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What is a Book of Shadows?

For the benefit of non-Pagans/Witches, a Book of Shadows is a common term used to describe a witch's personal record of their thoughts, spells, recipes, diagrams or whatever cerebral and spiritual miasma they can conjure and feel should go on the written record. It is also sometimes called a Grimoire or Spellbook. It is a personal choice what one wants to call it but the term Book of Shadows is the usual term.

This compilation is something that will never really get done because it is a map of one's lifelong spiritual path. If you are not pagan, maybe you would call it a Journal or Diary. The only difference will be that the witch's "journal" will also contain their spellwork and other such seemingly strange and spiritual matters rather than just events of the day. Regardless of what your spiritual inclinations are, if you are pursuing some sort spiritual practice, it is a good idea to have a diary to keep track of ideas that occur to you along the way.

For the Wiccan and Pagan: Every good teacher I have encountered (whether by book or internet) ALWAYS advises the same thing -- Keep a BOS. I can see why, too. I helps you track your spiritual progress (and setbacks) and in time gives you insight to yourself. Remember the 13 Goals? The first one is Know Yourself. And keeping a BOS is the best way to do this. If not for anything else, it is amusing to read back a year later what your thoughts were at certain points in time. Another good reason for keeping a BOS is that it would be a real bummer to have a spell work then later forget what you did and used. So if you will take just one piece of sound advise regarding your spiritual practice, this is it: start a BOS if you haven't already or go back to it if you have neglected it.

Here's some tips on how to start one or enhance your existing one. (Coming Eventually)

 

Why is it called Book of Shadows?

Historically, they say it is called this because during what is known as the Burning Times (a period of history sometime between the 14th and 18th century when people just merely have to be suspected to be witches to get burned or hanged), the real witches had to carefully hide their records "in the shadows" to protect themselves.

Another perspective is how Patricia Telesco, a well-known Wiccan author, puts it:

" ...magickal energy works between here and the next, between sounds and silence, between light and darkness. This power flows through the shadows, marking the border between what we know and the infinite possibilities of the universe. Somewhere at the meeting grounds of yesterday and forever, we find the spark of magic, then translate that experience and energy into written word as best as we can."

 

Why do I call mine, The Book of Light and Shadows?

As an advocate of Balance, it just felt right to call my grimoire this title. Without light, there can be no shadows and without darkness, we cannot know light. Besides, I am dividing the book in 2 parts as outlined next page. The Shadows section contains magickal material while the Light section shall contains more spiritual and factual stuff. All of these things are part of my actual BOLS. Of course, there are material in my BOLS that I cannot include here because they are very personal. I'm sure you will develop (or have developed) some of your own. The sections that I share are those that I feel may contribute to someone else's spiritual development without sacrificing my own privacy.

 

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