A Book of Shadows, is a book containing instructions for magical rituals & spells.
Initially, when Wicca was still dominated by covens, “only one copy [of the Book] existed for an entire coven, kept by the high priestess or high priest. That rule has proved unfeasible, and it is now commonplace for all Witches to have their own copies.”
Traditionally, “a Witch’s book of shadows is destroyed upon death.”
Free Book of Shadows or Grimore Template
Feel free to download it and tweak it as much as you like!
BookOfShadows – BWC School Information Booklet on Creating a Book of Shadows
BOS – Word Document – The same document as above, but in a word document.
If you are going to share this grimore, give credit and reference back to this website and page.
Creating Your Own Grimoire
My own Book of Shadows is a work in progress. When I first started out, I had a burgundy binder with hand-dyed pages and it was rather lovely but… I hated it. It was difficult to add to, my handwriting was too large and dying the pages was extremely time-consuming.
So I switched to a digital version with parchment patterned pages and a slightly over the top font that I love.
This seems to be a longstanding, ongoing debate: should a Book of Shadows be digital or does it have to be handwritten? Obviously, I think both are acceptable as I’ve had both. That being said, I often read, especially on forums where brand new-bies are posting, that a plain word document or notepad page is being used as a Book of Shadows and somehow that doesn’t quite sit right with me. I think it should be something a little more heightened than that. Does that make me a hypocritical cottage witch? Maybe. Probably. But, then, that’s the beauty of a path that lets you make a different decision on every detail!
Another Book of Shadows-related question that’s come up lately has been whether or not it is acceptable to share your book with other people. Although certain covens and traditions forbid the sharing of books, I think books (excluding personal journaling, of course) should be shared. One of the biggest obstacles the pagan and witch communities routinely face is finding a sense of community. We need to be able to talk about our craft, bounce ideas off each other and bond over mutual beliefs, even if we find that we don’t believe exactly the same things. My book is a combination of spells and ideas written entirely by myself along with ideas I adapted from other witches who were willing to share; after all, how are new witches and pagans going to find their way if no one is willing to discuss anything with them in depth?
That’s why I’ve decided to share a template based on my personal book! Attached is a word document version and a PDF version. It includes the pages I use for the Sabbats as well as the correspondence lists I’ve collected.
The grimoire will be used differently, depending on your practice:
Contemporary grimoire usage –
There sometimes exists two Books of Shadows or grimoires kept by more traditional Wiccans,
- COVEN BOS – a coven book of core rituals and practices which remains unchanged and from which new initiates copy
- PERSONAL BOS – intended for personal use, which differs from witch to witch and contains magical material collected by the initiate, such as astrology, herbal lore, and information regarding divination. ( see below for a free template for you to use to create your own BOS)
British Traditional Wicca grimoires
(which include Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca and Algard Wicca)
The Book of Shadows used by adherents is based upon that written by Gardner and Valiente.
Also – North American Gardnerians – who do not remove any of the old traditions, only add too.
Eclectic Wicca grimoires
The Book of Shadows is more often used to describe a personal journal, rather than a traditional text. This journal records rituals, spells, and their results, as well as other magical information. This can be either an individual or coven text, and is not normally passed from teacher to student. In many cases, this kind of Book of Shadows is an electronic document (disk or website) instead of a hand-written one. Some reserve the Book of Shadows for recording spells and keep a separate book, sometimes called the Book of Mirrors to contain thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Seax Wica grimoires
the Book of Shadows is called “The Tree”, and in Devotional Wicca, the book is titled “The Book of Ways”; many traditions refer to their Books of Shadows as simply “The Book”.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen (2008). The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca (Third Edition). New York: Checkmark Books.