A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith
It’s Dahlia, and today I’m bringing you something of a crash course in one of the cornerstones of any witch’s practice – grimoires.
I don’t generally put anything down as a hard-and-fast ‘rule’ of witchcraft as a whole, but grimoires are one of those things that I’m tempted to hang that label on. They’re incredibly useful both in-the-moment and to look back on later as you grow and change in your practice.
If you’re a baby witch who’s been looking around for all of five minutes, you’ve probably seen the term ‘grimoire’ here and there. But what exactly is it?
What is a Grimoire?
Simply put, ‘grimoire’ is a sort of catch-all term for a magickal journal – by which I mean, a place where you record notes on your practice, interesting herb and crystal profiles, moon phases, spells, dreams, meditation notes, etc.
It’s something of a scrapbook of your magickal journey so far. Some witches feel comfortable sharing flip-throughs of their grimoires over on YouTube, so you might want to watch a few videos to get some inspiration for things to put in your own book. There are also free and paid printable grimoire pages all over sites like Etsy.
Inspiration is great; just be careful of witch-envy! Ya know, that feeling that you’re not ‘a real witch’ or ‘doing it right’ because your book or practice looks different than others? Or, just that twist of normal envy you get when you see a really pretty grimoire… Been there lol
A small note: from my research, it looks like ‘Book of Shadows’ is actually a Wiccan term, not a general witchcraft one. There are similar terms, however, such as ‘Book of Mirrors’ and ‘Book of Methods’ that are used less commonly.
Why Do I Need a Grimoire?
Well, there are actually a couple of reasons that keeping a grimoire is a good idea:
First, having a physical (or digital!) grimoire is a great way to keep track of all the information you’re learning. Reading up on, say, astrology won’t do you any good if you keep forgetting half of what you read, after all.
Having the key points taken down in your grimoire provides you with a kind of cheatsheet you can use until you have the information well and truly memorized – until it’s second nature to you.
Secondly, keeping a grimoire allows you to see how much you’ve grown, changed, and just generally matured in your practice since you first started. You’ll undoubtedly wander down some roads and rabbit holes that you really didn’t need to. That’s okay! Knowledge is never a bad thing, and learning should be celebrated.
Even if you end up cringing at your earliest entries, try to remember that you were starting from a place of very little, if any, background knowledge and were doing the best you could with the information you had at the time. And that’s really all anyone – including yourself – can ask of you.
Additionally, grimoires (much like standard journals) can be great for helping you see connections that you would have missed otherwise. Does a certain symbol, animal, or number sequence keep popping up in your entries? Maybe that’s something to investigate further.
How Do I Start a Grimoire?
It’s been said a thousand times, but it really is true: That first step is always the hardest.
It’s easy to look around and get the impression that every other witch has this big, fancy, perfectly organized grimoire, but the reality is probably closer to a slightly sleep-deprived college witch marking pages in a tattered notebook with colored sticky-notes. Both of these ways – and every way in between – are equally valid in my book (see what I did there? I’m rolling my eyes too LOL).
One of the first things you’ll want to determine when starting your grimoire is whether you want to go primarily physical or primarily digital. I say ‘primarily’ here because it’s very likely there will be a little overlap – taking quick notes on your phone and transferring them later, saving a website to pull info from, copying quotes out of a book and typing them up afterward, etc.
RELATED: Building an E-Grimoire in Obsidian (next week!)
Once you’ve got that figured out, it’s just a matter of finding the right app or software. If you’re going physical, don’t worry about making it #aesthetic right off the bat. It’s okay if your notes are messy and things are out of order. As long as you’re learning and having fun with it, you’re on the right track.
If looks are really important to you – and I totally get why they might be – I’d suggest effectively keeping a grimoire in a cheap but sturdy notebook, and a reference book/Book of Methods in a more aesthetic journal. You’d take your initial notes and copy down info quickly in your grimoire, then organize it and copy it over into the reference book.
The most important thing when it comes to starting a grimoire is just that: starting.
So, I hope that answered at least a couple questions you may have had about grimoires, what they are, and how you can start your own. I’m planning a few more posts in this series, so stick around for more beginner witch/witchcraft 101 stuff!
And of course, you’re more than welcome to ask questions in the comments or ping us on social media if you want. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can ^w^
Love, as always,
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