What is a BOS?
Witches and The Book of Shadows
By Gypsy Beth
The Book of Shadows is a Witches Bible, a place where spells, rituals, and often inspirations are written. Traditionally most Witches hand write everything into their Book of Shadows, however in the high tech age of computers there are many modern witches who put their entire Book of Shadows on disc. There are even programs designed to format your computer Book of Shadows. Many Books of Shadow are handed down from past generations. I would recommend that if you are just starting one, you choose a very special and large journal, hard cover, or hand crafted wood, leather, or other sturdy material, rather than a spiral notebook, or writing tablet. This book should be planned with the intent of it being around for a long time and used often.
The BOS usually starts out with a Title Page…and may be called something as simple as, My Book of Shadows or something more creative like, My Triple Moon Book of Inspiration. You should include a Dedication page dedicating your work to whichever Goddess, and/or God you recognize, and a Blessing page where you put a simple blessing spell for your Book of Shadows and all the writings within. It might be a good idea to include a line or two about your book being invisible to non-believers, or some type protection, that will prevent ill events from snoops. I highly recommend a table of contents, or index section, as you will find it difficult to locate a needed piece of information later on, when your book is full. A section on your chosen path, or your personal philosophy is a good addition.
Your Book of Shadows will usually contain a list of all celebration rituals, especially the Sabats, which are the major turnings of the year. Also you will probably include all the esbats and moon phases of the year. You may want to include a section for celebrating births, deaths, handfastings (marriages), and even add rituals for blessing a new home, a business or a new job. With all these special events, there are correspondences that go with them, such as deities, gems and minerals, herbs, oils, colors, astrological symbols, and planetary influences. As with most celebrations there will be certain foods, decorations, etc.
Of course, no Book of Shadows is complete until you add your spells. Spells are the magical workings that you use for all sorts of situations. There are spells for cleansing; consecrating your witches tools and altar; banishing negative energies; finding love, a job, or wealth; healing spells and all sorts of blessing spells. It is always nice if you have the talent to write your own rituals and spells, of course not all of us are that gifted and will resort to using the tried and true.
Now I bet you are thinking, exactly how am I going to find and compile all this information. Much will come from books you have read by other witches. Some you will gain from friends, and family members. Some, believe it or not, will come from your own subconscious, as you start writing down information. Most Books of Shadow contain spells, ritual information, recipes, etc will be copied from someone else’s book, this is the traditional means of getting much of your writings. There is an excellent website that may help with all the concordances, called Wicca, at Wicca Concordances
It is acceptable to include information about common ailments and their treatment from grandma, or great aunt Sally…even if they are not admitted witches, most of the folk remedies and superstitions come from the same place, even if they don’t remember how they learned it. It is also acceptable to have a little fun with your book and include pages of family quotes or witch jokes, of anything else you see fit to add. After all this is your Book of Shadows and you are the creator.