Alright! So, every witch, whether new to the craft or not, has looked into making a BoS (Book of Shadows) that keeps the things they've learned, things they want to learn, and much more useful information that the owner finds valuable to his or her craft.
Unfortunately, with all the mysticism that witchcraft has gathered over the years, many who practice come to a roadblock under the assumption that creating a BoS is something difficult and hard.
I'm here to tell you that it's not.
It's actually very easy. Heck, it can even be something you look forward to. First, however, let's clear the air and take a step back to talk about what a BoS is so we can get your mindset on what you want in it.
The Book vs. The Myth
Now, every show I've come across that includes witchcraft as a centerpiece has a Book of Shadows roaming around the witches' house. Now, this is where you'd commonly find a witches' Book of Shadows but don't get too excited. Normally they're well hidden rather than on display and don't make a habit of floating around or lighting up with magical forces from the beyond.
To be completely truthful a BoS can look like any other book in the house, sometimes taking forms of a normal three-ring binder or, if the practitioner doesn't want it out in the open, a file on a computer. How ordinary, I know, but it's the truth.
Modern-day witches are not going to be dragging around giant leather books in their backpacks and they certainly don't want the thing to move around on its own.
In short, a BoS is not a living entity, nor will touching it zap you, hex you, or otherwise harm you or anyone who accidentally brushes by it. It's simply a book, your book.
Yep, you heard me right. A BoS is your book, not the covens (though some covens and teachers have their own), and no one gets to look at it but you (if that's the way you want it to be). A BoS is a personal magic diary for a witch. This is where spells, tarot card layouts, oils, potions, herbal remedies and teas and so much more is recorded. Depending on the witch it might be about types of moss or trees while another's might be about the healing powers of rocks.
It's all up to you.
This right here is the hardest part to ever starting a BoS. This is the part where you choose what format you would like to have for your Book of Shadows. Now, each person is different and needs different things from their books. Some might want an actual book they can crack open and thumb through the pages while others might want something a little less permanent and a little more customizable. Some practitioners might even want theirs kept secret.
No matter the person the three most popular formats are an actual book, a three-ring binder, or a computer file. All three of these have their advantages and disadvantages. Books are more permanent, once you write in them with pen it's basically over unless you like white-out. Binders provide customization but lack strength and it's easy for pages to go missing or to get lost. A computer file allows password protection, secrecy, and if you'd like, a bring-it-with-you flare. A quick link to Google Docs and your BoS is at your fingertips whether it be at home or out and about.
There is no right or wrong option. If you want, you could have all three.
Whatever format you choose (or don't choose, your choice) it's going to need to be organized. Now, lots of practitioners gearing up to make a BoS do what any person would do when they're trying to plan; they break it up into sections.
This makes the whole bookmaking process a lot easier and a lot less stressful.
So, for example, if you were doing a computer BoS and you wanted it neat so you could keep track of everything you'd want it broken down into different files. One would be labeled 'Potions', the other 'Spells', and so on until you've got them all in their separate little spaces. This way it's a lot easier to sort whatever spell, potion, recipe, or dream you might have and they won't get lost.
Google Docs comes in handy as well, allowing pictures and such to be added to the written pages. Google Docs also saves automatically so things won't be lost forever.
But what if you're doing a book or a binder? Well, I have just the answer.
The Table of Contents
Oh yes, this thing comes in handy whenever it comes to organizing your book or binder. Let me give you an example from my book.
- Book Blessing
- Witches Rede
- Essential Oils & Herbs
- Rocks & Crystals
- Solstice Celebrations
- Ghosts, Demons & Other Baddies
- Dream Log
- Tarot Layouts
- Kitchen Witchery
- Tools of Witchcraft (Origins & Proper Usage)
- Symbols & Their Meanings
This is my table of contents, my original guideline for my book. As you can see my book is nowhere near done and I'm okay with that. Why, you ask? Because I'm not done learning. A good practitioner knows that learning never truly ends and with knowledge comes change. Don't think this BoS is permanent either. You'll want to add and subtract things from your book as you learn and change so don't go filling up every space you can.
