The Book of Shadows (BOS) is used to store information you’ll need in your magical tradition, whatever it may be.
Many Pagans and Wiccans feel a BOS should be handwritten -this will not only transfer energy to the writer, but it also helps you to memorize the contents. (Make sure you write legibly enough that you’ll be able to read your notes during a ritual!) - but some use a computer to store information as well.
Bear in mind that a BOS is considered a sacred tool, which means it is an item of power that should be consecrated with all of your other magical tools.
To make your Book of Shadows, begin with a blank notebook. A popular method is to use a three-ring binder so items can be added and rearranged as needed. If you use this style of BOS, you can use sheet protectors as well, which is great for preventing candle wax and other ritual drippings from getting on the pages!
Whatever you select, your title page should include your name. Make it fancy or simple, depending on your preference, but remember that the BOS is a magical object and should be treated accordingly. Many witches simply write, “The Book of Shadows of [your name]” on the front page.
What format should you use? Some witches are known to create elaborate Books of Shadows in secret, magical alphabets. Unless you’re fluent enough in one of these systems that you can read it without having to check notes or a chart, stick with your native language. While a spell looks beautiful written out in flowing Elvish script or Klingon lettering, the fact is that it’s just hard to read unless you’re an Elf or a Klingon.
When it comes to the contents of your personal BOS, there are a few sections that are nearly universally included.
Laws of your coven or tradition: Believe it or not, magic has rules. While they may vary from group to group, it’s a really good idea to keep them at the front of your BOS as a reminder of what constitutes acceptable behavior and what doesn’t. If you’re part of an eclectic tradition that doesn’t have written rules, or if you’re a solitary witch, this is a good place to write down what YOU think are acceptable rules of magic;
A dedication: If you’ve been initiated into a coven, you may want to include a copy of your initiation ceremony here. However, many Wiccans dedicate themselves to a God or Goddess long before they become part of a coven. This is a good place to write out who you are dedicating yourself to, and why;
Gods and Goddesses: Depending on what pantheon or tradition you follow, you may have a single God and Goddess, or a number of them. Your BOS is a good place to keep legends and myths and even artwork concerning your Deity. If your practice is an eclectic blend of different spiritual paths, it’s a good idea to include that here;
Correspondence tables: When it comes to spellcasting, correspondence tables are some of your most important tools. Phases of the moon, herbs, stones and crystals, colors – all have different meanings and purposes. Keeping a chart of some sort in your BOS guarantees that this information will be at the ready when you really need it;
Sabbat rituals: The Wheel of the Year includes eight holidays for most Wiccans and Pagans, although some traditions do not celebrate all of them. Your BOS can include rituals for each of the Sabbats. Click here for more information.
Other rituals: If you’ll be celebrating each full moon, you’ll want to include an Esbat rite in your BOS. You can use the same one each month, or create several different ones tailored to the time of year. You may also wish to include sections on how to cast a circle and Drawing Down the Moon, a rite that celebrates the invoking of the Goddess at the time of the full moon. If you’ll be doing any rites for healing, prosperity, protection, or other purposes, be sure to include them here;
Herbs/Crystals: Ask any experienced Pagan or Wiccan about a specific herb or crystal, and chances are good that they’ll expound on not only the magical uses of them but also the healing properties and history of use. Herbalism and crystology are often considered the core of spellcasting, because plants and crystals are ingredients that people have used for literally thousands of years. Put together a section in your BOS for herbs, crystals and their uses. Click here and here for more information;
Divination: If you’re learning about Tarot, scrying, astrology, or any other form of divination, keep information in here. When you experiment with new methods of divination, keep a record of what you do and results you see in your Book of Shadows.
Sacred texts: While it’s fun to have a bunch of new shiny books on Wicca and Paganism to read, sometimes it’s just as nice to have information that’s a little more established. If there is a certain text that appeals to you, such as The Charge of the Goddess, an old prayer in an archaic language, or a particular chant that moves you, include it in your Book of Shadows;
Magical recipes: There’s a lot to be said for “kitchen witchery,” because for many people, the kitchen is the center of hearth and home. As you collect recipes for oils, incense, or herb blends, keep them in your BOS. You may even want to include a section of food recipes for Sabbat celebrations. Click here for more information;
Spell workings: Some people prefer to keep their spells in a separate book called a grimoire, but you can also keep them in your Book of Shadows. It’s easier to keep spells organized if you divide them up by purpose: prosperity, protection, healing, etc …
The biggest dilemma with any Book of Shadows is how to keep it organized. You can use tabbed dividers, create an index at the back, or if you’re really super-organized, a table of contents in the front. As you study and learn more, you’ll have more information to include (this is why the three-ring binder is such a practical idea).
