How to Build Your Book of Shadows: The Official Guide for Type-A Mystical Witches
A book of shadows is a witch's bible. It's sort of like a reference journal, where she collects all her recipes, ingredients, & correspondence charts for magic making. A grimoire is more of a witch's magic diary, where a witch logs all her spell craft & experiments.
Honestly, it doesn't matter whether you call your magic diary a book of shadows or your grimoire. But how you build your magic diary really affects how you practice your craft--whether it's organized, streamlined, or a hodgepodge of diary entries with notes from another source.
In my Moleskin-based BoS, I copied down EVERYTHING: the correspondences between EVERY crystal & deity, EVERY SINGLE medicinal use of this herb or that extract. Now, I honestly believe that, if you need references for every type of magic, you might as well forget creating your own BoS & just buy a witchcraft encyclopedia or download a smartphone app. (I link to some under Resources in this post).
These days, I'm really streamlining my magic practice. I know what I like to practice, what I need close-at-hand for my craft, & I'm ready to start living out loud as a cosmic babe... which means keeping the woo-woo always within reach.
If you're a witch baby without a BoS, let me help you get started! I'll point you to some innovative options for creating one, explain what goes INTO your BoS, then really dig into my new obsession: Building a BoS that makes me feel cosmically-in-charge of my life into a refillable daily planner!
WHICH BOOK IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
For your BoS, organization is crucial. You want clear, simple divisions between references. You also want your BoS to custom-fit your life & magic style. I've got choice examples & tutorials to help you divine what you truly need on hand.
RECLAIM AN ANTIQUE-Y BOOK.
Do you love that antiquated aesthetic for your witchy swag? Visit a used bookstore & find a book with a strong, succulent leather binding. Make sure it's not a book you'll want to read, because you're going to overlay your notes, diary, & magic references on the actual pages. Here's an example of a book altered into a BoS. (I'll collect all the links in this article under Resources below.)
WANT INNOVATIVE ORGANIZATION? TRY BULLET-JOURNALING YOUR BOOK OF SHADOWS.
Bullet-journaling is basically an organizational hack to diary-keeping. If you prefer a crisp & brand new journal, try a Moleskin or perhaps invest in a super riche leather-bound journal (like this one *drool*).
Bullet-journaling in a nutshell: you create indices somewhere in the journal, then section off pages for your daily log & different magic references. The concept hinges on having a journal with numbered pages (easy to find with many Moleskin journals), so you can easily flip to & fro between sections. Here's a tutorial for bullet-journaling a grimoire!
TUMBLR, EVERNOTE, & iTUNES ARE ALSO HERE FOR YOU.
You're a mystical girl in a digital world. Sound philosophical points have been made against digital grimoires (handcrafted is always better-crafted), but plenty of witchy babes host their BoS on Tumblr or in Evernote. Follow your own weird heart.
On Tumblr, create an account, then create pages for your magic references. My fav examples: My eBook of Shadows & This Book of Shadows. (The latter has a table of contents for flipping between references!)
But FOR TYPE-A MYSTICAL WITCHES, A PLANNER-BASED BOOK OF SHADOWS IS SUPREME.
I don't even know how a cosmic babe can separate out her daily schedule from the lunar / astro cycles. I need my magic references for planning my life.
Which is why, in 2017, I’m transitioning my BoS into my daily A5 planner.
Installing a planner system satisfies my 2 major BoS criteria: organization + aesthetic control.
What appeals to me most? A planner-based BoS streamlines your magic focus. Many upscale planners have sweet metal binder rings for adding & removing pages, so everything stays neat & updated. You can insert tabbed dividers for different magic references: Tarot-scopes, moon magic, Goddess devotions, crystal meditations, herbal tinctures & recipes, etc.
Plus, you can totally score BoS printables to fit your planner, or even create your own in Microsoft Word (just correctly size, print, & hole-punch).
And whichever planner system you choose, you CAN adapt it into your BoS! Besides Filofax, there's Kikki K, Paperchase, or Webster Pages. I advise choosing a size based on where you'll be when you set about organizing your calendar & planning your ritual life. A5 works best for me as a desktop planner (my sacred space shares my office space), but the Personal size is very popular.
THE ANATOMY OF A BOOK OF SHADOWS
But what goes into your BoS? Of course, there are variations, but most witch bibles have these 4 inclusions:
- Your coven rules, magical cosmology, manifesto, or tenets of the magic code you observe
- A Goddess devotion or pledge to your daimon, guardian angel, or Higher Self
- A wish list or outline for WHEN you'll practice magic: daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, etc.
- Recipes, correspondence tables, catalogs, ritual outlines, & other references
Whatever rules, laws, or cosmology your practice follows, bring it to the front.
I’m flying solo in my magic practice, but if I did join a coven, our credo would go on the opening page.
If you're not part of a coven & haven't identified the magic cosmology you believe in, then open your BoS with your manifesto! (Need help writing your manifesto? Check out this post.)
Next, your Goddess dedication.
