Spells, holidays, deities, correspondences—there’s a lot of information to juggle when it comes to Wicca. How’s a witch supposed to keep track of it all? With a Wiccan Book of Shadows, of course!
This personalized tome is one of the most useful and most sacred tools that a witch has at her disposal. And if you haven’t already started one, it’s high time you began.
This guide is a complete, step-by-step resource to help you construct and use your own.
From understanding it to organizing it to blessing and protecting it, by the time you’re done you’ll know exactly how to make a real Wiccan Book of Shadows!
And once your Book of Shadows is complete, your spiritual practice will undoubtedly improve. This living document helps you chart your progress, improve your focus, and most importantly, enhance the potency of your magickal spells and other witchy workings!
Are you ready to learn the seven steps to creating the ultimate Wiccan Book of Shadows?
Table of Contents
Step 1: Understand the Importance of a Wiccan Book of Shadows
Put simply, a Book of Shadows (or BOS for short) is a personalized place where a witch keeps all of her ever-growing knowledge about Wicca and witchcraft.
No matter what format you may use (and we’ll discuss that in more depth in a later step), this is a document where you compile everything you want to know and remember. This includes received knowledge from books and teachers and firsthand knowledge that you gain through the experience with the craft.
The Most Important Thing to Understand
It’s easy enough to understand what a Wiccan Book of Shadows is, but that’s not the point of this first step. You need to understand its importance.
I’ll be honest, starting and updating your BOS can feel like a lot of work.
And when you encounter these times where you’re thinking, “What’s the point?” you’ll have to remind yourself of why this labor of love is worth all the effort.
There are two main reasons why a well-maintained Book of Shadows is the most indispensable tool a witch has in her arsenal.
Reason #1: It’s the best reference tool you’ll ever own.
In step two we’re going to look at what specific things need to go into your Wiccan Book of Shadows. But let me go ahead and give you a little teaser right now—it contains everything you learn about Wicca.
From the best herbs for divination to the Goddess you should pray to in times of trouble, your BOS is your own personal compendium of Wiccan knowledge and know-how.
With it, you don’t have to wrack your brain to recall a specific line of a spell from that one book you can’t remember the name of—it’s already there in your Book of Shadows.
With it, you don’t have to flip back and forth between multiple texts to come up with the right combination of correspondences for a ritual—they’re all conveniently synthesized in your Book of Shadows.
Even though we’re talking about magick, this book serves a seriously practical purpose. It makes your witchcraft more organized and efficient! It’s a simple and fast reference manual like no other.
Reason #2: It’s a history book of your personal spiritual journey.
Just like no two witches are alike, no two Books of Shadows are exactly alike.
Your own personal Wiccan Book of Shadows chronicles your unique journey down this sacred path. Once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to trace a direct line from the witch you are now to the witch you used to be.
Your spiritual development will be there right in front of you in word form. Your past mistakes will be repurposed into future triumphs.
Even though it might primarily be used as a reference tool, your BOS is also very much an autobiography that can lead to profound personal and spiritual insights.
Making a Book of Shadows isn’t a burden—it’s a journey of self-discovery!
Step 2: Learn What to Include in Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
Even though the specific content of your personal Book of Shadows will be unlike anyone else’s, there are broad concepts that most of them share in common.
The next step in creating yours is to learn what Wiccan Book of Shadows sections you need.
Almost all Books of Shadows will open with a dedication of some sort. The specifics will vary from witch to witch, but a dedication of any kind helps to seal the intention of the book.
It gives it a purpose and a meaning.
For some of you, this dedication might be the Wiccan Rede—our most foundational ethical statement in the religion. It’s a good choice because it will remind you of your obligation to other people and living beings.
A Wiccan Book of Shadows may be all about you, but ultimately the actions that spring from it will have an effect on others. The Rede reminds us that we want that effect to be a positive one.
(If you’re unfamiliar with the Wiccan Rede or simply need a refresher, be sure to check out our article on How to Become a Wiccan. There’s a whole section dedicated to it and what it means in practice.)
