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How to Create Your Book of Shadows (Step-by-Step)

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

A Book of Shadows is your personal journal of your magical journey. In it, you will write down any notes and insights you receive from other Witches, from the Universe, from your dreams, from books and websites, and any other source you find them.

You will write down your spells before you cast them and you will make notes about the casting and about your results. You will keep any tables of correspondences, recipes, sketches of magical plants, symbols, and just about anything that comes to you that relates in any way to your magical practice.

It is wise for all magical practitioners of any tradition to have a Book Of Shadows as it provides a valuable resource you will return to time and again when your memory fails, not to mention the incredibly deep insight your periodic review of your Book of Shadows will provide into your own spiritual evolution.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Gather essential tools such as a blank journal, pens, and protective herbs like sage or rosemary.

Choose a book that resonates with you, whether it’s a leather-bound tome or a simple notebook. Organize it with sections for spells, rituals, and personal reflections.

Infuse personal energy into your Book of Shadows by decorating its cover with symbols, sigils, or artwork that represent your spiritual path.

Record your magical experiences, spells, and insights. Keep your entries organized, and don’t forget to add dates for reference.

Required Tools

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To create your book of shadows you will need a book. You can purchase a blank journal, or a specialized Book of Shadows online or in many specialty shops. However, do not over-complicate this project. Having a Book of Shadows is more important than the form the Book comes in.

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A 3-Ring binder with loose-leaf paper, or even a spiral notebook or a composition book is suitable to get you started simply for a very low cost. You can always copy your notes into a fancier book later if you can’t acquire one now.

You will also need a pen. Pencil marks wear off over time so a pen is best. Some folks like to have a special pen for their Book of Shadows. A refillable fountain pen is nice.

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But again, if it’s too complicated, just get any old pen and go for it. Do not let your lack of a really cool pen interfere with the creation of your Book of Shadows!

You will also need whatever tools you generally use to cleanse and consecrate your magical tools

Directions

1. Obtain and Organize Your Book

Remember to leave the first page blank.

Personally, I like the flexibility of a 3-Ring binder but you may prefer something smaller, and more portable or a 3 ring binder may feel too mundane for you. It is all a matter of preference. Consider how the book fits in your hand, how easy it is to write in, do you need it to lay flat so you can read while your hands are busy doing something else? Do you feel more magical with an elegant book in your hand or will something simple do for now?

Organizing your book is optional, but very useful. Consider how you want to organize your book. Although there are other methods, some good possibilities are the Table of Contents or Tab style and the Index Style. How you wish to organize your book will give you an idea of what sort of book you wish to obtain.

Table of Contents Organization involves dividing your book into sections and having a Table of Contents somewhere in the book, usually near the beginning or end, that lists the starting page number of each section.

SectionPage Number
Introduction1
Choosing a Book2
Setting Intentions5
Gathering Supplies8
Organizing Layout10
Journaling Prompts13
Spellcraft16
Rituals19
Divination22
Correspondences25
Herbalism28
Moon Phases31
References34
Conclusion37
Table 1: Table of Contents for Book of Shadows Example

Tabbed Inserts are available for easy addition to a 3 ring binder, or you can use ribbons or even Post-it notes to create tabs in any book.

Index Organization is ideal if you find the idea of creating sections too complicated. The goal is to start writing, not to spend lots of time figuring out how you’re going to do it! If you prefer to write in your book as things come to you, rather than organizing it upfront and limiting yourself to sections, you can still organize your book using an index.

Simply reserve a few pages near your book’s beginning or end for your index. When you make a new entry to the book, write the main subject of your entry in a word or two in your index with the page number of your entry.

If you’ve already written a previous entry on that subject, add the page number of the new entry to the listing in your index.