Keep in mind that as our technology is constantly changing, the way we use it does too - there are people who keep their BOS completely digitally on a flash drive, their laptop, or even stored virtually to be accessed by their favorite mobile device. A BOS pulled up on a smart phone is no less valid than one copied by by hand in ink onto parchment.
You may want to use one notebook for information copied from books or downloaded off the Internet, and another for original creations. Regardless, find the method that works best for you, and take good care of your Book of Shadows. After all, it’s a sacred object and should be treated accordingly!
Book of Shadows consecrating ritual
You can consecrate your new Book of Shadows and Pen(s) of Art with a simple ritual:
On the night of a New Moon, cast a Circle as you feel comfortable doing, and gather together your book and pen(s), along with a blessed bowl of water, inside the circle. By candlelight, consecrate your writing equipment by holding your hands out, palms down, over the equipment and saying words like these:
Book of Shadows, leaves of white Pen of Art with point so fine Soon be filled with Sabbat rite Magick charm and chanted spell. Day by day and night by night, White pages pen of art will fill.
Then anoint each pen, book, etc. with a symbol of your choosing (Pentagram, Crescent Moon, etc.) saying something like:
From this night of the moon, I dedicate this book and this pen (etc.) To the Mysteries of the Ancient Ways. As I will, so mote it be!
Now inscribe the first page of the book with its title, whatever you choose to call it, using your Pen of Art. Below the title write the date in Pagan terms like “The third night of the Wolf Moon, 1999,” - whatever the date is, along with whatever you feel should be there along with the title.
Clichéd as it may sound, the wand is one of the most popular magical tools in Wicca, as well as in some ceremonial magic traditions.
It has a number of magical purposes:
A wand is used for the directing of energy during a ritual;
Because it’s a phallic symbol it is used to represent male energy, power, and virility;
Representative of the element of Air (although in a few traditions it symbolizes Fire), the wand can be used to consecrate a sacred space, or invoke deity.
Wands are traditionally made from willow, elder or oak, though almost any material can be used to create a wand. Sometimes crystals are added to the tips of wands, since crystals amplify the energy sent through the wand.
How to make your own wand
Stick from a tree: this should be approx. 8"-12" long, or whatever feels most comfortable to you. (I get mine off of the ground, there isn’t any need to harm the tree);
Glue: Tacky, Super, or Epoxy (read bottle for best application);
Decorations: such as crystal points, stones, feathers, ribbon, paint to draw runes or symbols.
Wood you can choose from for your wand:
Balsa: Psychic awareness
Cedar: Healing, purification, protection
Ebony: Protection, magickal energy
Elder: Spirituality, protection
Maple: Love, money
Oak: Strength, health
Pine: Money, healing, exorcism
Willow: Psychic awareness, blessings of the Moon
Take a branch from a tree that is fairly straight and the right length for a wand. Preferably this should be one you find, but it can also be taken from a living tree if you psychically “ask the tree’s permission”. But if you get a strong feeling this is wrong and that you shouldn’t cut that tree, don’t do it. Either way, leave an offering of thanks: if you are in Wicca/NeoPaganism traditions, a libation of apple juice is appropriate or some home-baked cakes (unfrosted plain cupcakes, corn muffins, oatmeals or cornmeal, cookies or cornbread, a loaf of all-natural whole where bread) but please no twinkles and junkfood.
Remember: this should be done on the Waxing Moon.
Now that you have cut the branch, you’ll need to smooth down the wand: make sure all the splintered areas are smoothed out nicely, even on each end, so not to poke you while you work with it or use it afterwards.
After that, you can begin decorating it if you wish. I like to use a woodburner and burn my magickal name into it, along with a pentagram, or pentacle, celtic cross, triquetra, whatever your heart desires. I’ve seen some that actually had some beautiful pictures on them. Whatever you decide to do to it, just remember that you are putting your energy into it. Use your imagination, paint something onto it, or carve something into it, or add crystals or gemstones to it in some decorative way. And don’t say “I have no imagination,” because we all have an imagination.
