Grimoire & Book of Shadows: A Beginner’s Guide On How to Start One
Every witch and magician loves a dusty tome filled with magic. If you’re brand new to witchcraft and magic, it’s time to start your own grimoire or Book of Shadows. But how? And what should be included? Here we provide the beginner with grimoire and Book of Shadows basics and teach you how to start your own grimoire!
First, What is a Grimoire? What is 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. as opposed to the Book of Shadows which is a term popularized by the Wiccan movement in the twentieth century.
- Some people say a grimoire is the term non-Wiccans should use and reserve Book of Shadows for Wiccans.
- Grimoires, to some folks, are books of spells and rituals written in ancient or cryptic alphabets to keep magic a secret. While the Book of Shadows may be protected by magic symbols but isn’t necessarily written in ancient alphabet code.
To put it simply, it’s up to you if you want to use the term grimoire or Book of Shadows to define your spellbook! For me, I use grimoire, but I don’t just include spells in my grimoire. I record my dreams, spiritual and emotional experiences, recipes, study notes and much more!
The Do’s and Dont’s of Grimoire-Keeping
You might be wondering, do I have to record everything in an ancient cryptic alphabet? The answer is NO. Of course not! Unless you feel particularly drawn to do 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 in your belongings 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 do’s and don’t’s of grimoire-keeping? DO write down everything you find of value, DON’T limit yourself. That’s it!
What Kind of Journal Should I Use?
Though there are dozens of pretty, leather grimoires online to purchase, if you can’t afford fifty+ dollars for a grimoire, don’t spend it! A plain composition book or spiral notebook works just as well as a fancy leather one. And if you choose a notebook or composition book, simple post-it tabs help to organize and section off your grimoire. Unfortunately, in the large leather grimoire I own, I can’t add tabs because of the closure. If I add tabs, they’ll be smashed and the grimoire itself won’t close. So, that said, pretty doesn’t = functional! Diaries, journals, and even recipe books function well as grimoires too. Binders with loose-leaf paper and sheet protectors are great for organizational purposes.
Subjects for Your Grimoire or Book of Shadows
Truly any subject matter you want to add to your grimoire is perfectly fine. It’s up to you what to include. A few 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: charms and how to enchant or charge an amulet and talisman
- Ancestor Work: info on your ancestors, recent and ancient, DNA test results, ancestral rituals, healing, etc.
- Astrology: great to have in your grimoire including your sun, rising, ascending signs and a copy of your birth natal chart
- Cleansing Rituals: smudging, sprays, ritual baths, sound, etc.
- Color magic: each color’s magical properties
- 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, oracle, scrying sessions, nature signs and omens, throwing ‘dem bones, and palmistry (the sky’s the limit!)
- Dreams: a record of my dreams plus dream interpretations and symbols
- Elements: the basics on the four elements, their properties, elemental magic, how the elements affect our daily lives, one page for each of the 4 elements
- Experiences: include your spiritual experiences, thoughts, emotions
- Familiars: animal guides, household spirits, magical allies, etc.
- Garden: how I set up my magical garden, what to grow, timing of plantings/harvesting
- Healing: rituals, Reiki, meditations, chakra alignment, healing candle spells, etc.
- Herbs: each herb gets its own page with magical correspondences, any culinary or topical purposes, 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, charms for protection, cleansing and protection rituals, magical cleaning routines, kitchen utensils that serve as magical tools, tea spells, etc.
- Love Rituals: any herbs, charms, rituals, spells, affirmations to attract love or self-love, sex magic
- Lost Civilizations: info on Avalon, Atlantis, Lemuria
- Moon Magic: lunar phases and their magical properties, lunar goddesses, moon rituals, drawing down the moon, how to make moon water, charging things in the moonlight
- Protection: laying wards, sealing one’s house, travel protection charms, shielding rituals, banishing, binding, reversals, etc.
- Sacred places: portals, ley lines, YOUR power places (places in nature you felt most connected and magical)
- Symbols: helpful if you draw or print out different sacred and magical symbols to include in your grimoire
How to Cleanse and Charge Your Grimoire
So you have a notebook and some ideas of what to write in your grimoire, but how do you dedicate it solely to your spiritual use? Cleansing and charging your grimoire is a good idea, similar to how you cleanse and charge your altar and tools.
