The book that Wiccans refer to as a book of shadows and Traditional witches call a Grimoire is essentially the notes of your personal journey on the craft. This can be a binder, a file, a leatherbound pentagram embossed tomb of aged looking paper or even a simple notebook.
I’ve gone high tec recently and computerised mine much to the horror of some of my friends, particularly the one who writes in a mixture of red ink and her own blood. Well each to their own, but I like my files organised, structured, neatly typed and accessible from any part of the globe. So yes, I have my Grimoire saved on Google Drive!
In terms of what is kept in a Grimoire, well this varies spectacularly from witch to witch. Some use it as a spell book, others a journal. It can be used to keep recipes, correspondences, herb growing instructions. A lot of mine is nice little charts on Microsoft Excel that I add to when I have a new idea or something interesting comes to mind. I keep pictures on there as well, personal pictures of my altars and nature pictures of days out where I’ve felt particularly inspired. Sometimes I copy interesting forum posts for future reference.
And just as the format and context varies from witch to witch, so does the style. Some write in their native language, others use a personally devised alphabet or write in Theban script. Some only feel it works if it is handwritten and I know several witches who refuse to take a paper print out into a working circle.
The secrecy levels vary as well. I’ve got a spiritual journal which is handwritten and kept completely private (and very recently endowed with a hex just in case of prying eyes). But I’m quite open with my other bits and bobs, I even put things of use on my site from time to time. Secrecy is of immense value to a witch but sharing and helping others to progress is also a big part of the craft and certainly a big part of who I am. But a lot of witches would not entertain the idea of being even remotely public with anything that they do. Which is fair enough. It isn’t really a one size fits all solution, we all have different ideas.
So the main purpose of a Grimoire is to have a main body of reference from what you learn in the craft, your own thoughts and ideas, what has worked well for you, what you might do differently next time. And the most crucial piece of advice I would give any new witch starting a Grimoire for the first time is to use a format that is expandable. That pretty leather bound book may seem a great idea at the time but months and years down the line will you really be able to find the spells you need without having to decipher yards and yards of your own scribble? No. Indexing is the key. So perhaps a ring binder or a box file? You might record everything you know about herbs NOW but five years down the line when you know a lot more, you will want to expand your section and it just becomes too unwieldy if your sections are all over the place. So don’t be conned into thinking your book as to look “witchy” it doesn’t. A simple filing system will be of far more use to you.
And think about the purpose of your writing. Is it for you in your old age? Your children? Are you starting or continuing a tradition? Will you ever want to go public with your info or is it just a private reference tool for you? Will typing decrease how “Witchy” you feel? Is your handwriting good enough to read back on?
Consider all this and more when starting a Grimoire because trust me, I moaned and groaned through three weeks of solid typing when I changed my mind about keeping a handwritten document. Lets face it – we live in the modern age – make the most of what it has to offer!
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1403785 (mst_b)
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