Grimoires, Shadows & Mirrors
Grimoires, Shadows & Mirrors.
Record keeping is a very important part of the practise of witchcraft. To keep a book of your craft is a skill and must be learnt and practised like any other, whether you are a crafter with your Grimoire traditions or Wiccan's with their Book of Shadows each of these sacred journals are a representation of your craft, each unique to the individual, made personal by all of your findings and knowledge, the failures which helps keep us humble, to the excitement of the successes. To be able to look back at the journey and see how far we have come, to use as a reference and to reflect on our spirituality, so it is important for every witch to keep a book of records, whatever you decide to name it.
So what is the difference?
A book or manual of Magick & Witchcraft that typically contains spells, recipes, secrets, instructions on how to create magical items, recipes & wisdom past down from the ancients. It is your own personal magickal encyclopaedia, where you would store collected knowledge for future reference. Grimoires have been rumoured to have been around since the Middle Ages, written in runic code for fear of exposure or death, however it became popular during the Victorian era when young women started to write thoughts and wishes in diary, along with family recipes and remedies that were past down through the family. A Grimoire remains entirely outside the practise of Wicca as it predates it by around a few hundred centuries!
Book of Shadows
The Book of Shadows is traditionally a Wiccan concept established in the 1950's by Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca. Where you would keep and document your formal collection of spells and rituals. If you are part of a Coven it would include all of the information past down from your elder, your dedication to your chosen pathway and Ethics and the Wiccan rede, your dream diary and any other relevant information you wish to include. If you are a solitary practitioner it will hold your personal dedication and Magickal code. The Book of Shadows is considered a Magickal tool and such should be consecrated along with all of your other tools and kept on your altar.
Book of Mirrors
A extremely personal and private optional journal used for personal reflection. That is used for your own thoughts and feelings, a Magickal personal diary if you will. Personally, I believe it should be handwritten, where the energy can be transferred from pen to paper without any electrical interference or distractions. You can use a Book of Mirrors to write down any Magickal, Spiritual and Psychic experiences, How did you feel? What did you find out? What worked best for you? and How that has helped in your chosen spiritual path? Any chance meetings or omens, dream work, conversations with the divine. By doing this you can find any predictions you may have made, chart your intuitions and look back on increasing accuracy, learn lessons from the divine. If you regularly write down any spiritual or psychic work you will see patterns and signs more clearly and in the future recognise them more easily. Again this is more of a non-Wiccan custom, as all of this information can go into a Book of Shadows, it all depends on the individual.
There are no hard, fast rules in modern contemporary witchcraft, it is all down to personal preference, to fill a specific need to you. You could choose to use all three different journals, two or just the one. You may find you have multiple Grimoires as the information you collect over the years grows. You can have as much or as little in your books as you see fit, The choice is yours. Whichever you may choose it does not need to be fancy, but it will need to be sturdy and be able to open flat, don't be concerned about your handwriting or spelling as these are your own personal accounts I would suggest that you take your time writing your spells, make sure it's eligible so you understand what you have written when you refer back to it! Be true to yourself, you should never censor your Book of Shadows or Book of Mirrors, if skilled some may write in code, but if you censor it when writing, it will change the energy of the book which will dilute the power. Keep your Journals safe and private, even a lock is a deterrent as you will know if people have pried! Choosing Your Journals Again this is personal preference, you may chose to have a filing cabinet stuffed to bursting with notes and references, you can have a hard copy online, or a simple spiral notebook, a ringed binder or a scrapbook artfully put together, or a combination of everything! Personally I have a Grimoire ( or two! ) which is a simple ringed binder that I have organised into easy to find sections, my own magickal collection of useful information. I have backed this up in hard copy as well incase of forces beyond my control! A Book of Reflections, which is my dream and daily journal, and a Book of Magick which holds Rituals and go to tried and tested spells and magical workings. This is what works for me, we are each unique and what works for some may not for others. What to Include Magick has rules whichever path you follow, each group will vary and each solitary practitioner will have different ideas about what is right for them. There will be different ethics and moral codes as well, if you follow Wicca there is the Wiccan Rede, or a similar concept if that is not your path. All journals should include a title and the date, to help you stay organised, some Practitioners keep one big book and when it is full, some archive it and start another, some may start a new one every year at Samhain.
Here is a brief example of some of the things you can include in the contents as an example:
Title page ~ Table of contents ~ Rules to live by ~ laws and ethics ~ Dedication to a certain pathway ~ Initiation if part of a coven ~ Blessings ~ Altar tools layout ~ Sabbat rituals ~ Esbats rites ~ Moon phases ~ Symbols and Correspondences ~ Recipes ~ Spell workings ~ Sacred chants or texts/blessings ~ Dream journal ~ Mediation journal ~ Book list ~ Poetry ~ Artwork /drawings ~ Herbalism ~ Crystals ~ Healing ~ Astrology
If you are using a journal as a Magickal tool remember to cleanse, consecrate and charge your journal the same as any other magical tool.