Others of you may wish to use your dedication to offer a prayer to a particular God or Goddess. This approach emphasizes how the study of Wicca brings us closer to the divine energy of the universe.
If you already have a deity in mind, it’s fine to include them, but if not, a prayer dedicating yourself to the Lord and Lady of Wicca is a smart move. As our divine parents and guides, they are the source of all spiritual wisdom we receive.
A sample dedication to them might look like this:
This Book of Shadows is dedicated to and inspired by the Lord and Lady of Wicca—the great Horned God and the loving Triple Goddess. With their wisdom and guidance, my spiritual path is bright and my powers grow. Hail to those who bless me with understanding.
However, it’s also fine for you to craft a completely personal, unique dedication for your Book of Shadows.
Speak from the heart, but make sure to include these two key elements:
- A clear statement of intent (“I dedicate this Book of Shadows…”, etc.)
- An explanation of its importance to you (increased knowledge, a deeper understanding of the universe, etc.)
You don’t have magick without spells, so you’ll definitely need to include these in your BOS—both favorites that you’ve read and those you create yourself.
All of the expected elements of a spell should be included:
- The steps involved
- Item lists
- Ideal dates and times for performing
- The original author of the spell
However, I also strongly recommend that you add a spell history along with everything else. This will help you keep track of what you performed and the results you experienced.
Make a note of when you performed them, when (and if) you begin to see results, and the intensity of those results. This information is crucial if you want to progress as a witch. It allows you to tweak what isn’t working for you and lean into what is successful.
Correspondences are the magickal and spiritual associations that certain objects or ideas possess.
For example, mint corresponds with luck, and the color gold corresponds with prosperity.
Choosing the correct correspondences is crucial to creating successful spells, so they’re absolutely something you want to keep track of.
As with spells, I also recommend making notes of the correspondences you use and how they have impacted your magick. What works for one witch doesn’t always work for another, and these notes will help keep you from wasting time with those things that don’t jive with your particular style.
When you’re just starting out, many of the correspondences you record in your Wiccan Book of Shadows will probably come from outside sources. But as you progress, you’ll find that you develop a knack for figuring them out yourself.
These are the correspondences you really want to keep track of—personal associations are often much more powerful than those given to you by others.
Within Wicca, we have eight major holidays each year.
Some of these celebrations are determined by the position of the earth and sun, so they don’t fall on the same date every time. You’ll want to keep track of yearly dates in your BOS so that you don’t accidentally miss out on all the fun!
Additionally, you should keep track of the rituals and preparations you use for each of these holidays.
Traditions are a powerful thing. Being able to return to the same spells and practices year after year will begin to create a natural, comfortable rhythm in your life.
Gods and Goddesses play a major role in Wicca, but not all witches worship the same ones. Like humans, deities have unique personalities and attributes that make them specially equipped for certain circumstances.
Add a section in your Wiccan Book of Shadows where you record these attributes—as well as important myths associated with each deity you encounter.
You’ll probably find that you prefer to work with some more than others, but it’s always good to keep a complete running list simply for the sake of your spiritual education.
As with spells and correspondences, don’t forget to record your interactions with these deities. Things like what invocations you’ve tried, messages you’ve received from Gods or Goddesses, and the like should all go in your Wiccan Book of Shadows as well.
(For more information about the most important deities within Wicca, be sure to read our Complete Guide to Wiccan Deities.)
Other Items to Include
We’ve covered the major components of a good BOS, but there is still plenty more you could add to personalize your own.
The following things are not absolutely essential for every witch, but depending on your spiritual interests, they could prove beneficial to you:
- Records of dreams
- A running list of books you’ve read about Wicca and witchcraft
- Goals for your spiritual practice
- Descriptions of different types of magick (white, grey, green, etc.)
- Spiritual role models and why you admire them
- Descriptions of different psychic abilities (ESP, astral projection, etc.)
