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Grimoire Vs Book of Shadows?

If you’ve gained an interest in witchcraft practice you’ve probably heard of having your own Book of Shadows (BOS). You can type the term into a google search and discover hundreds of different ideas, designs, and opinions on the matter. Then there is the subject of the Grimoire....yes, it can get a bit confusing.

In this post I will try to cover basic information so you can make the choice on which method you’ll use in your own practice, if any.

Book of Shadows from Wikipedia: Gerald Gardner, the "father of Wicca", first introduced the Book of Shadows to people that he had initiated into the craft through his Bricket Wood Coven in the 1950s. He claimed that it was a personal cookbook of spells that have worked for the owner; they could copy from his own book and add or remove material as they saw fit. He said that the practice of Witches keeping such a book was ancient, and was practiced by the Witch-cult throughout history. According to tradition, Gardner claimed, the book was burned after a person died, so that it would not be discovered that they had been a witch.

Grimoire from Wikipedia: It is most commonly believed that the term grimoire originated from the Old French word grammaire, which had initially been used to refer to all books written in Latin. By the 18th century, the term had gained its now common usage in France, and had begun to be used to refer purely to books of magic. Owen Davies presumed this was because "many of them continued to circulate in Latin manuscripts".

However, the term grimoire later developed into a figure of speech amongst the French indicating something that was hard to understand. In the 19th century, with the increasing interest in occultism amongst the British following the publication of Francis Barrett's The Magus (1801), the term entered the English language in reference to books of magic. The earliest known written magical incantations come from ancient Mesopotamia  (modern Iraq), where they have been found inscribed on cuniform clay tablets that archaearchaeologists excavated from the city of Uruk and dated to between the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The ancient Egyptians also employed magical incantations, which have been found inscribed on amulets and other items. The Egyptian magical system, known as heka, was greatly altered and expanded after the Macedonians, led by Alexander the Great invaded Egypt in 332 BC.

So, for the modern witch just starting out, what the IS difference between a Grimoire and a Book of Shadows (BOS) and how would you apply this knowledge to your practice? Through conversation I discovered most witches keep a BOS, but not a Grimoire. A BOS is a witch's personal book of magic; a diary of magic if you will. It includes records of all magical workings, dreams and their meanings, rituals, etc. If the witch does not also keep a Grimoire, it can also include spells and other magical information needed to perform magic.

A Grimoire is like a BOS, but not as personal. It holds information about rituals, spells, potions, and how to prepare magical tools. It also contains lists of correspondences and magical properties of herbs, gemstones, food, colors, etc. Basically, it contains all your magical research. It does not contain personal information or records of magical workings.

Personally, I have several journals that I work with. I don’t have a designated BOS, however I DO have a Grimoire (although I don’t call it that). Over the years I have learned that It's always a good idea to keep records of your magical workings. This will not only help you progress as a witch by seeing your power grow, but will also allow you to see what works and what does not work for you.

In my personal practice I have a journal where I keep my personal musings, I have a book for herbal information pertaining to tinctures, soaps, balms and oils, as well as recipes. More over, I have books for my dreams, dark workings and healings, and folklore. How you move forward in your practice is entirely up to you and where your comfort level sits. Like anything in the Practice, it’s highly personal.

If you wish to start a Grimoire, I suggest using something with removable pages. This way you can add and remove pages as you need them instead of taking your entire book into a ritual where it may be damaged. This also allows you to easily move pages around if you decide to reorganize it. Some people keep their BOS and Grimoires on their computer. I find this cumbersome when I wish to perform magic, but it may work for you.

Remember, whatever method you choose to implement, the book containing you personal musings should be respected. It is a sacred object and should be treated as such. Honor it by giving it its own special hiding place where others will not be tempted to mess with it. Bless it and protect it.  It is only for you and whoever you authorize to see it. You need to be sure that whoever does see it won't disclose its contents to others or harm you or the book. If someone makes you uncomfortable, do not show it to them. This is just another reason I suggest keeping at least two books. Others like to see your research, not so much your personal thoughts. Keeping a Grimoire and a Book of Shadows at minimum is the best way to do this.


#grimoire #BOS #bookofshadows

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