Do you have a Patron Goddess? You would dedicate your BoS to Her in this section. You can write a short dedication on the inside flap of the journal or transcribe an entire prayer. If you have multiple prayers or invocations, group them here.
If you haven't discovered your Patron Goddess or cosmology (sometimes your initial experimentation reveals this to you), dedicate your BoS to your soul-development.
If you can't articulate what you're practicing for, then just create a mini-vision board.
After that, your Wish List (a.k.a. your outlined practice).
A Wish List is like a roster of intentions of my magic practice. My Wish List is a concise log of what I'm truly focused on with my magic practice: my goals, cravings, recurring whims, core desired feelings, & the general topography of how my life would look with all my fulfilled desires.
My Wish Manifesto is like a fleshed-out To-Do list that logs the magic work I'm doing IN PREPARATION of the manifested wishes.
This is an outline of HOW you'll manifest or divine your wishes / intents. Create a daily schedule for practicing magic or describe where you'll practice.
Now, the actual magic references!
Remember, a planner-based BoS streamlines your magic practice. I have Moleskins with thousands of rainbow-ink drenched pages full of magic ingredients, chants, spells, charts, & keys, but in my planner, I prioritize information that relates with the season & my daily moods.
What references do I keep close at hand?
My magic focuses most on moon magic & Goddess rituals, kundalini experiences, Neo-Alchemy, ancient Egyptian magic, & tools for psychic health & transformation. If you're down with herbal magick, sigil-making, or Hoodoo, then you'd create charts, tables, lists, etc. for that.
What other types of references could you keep in your BoS? Prayers, recipes, poems, anatomical diagrams, passages from magic & non-magical books alike. It depends on the type of witch baby you are & the kind of magic you practice.
Remember, a planner-based BoS is all about streamlining your magic practice. If you're really digging into psychic clarity this season, & focusing on crystals, new moon rituals, & creative visualization, you don't need references cataloging stones for money magic. The closer your daily, on-the-ground schedule looks for realizing your magical intentions, the more likely crazy synchronicity will happen!
HOW TO PIMP YOUR PLANNER-BASED BOOK OF SHADOWS
When I look at my BoS, it totally represents the topography of my wishes manifesting, my daydreams fructifying, my visions materializing.
Here are my best tips for unifying your magic practice with scheduling your ordinary life!
What you'll need to pimp out your planned-based BoS:
- Schedule planner sheets (monthly, weekly, daily)
- Other practical stationary for your planner (like, to-do lists, shopping lists, meal planners, calendars at a glance, etc.)
- Dividers for your magical references (one for Tarot, one for Crystals, one for Hoodoo --> Self-Love or Herbal Magick --> Psychic Protection, etc.)
- Ziplock pockets (for glitter, sigils, or talismans)
I gutted my Filofax & used the "stock" inserts for scratch paper. Then I refilled my planner with specialty stationary (I'll tell you about that in a sec). I scored cute dividers for quick 'n easy navigation between rites, topics, & themes in my magic. Finally, I added lots of swag, stickers, cute bookmarks, & ziplock pockets for storage / creativity.
What's your system?
Determine how you need to organize your magic practice & ordinary schedule.
Start by listing ALL your recurring activities: daily, weekly, monthly, & annually. Include mundane activities ("full-out house-saging 4x a year") & magic ("New Moon activation ritual 13x a year").
Next, list your goals & would-be accomplishments. Like, "finish creating my own moon magic almanac" or "finally get around to writing that letter of forgiveness to my step-dad (to be burned in a banishment ceremony)".
Now, what are some magic rites you're dreaming of but haven't yet pulled of? Maybe doing a crystal meditation totally naked in the moonlight, or even just finally making meditation a daily routine.
Once it's all laid out, you'll see how you should plan your magical life!
Prep your calendar.
Supply your planner with the types of planner pages YOU need: yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, & / or hourly. Don't crowd your planner with an entire year's worth of schedules, though. I only have about 3 mos. of schedules at any given time (& then, I only use monthly scheduling pages).
On your monthly planner pages, indicate full & new moons (if this isn’t already printed). Also mark off upcoming sabbats, the astrological climate, when natural ingredients will be in bloom, etc., whatever applies to your magic practice. Sticker days you'll set aside for magic rituals, meditation, etc., & bracket off astrological changes with highlighter ink.
Also include any of at-a-glance calendars you need as well, like for the lunar cycle, school / work, or the sabbats. Slip them into a plastic folder or hole-punch them & insert.
For me, the lunar calendar is the basis for all my magic practice. I have an at-a-glance 2016 lunar calendar & also mark off the new / full moons marked on my monthly calendar. I get the Month-to-2-Pages planner sheets & the gridded paper in A5 from KiddyQualia (because, rainbow). I use a highlighter to bracket off astrological changes, too, so that no matter what's going on with my schedule, I'm aware of what's happening.
Obviously, having this all laid out ahead of time makes auspicious scheduling so much easier! I set aside time to sticker, highlight, & otherwise mark off my calendar pages with all the year's celestial rhythms, then store all the calendar pages more than 3 mos. in the future in a desk drawer.
