The term “Book of Shadows,” is a Wiccan concept. That may come as a bit of a disappointment for some of you non-Wiccan witches out there, who are now left wondering what on earth you’re supposed to call your personal “witchcraft journals.” The following article will attempt to address this conundrum, while providing you with a number of options for moving forward with archiving your spells, divinatory readings and ideas as an atheist witch.
The Book of Shadows
This term comes from Wicca, and is used to describe the magical journals that Wiccan witches keep. They record moon cycles, spells, magical associations and other pertinent things in them. Back in the early days of Wicca (which really wasn’t that long ago), these journals were limited to coven clergy, and not every single witch kept one. This kept things clandestine and mystical and stuff, which is all fun and everything, but not at all practical. Today, most Wiccans have a Book of Shadows, and now a lot of neo-Pagans have them as well. The use of this term has overflowed into other pagan paths, and it’s probably because it’s familiar and easy to use without overly describing what your magical journal is to you.
Witches who don’t use the term Book of Shadows tend to call their special journals grimoires. By definition a grimoire is simply a book of spells. Grimoires are meant to be kept private and hidden, which makes sense since the historic practice of witchcraft has had its rocky times. Not all witches use this term, however, for some of the same reasons that they don’t use Book of Shadows to describe their journals. For one, it just sounds like too “woo” of a name. Atheist witches may be spiritual and attuned with our personal powers as witches, but not all of us are into all the ‘hocus pocus’ talk that many in the pagan community use. I, for one, feel a bit tacky when I use these words, and feel like I sound like something straight out of a cheesy teen witch show. But that’s just me.
Call it what you want
Ultimately, it’s really up to you what you call your personal journals. Even calling them simply “journals” will suffice. If you want to borrow from the Wiccans like others and adopt the use of Book of Shadows, that’s also your choice. Witchcraft is a practice, after all, and not a religion with a set of rules and guidelines (contrary to what some may try to hammer into your head)! Make it your own, and record your thoughts, spells and anything else in whatever you wish to call it.
I keep multiple books for multiple uses, instead of one big volume or so-called Book of Shadows. The energies of each book is different, and that is why I call them by different names. For example, a book that I record positive thoughts and affirmations is called my “energy journal” or “energy book.” Other books (with other uses) have different names. It may seem tedious keeping up with multiple journals instead of one single book, but in my practice it works out just fine. I do not record moon cycles, plant details or any magical associations of every day items because that is info that is found in numerous published books and online in countless articles. There is no need to waste paper (I love nature, after all) on something that doesn’t require its use. I only record my most important spells, ideas and declarations. That’s just me, though.