A Witch’s Guide to Organizing Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows

I wrote the first installment in this Witch’s Guide to Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows series around this time last year, and it has a lot of views, which I hope means that people are finding it helpful! After choosing a format your Grimoire or Book of Shadows (aka BoS), the next logical step is figure out how you’re going to organize your magickal journal.

For the purpose of simplicity I will talk about three basic types of magickal journals: digital, notebook, and ring bound. A digital BoS or Grimoire is one that is housed online in some form, be it in Pages, WordPress, Tumblr, Evernote, etc. A notebook BoS/Grimoire is one that has the pages bound in some way, so that they cannot be swapped around, such as a spiral notebook, composition book, or Moleskine notebook. Finally, a ring bound BoS/Grimoire is one that has rings and that can be re-organized easily, ie: discbound planners, ring bound planners, or three-ring binders.

Your magickal journal, regardless of the form it takes, will have a lot of sections in common with a ‘real’ book, and so many of the terms I’m going to use here are from book organization itself. A lot of these terms will apply to magickal journals that are exclusively online as well, though not all will. This installment focuses more on organization than content, though that will definitely be a future topic.

This article is quite lengthy – what can I say, I get excited about organization, Virgo Moon here – so below are the sections of the articles that you can jump to quickly by clicking on them.

Sections or Go With the Flow

You have a choice of creating sections or with going in chronological order with your magickal journal entries. Online, the sections can be created easily enough with categories or a digital ‘tab’ system. Ring bound planners can also have tabbed sections that allow for easy organization and reorganization (me). Magickal journals housed in a notebook can be pre-divided into sections and filled in as you go. While online and ring bound magickal journals really lend themselves to having sections, notebook magickal journals work well for chronological entries. Topics can all flow together, but I would recommend keeping one entry to a page so that a table of contents can be created. In this case, entries are added in the order they naturally come up; this allows the magickal journal to be very organic in its formation, and seasonal information is more likely to be grouped together.

Dedication Page

A dedication page is the page at the beginning of a book where the author will write something like “for my mom/dad/partner” and the like. Pagans and witches will quite often have a dedication page in their Grimoire or BoS, but it’s dedicating their work to a particular god/dess or to work on a particular path inside the book’s pages. Wiccans will often use the Wiccan Rede as their dedication page. You don’t need a dedication page, but if you like the idea, then go for it. For a notebook magickal journal, leave an additional page blank before the index (discussed below), or reserve the inside cover for your dedication. If your magickal journal is online, you can ‘pin’ your dedication to the top of your blog. If your magickal journal is ring bound you can easily create a dedication page and place it at the beginning of your binder or planner.

Protection Page

A protection page, if you choose to have one, could be placed before or after the dedication page. Placing it on the back of the cover (inside) also works particularly well. A protection page serves to guard your BoS or Grimoire from people looking through it who should not, or even being able to see it at all. For some witches and pagans who live in a house where it is dangerous for them to follow their path, a protection page becomes essential. A protection page should also be used if you plan on taking your magickal journal out in public with you, since it raises the risk of it being lost or damaged (ie: from spilling a venti pumpkin spice latte on it).

A protection page generally contains either a sigil or a spell; no one should know what it is besides you. Some people chose to put a ‘curse’ page at the beginning, dooming anyone who violates their privacy to some sort of torment, but I feel like that’s a bit much. Instead, a sigil for invisibility, that the magickal journal will always be by your side or undamaged, or to ward off anyone who you would not want to view its contents, work just as well. You should tailor your protection page to your activities and to your magickal journal. You can also keep it relatively simple by writing or making a sigil for “only the good may enter herein,” (shown here) as your protection page, and then charging it. However, if you live alone and your magickal journal will never leave the house, you may not feel the need to have a protection page. On the other hand, if you feel the need to post photos of that same magickal journal online, you may want to reconsider.

I made the sigil shown here with Sigil Scribe, which I highly recommend to anyone who, like me, is not naturally adept at sigil making. Happily, for those whose magickal journals are housed online, the sigils generated here can be downloaded as .png files.

Table of Contents and/or Index

Having either an index and/or a table of contents is highly recommended regardless of the form your Book of Shadows or Grimoire takes. A table of contents is placed at the beginning of a book and lists all of the entries and their page numbers. An index is the very last part of the book, appearing behind the topics covered in the sections below. A table of contents works very well for a chronological Book of Shadows, so that the entries can be found with relative ease. For a notebook BoS, set aside the first few pages of the notebook, after the dedication and protection pages if applicable, for a table of contents by simply leaving them blank. The first of those pages can be labeled “Table of Contents,” then, as you fill pages, add the title and page number to the page. I suggest keeping the numbers to the left of the titles so they all line up. Most notebooks won’t have page numbers, so I suggest adding them at the bottom of the page as you go.

An online magickal journal can have a table of contents in the form of a list of your writings, either organized chronologically, alphabetically, or by category. Each item on the list can then link to that specific entry. I actually have a few such draft pages on this website, just so I can easily look up things that I’ve already written in certain categories. A ring bound magickal journal is less likely to need a table of contents, though it can certainly have one. It will need to be updated as new items are added or things move around, so I suggest keeping a typed list that can easily be printed out when it’s revised.

