Guest Author - Leslie Ravenwing
Contrary to popular belief, a Book of Shadows is not a specific book or text. Many movies and television shows portray it as an ancient and mystical book filled with spells and incantations. Those new to the Craft soon realize that is not the case. Every Wiccan writes and keeps their own personal Book of Shadows. New Wiccans are often confused or overwhelmed with the prospect of creating such a book. Here is a guideline to help you start your own Book of Shadows (often referred to as BoS for short).
First of all, there is no 'right' way to keep a BoS. There are as many variations as there are Wiccans. Some people don't even keep one. If you belong to a coven, there may be a Book of Shadows belonging to the group that you will be expected to copy from. If you are solitary, you'll have to start from scratch.
What to Use
The term Book of Shadows tends to conjure up large, leather-bound tomes with metal latches and buckles. Books like that are available but they are not cheap and can be cumbersome to use. Any blank book will do, even an artist's sketchbook. Binders can be a practical choice, because you can move the pages around as your collection of information grows. Some very modern Wiccans use a DoS (Disk of Shadows) and keep their material on computer.
Another frequent question about making a BoS is what to write with. Some want to keep a beautiful and traditional book, and think the best writing utensil is a quill and ink. While this may be a good idea, you don't want it to be too time consuming to take notes or record information. Your book just won't get used. A fountain pen is a good compromise, but any pen or pencil is fine.
What Goes in It?
Quite frankly, anything you want. Your BoS is a very personal book, and it is completely up to you what goes in. The kind of material tends to fall into 2 categories: reference or personal. Reference material may include useful correspondences, moon phase dates, sabbat information, spells you might like to try, etc. You can find good reference material from books or on the Internet. Personal material might be a dream journal, poetry or artwork, results of spells you've done, recordings of astral work, etc.
Personally, I have two books. One is a large, 3-ring binder filled with computer printouts from various websites. This is my collection of reference material. I also keep a smaller, hand-written book for my more personal notes. I use a high-quality, roller ball pen for writing.
Don't let yourself get caught up in putting together the perfect Book of Shadows. If you start it and don't like how it's turning out, start another one. As time passes, you'll find it an invaluable tool.