Filling up a BoS in one day is possible. Stressful, but possible. Now, this isn't much of a big deal with a binder but you can't add new pages into a hardback. So, what I suggest is filling the pages with what you know, what feels right, what you're focused on right now, and leave the rest blank. Don't be in a rush to get it done.
Another great thing about this organization process is it allows for you to be sneaky. Don't want someone to see something? Put it in the back, the middle, anywhere you'd like to keep it from prying eyes.
Now, pages aren't such a big deal for a binder or computer BoS users but for those sticking to a journal or book this is a big deal. Pages are limited and you need every last one of them to last to the full extent.
Don't get worried though. Getting through this part just takes time and a little counting.
Take your favorite sections of your list and count out a number of pages for it depending on how much you might write about it. For me, Tarot Layouts are extremely important so I gave it thirty pages, plenty of room for writing and pictures. Lesser categories get lesser pages and unassigned pages are left to be used in case of continuations or new topics.
Now this section is by far the most important of all things in a BoS. Why? Because decorating your book is what makes it your book. There are no set rules on how to do things here. Want to draw your Goddess? Go ahead! Pictures and stamps? Cool, go for it.
Glue, tape, staple, gunk up, and rip that book until it feels like yours because it being yours, being apart of your craft, is the most important thing to remember.
Oh, that and it's never wrong. A BoS is basically a journal for your craft. No matter how weird, glittery, bright, dark, awful looking, torn, beat up, preppy, glitzy or shiny your BoS is it is never wrong.
Things to Remember
Congrats, you made it to the end and you know how to do it. Wasn't so hard, was it? Anyway, before I go and leave you to your bookmaking I need to give a few things to remember that were important to me when I started my BoS.
- Start small if you have to. Don't get stressed out over all the sections and placement. Do a little at a time and make it fun.
- Work your way up. I started with a computer file BoS and worked up to a book over the course of several years. Don't feel the need to jump feet first into buying something.
- Shop around. Find what fits.
- Don't rush.
- Don't fill all the pages on the first run through. It's a pain later.
- Make it yours and be proud of it. Put good in, get good out.
And that's it. My guide to making a Book of Shadows, plain and simple. I hope this helped get some ideas flowing or maybe got a kickstart for you to start your own.
Happy bookmaking and blessed be.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Charlie
Silas777 on November 16, 2019:
My BOS is a leather-bound book with parchment paper and Abramelin’s Pentacle on the cover.
SpooksWasHere on March 18, 2019:
Much better than wikiHow! Lol! This was extremely helpful, Thank you!
Paige on March 15, 2019:
This is just what I needed. I'm such a perfectionist and I want to do everything right the first time. I need to remember to just let go and enjoy the process. I chose a binder so I can add, subtract,and move pages around as I see fit. It is a beautiful floral binder.
PurpleCrunch on October 16, 2018:
This was what I was needing to read. My problem is I want to do it all right the first time so I never start. Thank you!
lilithkor on August 04, 2018:
this is the simplest yet best article on this topic! thanks a lot :D
eek on July 30, 2018:
"ghost demons and other baddies"
Mary on March 28, 2018:
Thank you this was really helpful it is so oragannized thx for helping me
Avaline from Morristown,TN (USA) on February 13, 2018:
A lot of helpful information, thank you so much! The more I look into Wicca, the more it feels like me. And you've helped a lot with guiding me. Thank you so much!
heather on February 09, 2018:
This was great simple information thank you for sharing!
Raiby Gunesh on February 04, 2018:
Hey I bought a notebook to make it my own BoS. and the book is small. so I might be have to buy another book cause this one's might run out of paper.
So do we have to buy just one big book for BoS or can we have like 3 books of BoS?
Jessica on January 09, 2018:
This was a beautiful write and a great Rede.. haha ;)
Really though, thank you!
Blessed be! )0(
Ruthie on September 14, 2017:
Awesome! I am glad I found this
Nicola on August 30, 2017:
Fabulous article. I have just started mine! Thank you for sharing.