An index, on the other hand, is at the end and is essentially a way to cross reference key terms so that entries on similar subjects can be found easily. An indexer is actually a job in and of itself; it takes more work than you’d think! It’s best to start an index when you start the magickal journal itself. An index will list various keywords in alphabetical order, and then page numbers for entries that contain those keywords. For example an index would read:

Aventurine 2-3, 5, 18
Beryl 4, 12
Citrine 1, 14, 22-24
Tourmaline, Black 15-16
Tourmaline, Watermelon 17, 26-28

An index should be made as your magickal journal is made, or else creating one can become a truly herculean task. You can use categories within an index as well, such as the crystals listed above, spells, sabbats, moons, etc. The possibilities for an index are tremendous and are only limited by your imagination.

An index works best with a notebook Grimoire or BoS, and is least suited for a ring bound magickal journal. A ring bound journal is going to have pages added all the time, so the pagination is always going to be shifting and changing. An online magickal journal can have a master index page, but instead of page numbers, you can list the title of posts. However, if you use tags for your posts, an index of sorts had already been created, so there’s not a lot of need for a second one.

An index within a notebook is going to be very helpful since the pages won’t change. If, for example, you want to see all of your spells that use citrine, you can look at the index and know that you mention citrine on pages 1, 14, and 22-24. A quick flip through will help you find what you need. One option is to set aside the last few pages of your notebook and label the first “Index,” then fill it in as you go. The only issue is keeping it in strict, alphabetical order, since new pages will be added over time. Instead, you may want to type your index, and paper clip those printed pages to the inside, back cover of your notebook for reference.

Appendices

An appendix is a reference that appears at the back of a book (appendices is plural). It contains reference information, specifically, things that you want to reference again and again. One example would be the alchemy symbols for the elements, planets, and zodiac signs. Another would be magickal correspondences for colors, which can be used for candles, thread, cloth, charm bags, and other uses. These appendix pages appear before the table of contents and can be referenced by individual entries, ie: “see Appendix 1 for color correspondences.”

If you have a notebook magickal journal, allocate a few pages before the table of contents, or, before the glossary (see below), if you choose to have one. Appendix pages can be photocopied from books, or printed from a computer, and then glued in; they can also be hand written. For a ring bound magickal journal, there can be an appendix section near the end with the same material. If your magickal journal is online, appendix pages can be created and linked to from posts that reference them.

Glossary

I personally really enjoy having a Glossary of Terms, so much so that there’s one on this site in addition to the one I keep in my own magickal journal. A glossary consists of definitions of words that you use as a reference, similar to the appendix, but appearing after it. My rule for adding a word to the glossary on this site is if I use a term that I think a new witch would not necessarily know. The appendix groups information by theme and can use graphics, whereas the glossary is organized alphabetically and contains words with definitions. The glossary will likely form slowly over time, the glossary here started with the term “void-of-course” because I didn’t want to explain what it meant in detail every time I used it. When you come across interesting words, phrases, deities, holidays, etc. in your reading, those are the terms that you add to a glossary.

If you have a notebook of shadows, a glossary can be set aside when you start your book by allocating a few pages after the appendix, but before the bibliography. Those pages can be filled in the order you find the words, or you can pre-label sections A-Z. You can also type your glossary and print it out periodically, attaching it to the glossary page with a paperclip. If you maintain a ring bound magickal journal, you can pre-make a page for each letter of the alphabet, or you can type the list and print it out periodically. Maintaining a glossary is very easy if your magickal journal is online, just allocate a page for it like I did here, and fill terms in as you go.

Crediting Sources: The Bibliography

If you have a bibliography, it is traditionally placed after the glossary, but before the index. Your Grimoire or Book of Shadows is your own, personal reference, so you don’t need to include a bibliography if you don’t want to. Really, you don’t need to credit sources at all, but I personally do since I want to be able to look up information again if I need to. You can collect all of the bibliographic information in one place and list them in MLA or APA style, or you can put the information on each of your pages, or you can use a combination of both. For example you can have a page for a spell and title it “Spell” by Name, then if you look up the name in the bibliography it has all the information there. That will look something like:

In your book: “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes” by Melanie Marquis

In your bibliography: Marquis, Melanie. “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes,” Llewellyn’s 2017 Sabbats Almanac. Llewellyn Publications, 2016. 46-7.

Alternately, you can just have the page for the spell, and then in the bibliography it will give the information. That will look similar to this:

In your book: “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes”

In your bibliography: Marquis, Melanie. “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes,” Llewellyn’s 2017 Sabbats Almanac. Llewellyn Publications, 2016. 46-7.

Finally, you can have a page for the spell and put all the information on that page. That will look like the above example, but it will all be on the same page:

In your book: “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes”

On the same page: Marquis, Melanie. “Samhain Ritual: 13 Wishes,” Llewellyn’s 2017 Sabbats Almanac. Llewellyn Publications, 2016. 46-7.

If your magickal journal is online, it is best to keep all of this information on one page for easy reference. In a notebook or ring bound magickal journal, having a bibliography will keep things from looking cluttered.

Layout Reference

For your reference, if you use all the parts of a book discussed here for your magickal journal they will go in the following order:

  • Protection Page
  • Dedication Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Content of your Grimoire or BoS
  • Appendices
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Conclusion

I hope that you found this guide to organizing your magickal journal to be of use. If you haven’t already, please check out my guide to starting your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows, linked below. I hope to be back again soon with another installment in this series, but until then, blessed be!

Further Reading

A Witch’s Guide to Starting Your Grimoire and/or Book of Shadows

Sources

Anatomy of a Book: The Contents” by Barbara Doyen

Image Credit

Stock image via Pexels

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