I have been a practicing witch for more than ten years and I am finally starting to create my own Book of Shadows. Thinking back on it, the reason I have never had one has a lot to do with my mental health. I was recently inspired, though, by a friend of mine, Laura (find their Instagram here), to create my own. I have a beautiful leatherbound book that my parents gave me for Christmas last year. I haven’t been able to write in it, though, because there is no way to organize or rearrange pages.
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay
Instead, I am creating my own out of recycled cardboard, cardstock, and cotton yarn! Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. I’ll write another post when I finish making my Book of Shadows. I actually wanted to talk about my belief in the differences between a Grimoire and a Book of Shadows. First, let’s define the two terms based on the common Googleable definitions.
By Ethan Doyle White - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
What is a Grimoire?
The definition of grimoire is as follows…
a manual of magic or witchcraft used by witches and sorcerers - dictionary.com
What is a Book of Shadows?
The definition of a Book of Shadows is as follows…
a book containing religious text and instructions for magical rituals found within the Neopagan religion of Wicca, and in many pagan practices - Wikipedia
Based on these two definitions, one book is a book of magic and the other is a book of faith specific to Wicca. This is how I see the two books as well. So to put things in context, a grimoire is a book of spells and information that a witch may need. It contains spells, potions, instructions, and ingredients that are common in their practice.
A Book of Shadows is a bit more in-depth. The Book of Shadows can contain spells and ingredients. It can also contain ritual frameworks, personal correspondences, and educational material that is important for a specific coven, tradition, or witch.
Another common difference between a Grimoire and a Book of Shadows is the number of copies available. Now, this is going to vary depending on the witch and tradition. Typically a Grimoire is for one witch or witch’s family. This would be a book passed down from generation to generation that contained only the important information. You can treat a Book of Shadows in the same manner, but historically, there was only one copy of the Book of Shadows for an entire coven. Each High Priest and Priestess in the coven would then pass the Book of Shadows on to their successors when the time came.
Image by Zdeněk Tobiáš from Pixabay
Depending on the way you view the books, they can be considered one and the same. In my practice, I combine the idea of a Grimoire and a Book of Shadows into one book. My Book of Shadows will contain my spells, potions, and recipes. It will also contain personal correspondences, Sabbat information, and information about my Gods and Goddesses. This is important information for me to have written down to pass down to my daughter if she chooses this path as well.
I feel a little silly having been a practicing witch for so long without a Book of Shadows. But…it is what it is. I do know that it will more than likely be a private matter. I know many people online share their Book of Shadows with anyone who asks. For me, I just don’t see myself doing that. That might be a topic for another day.
Do you have a Book of Shadows? Do you view a Book of Shadows and a Grimoire as separate books? Or do you view them as books to be combined? Let me know! And, if you so choose, feel free to share images of your own magickal books!