- Important symbols
Step 3: Leave These Things Out of Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
There’s a lot that can go into a Book of Shadows, but there are also some things that are better left outside its pages.
Some of them are quite obvious…but others not so much.
Hexes, Curses, and Other Black Magick Spells
Despite what some might tell you, black magick (i.e. magick meant to harm others) is very real and very powerful.
But as Wiccans, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and not get caught up in these kinds of affairs.
Words themselves have power, and polluting your Book of Shadows with incantations, rites, and items meant to bring more suffering into the world is not just unethical—it invites those same sorts of negative energy into your own life.
Within Wicca, we have what’s known as the Threefold Law.
In a nutshell, this law states that the energy we put into the world will be returned to us three times over. So, if you’re practicing humane, compassionate magick, you will experience that good energy reflected back to you.
But by transcribing or creating hexes, curses, and the like, you place a target on your back for suffering and sadness. Yes, even just writing them down is bad news.
Take the high road and skip the black magick. It has no place in something as sacred as your Book of Shadows.
Thoughts, Feelings, Daydreams, Doodles
It’s true that your Wiccan Book of Shadows is a deeply personal reflection of yourself. But it’s not a journal.
Don’t let the true purpose of the book become overshadowed by your desire to make it uniquely yours.
Jotting down random thoughts, hopes, dreams, and everything else that clutters your brain has its place, but not in a BOS. You weaken its spiritual power when you don’t remain focused on that true purpose.
Step 4: Assemble the Physical Materials for Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
It’s finally time to craft the book itself!
Your options for what kind of materials to use are practically limitless. But all that freedom can sometimes be overwhelming. Below, you’ll find my recommendations, but don’t be afraid to branch out if you think of a way that works better for you.
Luckily, getting your Book of Shadows going doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and you don’t need any hard-to-find items, either.
With just two (possibly three) everyday things, you can get started!
Your BOS is supposed to be a constantly evolving, ever-growing document. I recommend using a three-ring binder as your base because of this.
When studying Wicca, your knowledge doesn’t always grow in a sensible, sequential order. One day you might be reading up on plant magick spells and the next day could be dedicated to reading tarot cards.
A three-ring binder allows you to insert and move around pages to the places where they most logically fit.
You can’t do that with a more traditional notebook.
Think about it—if your correspondences are scattered across different sections and pages of your notebook, it could take forever to find the one you’re looking for. With a binder, all of your correspondences can go in the same place.
Another Reason to Use a Binder
Unfortunately, not every Wiccan can be out and open about the religion they practice.
Whether it’s because of family pressure or just societal norms in general, we often have to hide this very important aspect of our lives.
This situation might not be right, but it’s the way things are—we’ve got to take precautions when necessary. A three-ring binder looks quite plain and inconspicuous, so it can be a good deterrent to keep away the prying eyes of people who don’t think we should be practicing witchcraft.
When most people see a binder, their mind doesn’t immediately jump to “Book of Shadows.” So, it can help to keep your private affairs private.
Besides, a BOS is meant for your eyes only anyways. You know the power of the pages within, and that’s all that matters!
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Without dividers, your three-ring binder can be just as much of a hassle as a regular notebook.
Having clearly defined sections in your Wiccan Book of Shadows will prevent endless flipping to find the page you’re looking for.
I personally prefer the dividers that have inserts where you can switch labels in an out. Like I’ve said before, a BOS is always changing.
And no, I’m not being paid to promote that particular brand. I’m just passionate about a well-organized Book of Shadows!
Plastic page protectors aren’t as essential as the items above, but they can sure give you peace of mind that your precious information is as safe and secure as possible.
Ask any witch who has had to deal with dripping candle wax or a curious kitty’s paws and they’ll tell you that these protectors are a must for keeping your pages pristine and readable.
It’s one of those things you won’t need 99% of the time, but you’ll sure be glad to have them for those 1% of the time accidents!
Step 5: Organize Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
How you organize your Book of Shadows is largely a matter of personal preference. Each witch has a unique emphasis in her own spiritual practice, so what makes sense for one won’t necessarily make sense for another.