Note: Prep your calendar for objective, natural calendar events (like moon phases & seasonal changes), & mark off deadlines, etc., only when you're within a couple months of them. Otherwise, given project delays or unexpected events, you might end up with totally irrelevant project items cluttering up your planner.
What other types of stationary keep you organized?
Think about how you plan ahead & what you need in-the-moment. To-do lists, meal planners, scratch paper, etc.
And you should definitely stock your BoS planner with stationary to serve your Wish List & magical intentions. For instance, if focusing on money magic, stock your planner with an account ledger. If focusing on self-love, stock pages for writing positive affirmations.
Go to Etsy, CreativeMarket, or Amazon to find speciality stationary. Search for your brand of planner + "meal planner", etc., to find the perfect fit.
Create your magic references.
What kinds of references you keep close-at-hand depends on your magic practice.
So, decide what you're actively practicing. What's on your Wish List? What are your goals, intentions, needs, & desires?
What specific rites are you learning? Moon magic? Kundalini meditation? Sabbat ceremonies?
Besides rituals & meditations, what sort of psychic healing is your magic practice helping you achieve? Self-love, sovereignty, creativity?
What flowers, gemstones, & magical rites are relevant to YOUR intentions, YOUR patron Goddess, YOUR psychic development? What ritual outlines do you need on hand? What types of catalogs? For example, if you're practicing crystal magic, create a chart or roster of all the stones recommended for chakra healing, psychic dreaming, self-love, or whatever's related to your core themes / intentions.
Now, create the references! You can buy printable inserts from witchy stationary shops like Blade & Broom Botanica, or transcribe by hand. I write or draw my charts, recipes, & correspondence tables onto gridded paper (also from KiddyQualia.) I only need about 5 sheets per reference section, but I stock lined paper for logging notes about my rituals, what crystals I wore that day, synchronicity, etc.
My 2017 magic practice's themes are money magic, self-love, chakra healing, & moon magic. I catalog crystals, Goddess synthemata for rituals, & Tarot symbolism. I've also tended a daily log of quotes & music lyrics that drift into my bubble: usually impressing me with their synchronistic relevance to something on my heart or in my mind. (If you do this too, bullet-journal stationary is totally available for your planner-based BoS!)
Organize your references.
For every type of reference or theme related to your practice, insert a divider. You can buy them, custom-order them from some stationary shops, or create your own. This blogger shows off her custom-ordered BoS-Filofax dividers.
I have 4 dividers in my BoS planner: "Tarot-scopes", "Crystal Meditations", "Goddess Devotions", "Moon Magic," & "Kundalini." For now, I'm using the stock dividers that accompanied my Filofax, but will upgrade later on--if I don't figure out something creative to do with the stock dividers.
Find shadow-book swag!
Decorate your BoS planner with stickers, washi tape, sequins, & other plumage that totally rides your witchy vibe.
What's your aesthetic? Pastel Goth? Urban Boho Chic? Search Etsy, CreativeMarket, or Amazon for planner goodies suiting your own mystic taste. Type "pastel goth" + "stationary" or "planner" to find good stuff, like clips, folders, pockets, pens, etc.
For me, I lean towards Pastel Goth: oozy bubble letters in bright aqua & pink, bookmarks shaped like occult artifacts (don't you love this Ouija planchette planner clip?!), & cutesy calendar tools, like like these Mystic Moon stickers.
Also consider practical tools, like a portable hole puncher. (Check the online store of the company who made your planner for the proper size.)
Your BoS planner is a microcosm of the mystical yum you're creating! Here's some inspiration for pushing the magic envelope of your planner:
- SpaceCat shared a tutorial for bullet-journaling a grimoire & if you're really diggin' it, here's a compendium of general bullet journaling hacks
- Artistic stationary & reference tables to print & insert into your BoS
- This blogger shows off her themed BoS-Filofax dividers
- For my BoS calendar, I get the Month-to-2-Pages planner sheets & the gridded planner paper in A5 from KiddyQualia (because, rainbow)
- Check out Gatekeeper Goods for misc. planner swag & adorable, Pentagram-stamped stationary
- Mystical girl in a digital world? Check out My eBook of Shadows & This Book of Shadows
- For smartphone access, check out the Book of Shadows app or the Liber Umbrarum & Lux app
- Prefer a retail BoS? Visit Witchcrafts Artisan Alchemy or13 Moons for totally succulent fine-crafted magic journals
- Want a custom crafted BoS? Check out the Gypsy Witch Magick Etsy shop!
One of my fav magical principles is from the Law of Correspondence: a place for everything & everything in its place.
My planner-based BoS brings my cosmic babe identity to the forefront. This isn't just weekend woo-woo, but how I organize MY LIFE.
Which makes me want to ask you: Are you ready to push the envelope in your mystical lifestyl'ing? What elements of your cosmic babe life still feel pressed into the background?
Staying cosmic (& organized),