Page NumberContent
1Book title and personal dedication
2Table of Contents
3Introduction and personal statement
4Wheel of the Year or lunar calendar
5Correspondences cheat sheet
6Spellcraft section introduction
7Spell index
8Divination section introduction
9Tarot card meanings
10Rituals section introduction
11Full moon ritual
12New moon ritual
13Herbalism section introduction
14Herb properties and uses
15Moon phases section introduction
16Lunar phase tracking
17References section introduction
18Recommended books and websites
19Conclusion and personal reflection
Table 2: Layout and Organization Ideas

Color Coding maybe you don’t want to worry too much about keeping your book organized and you know you’ll never number the pages. That’s fine. If you can find what you’re looking for, then that’s all you need. You may still wish to use ribbon bookmarks if you’re fancy, or colored post-it notes if you’re not, to mark important sections as your book fills up and gets more difficult to navigate, but it’s all up to you!

The following sections are suggested as possibilities in no particular order, but you may add or omit whichever sections you wish as best suits your personal practice and do not feel that you have to stick to this order. (Again, remember to leave your first page blank.)

  • Rules to Live By
    Many practitioners follow certain laws and it’s a good idea to have them right up front where you can meditate on them, absorb them, explore them and refer to them quickly and easily. So here is where you keep your copy of The Wiccan Rede, The Charge of the Goddess, The Delphic Maxims, The Seven Hermetic Principles, The Ten Commandments or whatever it is that guides you.
  • Holy Days and Rites of Passage
    In this section, you will record the dates and special significance of any holy days you celebrate and any rites of passage you experience, either as the recipient of the rite or the officiant of the rite. These may include the traditional Western Sabbats as well as any monthly observances you participate in and any special personal days, such as birthday celebrations, initiations, handfasting and marriage rites, adulthood rites, naming ceremonies and whatever else comes up in your life and personal practice. Write notes about the significance of each event, the rituals tied to each event, including traditional foods, decorations, and gift-giving practices as well as special ceremonies and journal each individual event you celebrate. If you celebrate these events with your family, this will make your Book of Shadows a very special heirloom to pass down through the generations.
  • Symbols and Correspondences
    In this section, you will keep any tables of correspondence you collect or develop as well as symbols, runes, magical languages, sigils and whatever else that is symbolic in nature that you find useful during your magical journey.
  • Spells
    In this section, you will write down each spell you perform before you perform it. Then you will journal about the actual spell after you have performed it and continue journaling about the results of the spell. Include your thoughts about what worked well and what felt weird and how you could have done it differently and how it can be improved.
  • Recipes
    Every holy day and rite of passage has food associated with it. Many witches also like to prepare special ritual wine or cakes consumed only as part of a magical ritual. If this is you, be sure to include a section for your recipes because it’s a long time between Samhain feasts and you’d hate to leave out an ingredient in your famous pumpkin soup. If you have a special chant you like to recite while stirring to imbue your feast with magic, be sure to include this (or a cross-reference to the appropriate section.)
  • Crafts
    Many witches enjoy crafting their own magical tools and candles as well as making household items like soap. If this is you, include this section with step-by-step instructions for each item as well as notes for their use, spells that you like to imbue into the item (you can cross-reference to the spell section) and herbs or essential oils you like to use to scent items for specific purposes, seasonal variations, etc.
  • Chants, prayers, and songs
    There are many lovely chants we come across online, in books and at public rituals, and some of us even write our own. Your Book of Shadows should have a section for these even if they can be found in the Holy Day ritual and spell sections. If you have a prayer you say at dawn, at bedtime or at mealtimes, be sure to include these as well.
  • Do not be afraid to “steal” someone else’s chant, prayer, or song for your own personal use; that’s what they put them out there for and there are no legal repercussions to using something in the privacy of your own home. You will want to write down the name of the author if you can find it. If you were to publish your book of shadows in either print or digital format (blog, website, e-book, etc.), you will need to contact the author or publisher to ask permission to include it. Otherwise, it will have to be removed from the public version.
  • A Dream Journal
    In this section, you will record any significant, especially vivid or recurring dreams that you experience. Include notes about what’s going on in your life when you have these dreams.
  • Some people like to keep a separate dream journal and this is fine too.
    (Read Dream Journal and Begin Lucid Dreaming)
  • Journey or Meditation Journal
    If you journey, engage in Astral Projection, or practice meditation, keep a journal to record your experiences and impressions during these exercises. Be sure to include any music, fragrances or different methods you used so you can judge their effectiveness later. Some people like to keep a journey or meditation journal separate from their Book of Shadows and this is fine too.
  • Divination Journal
    Many people keep a journal of their Tarot readings and other divinatory practices. This can be a part of your Book of Shadows as well though you may wish to keep a separate journal for this purpose. It is up to you.
  •  Reading Journal
    Keep track of whatever books or websites you use to gather information. Take notes in this journal section make sure you write down where the information came from in case you want to look it up again later. Often when I am reading a book (or a website) I will come across a “fact” or an anecdote that I would like to research further. This journal section is invaluable for me in those instances.  Sometimes you come across a piece of information in a book or website that you’d like to chew on for a while before you actually add it to your Book of Shadows. This is a good place to jot that down.
  • General Journal Section
    It is nice to have an extra section at the end of your Book of Shadows to just journal in. Here you can work on that poem you don’t have quite right, or record that omen you saw that may or may not be an omen or expound on how gorgeous the sunset was or make a note to ask Judy where she bought the incense she used at the last esbat because wow, that was some potent stuff and of course you’ll want to write down the name of the vendor you discovered at the RenFest that carried the exact beads you’ve been looking for so you can order more from their website and you’ll want to write down the day you felt like you were in a fog all day so you can speculate on the reasoning for your fog later when you’re feeling more clearheaded.