However, there are some general guiding principles for organization, which we’ll explore below.
The Dedication Page
In step two of this guide, we discussed crafting a statement of dedication for your BOS. No matter how you arrange the rest of your book, this page should obviously go first.
Additionally, on this page (or on the one proceeding it) you can add a title and date, if you’d like.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Something along the lines of “Glenda’s Book of Shadows, Begun October 31st, 2018” will work just fine.
Table of Contents
Since I suggested using dividers to mark the different sections of your Book of Shadows, a table of contents isn’t absolutely necessary—you can easily see where you need to flip to.
But if you’re going for a more thorough, “official” book look, the table of contents should come next after the dedication and title page.
General Organizing Principles
My own personal preference is to place the sections that I return to most often near the front of my Book of Shadows. That way, the most important information I need is always quickly available.
For me, that means correspondences and deities come first.
If you’re a spell writer like I am, these two sections are absolutely invaluable.
I place the actual spells section after them because I feel like that follows a cause and effect sort of logic—correspondences and deities are the two building blocks that lead to spells.
But my way is not necessarily your way!
If you’re a complete beginner, it might be smart to open with a glossary of key terms and symbols. These can be tricky to remember when you’re just starting out, so it makes sense to have them readily available.
For those that want to chart their spiritual trajectory, a chronological Book of Shadows could be the way to go.
This can make finding important information at a later date a bit more challenging, but to be able to see a linear progression of how you’ve grown in the craft is powerful in its own way.
Honestly, the possibilities for organizing your Book of Shadows are almost endless.
The most important advice I can give you when it comes to this is to choose a system that makes sense to you and your goals for practicing Wicca.
And by using the three-ring binder method, reorganization is a breeze if you ever change your mind!
Step 6: Blessing Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
Any tools that you use for witchcraft need to be blessed, and your Book of Shadows is no exception.
The process of blessing it ensures that it’s imbued with positive spiritual energy and cleansed of any negative energy it may have accidentally accumulated.
In this step, I’m going to show you a blessing ritual that will ensure your Wiccan Book of Shadows is properly consecrated and ready for use.
When to Bless Your Book of Shadows
The first thing to consider is when you should perform the blessing ritual.
Do you bless the individual materials?
Do you bless it once it’s fully assembled?
I recommend blessing it about halfway through the assembly process.
Before the blessing, go ahead and get the dividers set up in you binder like you want them, but don’t start adding pages just yet.
That includes the dedication page, too—you’ll actually be creating it during the ritual itself. You should definitely plan ahead and decide what dedication you want to use beforehand, though.
Wiccan Book of Shadows Blessing Ritual
To successfully perform this ritual, you’ll need the following items:
Your partially assembled Book of Shadows
- 1 white candle
- 1 black candle (note: if you can’t find a black candle, use a different color with a black ribbon tied around it)
- Matches or a lighter
- 2 yellow or gold ribbons (these should be long enough to tie around your Book of Shadows)
- Paper and a pen or pencil (to create your dedication page)
Begin the ritual by clearing a space and making this invocation to the God and Goddess:
I call upon the Lord and Lady of Wicca to be present with me in this space. Please protect the magick I am about to work and bear witness to the blessing of this holy book. I welcome you both to the physical plane.
Next, arrange your candles so that the black one is on the left and the white one is on the right. Your book of shadows should go beneath them. Carefully light both, beginning with the black candle.
Now, repeat this:
Banishment and consecration join as one in this blessing.
Very carefully, pick up the black candle and hold it directly above your Book of Shadows while you say the following:
I protect this book from all negativity and ill will. Its energy is wiped clean.
Place the black candle back in its original position and carefully pick up the white one.
While holding the second candle above the book, repeat this:
I consecrate this book with the divine light of goodness. It is surrounded by the blessings of the universe.
Place the white candle back in its original position.
Now, it’s time to create your dedication page.