My favorite way to cleanse a grimoire is with smoke. Run the grimoire over and through the smoke front and back, visualizing negative energy leaving the pages. Envision a “clean slate” to dedicate to your magical studies. Then, hold it in your hands and to your heart and say, “I bless this book in the name of _______ (your god/goddess/universe/ancestors/higher self) and dedicate it to my magical and spiritual studies. May my heart and soul be poured onto its pages for the highest good. So be it.” Then leave your grimoire to be charged in the full moon’s light or the sunlight. Make sure it won’t fade in sunlight if you choose to charge with solar power.
Protective Symbols and Words
In addition to cleansing and charging your grimoire, some folks inscribe protective symbols or words on the inside. This serves as a means to keep snooping people out of your magical business and may even help it to be returned if lost or misplaced. Choose symbols that mean protection and are sacred to you. Some examples are: elder futhark runes, witches’ runes, sigils, theban alphabet, moon glyphs, ogham, etc.
Ideas for Decorating Your Grimoire
The funnest part of creating a grimoire is decorating or embellishing it, IMO. You can find magical stickers online and at craft stores to include in your grimoire. Some stickers I’ve used include: trees, plants, flowers, dragonflies, butterflies, stars, moons, crystals and more. It just takes time to find the right ones. In addition, check out the scrapbooking section of your local craft store for cool papers you can use, borders, stencils, and stamps. I may not have good handwriting, but my stickers and stencils are ON POINT.
Venus NgAugust 22, 2021 at 7:09 pm
Hey, I was just wondering, My grimore is basically a notebook, So what should I first write in it after a clease it? Im a bit confused.
BrittneySeptember 14, 2021 at 2:52 pm
My first set of information was a natal astrology chart for myself, then my favorite tarot cards, and some information about my favorite practices (hedge Witchery). 🙂
AnonymousFebruary 1, 2022 at 7:46 pm
On Pinterest you will find Book Blessings to put in front of your Grimoire.
Venus NgJuly 20, 2021 at 7:55 pm
I am a baby witch that is in a broom closet, and as a beginner, This has been very helpful. Thank you for whoever who made this.
AnonymousJanuary 16, 2021 at 1:00 pm
hi, i am a bit confused on where to start as a baby witch. my parents are Christians and i was forced to avoid all other types of spiritual connections. i have been really drawn to this community but i don’t know where or how to start so if someone could help me out that would be great. and the information you put on this site helped too, i just don’t know where to begin
Magia & VidaJanuary 29, 2021 at 6:18 pm
Hi. The best way is by reading. But, not all at the same time. I could suggest Scott Cunningham’s “The Solitary Practitioner’s Guide” book. It is an ideal book to start. Find it, read it, study it and of course, put what it says into practice. Avoid reading everything, as the excess of information will confuse you.
Devon ReaJuly 18, 2021 at 7:34 pm
I just wanted to say my thank you to you, I am a baby witch also and wasn’t sure how to start my grimoire. This has helped me immensely. Blessed be!
AnonymousOctober 1, 2021 at 1:01 am
hello, im a bit of a baby witch too. my parents are also Christian so I had to begin small. I think you should start with the basics like, Mediation, crystals, healing work and protection spells 🙂 or if you want a bit more try learning about lunar magic and elemental magic
AnonymousMay 9, 2022 at 7:18 pm
Omg same!! I hate that! I am also a baby witch
AuroraNovember 25, 2020 at 2:00 am
can you do a spell that will like summon the book of shadows??
adminNovember 25, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Like in Hocus Pocus? I’ve never heard of that.
anonymous witch🌙October 30, 2020 at 12:56 am
This website is great love the idea! I am a baby witch in the broom closet as well. Anyway what i do for my altar is a salt lamp, a few candles, dried flowers/herbs, and a secret sigil under my alarm clock. My ancestor altar on my bookshelf (for my grandpa) consists of a few pics of him, things that he used to use a lot *example, a wallet i made him , a necklace he gave me, and amytheste and pine which attract ancestors and spirits. For things like smudge spray ,spell bottles, and my grimoire, i keep in a special altar box under my night stand. Hope this helps for other witches in the broom closet!!! Blessed be!
RavenOctober 20, 2020 at 1:14 pm
My Grimoire is a little note book and i write down almost anything on this website. Thank you very much!