2. Decorate your Book

Unless you’ve purchased your book already decorated, you may wish to decorate it yourself. I had you think about organization before you decorated the book because I want you to use it right away, even if it’s not technically “finished” yet (Your Book of Shadows will never be finished).

There is nothing more discouraging than the feeling that you have to do a bunch of work before you get started. Now you may decorate it if you wish, but you don’t have to. You can paint or draw right on the book, or use scrapbooking supplies if that’s what you’re into.

Or you can make the good old fashioned paper book cover (you don’t have to use a bag if you have craft paper or wrapping paper you’d rather use) http://specialchildren.about.com/od/schoolissues/ss/bookcover2.htm

If you are using a 3-ring binder with a clear sleeve cover, you can simply print off or draw or paint an image that is pleasing to you and slide it into the clear sleeve.

Many people also like to decorate the first page of every section. Feel free to do this as well. You can use scrapbooking tools or if you are an artist, use your own talents. I have also seen Books of Shadows that were illuminated throughout with sketches of herbs, postures, and just doodles and this is wonderful. The more /you/ you put into your Book, the more personal and magical it will become. Just don’t get caught up in the decoration and forget to write. Of course, if your an artist and prefer to journal in illustrated form, that’s fine too!

3. Cleanse and Consecrate Your Book

Cleanse your Book using your preferred method and then consecrate it, that is, declare its sacred purpose.

Once this is done, open up your book to the first page and write the following:

This is the magical Book of Shadows of {Your magical name} begun this day, {date}

You can elaborate on this if you like, but don’t feel you have to. Some folks have written some Book of Shadows blessing rhymes that you might like to use and there are some more elaborate blessing rituals out there. You can find many of these here: “Book of Shadows Blessing”.. Choose one that you like and that reflects your intentions and beliefs. Or don’t and keep it simple.

Now, hold the book out in front of you, preferably over a candle or burning incense (high enough that it won’t catch fire) and read aloud what you just wrote.

4. Write in Your Book of Shadows

Many people like to write a bit fancy in their Book of Shadows. Some artsy types use calligraphy, some like to write in a magical language or code. I always write in cursive in my Book of Shadows. It feels fancy to me and is apparently going to be a dead art in another generation.

Go ahead and be fancy if you like, but don’t get caught up in it. If you find you’re spending more time re-writing the calligraphy that’s not perfect or looking up magical languages than actually writing in your book, ditch the fancy and go for practical.