Write out the dedication you planned beforehand and place it in the front of your Book of Shadows.
After this is done, close the book and take both hands and place them on top of each other in the center of it—your right hand should go on top of your left.
As you do this, say:
I call upon the Triple Goddess and the Horned God to seal the blessing I have set over my Book of Shadows. May its pages draw me deeper into the experience of their power. So mote it be.
Next, get your yellow ribbons and tie one vertically over the cover and the other horizontally. When you’re done, it should look like a present without the wrapping paper.
Rise to your feet (if you’re not already standing) while holding the book over your head.
In a clear, confident voice, repeat this:
The book is consecrated and blessed. The power of the God and Goddess resides within. May it guide me well down the spiritual path I have chosen and be my greatest teacher. So mote it be.
Place your Book of Shadows back down in its original position.
It’s time to conclude the ritual. To do so, you’ll need to bid farewell to the God and Goddess.
Do this by saying:
Great Lord and Lady, I thank you for your presence. Though we may depart this sacred place, I know we are never truly separated. Your blessings and protection endure all distances. Blessed be.
And that’s it! Your BOS is now fully blessed and ready to use.
But we’ve got one more step before all things are said and done!
Step 7: Protect Your Wiccan Book of Shadows
By now, it’s probably pretty obvious that your Book of Shadows is a super important tool.
In fact, it may very well be the most important tool you’ve got at your disposal. So, you want to be sure to treat it with the love and respect it deserves.
Caring for your Book of Shadows doesn’t have to be a tedious process, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you progress along your journey.
Keep Your Book of Shadows Private
This is a book for your eyes only. No one else (including other witches) should have access to what’s inside your BOS.
This rule is not meant to imply that you can’t share what you’ve learned with other people—teachers are essential to getting better at anything, including Wicca. But your Book of Shadows is not just an instruction manual.
It’s a personal extension of you.
It’s the closest thing you can have to putting your soul down on paper. Preserving it for your use only doesn’t mean you’re being stingy or secretive about what you learned.
You’re simply keeping a portion of your life private—and we all, witches and non-witches alike, do that from time to time.
Keep Your Book of Shadows Well Maintained
Don’t be careless with the upkeep of your book. Accidental damage happens, but always be thoughtful about the way you treat your Book of Shadows.
Leaving it outside in the elements, handling food or drink around it, and other careless actions are not ways to treat it with the respect it deserves.
Physically, it may just be a binder and pages, but you should handle it like it’s gold.
But no physical object lasts forever. Even a well-kept Wiccan Book of Shadows will eventually succumb to the natural wear and tear of normal use.
If and when it’s time to replace your binder or the pages within, don’t discard your originals like common garbage. If possible, don’t throw them away at all—store them somewhere safe where their spiritual energy can still influence you.
And when it is time for a complete overhaul, you’ll need to perform the blessing ritual once again for your new materials.
Or, if you like, you could craft a rededication ritual yourself that honors the transition from old to new.
Go Out and Make Your Wiccan Book of Shadows the Best It Can Be!
You’ve read enough—you’re now fully equipped to make your own Book of Shadows!
And I’m sure you’re ready to get started.
If you’re looking for information to fill yours with, we’ve got a completely FREE color magick correspondence chart to help you get the ball rolling.
Colors are some of the first and most powerful correspondences that a Wiccan learns, and we’re excited to share that information with you.
Also, we’ve got lots of other great, in-depth articles about Wicca and witchcraft here at Explore Wicca that can help inspire your own personal Book of Shadows.
If you’re relatively new to the craft, I suggest starting with the article “How to Become a Wiccan.” It will walk you through all the basics of being a true, practicing witch.
Or if you’re a little further along, be sure to share it with a friend that’s new to the world of witchcraft!
For more advanced learners, we’ve got articles and spells that touch on a number of essential sections to a good BOS.
I recommend the following:
No matter what the next step on your spiritual journey may be, I hope that this article has been of help to you. And don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions or comments you might have.