A Look Inside a Monthly Working Book of Shadows
Many newcomers to the Pagan Path, as well as new Witches, often mistakenly believe that a Book of Shadows is an ancient concept that goes back eons. There is the very real possibility that herbalists and wise women in ancient times utilized recipe books, journals, or otherwise kept written records containing their secrets or logging their workings. However, the Book of Shadows is actually a neopagan concept that has its beginnings with Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Gardner is the founder of the Wiccan religion along with several other famous pioneering Wiccans who seemingly thrust the neo-pagan movement forward and opened the broom closet for many witches as well. The age of the conception of Books of Shadows should not cause anyone to question keeping a Book of Shadows. As with any other reference material, a Book of Shadows can be an invaluable tool in any practice, whether it is your craft or your spiritual walk. My working Book of Shadows is a vital part of my Pagan path and my practice as a Witch.
As a practicing Witch and a practicing eclectic Pagan with a Matron who guides both paths, I rely heavily on my working Book of Shadows and I carry it with me every day. For the most part, my working Book of Shadows contains all of the information that I need at my disposal such as Sabbats, Esbats, the New Moon, color correspondences, Tarot, Oracle, and Rune draws, as well as trackers for stones, herbs, spells, and Goddesses. I also incorporate my mundane schedule and life in this working Book of Shadows to keep me on track. As any one else in these modern times, I try to keep my spending in check, live a simple life, and incorporate my definition of “enough” into my walk. In true frugal fashion, I decided that in 2019 I would take a completely different tact than in any other year and I created my 2019 working Book of Shadows from MAMBI® Classic Happy Planner® extension packs. For clarity and convenience, I have added all of the resources and links for materials and supplies that I have used at the end of this article.
Throughout this series, you will notice some “upcycling” of materials as I find cards that I have received, artwork here and there that I notice in magazines, and even the creativity of friends, who make beautiful shaker cards that are great for lifting the energy when I am feeling like energy is being dissipated. A little blingy shake and the smile returns to my face. Also, when you network and discover that friends have hidden talents, such as making quality covers with special meaning that directs your focus to the work at hand, that energy of love, friendship, and community lends itself to a healthy Book of Shadows.
Again, as a frugal person, and someone who believes that the Pagan Community could benefit from helping each other, I created a Facebook group called “The Pagan Plannertarium.” I created this home for Pagan Planners who are interested in planning and who could benefit from free stickers and layouts for their own Books of Shadows. All of the stickers that are in my working Book of Shadows can be found in the Pagan Plannertarium along with an ever-growing catalogue of stickers, layouts, and inserts. They are all free for your personal use, if you would like to plan along with me each month, join the Facebook group by answering the questions for entry, and plan along with me. I will continue this series for the year 2019, showing you the evolution of my working Book of Shadows.
Since there are no Sabbats in January, and it is the very beginning of my “Seed Work” which will commence in February for planting on Imbolc, I have chosen a winter theme for the monthly layout, and I have also made complimentary weekly spreads for the entire month of January. In keeping with the winter energies surrounding me, I chose to focus on the correspondences for the month of January which include fox, birch trees, and the colors bright white and blue. January is a time for self-reflection and spell work involving inner workings rather than casting for others, winter is a time to go inward and to work on those things that require change for growth. February’s seed must be planted in order to yield a bountiful Harvest as the wheel turns and we experience each Sabbat in its turn.
The January month-at-a-glance spread is where I keep all of my appointments which are upcoming, the Esbat, the New Moon, and I keep a place for notes. In the two blank spaces before the 1st day of January and the last 2 blank spaces after the 31st, I use these spaces for my own personal “Power” words – these are words that I use for the month to keep me focused on my seed work. They relate directly to the seed that I will plant, so I choose the words that I need to focus on to narrow my focus. Times and circumstances change every month and this is a working Book of Shadows so these blank spaces are often in a state of metamorphosis and they change from month to month. January is the month when planning my seed comes to completion and the seed is readied for planting on Imbolc.
Each week there is a side dashboard that is sectioned off for my Goddess of the week, Crystals, Notes, and two (2) weekly trackers. My goal is to draw a Goddess card from a deck that I utilize each week, write the Goddess’ name on the dashboard, and key words throughout the week that may arise as I ask for Her protection and energies to guide my week. The Crystal section is for the pouch that I carry on my person each day, some days call for different energies and I may change the contents of the pouch that I use during the week and, if I do so, I like to have a place to log any changes that may occur in my carrying pouch. The Notes section on the side dashboard is to make note of any significant changes that I make, events that I need to make a special note of, or any other information that may change from time to time during that week. Finally, the two trackers that I have are for reminders to check in daily on any spell work that I may be undertaking. Other uses for the trackers include making Crystal Water, Moon Water or other recipes for ritual use. You can use mundane trackers even in a magical practice and, on occasion, when I have no other use for them, that is how I utilize these trackers. The best part of this whole process is that stickers can be lifted, marks can be erased, and things are meant to change and grow as we change and grow. It is my hope that by sharing my Book of Shadows with you, before the pen, you will be able to glean some creativity, some energy, or ideas for your own Books of Shadows and join me in sharing for the greater good.
You may have noticed that the end of December, 2018, is contained in the first weekly spread. I included it because the energies are prime for spell casting, writing new beginnings, contemplating seed work, and writing down ideas for spells or, if I feel the energy in a specific way, I will use this night for spell writing. At the end of the week, there is a New Moon and I always use the energy from the New Moon to begin cleansing my house for the cycle of the waxing moon, to bring the energies into my home and life that I would like to manifest throughout my practice. I start by taking a ritual bath, meditate, and smudge my home from the center to the front and out the door and beginning from the center again and to the back and out the door. For the other days in this week, I will enter those things that I do to prepare for the upcoming New Moon, such as journaling, blending herbs for incense, smudging, writing spells, and working on the February installment of this series
Each weekly layout has a coordinating Tarot card insert. I utilize this insert to pull a Tarot Card each week and reflect on this card throughout the week. The first side of the insert reflects my first impressions and my expectations. The second side of the insert is a retrospective examination of the drawn card and how that has influenced me during the week. This insert is an invaluable tool for me. Not only do I receive guidance from the Tarot cards, but I come to a deeper, more committed understanding of the meaning of each draw and how that may relate in future readings not only for myself but for others
weekly theme for the month of January embodies not only the
correspondences appropriate for this month, but some of them also
contain themes of strong Divine Feminine figures such as Athena and
Hekate. I decided that this month would also contain the energies of
the Divine Masculine and The Horned God made a special appearance
this month as well. As I called to the Divine Spirits of the East,
requesting the energies of communication, divination, and creativity,
these layouts pretty much made themselves.
Looking forward to providing monthly installments of my Book of Shadows as the wheel turns.
MAMBI® CHP Extension Packs:
CHP Custom Cover & Foiled Pentacle Stickers by Claire McNamee:
Custom Shaker Cards by Suzy Mesa:
January Monthly and Weekly Stickers by Shirley Lenhard are free at the Pagan Plannertarium:
January Cover Page – Shoot for the Stars – Recollections® “Constellations” paper pad & Miscellaneous Washi tapes:
Available at Michael’s and other craft retailers
About the Author:
Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.