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Starting Your Book of Shadows

Book of Shadows Lesson
* Part 4 *

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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You will need a special notebook to be your Grimoire. This is going to become your reference book for Wicca, containing information and tips, ritual techniques, spells, maybe even recipes, etc. 

The first step is obviously to buy or make one. The sooner you can get tyour Grimoire, the better.  It will be very useful during your introduction to Wicca.

What to Look For

Your Book of Shadows doesn't need to be fancy — it could be a spiral notebook or a binder with a covering fabric or pictures glued on.  An expandable scrapbook can make a very good Grimoire.

However, since it will get a lot of use, it's better to use something sturdy, like a notebook or journal.  I think an artists' sketchbook is great for this:

*  it opens flat,

*  is very durable,

*  has thick sturdy pages,

*  is good for gluing things in, and

*  comes in various sizes. 

*  Plus with the hard cover, you can recover it in fabric and personalize it quite easily.

*  The down side is that the paper is not super-smooth, like fine writing paper, and it has no lines (if you want lines to keep your notes straight).

If you have any doubts about your privacy, or you want to be prepared for an unknown future, you may want to look for something with a lock.  No one should read your Book of Shadows.

You will probably want at least 150 pages.  Depends on how much you expect to write in it, of course.  You can always get a second Book of Shadows later, but you'll want the first one substantial enough to keep all your basic information in.

Ideally you want something that speaks to you, that makes you happy to look at and work with.  You can decorate it yourself, if you like… this has the added benefit of infusing it with your energy.

This is your first Book of Shadows, and it's likely that you may have another one or even two in your lifetime.  So bring some care to its selection, but don't worry about it overmuch.  It doesn't have to be perfect.

Better to accept something less than wonderful with grace and gratitude, than to find something amazing with anxiety and stress.  The energy you bring to something is by far the most important thing.   

Where To Find One

Likely locations to find a suitable book are:

*  stationery stores,

*  book stores,

*  art supply stores,

*  dollar or discount stores

You can even buy one online.  I always recommend supporting your local stores and economy, but if you want to buy online, I like Metapot.  You can see their selection of Grimoires here:  [*]

Hard-back Journals

Lined Journals

Unlined Sketchbooks


[*] Wicca-Spirituality is an affiliate of Metapot, meaning that when you purchase through this link, you'll be supporting your Wicca School.  (Rest assured, I only recommend products and companies that I've found to be reputable.)

Asking Permission

It's a good idea to "ask" the book if it wants to be part of your Wicca practice.  You can do this by putting your hand on it, and telling it (verbally or in your mind) what you want it for, and asking it if it wants to participate in that.  Then be still and open your mind, see if a feeling comes to you. 

If you feel positive things, like an expansion in your chest, or tingling, or warmth, or happiness, that's a yes.  If you feel negative things, like constriction, or coldness, or resistance, that's a no.  You may even feel or hear a clear "yes" or "no."

You may not get a clear answer... after all, you're just starting out!  But it's good to ask, and go with your intuition.


Making Your Own

Some people like to hand-make their own Book of Shadows.  If you want to make your own from scratch, you might want to keep in mind these benefits and drawbacks:


Pluses 

+ You have much more control over the appearance of the book –- cover styles, colour of pages. It can be completely personalized.

+ You can use more natural ingredients instead of chemicals (e.gmaking your own glue),

+ You can add part of you (e.g. blood, hair, tears)

+ It will be infused with your energy

+ You can create it with Love

Way more control over appearance and number of pages 


Minuses 

- Only a few sizes are possible, because of the size of paper you can buy

- Can't be sure how well it will hold up over time, since it's one-of-a-kind

- It’s difficult to make a book with lined pages

- It can be difficult to trim the page edges so that they are even

- People may be more inclined to examine it, say if it's on a shelf in your living room, because it looks more interesting than normal books           

 

Here are some resources that can help.  There are many ways to make your own book, though, so don't feel limited by these!

How to Make a Simple Hardcover Book

Bookbinding 101: Your First Book

Free Online Bookbinding Books

This site offers a free PDF for lined pages that you can customise somewhat.

A Few Handmaking Books Tips

  • You might also try washi —  a beautiful, strong Japanese paper that you should be able to find in most good craft stores.
  • You can use very thin, coloured ribbon or a nice yarn to make the binding, as well, using a big-eyed needle.  Start sewing from the outside, leaving enough ribbon hanging to at least touch the bottom of the book (more if you want the ends to dangle prettily).  Then take the ribbon out to the back through the middle hole, and right back in through it again, looping the ribbon over the long one hanging at the back to hold it in place.  Then out the bottom hole.  Tie the two ends together, snug to the bottom of the book.  This also gives the opportunity to decorate the bottom of the ribbons with any beads or whatever you like.
  • Waxed dental floss also makes a good binding thread.
  • An alternative to hand-stitching is to use a sewing machine set to the longest stitch length (straight, not zigzag of course), or a long-arm stapler which you can get at office supply stores.
  • Be aware that once you use any needle on paper, you can't use it on cloth again.

Preparing Your Book of Shadows

The most basic preparation is to write a blessing in it.

You might also want to number the pages (very handy when looking things up later).

You can decorate it, if you like: both the cover, and the inside pages can be decorated with drawings and quotations and clippings of images or words from magazines.

The final step in preparation is to purify and bless your Grimoire, which we'll get to in a minute.


Storing Your Book of Shadows

Ideally you want to keep your Book of Shadows near your altar--or wherever you keep your extra-special things.  (We'll get to altars later this month.)

This is partly for the benefit of keeping your sacred items in your altar's charged energy field, which keeps everything stronger.  And partly just for convenience, since you'll most likely be wanting to reference or make notes in your Book of Shadows when you're doing your ritual / magick work.

The most important thing, however, is that your Grimoire be safe and private

There are a number of reasons for this.  One of the biggest is that you should never need to censor yourself in your Book of Shadows, worried that someone else might read it.  It will change the energy of the book, if you're writing it with that worry.  It will affect what you write in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, which can dilute the value of the book. 

And of course the other big reason is that Wicca is still persecuted by the narrow-minded.  You don't want someone to just stumble across it and potentially use it against you.  Or decide to burn it or something!

Some people accomplish Grimoire-security with a good hiding place.  For some people, a locking journal is enough to keep their family members out — this won't stop someone who's determined to break into it, but at least you'd know if someone had. 

For some people, it may be worth it to buy a small safe (you can often find them in stores like Staples and London Drugs nowadays), and keep it locked away.  A locking toolbox should also work.

And some enterprising souls write their Grimoires in code!

I don't want to make you completely paranoid about this, though.  If you are an adult, living with safe, respectful people, it should be enough to just keep it somewhere people won't pick it up by accident.


Continue to Part 5: Purifying & Blessing your Book of Shadows


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Continue with Book of Shadows, 5:
Purifying and Blessing Your Book of Shadows


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