Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Deborah Blake, author of several books, including her new Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows.
If you ask any Witch what their most valuable magical tool is, you will probably get a wide range of answers. For some it might be one of the tools that direct energy, such as an athame or a wand, which are often treasured personal items. For others, it could be tools that boost the focus and energy of spellwork, like crystals or herbs.
No two Witches have identical Books of Shadows, with the possible exception of coven mates who copy theirs from a main group book—and even then, they are likely to add their own notes. My group, Blue Moon Circle, has always kept a group Book of Shadows that contains our spells and rituals, and pictures of our adventures together, plus a few personal touches. We used a pre-made, large, blank book with a black cover featuring a pentacle, but people use everything from simple notebooks to elaborate, handcrafted, leather-bound tomes.
What is inside a Book of Shadows can vary as much as the outside, depending on the needs, wishes, and style of the Witch using the Book. It can be a record of magical work done, and that work’s success or failure. Or it can be a list of useful herbs, stones, and other correspondences. Some Witches use their Book to keep track of divination work and dreams. Some decorate the pages with drawings or sketches, others press flowers or herbs inside. The spells might have been written by that Witch or copied from a favorite book. As with most of Witchcraft, there is no one right way.
I have a confession to make. Until recently, despite having practiced Witchcraft for almost twenty-five years, I didn’t have a personal Book of Shadows, just the one that belonged to my group. Mind you, I have a pretty good excuse: I was too busy writing books for other people to read! The dozen books on Witchcraft I’ve written, when taken as a whole, contain much of the knowledge I have accumulated during those years of practicing The Craft. But after a while, I began to wish that the information I used the most was gathered together in one, easy-to-reference Book of Shadows. So being me, I wrote one.
Then, also being me, I asked Llewellyn if they could go that extra mile and publish it fully illustrated, as beautiful as any book a Witch might create for herself, and put in spaces for people to add their own thoughts and experiences as they used it over time. For me, it is the perfect compromise between starting a Book of Shadows from scratch and having one that already holds much of the information a Witch will need for their everyday practice.
The only tools you really need to be a Witch are mind, heart, and spirit. But knowledge can come in awfully handy, too.
Our thanks to Deborah for her guest post! For more from Deborah Blake, read her article “10 Easy Ways to Create a Book of Shadows or Make an Existing Book Your Own.”