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What is a Grimoire in Witchcraft & What Should be Written in it

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

A Grimoire is a magical manual or a magician’s instruction book. It is much more formal than a Book of Shadows.

While a Book of Shadows is more journal-like, a grimoire is specifically a book of instructions for performing magickal tasks, creating magical objects and symbols and interacting with spirit beings, such as angels and demons.

It is generally believed that the word grimoire came from the Old French word grammaire, a term used to describe Latin texts. Later the word was used in colloquial French to describe something that was difficult to understand.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

In witchcraft, a grimoire is a book or manual containing magical knowledge, rituals, spells, and other occult information. It serves as a personal compendium of a witch’s magical practices, experiences, and beliefs.

Grimoires may include instructions on spellcasting, herbalism, divination, ceremonial magic, and other esoteric topics.

They are often handwritten and personalized by the witch, reflecting their individual path and spiritual journey.

Grimoires are considered sacred and are often passed down through generations or kept closely guarded by their owners.

What is a Grimoire?

Grimoires are invaluable resources for practitioners of magic, providing a wealth of knowledge, spells, rituals, and spiritual guidance for those seeking to explore the mysteries of the occult and unleash their magical potential.

Whether classical texts dating back centuries or modern manuals reflecting contemporary occult traditions, grimoires continue to inspire and empower practitioners on their magical journey.

Type of GrimoireDescription
Classical GrimoiresClassical grimoires are ancient texts dating back to the medieval and Renaissance periods. They contain instructions for practicing ceremonial magic, such as summoning spirits, casting spells, and performing rituals. Examples include “The Key of Solomon,” “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” and “The Book of Abramelin.”
Modern GrimoiresModern grimoires are contemporary texts that draw from both traditional magical practices and modern occult traditions. They often provide instructions for working with various magical systems, such as Wicca, ceremonial magic, chaos magic, or witchcraft. Examples include “Grimoire for the Green Witch” by Ann Moura and “The Modern Witchcraft Grimoire” by Skye Alexander.
Personal GrimoiresPersonal grimoires, also known as Books of Shadows or Books of Mirrors, are individualized magical journals kept by practitioners to record their personal experiences, spells, rituals, and reflections on their magical journey. They serve as a repository of magical knowledge, insights, and spiritual growth for the practitioner.
Table 1: Types of Grimoires

What’s inside a Grimoire?

Basically, any topic you want to add to your book of shadows is great. It’s up to you what to include. Some magical subjects I’ve added to mine include:

  • Altar and Tools: How to set up an altar, tools you like to include, seasonal changes, and how to charge/bless altars, etc.
  • Amulets and Talismans: amulets and how to enchant or charge an amulet and talisman
  • Ancestor Work: Information about your ancestors, recent and ancient, DNA test results, ancestral rituals, healing, etc.
  • Astrology: It is great to have in your book of shadows, including your sun, ascendant, ascendant signs, and a copy of your birth chart
  • Cleansing rituals: smudging, sprays, ritual baths, sounds, etc.
  • Color Magic: The magical properties of each color
  • Crystals and their magical and medicinal properties
  • Days of the week: magic according to the days of the week
  • Divination: different forms, including runes, tarot cards, oracles, scrying sessions, nature signs and omens, bone throwing, and palmistry (the sky is the limit!)
  • Dreams: A record of my dreams plus dream interpretations and symbols
  • Elements: the basics about the four elements, their properties, the magic of the elements, how the elements influence our daily lives, a page for each of the 4 elements
  • Experiences: Include your spiritual experiences, thoughts, emotions
  • Familiars: guide animals, pet spirits, magical allies, etc.
  • Garden: how I set up my magical garden, what to grow, sowing/harvesting times
  • Healing: Rituals, Reiki, meditations, chakra alignment, healing candle spells, etc.
  • Herbs: Each herb has its own page with magical correspondences, any culinary or topical purpose, mundane use, medicinal etc.
  • History: The history of witchcraft, witch trials, shamanism, multicultural magical traditions, ancient paganism, folklore, etc.
  • Home and hearth: magical recipes, anecdotes, amulets for protection, cleansing and protection rituals, magical cleaning routines, kitchen utensils that serve as magical tools, tea spells, etc.
  • Love rituals: any herb, spell, ritual, incantation, affirmation to attract love or self-love, sexual magic
  • Lost Civilizations: info on Avalon, Atlantis, Lemuria
  • Moon magic: moon phases and their magical properties, moon goddesses, moon rituals, setting the moon, how to make moon water, charging things in the moonlight
  • Protection: placing barriers, sealing one’s home, travel protection spells, shielding rituals, banishing, binding, reversing, etc.
  • Sacred places: portals, ley lines, YOUR places of power (places in nature that felt most connected and magical)
  • Symbols: Useful if you draw or print various sacred and magical symbols to include in your book of shadows
What is a Grimoire in Witchcraft by Magickal Spot
Copyright: Magickal Spot

What’s the difference between a grimoire and a book of shadows?

Technically speaking, a grimoire and a Book of Shadows are two different things. Yet in modern times, people tend to use these words interchangeably. The difference between the two comes down to a few things:

A grimoire is an older term used to define a book of spells, invocations, etc. Contrast this with the Book of Shadows which is a term popularized by the Wiccan movement in the twentieth century.

Some people say that a grimoire is the term non-Wiccans should use and reserve the Book of Shadows for Wiccans.

Grimoires, for some people, are books of spells and rituals written in ancient or cryptic alphabets to keep magic secret. While the Book of Shadows may be protected by magical symbols, it is not necessarily written in an ancient alphabetic code.

In the book of shadows I record my dreams, spiritual and emotional experiences, recipes, study notes and much more!

The difference between the grimoire is the book of shadows and the simple one, the grimoire contains all the spells handed down by the various covens from coven to coven, finding an original grimoire would be like finding a lottery as a book would have to have the approval of the previous coven to be put up for sale, assuming you find it, it will certainly not cost 10$, but at least 500/600$ due to its rarity in finding it.

And then it would be a single text.

You may be wondering, do I need to record everything in an ancient cryptic alphabet? The answer is no. Obviously not! Unless you feel particularly attracted to doing so.

For me? I don’t have that kind of time, nor do I have anything I need to hide from others at this point.

But if you have someone who tends to snoop through your stuff or someone who wouldn’t approve of your craft, you can absolutely use old alphabets or symbols to record in your grimoire. So what are the dos and don’ts of keeping a grimoire?

Write down everything you find of value, DON’T limit yourself. That’s all!

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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