Lady GOctober 1, 2020 at 10:12 pm
Thank you for the insight and information. I have been gathering information for a while now. Started putting it in 3 ring binder and need a bigger one. Have wanted a leather one also seen a few using the decoupage material. Haven’t tried that yet. But I’m eager to. Blessings to all and fair travels. Thank you again.
Melissa TavernierJuly 30, 2020 at 3:31 pm
So helpful when beginning! Thank you so much! I love the stickers tip!
Lady Lucina of the OzarksJuly 29, 2020 at 6:39 am
Great info! I’ve been a solitary kitchen witch for 30+ years. My BOS is a large 3 ring binder, covered in leather, with decoupage, engraving & metal symbols. Sites on book binding can offer instruction & inspiration. Using a 3 ring makes it easier to organize the many family remedies that have been passed down, along with stories about the people who used them. This is your book for your needs so do what works for you. This is also something that could be passed to future generations, providing them not only with knowledge, but a link to the past, successes, failures (sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic.) Being solitary for so long I’ve really enjoyed this site & interacting with other like. minded people. I’m disabled with a chronic disease, almost daily fevers, severe pain & exhaustion, very difficult to leave the house, so you’all might be seeing a lot more of me on here. Welcome to email me just to chat or swap trade secrets, lol. Blessed Be.
Kelly GibsonNovember 10, 2021 at 11:34 am
Blessed be lady lucina of the ozarks, my name is kelly, I am sorry to hear your unwell. I feel your pain, its exhausting being in constant pain day after day,, without any breaks. I too suffer with an illness with constant and daily pain. I have fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, migraines plantar fasciitis, and tendinitis in both my feet. I also suffer with depression and anxiety so I don’t really leave the house only if I have to. I’m just starting my journey into this ethereal world, I’ve always had a notion that I was sensitive, I knew when my grandparents who’m have both crossed over to the other side, have been to pay me a visit.i have been taking notes on from this site and others on how and what I should set up and put on my altar, what I need to put in my grimoire, and how to read my tarot cards. It’s a bit of a strange thing with my tarot cards because I searched multiple shops, ebay and amazon and no cards called out to me, and then as I was doing a new search on eBay after a week of not looking, I found the mystical manga tarot cards and they absolutely screamed at me as soon as I laid my eyes on them and I couldn’t resist I had to have them. I haven’t opened them yet, they are still covered with the plastic wrap in the box, I want to cleanse, bless and protect them first before I use them. But I don’t know where to start wit them, they have got a book by Barbara Moore with them but I’m not sure how detailed its going to be? The description on the sellers advert also stated that they were based on the rider-waite system, is it worth me studying this system aswell or just rely on the book itself? If you have any advise that would help me with anything I would be soon grateful, I would do a happy dance in your name. Thankyou for reading goddess bless, blessed be.
Carrie DuffJune 25, 2020 at 7:25 pm
I am in Avalon……loving this floating along along in my favorite river. Through lovely mists, seeing nothing but peaceful beasties and colorful fairies. Your help is graciously accepted. Love returned to you three-fold.
Lady Gryphon Owl-the Crone
BatrisyiaMay 22, 2020 at 9:47 am
This is EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you so much for this ✨✨
Delilah BrownApril 29, 2020 at 6:05 pm
Thank you for creating this! As a baby witch/pagan who is in the broom closet, I want to get started on my BoS/Grimoire before I do my practice since a book is less suspicious than an altar.
Lady Lucina of the OzarksJuly 29, 2020 at 7:02 am
An altar doesn’t have to scream Witchcraft. A small table with drawers for supplies, simple altar cloth, candles, incense censer or holder, maybe some fresh flowers & you have a lovely meditation spot. And a nice little, inconspicuous altar! Aromatherapy is so “in” right now, I doubt it would draw much attention. Your welcome to email me, I’m far, far from an expert, but have mentored a few newbies, & enjoy helping others if I can. Blessed Be!
RoseAugust 19, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Im a baby witch who is also in the broom closet, what I did for my alter was put three candles, a small bowl, that I drew some sigils on, to put coins in, some gems, some shells, a small sakura tree that was made from gems that I got from Washington DC about a year ago, and put my small colletction of herbs in the back with my book and I put all of them in a cubby of a storage unit that I got about a year ago, I also put one of the snowglobes from my colection in it because they mean alot to me. I put fairy lights around the top of it as well