A BoS, or Book of Shadows, is a witches manual. Many practitioners place a lot of importance on their BoS and will spend hours creating elaborate books filled with information. However, there is so much you can include that it can be difficult to know where to start!
One of the main problems when creating a book of shadows is that you are constantly learning. If you start with a fancy notebook and write what you've learned about tarot, and then move on to write about what you have learned about bird divination, chances are that at some point in the future you are going to learn more about tarot. Then your only option is to either pull the book apart, or add another tarot section, and the whole thing can become messy and out of synch.
For this reason, I personally prefer to build my own with 'loose' pages. I actually learned book binding for this very purpose! But remember, as you learn your BoS will also grow, so it is probably best to go for a format that allows you to add and remove pages.
Similarly, when it comes to how you decorate your pages, remember you are probably going to amass a lot of them! I made the mistake of starting off using a fancy sort of paper which then went out of print and struggled to find a replacement. Another thing I do recommend if you are looking for something with a bit more of a design is to take a look on Etsy or similar for blank, printable pages with designs on which you can then print on to blank paper of your choosing and write over.
Or maybe you want to go completely modern and just have a digital book of shadows? There are many reasons that a digital BoS could be preferable; it's cheaper, easier to access on the go, and you have more freedom to add and remove pages as you go. There are definitely benefits to having a digital BoS, but for a lot of people (such as myself), creating a physical BoS is personal, creative, and fun!
Once you have decided on the format of your BoS you need to think about what to put in it. Again, with the more you learn, the more you will want to add, and potentially remove. Your BoS should mirror your own experience, and again this is another area where we can become overwhelmed. It can be very tempting to add information about tarot even though you have never studied tarot, just because you feel like you should. If you go down this route you will find it becomes very time consuming, and again once you actually decide to start learning tarot you will learn a lot more information that you will need to add in, or could even make the original information you added redundant.
Another aspect you need to consider is do you just want to contain 'factual' information, or do you want to include your own experiences? For example, using tarot again, do you want to include different spreads, but do you also want to record all of your individual tarot readings alongside it? Do you want to write a bit about a specific deity, but do you also want to record any experiences you have with them? I personally keep these two elements separate; my BoS is more of a manual, or reference book, and then I have separate notebooks that I record my experiences in. I've been practising for over 20 years now - if I also recorded every experience or every divination reading I have done, my BoS would be far too large to manage!
Below I have written a list of what you could potentially add to your own book of shadows, and based on the above I recommend that rather than just researching each subject, you make an effort to actually give these things a try. This will also help you weed out what is good, accurate information and what is just fluff - the last thing you want is to be adding misinformation to your BoS! Even this list is just a small drop in the ocean! There will be many, many more things you can add to it.
Elements and elementals
Spells and rituals
Working with guides
Working with spirits
So, in short, here some tips and tricks to help you when creating your own BoS:
1. Go for loose leaf rather than a book with restrictive pages so you can add/remove pages, or a digital version
2. Try and go for a consistant design you can maintain through lots of pages!
3. Decide whether you want to include just factual information or your experience also
4. Try to split it into sections based on the subjects you are writing about
5. Have an active go at everything you are writing about!
6. Include a table of contents
7. Personalise your BoS; this can be through the decoration, or you might want to write a book blessing for the front page or cover
The most important thing is to have fun! Your BoS can become a very personal and important part of your practice that you will grow to cherish, so it is definitely worth putting the effort in.
The Weekly Witch:
Once I week I talk about something 'witchcraft' related I have done with my week. How we incorporate witchcraft into our every day lives is always a topic that has interested me, so I wanted to start this blog to explore it further!