The most important thing is that you write. Or, if you’re called to do so, draw. You can also press flowers and herbs into your book and glue in pictures you find elsewhere if they relate to your magick.

Interact with your Book every day if you can. If you have nothing to write in it, just flip through it. Make notes and doodles in the margins.

Keep your Book of Shadows next to your bed so that you can write down your dreams as soon as you wake up and so that it is within arms reach when you wake from a dead sleep with some brilliant insight you won’t even remember you had in the morning.

If you don’t write every day, at least write every time you do a spell and at every Holy Day.

Additional Comments

When your Book of Shadows becomes overstuffed, you may wish to archive it and create a new one. I recommend you read through your old book completely first.

This will provide useful insight into your magical evolution and will allow you to identify any information you want to make sure gets transferred to the new book.

For More Information:

http://lapuliabookofshadows.com/

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.

40 thoughts on “How to Create Your Book of Shadows (Step-by-Step)”

  1. I have an old journal that I only used the first 20 pages. It has 300 pages in total. I really like the journal but can I use it for my book of shadows?

    Reply
    • I was gifted a black journal with crescent moons on each side of a blue stone, cute right…but when I opened it there was blood and oil on the inside of the cover…and that’s my only doubt…keep in kind I have a spiritual awakening

      Reply
  2. Can I use different notebooks for different topics? I’m not a very organized person when it comes to writing a lot of information into one book.

    Reply
    • Of course, if you can keep track of the notebooks. If you use index organization or color coding, you don’t have to be that organized.

      Reply
  3. Is it required to write down my dreams? I don’t really remember what happened in them unless they’re nightmares.

    Reply
    • Writing down your dreams will help you learn to remember them and control them. I require all my students to do so. Dream work is very powerful and not just for divination purposes. You don’t have to. But you should.

      Reply
  4. Um do you have to use a specific utensils to write in your book of shadows or can it be any pen or pencil you buy from the store

    Reply
    • Whatever feels right to you. Some people really like to have a special pen and some people don’t feel it’s necessary. If you want a special pen, but can’t afford something fancy, you can just buy a cheap pen and cleanse and sanctify it. Or don’t. I personally write with whatever I have on hand as that is a foundational part of my spirituality- make it work with what you’ve got and don’t buy a bunch of extra stuff. Other people believe that whatever you use for witchcraft should be specific to that purpose and that’s okay too, if that’s what works for them.

      Reply
  5. So I cleanse my Book of Shadows after I format it and before I write my entries? Is this correct? Brand new to this and kind of overwhelmed

    Reply
    • Relax. It’s not that serious. In this case, cleansing your book is basically telling it “Whatever this book was before, it’s not anymore” and then you tell it what it is (that is dedicating, or programming it, or charging it, or sanctifying it, whatever). It’s a good idea to tell it what it is before you start writing in it but other than that, it can happen whenever in the process.

      Reply
  6. I read that you should put a protection spell on your book. Is that something that should be done? And is there a protection spell thats easy for beginners? Just worried that if I mess it up it could be reversed.

    Reply
    • You can if you want to. Or you could just keep it in a safe place. There are many protection spells. Just surround it with protective energy or bind it to you.

      Reply
  7. is it okay to have multiple books of shadows? i bought a small one and ive been using that but its filling up quickly and i might need to get another one

    Reply
    • Yes. Many people have draft books that they write in as things come to them and more formal books that are more organized that they copy things into after they’ve been tested out and of course when your book is filled up, you need a new book. This is addressed in the article under additional comments.

      Reply
  8. i’m completely new to this so i have a couple of questions. firstly, you mentioned writing your magical name on the first page, is this just your normal name? also i was wondering how i should cleanse my book of shadows i don’t have any witchy supplies yet so is there a way i can do it without needing any supplies?

    Reply
    • There is an article about cleansing. There are many ways to do so. Cleansing is optional. Magick does not require any special tools. Many witches take on a magical name. It is up to you to decide if you wish to do this. Your legal name is also acceptable.

