A witch's journal.
Along my journey of Witchcraft and other esoteric wanderings, I came across many people who were newly intrigued to witchcraft. After breaking free from the strangulation of a Bible bashing family, their intrigue is furiously ignited to what they have always been told never to give a split seconds thought to.
Because their upbringing is so closeted, they know near to nothing about anything esoteric, unlike others who may not have looked into the crooked path, but have never been forbidden to learn anything at all.
When people ask about THE Book of Shadows, it is the first clue that they have never laid eyes on one. You see, there is no "THE" book of Shadows, as if there is a great book, but merely A Book of Shadows. Book of Shadows is the name for a book that indeed holds strong powers, because it has the individuals knowledge and will wrapped up in its pages. If you are Pagan, then you may also know of this book as a Grimoire.
So what is a Book of Shadows? It is any book at all that you feel comfortable using. Some people actually keep their Book of Shadows on the computer. Others buy and write in anything from Ring binder notepads to expensive leather bound journals.
Whatever kind of book you choose to receive your writing, what you put in your Grimoire is rules of your beliefs if any. These will change depending on if you are a Witch, Wiccan, Ásatrú or Heathen.
You will put any spells or rituals you have performed, or even if you have created them and not performed them.
An idea of what sort of order you could put your Book of Shadows in, here is a list of sections that most people have at the beginning, and the rest is personal.
On the first page put a title of what you want to call your Grimoire, and then put a blessing on the same page, this is a blessing to protect the book, and also a curse for anyone who tries to read the book with out your permission. Reading anyones journal with out their knowledge is bad manners, a witch's journal, um probably best just not doing it at all.
After the blessing, you really need to make your dedication to your Gods and Godesses next. Only good manners and foresight to give them pride of place and stay in good favour.
Next you can put what ever rules you follow, whether that be the Wiccan rede, or Witch's 13 goals. Maybe you are a member of a coven that has its own rules.
I would follow this by the beliefs that you personally hold, then it is really dependant on what you use for your following. Do not put a section for necromancy if you do not believe in using it. Also do not put one for Scrivving if you do not do that either. A Heathen with have a much different Grimoire to that of a Solitary witch.
The list to what you put in your Book of shadows is as individual as the book itself. These are merely suggestions and tips on what you could do, for those that are intrigued and do not know who to ask about Grimoires.
As different as the books are, so are it's authors. Because some authors are messier than others, some people prefer to save a very special Book of Shadows and take their time to enter special writings in a specific order. They firstly use a more temporary method of keeping their writings in order, so that if they make a mistake, they have not ruined their lifetime work.
Also, once you have created a Book of Shadows, you will be in good mind to cast a protection spell and even a protection carving on your Grimoire.
Why a Book of Shadows is so important and why it should be kept safe
A Book of Shadows is a tool of your faith, just as a Bible is for a Christian. Everything that you will need will be placed in to this book. Your spells, your thoughts, your rituals, Calender celebrations. Could you remember the way you set out your altar for Winter solstice from how you set it out for Beltane? If not, then you can see how important it would be to keep a record of that.
Your Book of Shadows is a sacred tool, just as much as your Athame or Altar. You would be better to keep your BOS secret because of this. Also, depending on whether you are a coven member or solitary, there may be a ritual or dedication that you have written in there that is not for the eyes of others. Some covens and faiths have what is known as "mysteries", especially Wicca, and they are forbidden for non members to see.
Just as when you consecrate an Altar, Athame, Chalice or candle, when you consecrate a Book of Shadows, you are putting your energies in to this also. As you will come to learn or already know, your energy is what makes your rituals, magik and spells work.
The history of the Book of Shadows
Well, I could finish this with one sentence. The Book of Shadows starts and ends with the Wiccan figure, Gerald Gardner. This was because he was the creator of the term "Book of Shadows", he received his idea from studying ancient Sanskrit book that related Divination to the length of a persons shadow.
Of course, Gerald Gardner most definitely is not the person to be accredited with the Book of Shadows as its true meaning.
The grimoire, Witch's journal, or whatever you feel you relate to, goes back to at least medieval times. Even illiterate people would carry a grimoire around with them as a kind of Talisman. The reason they did this is because when a person of witchcraft writes a spell, ritual or anything of magik, the written word that goes in to the Grimoire is also magik.
Because of this fact, Grimoires should be burn upon death of the owner, but that has not always happened. Times and traditions change, but myself I would not use a spell from another Witch's Grimoire, unless I had rewritten it in my own hand, because of the other owners will and intent wrapped in the words.
I do not cherish the idea of burning such a precious book, such as a lifetime's work and study. I would make sure that it only ended up in the hands of someone deserving of it however.