Book of Shadows

The creation of and use of a Book of Shadows (BOS) is one good place to start with Wicca. What should a BOS look like? If you are in a coven, its appearance may be determined by the coven. If it’s up to you, what would yours look like? You can get one already decorated or you can decorate it yourself, which for something so special would be a grand idea. If you’re good with working leather, fashion a leather cover. Amazon sells the ring binder mechanisms so you don’t have to fashion rings. Or you can get a notebook or journal and decorate it yourself with materials such as card stock, pictures, ribbons, dried flowers, herbs, foil wraps, etc. My big suggestion is to use a loose leaf notebook so that you could reorganize pages as necessary. If you fill it up, you can take out old pages, put new pages in and you don’t have to give up the cover.

Size does matter but is up to you. If you want your BOS to travel with you, you may want it small. I have notebook (part of my BOS) which is 5x 7 inches that is good for travel. I also have one that is 7 x 9 inches that I use for written ritual plans. I have the larger size so I can read the ritual plan especially in low light. I am considering an even larger size ( 3 ring binder for 8.5 x 11 inch paper) for that purpose. Not only would my ritual plan be easier to read, but it would be easier for others to put a copy of the ritual plan that I choose to share (usually for a public ritual) in their own standard size notebooks. I would be decorating that new notebook! I’ll get back to you later when I decide on a new notebook. My suggestion is to try writing on and reading different sized pieces of paper to help you decide what size notebook or journal you want to get. Loose leaf paper sizes you can get are 8.5 x 11, 5.6 x 8.2 and 4.13 x 6.69 inches. Just cut some 8.5 x 11 loose leaf paper down to the two smaller sizes and experiment reading in different conditions and writing with all three sizes of paper. Also, before purchasing a notebook or journal consider thickness. I hope these tips will help you decide on size.

Decorating the cover(s) of your BOS can be very enjoyable. If you wish, you can cut out a piece of card stock to match the size of the front cover of the notebook and glue it on before or after decorating. You can do the same for the spine and the back of the notebook. Use what speaks to you to decorate it with. There are suggestions of what to use in the first paragraph. Figure out where you want these craft items to go before gluing. You can use a marker to write a word or a few words. If you decide to write words on the cover, leave room for them as you plan the cover. Glue craft items directly to the cover or on the card stock. You may decoupage the items if desired. You may use Mod Podge, other decoupage glue and varnish or thinned out glue to decoupage. Both Deborah Blake and Patricia Telesco have good ideas on how to create covers for special books like a BOS. Patricia Telesco’s directions are far more involved than what I’ve written here. If you would like to do more to create the cover for your BOS, please look at her book. If you have an online BOS design a cover page for it. This process can be pleasurable and fun.

I would like to mention organization of your BOS. Date your entries and you might even include the moon phase. You can use index tabs to keep information in sections. You can purchase index tabs with the 2 smaller sizes of refill paper on Amazon. You can find index tabs for the larger size notebooks at places like Walmart and on Amazon. I keep my BOS on physical paper and in several books. The several notebooks or journals comprise my BOS. As I eluded to, one of my notebooks is for ritual plans and one is for journaling. The other is for spells and useful nuggets of information. This is another way to keep organized. I keep cheap plastic notebooks to put pages of my BOS into when my BOS notebooks get full. That way, I can add fresh pages to my BOS notebooks. I do not keep my BOS online, but if that works for you, you can. You just need to stay organized and back everything up.

What do you write in your BOS? Again, if you are in a coven, it’s up to the coven. Words you can write in your BOS are your name and/or special name, your story, quotes, blessings, spells, ritual plans, stories, dreams, journeys and any words to help your growth as a Wiccan. If it doesn’t help your growth as a Wiccan, then it doesn’t belong in your BOS.

The process of creating your book cover will help enhance your use of a BOS. I encourage doing this. Enjoy the process!

Suggested reading:

Deborah Blake, Witchcraft on a Shoestring, Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget, 2010.

Patricia Telesco, Your Book of Shadows, How to Write Your Own Magical Spells, 2018.

Auburn Greene

Book of Shadows cover decorated with card stock, pictures, Elmer’s Color Glue, ground ginger, ribbon and pressed rose bud.

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