Witches have books. I mean lots of books. I go to any witches house and she will have several shelves of books on a variety of subjects: witchcraft, mythology, herbal remedies, astrology, tarot, occult subjects, and spell books to name a few topics. Witches love knowledge, and always want to know more. But many a witch struggles with making her own book, her book of shadows or her grimoire.
What is this book, what should go into it, what shouldn’t?
Here’s how I see it, the book doesn’t need to be pretty or perfect. It needs to be functional. You don’t need to put everything under the sun in it. You know what your various tools are and what they do. You don’t have to have a section on Athames and Chalices. That is just getting too precious. What do you use more than once but not often enough to memorize it? That is what goes in your witch book. Many witches dig up and make up a new spell for every occasion. There is no point in filling up your reference book with stuff you will never reference again, so don’t bother putting in a bunch of spells if you won’t need them again. If you need a new spell you will use just once, look it up in one of those many books on the book shelf. Lets get to using and enjoying this book, rather than staring at the blank page and trying to get a perfect order to everything it must contain.
I can tell you some things I don’t do often enough to memorize, but I do repeatedly so I need to reference them: The Brigit Flame Tending Liturgy, make Dragon’s Blood Ink, use Ogam for divination or writing, check the moon phases, maps, to look up ailments and what herbs can treat them, make a witch’s bottle, plant seeds, job magic, make that scented oil that gets my lover going, you get the idea.
There doesn’t have to be an organized system. As long as I can find those sections in the book by marking them or having a simple table of contents as a I go along. Leave a few pages blank in the front to add more entries as you add information. A witch’s book is a reference tool.
Now many witches also keep diaries and journals of what they have done: spells, divination, prayers, and then the results after time. Those are valuable, and I read back in my journals about astral journeys I took and so on. But it is not the regular reference tool I keep handy for when I do that monthly ritual again.
How should this book look?
I know a lot of witches who use fancy scrap book papers, or water color entire pages for their books of shadows. Hours upon hours go into how the book looks. I worry that these witches will spill something on all their hard work or when twenty years have passed the scrap book pages will look dated instead of timeless. I find that a simple line drawing to help me find different sections does the job and looks very timeless and elegant. Some witches are so afraid of committing something into a book that they might mess up that they use three ring binders. That is fine, but I think that something smaller and bound will be a bit more useful and pared down. A binder can get so full of stuff printed off the internet that you can’t find what you need anymore, and the rings tend to bend and wear out fast. I perfer the personal touch that comes from information written and conceived by the witch rather than print offs from the internet. Commit to something, put it down, make your own and mark in that blank book!
I think a nice bound journal does the job nicely. I like to write in my own brew of dragon’s blood ink, but that is not necessary, as long as you can clearly read what is written and the style helps you get into the mood, then it will function for assisting you in your workings. The scent of the dragons blood ink is a trigger for me now to go into an altered state.
The only wrong way to make your witch’s book is to never get around to making it because of fear or perfectionism, or making something you won’t use. If you make it and it functions for you on a regular basis, then you are good to go.