      Reply
    • If you read to the end, you will see that the first page features in the dedication ritual. It is for identifying and dedicating your book. That is, you reserve it for your title page.

      Reply
  9. I want to learn as much as possible about witches before actually doing any spells or rituals, but I’m not sure where to start. How do I know what is real or fake? What specifically should I learn about before moving onto spells/rituals? Also everything you said above was really helpful and u seem really nice!

    Reply
    • Magick is not hard. People do magick all the time without noticing. Witches learn to recognize and harness it and aim it. The first thing to do is learn to be silent and observe and listen to the energy around you. Observe how the energy or the mood of the room can change at a word, at a glance. Observe how the presence of a plant or a symbol or a smell or a sound or a color can change the mood of a room. That is magick, sutle changes in energy that change behavior without people even noticing. The first thing to learn is how to find magick inside you and around you. When you learn how outside energies affect you, you can work on consciously adjusting your own energy to affect outside energy and to use energies that exist in nature to affect change as well. That is the essence of what a spell is, stripped of all of its window dressing.

      Reply
  10. I’m not allowed to burn anything in my house so is using just salt enough to cleanse it? Also how much salt and is pink himalayan salt okay or do I need to find something else? I’m also a person who has very messy handwriting and misspells a lot of things, so is writing in pencil alright?

    Reply
      • Ive found a method that’s been very helpful for me so far, and thought it may be helpful to someone else. I’ve been using an app on my tablet that allows me to create different “notebooks” to organize the things that I want in my book, different “books” that contain a list of items used, such as herbs, candles, crystals, etc. As well as information about each item. Basically I’ve created a “notebook” for each topic usually found in a book of shadows. It helps me feel organized, and when I get ready to actually create my book, I’ll already have the information I want and determine which order I want the topics to go in my book. I understand this method may not be for everyone but it’s working for me so I wanted to share just in case.

        Reply
  11. Hi! i’m extremely new and would like to ask; I know that the Wiccan religion and Witchcraft are different things, and from what I’ve so far discerned you can practice witchcraft without being wiccan. Is a book of shadows specifically Wicca or can witches not of the faith use them too? Thank you so much ! looking forward to my journey.

    Reply
    • A book of shadows is a general use term for a witch’s journal. Magic-users who do not identify as witches may also use them. Some covens and/or traditions (including some Wiccan covens) provide new members with a base or official Book of Shadows to copy and learn from as part of their training. These official Books of Shadows are often kept private and not shared outside the group and the witch in training may be sworn to secrecy before being presented with it. These are added to by the individual witch as they progress beyond initial training, so each witch’s Book ultimately ends up being unique. If you belong to such a tradition, this guide is really irrelevant because you have a base Book of Shadows to work off of and someone teaching you how to use it.

      Reply
  12. Hi, I recently started my new Book of Shadows/ Grimoire however I only wrote in the first two pages because I can’t decide in which language I should write. You see, I speak and write fluently in both english and my mother language, I considered writing in english at first because I pulled a lot of the concepts from wiccan and pagan traditions which are very anglo-saxon in origin, but I think I feel more connected with what I write in my native language, and of course, It’s easier to explain. Do you think I should write in english, in my language or in a weird mixture of both? (I was considering to write text in my language, and all The illustrated schemes and sketches described in english but I don’t know if that’s a good idea)
    Thanks in advance!!

    Reply
    • You can write in whichever language you feel like writing in at the time. It is your personal book and it is for your eyes only, so do what feels most natural and makes the most sense to you.

      Reply
  13. When cleansing and consecrating, would I have to hold it over a candle? I’m a teenager, and my parents don’t know I’m a witch. I definitely can’t have fire in my room. Would an electric tea candle work?

    Reply
    • You wouldn’t hold it over the candle. You just light the candle as a marker for the start of your ceremony and to set the mood. It’s totally optional. There are other things you can do, ring a bell, close your eyes and visualize a candle, place a certain object in a certain place. An electric candle is fine if it sets the mood for you.

      Reply

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