is Chaos Magic sigils. Many forms of the craft have their own sigil magic. Some are static, relying on the magic of the shapes and lines themselves that have been imbued there through centuries of time and spells. Others are created by your own mind. The most common protection symbol to use for grimoires would be the pentacle.
Another option for protecting your Book of Shadows would be to cast a circle. This can be done by cleansing your workspace and preparing to call the four corners. Place your grimoire before you and call to the east, saying “Element of air, I call you.” Then, turn to the south and say, “Element of fire, I call you.” Then to the west say, “Element of water, I call you.” And finally to the north say, “Element of earth, I call you.” With each mantra, imagine the elements rising up to guard and protect you and your grimoire. Once the circle is cast, feel free to meditate on your intentions for this Book of Shadows. Consider the first spell written within to be this very circle casting spell. Finally, when you are finished, thank each element and cardinal direction to open the circle.
Protecting your grimoire is an important step to ensure no one tries to peek in unwelcomed. Your Book of Shadows is an important, personal journey documenting your journey through your craft. It is only right to have some defenses in place to ensure your safety.
Utilizing Your Grimoire
Your grimoire is a place to not only store spells but ingredient lists, thoughts, manifestations, and more. Think of it as a diary of your craft. Spells you practice often and enjoy will find a happy home within the bindings of your Book of Shadows. Along with those spells, though, should be daily affirmations, dream thoughts, herb uses, items of importance, and divination. I personally use my grimoire daily to recount my single card tarot readings.
There is no improper way to use a grimoire. It is an extension of your own practice and thus an extension of yourself. It can be as messy or as tidy as you wish it to be. Think of your Book of Shadows as a shadow of yourself. It is your deepest magical secrets and brightest desires. Utilizing your grimoire is as simple as reading it or writing a single sentence of a thought you had. That is the power of a witch’s tome; it’s universal utility.
To Keep a Library
Do not feel too stressed about filling out your grimoire every day. Coming up with spells and sticking to a routine is challenging for many of us! Do what you can and find inspiration wherever you search for it. I like to collect books relating to my craft to help inspire my own spells and fill out pages when I’m feeling creative.
Christine Buckley’s “Plant Magic: Herbalism in Real Life” is a wonderful book to help you begin working with herbs. It comes with uses and recipes that will happily fit into any practitioner’s repertoire. “The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology” by Juliana McCarthy is a useful guide to all things astrological. The knowledge found within any sort of metaphysical text can happily be repeated in your own personal grimoire. Think of it as your own personal library of quotes, recipes, and research!
In the end, your grimoire is there to help control the more hectic part of your practice. It collects everything you learn and makes it manageable. Keep your Book of Shadows close to your heart and you will find it will enlighten the path ahead of you.