So, I have been sorting through all of my Pagan files on my computer (I have way too many), and I came across a nice piece about what to put in your Book of Shadows. Now, It’s a great piece, don’t misunderstand me as you read my entry, BUT either it’s a LOT or I have been doing this whole thing wrong For a very long time!
I am not tearing down this person’s work, only explaining why I am making my above statement and defining why I think some people need to read Pagan related material with a critical eye, not everything is set in stone!
The list is in bold, my commentary is next to it.
Things to include in your BOS are listed below
A protection spell for the book-okay.
Table of Contents- why? If you use dividers it’s needless and wouldn’t you be constantly replacing this?
Glossary of terms-Some people really might need this.
Traditions in Wicca-WHOA; Stop for a second, not everyone is Wiccan. Not to mention, you never stated this was a Wiccan BoS build.
Magickal Ethics-Wiccan Rede, Laws of Return, etc. - I believe in Ethics, it has a section in mine but under “General Information”.
Beliefs & Doctrines- Again, I have this in my “General” division.
Herbalism-This has its own book, I keep many separate Binders, otherwise, I would have a HUGE heavy binder in which to work from…
Paranormal studies- Not everyone does this, should it be included anyway? It’s not exactly Magic(k) related.
*Some of this stuff could be in a “Book of Light” and is really up to the person building. A lot of people keep their BoS as a strictly working book with mainly spells and such. *
Recipes for:- in a different binder.
Ritual and holiday foods-Could be in “Sabbaths”
Bath Salts- maybe a formulary binder
Oils- Could be in Formulary
Incense- could be in Formulary
Meade and other drink- “Sabbaths” again or recipes.
*this whole section does not HAVE to be in a BoS, not everyone is cooking inclined, if not, why have it?*
Correspondences for: -Since there are tons out there, again, I keep mine in a separate binder
Crystal, gemstones and minerals
Herbs, Plants and Trees
Wheel of the Year
Days of the week
Months of the Year
*I don’t have much to say to this section, I enjoy correspondences (as you will learn), I think they are handy to have and to reference*
Chakras – I don’t have anything at all in my personal BoS about chakras, I have read plenty about them but I don’t use them.
Oils- again, great for your formulary if you collect a lot
Incenses –See above
Dream interpretation –Some people keep these in a dream notebook, I am not sure it should be limited to a section of a BoS
Magickal Symbolism and Alphabets-Although very pretty, and great for secrecy, often difficult to use every day. Can you imagine having to translate every time you need that particular ritual beforehand or even during? WOW
Crafts – As much as I personally LOVE crafts and I have quite a collection of Pagan related crafts (dishcloth anyone?). I would think that this could be more than a mere section of a compilation.
Listing of Books and Sacred Texts- Again, I reinforce this!
Divination studies: -Another HUGE area! For myself, I have a separate binder for Divination. There is so much to it!
Smoke, Flame, Fire
*I admit, I had to look some of these up! I find that a lot of people learn about divination by topic, usually runes or tarot first, and then they expand to other areas. In the end, you usually end up with the one that suits you well and collect as much information as possible on that one.*
Shamanism-if this is for you.
Wheel of the Year-traditions-Sabbaths
Rituals and spells along with outcomes for those performed-Finally! I actually put this in my BoS!
Circle Casting-now, we are cooking with gas!
Cleansing and Consecration-BoS!
Blessings- if you are like me,you poor thing, you end up collecting way too many of these and have a whole new binder for them
Meditations- See my note on “Blessings”
Rites of Passage-BoS
Invocations-For some reason I always stick these in my devotions binder.
Crystal Healing-if this is for you, that is
Reiki-Again, not for everyone
Aura Studies-not everyone does this.
Tools-good to have a list, even if you don’t use them all or even if you make your own
Web-weaving-a list of contacts and web addresses-I keep my bookmarks on my computer as well as contacts on a flash drive for back up.
Dragon Lore-I don’t even keep these
Fairy Lore-nor do I keep these.
Humor- or even these ha-ha
Index- Again, this is something I don’t see the sense in keeping as it would be in constant need of updating and on paper that would be a pain in the butt!
This concludes this list.
When I began on my path, I read all the books and I set up a 3 ring binder with so many tabs and dividers it looked like a medical cross reference book. And I never used most of them! I kept them for years and either the subject didn’t seem that interesting to me or I just never got around to it. Eventually as my BoS grew, I had to split it up into separate binders for specific uses. If I hadn’t, I would have had to use a crane to lift the darn thing!
I think at times, some authors feel very self-important and think they know what is best for everyone. And sadly, that just isn’t true. You have to be critical when reading anything and make you own decisions. If you like a subject and want to keep a tab in your BoS for it, then by all rights do so! If you don’t feel you need a tab dedicated to devotions because that doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t waste your time! This goes for the topic of Books of Light as well, not everyone (myself included) keeps one.
I have read articles that seem to shun the computer age, and state that you MUST have your BoS on paper bullcrap! If you want it on a flash drive or your hard drive, It’s yours not mine! Although I do recommend that you back up your files in case your computer decides to die an early death.
You can be as creative and diverse as you please. Your BoS is a reflection of yourself so don’t limit it!