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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Some people say a grimoire is the term non-Wiccans should use and reserve Book of Shadows for Wiccans.
  3. 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.

Grimoires can be as simple as a spiral notebook or as elaborate as a leather journal.
A few of my grimoires over the years.

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
  • Goddesses
  • 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.

Rituals and Spells to Include In Your Grimoire:

Starting a Grimoire or Book of Shadows: A Beginner's Guide

19 Comments

  1. Venus Ng

    August 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.

    1. Brittney

      September 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). 🙂

  2. Venus Ng

    July 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.

  3. Anonymous

    January 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

    1. Magia & Vida

      January 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.

      1. Devon Rea

        July 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!

    2. Anonymous

      October 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

  4. Aurora

    November 25, 2020 at 2:00 am

    can you do a spell that will like summon the book of shadows??

    1. admin

      November 25, 2020 at 3:40 pm

      Like in Hocus Pocus? I’ve never heard of that.

  5. 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!

  6. Raven

    October 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!

  7. Lady G

    October 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.

  8. Melissa Tavernier

    July 30, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    So helpful when beginning! Thank you so much! I love the stickers tip!

  9. Lady Lucina of the Ozarks

    July 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.

  10. Carrie Duff

    June 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

  11. Batrisyia

    May 22, 2020 at 9:47 am

    This is EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you so much for this ✨✨

  12. Delilah Brown

    April 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.

    1. Lady Lucina of the Ozarks

      July 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!

    2. Rose

      August 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

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