Saturday, 3 May 2014

What is a Book of Shadows or Grimoire?

      If you've seen Charmed, Googled spell book or read a book about Wicca you have probably seen a replica or actual Book of Shadows (BoS). Its quite possible that you may have even read a BoS, if you haven't written out your own considering that one of the most popular beginner Wicca books on the market, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by: Scott Cunningham, includes the author's BoS. But really what is a BoS, is it a journal? A recipe book? or a Grimoire? And what's a Grimoire?

Buy a copy here

     Essentially a BoS is a Wiccan book, or is it? According to Wiccan practices, the BoS is a compilation of spells, enchantments, meditations and well recipes for magic.

       Fun fact: Wiccans spell magic with a k (magick) to separate it from the hocus pocus, rabbit pops out of a hat stuff; me I spell it without the k because I don't feel the need to validate my practice by adding an extra letter, also I'm not a Wiccan witch...

Based on the fact that Wiccans use their BoS to keep track of all the magical practices, a BoS doesn't actually have to be a bound book. A BoS can be a bunch of sheets hole punched and placed in a binder, a pdf file on your computer or really a folder of bookmarks on your browser. As long as you're Wiccan and you're accumulating Wiccan facts, spells and magical information together in one place you have a BoS. Fundamentally a BoS is a recipe book, or digital file containing a Wiccan's personal collection of magickal information. 

Printable Book of Shadows (or Grimoire) Sabbat Pages from: 

    Whether you decide to write out your BoS by hand or type it up on the computer is entirely your choice, there is really no wrong way of doing it. If you are Wiccan and seeking to create your own BoS, it is important to note that the BoS is generally consecrated following certain Wiccan guidelines. I borrowed the passage at the end of the page from a Wiccan website on consecrating a BoS (As I'm a traditional witch I don't have a specific ritual for this but I felt that I ought to offer a resource for new Wiccans seeking information). 


Blank Printable Full Moon/Moonrise Grimoire or BoS pages from:

         In addition to magical recipes a BoS can also serve as a journal for a practitioner's experiences during the ritual i.e. thoughts, feelings, visions etc. For some Wiccan witches, the BoS remains purely a recipe book while feelings and experience are recorded in the Book of Mirrors, a Wiccan journal without the recipes. However, this is purely an optional decision and from my research I've gathered that the majority of Wiccans compile all of their magickal information thoughts and recipes in their BoS. If you're a Wiccan reading this feel free to clarify further in the comments :)


Book of Shadows & Grimoire Cover Page form

      That leaves us with the Grimoire. While the BoS was established in the 1960s & 1970s by Gerald Gardener, the founder of Wicca, the Grimoire dates back to approximately the  16th-17th centuries. It is possible that Grimoires predate this timeframe, however more research needs to be undertaken to affirm this. In contrast to the more modern Wiccan BoS, a Grimoire is non-Wiccan or traditional witch's collection of spells. While a BoS is based upon the Wiccan understanding of magic, deities and spells, a Grimoire may contain anthropological, scientific, herbal, and historical information that in some cases predates Wicca. A Grimoire also does not need to be consecrated using the specific ritual tools or methods of Wiccans and quite frankly does not need to be consecrated at all, the decision is entirely up to the witch.

The Key of Solomon is One of the Oldest & Most Historically Popular Grimoires

        Overall, the main difference between a BoS and a Grimoire is that a Grimoire (unless written by a Wiccan) remains entirely outside the practice of Wicca (although a witch can include Wiccan information if she/he feels it pertains to her/him). A grimoire is then, the spell book, recipe book and journal of a traditional non-Wiccan witch who follows the ancient traditions of witchcraft as opposed to the more modern Wiccan practices.


Leather Tree of Life BoS From:

        What do I use? As a traditional witch I use a Grimoire as a personal preference. The tradition of the Grimoire is far older and speaks to me in a way that Gardener's Wiccan Book of Shadows simply cannot. My current Grimoire is a combination of a hand written journal type book and an extensive bookmark folder on my browser for all the witchy information that I think might be useful. 

Printable Book of Shadows (or Grimoire) Sabbat Pages from:


Consecration of a new Book of Shadows
Borrowed from Joelles Sacred Grove

Materials: 4 votive candles, 1 taper candle, a chalice with salt-water, a
bowl of sand, a cone of sandalwood incense, matches.
Place the object in the middle of your alter. Create a Pentacle around it
with the corresponding votive candles, Yellow-East-Air, Red-South-Fire,
Blue-West-Water, Green-North-Earth. Then at the top of the Pentacle place
on taper candle of Purple or Black-Akasha-Spirit. Off to the right center
of alter place the bowl of sand, the chalice, and the incense.

Light the taper candle saying:
"I place before you my Book of Shadows and
ask the elements to assist my consecration."
Remove the taper candle from its holder and light the green votive, from
its flame, saying,
"I consecrate with the element of Earth."
Place the bowl of sand atop your BOS.
Light the blue votive, saying,
"I consecrate thee with the element of water."
With your fingers sprinkle a little salt-water on the BOS, and then
add some to the bowl of sand.
Light the red votive, saying,
"I consecrate thee with the element of fire."
Wave the flame of the taper candle close to the BOS, but not close
enough to burn it.
Light the yellow votive, saying,
"I consecrate thee with the element of air."
Place the cone of sandalwood incense in the middle of the sand, and
light it.
Place the taper candle back in its holder. With your right hand pick up the
bowl now containing the elements. Now with your left hand pick up the BOS.
Blow out the flame on the incense, (it should burn sufficiently now), and
wave the BOS over the bowl, making sure that it passes through the incense
smoke, saying,
"Consecrate and bless this Book of Shadows, that it may contain my personal
records, be my personal reference, and exude my personal devotion."
Place the BOS back in the center of the candle created Pentacle. Place the
bowl back on top of it, saying,
"By the powers of Earth, Sky, Star, and Sea, This is my will, So mote it be!"
You may either end the ritual by allowing the candles to burn until the
incense goes out, and then snuffing the candles, or you may want to go
forward with your Dedication of your BOS. Remember, rituals should be as
personal as possible.


More reading on BoS:

More Grimoire Reading:



6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the feature!! I appreciate it, this is a great post! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) Your artwork is beautiful!

      Delete
  2. Thank you for this. I am also a witch not Wiccan. I have started to use the BOS layout just so I can ha e something that has all my info on hand in paper form as I do not like technology lol. I also want to have my own grimoir to have with me always. I just wasn't sure how to start it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Thanks for reading! That makes sense I quite like technology but I also love having something to write in :)
      Many Blessings,
      Sarah
      www.sarahfawnempey.wordpress.com

      Delete
    2. Hey Thanks for reading! That makes sense I quite like technology but I also love having something to write in :)
      Many Blessings,
      Sarah
      www.sarahfawnempey.wordpress.com

      Delete
  3. Thank you for this. I am also a witch not Wiccan. I have started to use the BOS layout just so I can ha e something that has all my info on hand in paper form as I do not like technology lol. I also want to have my own grimoir to have with me always. I just wasn't sure how to start it.

    ReplyDelete

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