Now that you have it decorated to your liking, the next and final step is to seal it and make it weather resistant you might say. I prefer to use a polyurethane stain on mine, especially the lighter woods. I usually don’t use anything any darker than a pecan colored stain, but I have been known to use a cherry stain, which turned out real pretty. Of course you can also use a clear stain as well. But the whole point to this step is to seal the wood so that it will last longer. I usually put at least two coats of the polyurethane stain on mine. I will put more depending on how dry the wood is.
Now this is just one way of making the wand and staff. I know there are many other ways and methods of doing this out there, I just know that this is how I do it. It is not a difficult method to use and your wand and staff still serve for the same purpose. They are merely an extension of yourself, but when properly made and designed, they can not only be your extension but an amplification as well.
How to consecrate:
a small bowl of salt —> north/earth;
incense —> east/air;
a white candle —> south/fire;
a cup of water —> west/water.
If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.
Light the candle and the incense. Take the wand in your hands, and face north. Pass it over the salt and say:
Powers of the North, Guardians of the Earth, I consecrate this wand of (name of the wood), and charge it with your energies. I purify it this night, and make this tool sacred.
Now, turn to the east and, holding the tool in the smoke of the incense, say:
Powers of the East, Guardians of the Air, I consecrate this wand of (name of the wood), and charge it with your energies. I purify it this night, and make this tool sacred.
Next, face the south and pass the tool over the flame of the candle and repeat the process, saying:
Powers of the South, Guardians of Fire, I consecrate this wand of (name of the wood), and charge it with your energies. I purify it this night, and make this tool sacred.
Finally, turn to the west, and pass your ritual tool over the cup of water. Say:
Powers of the West, Guardians of Water, I consecrate this wand of (name of the wood), and charge it with your energies. I purify it this night, and make this tool sacred.
Face your altar, hold the wand to the sky, and say:
I charge this wand in the name of Old Ones, the Ancients, the Sun and the Moon and the Stars. By the powers of the Earth, of Air, of Fire and of Water I banish the energies of any previous owners, and make it new and fresh. I consecrate this wand, and it is mine.
Now you’ve not only consecrated the tool, you’ve claimed ownership. In many Pagan traditions, including some forms of Wicca, it’s considered a good idea to put the item to use immediately to bind the consecration and strengthen the energy of the tool. If you’ve consecrated a wand you can use it in a ceremony to consecrate another tool.
Earth, air, fire,and water now combine through time and space, by the elements four I consecrate my working place. Bless all magic I preform, empower the spells that I cast, create peace, harmony, and contentment that will surly last.
-close this charm with:
By all the powers of land and sea,
As I will this, then so shall it be.
A Simple Blessing, Consecration & Purification with Salt
This came to me when I was laying in bed last night, anticipating the arrival of my mortar & pestle. Naturally, one always purify their tools before use, especially if the tool is second-hand. The images of me sprinkling & grinding rock salt in my mortar & pestle came into my mind’s eye followed by this little charm:
“ Purity of the Earth,
Tears of the Sea,
Bless, Purify, and Consecrate this tool for me.
May it serve me well,
And empower my magics.
So may it be”
I ground the rock salt into a powder & rubs it all over the mortar & pestle.
Jesus is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.
Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass for the sins of the world and mine.
Jesus is the Word—to be spoken.
Jesus is the Truth—to be told.
Jesus is the Way—to be walked.
Jesus is the Light—to be lit.
Jesus is the Life—to be lived.
Jesus is the Love—to be loved.
Jesus is the Joy—to be shared.
Jesus is the Sacrifice—to be offered.
Jesus is the Peace—to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life—to be eaten.
Jesus is the Hungry—to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty—to be satiated.
Jesus is the Naked—to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless—to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick—to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely—to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted—to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper—to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar—to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard—to listen to him.
Jesus is the Retarded—to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One—to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind—to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb—to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled—to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addict—to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute—to remove from danger and befriend.
Jesus is the Prisoner—to be visited.
Jesus is the Old—to be served.
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.
Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being. I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.
Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.
Mother Teresa, Meditations in a hospital in Rome 1983, “Who is Jesus to me?”