Creating New Traditions: A Solitary Book of Shadows

Creating New Traditions: A Solitary Book of Shadows November 7, 2017

I’ve been reading a ton of wonderful, witchy books lately, and I couldn’t be happier.  One of them was The Witch’s Book of Shadows: The Craft, Lore, & Magick of the Witch’s Grimoire (Jason Mankey, Llewellyn, 2017).  I’d been wanting to record my ceremonies in something other than my journal for a while.  This book laid out everything I needed to know and inspired me to create my first book of shadows ever.

My book of shadows on my moon altar
My book of shadows on my moon altar, with my favorite pen, tarot cards, crystals, a candle, and a hot cup of tea. 

I’d like to say starting my first book of shadows was an overnight success, but it took a lot longer than that.  First, I had to find the right book.  It couldn’t be too flimsy or too elegant.  I also don’t like touching leather, and the paper had to be creamy.  The lines couldn’t be too close together or blurry.  I also didn’t want certain colors, as they can feel like emotions to me.  I know, I’m picky!

I went to several bookstores and searched through the blank book shelves without finding anything.  I kept looking at practically every store I went to, but nothing felt right.

Finally, months after I started looking, I saw a medium sized black-and-white book with a shiny white ribbon and an elastic band.  The cover read CARPE THAT DIEM, a loose translation of SEIZE THE DAY, in big white letters.  It’s silly, but perfect for me.  That message inspires me to actually take hold of the moment and do my spiritual work.  Ironically, I found it at my local drug store.  I knew it was meant to be, though, especially when I saw it was on sale.

I took the book home, but something about it didn’t feel right.  I placed it on my fire altar for about a month as it “warmed up” to my energy.

Carpe that diem! My first book of shadows.
Carpe that diem! My very first book of shadows.

Does anyone else do that?  I can’t always work with a magical tool when it’s new.  It has to have my energy, or feel like it belongs to me before I can use it.

After sitting on my fire altar for a month, the little book went to my water altar for a couple of days.  Next, it visited my earth altar for a week, then sat on my Horned God altar for a couple of days.  Next, it hung out with my air altar for about two weeks.

After all that time, the book finally called to me.  It was ready!  I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was the new moon, and in my sign, Libra.

I performed my new moon ritual and closed the circle, then started writing the details into my new book of shadows.  I recorded the date, the moon sign, my intentions, the deities I called upon from the four directions, and the deities that chose to show up once the circle was cast.

Afterward, I recorded my tarot reading with a short interpretation at the bottom.  Lastly, I wrote down my mood.  It all fit in a page.

I found I liked writing my ritual down — it was sort of like when I was in high school and had to write up chemistry experiments.

book of shadows with a faery and a moon
Another cute book of shadows, CC0

Samhain was the next holiday.  I decided to go all out with my new book.  I wrote down my Samhain listening ritual, the various foods I gave my beloved dead, the names of the dead that were represented on my altar and what object(s) represented them.  After listening, I wrote down what my beloveds said to me.  Eventually, when I take my altar down this weekend, I’ll write up a conclusion about what worked and what didn’t.

By the time the full moon in Aries rolled around, the coolest thing happened — I was able to flip back to the new moon and use the exact same deities and aspects that I had called upon before.  It made sense, and in a way, gave me some closure with those deities, like I was reporting back on the project.  When it came time to write my mood down, I was elated.

“I feel amazing, full of energy and light.  Possibilities emerge.” 

I was amazed at how the simple act of writing down my ritual made it even more real. It’s sort of like the power of the spoken word (the spelled word?), but different.  Writing things down solidified the energy and my intentions somehow, as if they were more etherial before and now everything was more within my grasp.  I can’t believe I haven’t started a book of shadows before.  Even though I had written down my experiences in my journal sometimes, they inevitably got lost among the entries.  I rarely read what I write after it’s out of my head.  Having all my spiritual experiences in one place makes sense.  Accessing them is more convenient, and having the reference book helps to inform me of what works and what doesn’t.

I should also mention that one of the biggest reasons why I had shied away from creating a book of shadows is because I was afraid that others would read it.  I liked Jason’s idea of a friendly curse at the beginning.  I created my own plucky little curse.

Please don’t read my book. 

My mother taught me not to curse, but that doesn’t pertain to a**holes. 

If you read on, 

May you lose your way. 

May you lose your money. 

May you lose your step.

Be careful, honey. 

I think it’ll probably help dissuade someone from reading it.  Even if no one sees it, it’s there energetically. The elastic tie over the front helps too.  I have half a mind to speak some kind of privacy spell over every time I close it.

I look forward to newfound experiences with it and growing.  In one year’s time, I’ll be able to see where I was.  Seeing that evolution is always really special to me.

*

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  • Maria Noah

    I admire your choices and reasons, Astrea. They are beautiful! Thank you for the education!

    Am I the only person currently working on binding on my own book for this purpose? For some unknown reason I feel compelled…

    • Astrea

      Thank you Maria. That’s so cool you’re binding your own book. It’ll probably be much more special that way. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Andrea V

    I made a sigil for my BoS, and my sigil book (I don’t use my BoS for those) and my little Tarot book as well to “hide it from sight” from anyone but me as I am also someone who guards their privacy fiercely and if I feel like I can’t use the item/book fully because I’m “scared” of it being read by someone else, then what’s the point of writing it down?
    I was still very, very wary and cautious with my words when I first started using my BoS – my husband bought it for my as a wedding gift, so I had this idea that since HE bought it, he would think he had a right to read it… but I know him even better now and I know he would never do that and I have slowly, over time, started writing what I felt and what I did and that kind of thing, with no censorship.
    So, if it makes you feel more secure, then by all means whisper a good spell of concealment over it.
    If you want to see if it works, put the same spell on something mundane that someone occasionally uses and see if they can find it when they want it…