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.