(This is part two of a three-part series)
There are many different formats to use for a Book of Shadows (BoS for short), and choosing a format is completely up to each person. Find what works best for you–you may find that you try a few different methods before settling on one that works best. Keep in mind what you’re likely to be good at, but also keep in mind that this kind of exercise is meant to be meaningful and worth taking time for–so, for example, writing something down rather than typing can be more meaningful to some.
A digital BoS could be something simple like a Word document or something like an online journal of sorts. It can be public or private–though I generally say a BoS is something private and personal that shouldn’t necessarily be made an open book. The point of the Book of Shadows is to find what works best for you and what doesn’t work, and a public BoS is perhaps a bit less personal. Anyway, a digital BoS is kept on the computer. You could print off pages if you wanted something tangible. If you’re not very good at writing or don’t really enjoy writing, a digital book could be the way to go. If you’re a technology lover, then typing may come easier to you than writing, and you may prefer keeping a digital copy.
Pros: Easy to compile and move sections around; portable via Internet or flash drive; printable; easily changed; public or private.
Cons: Completely technological; no writing involved; can be lost if not backed up.
A spiral notebook is pretty simple and easy to use as a Book of Shadows. It will keep everything in one place and neatly together. If you like to write, this could be a good option. The spiral notebook doesn’t look like anything special however, so if you’re looking for something with a “witchy” feel to it, I’d say go with the journal. It’s hard to turn a spiral notebook into a medieval-looking book. However, if you want to insert pages or keep other materials with the book, there’s no way to keep things with it or insert pages or materials unless you glue it in, and that can be messy. A spiral notebook could be used alone or with a three-ring binder to keep printed or extra materials together with the book.
Pros: Good for writers; keeps everything neatly together; decent for organization; could be used with a binder or alone; private unless shown to others.
Cons: Hard to move sections around and reorganize; can’t add papers or other materials unless gluing in; finite number of pages without being able to add more.
This is the option I originally started out with. I typed up pages and printed them out to keep in the binder. That way I could write notes in the margins and reorganize whenever I wanted, or combine with notes in a spiral notebook. In my opinion, this option has the most freedom in terms of organization and combines technology and writing, both of which I like. You can always add more pages, especially if the binder is large. Typing is one option, but you can also write on notebook paper and keep it in the binder, which also allows for easier reorganization. However, a binder doesn’t look very special, even with some decoration–but if you’re in the closet or desiring to keep your BoS looking innocuous, this could be a good option for you. If you want your binder to look good but aren’t handy with decorations yourself, there are binders you could buy like this one that are pretty nice:
Pros: Good for organization and reorganization; can print out and use with writing; private unless shared; can combine with a spiral notebook; add many more pages; neat and orderly; can include other print-outs or materials in the binder.
Cons: Bulky; not very portable; doesn’t look like anything special.
The binder may be the most freeing option, but the journal is my favorite option. This is because I’m a huge sucker for the pretty journals, and I tend to collect journals as well. However, the journal format can be somewhat inconvenient for your Book of Shadows if you decide halfway through that a different organization of the entries would work better–there’s no way to change things around! But if you enjoy writing, and appreciate the magical act of writing, a journal could be a good way to go.
Pros: Pretty; good for writers; everything in one place.
Cons: Difficult to reorganize; finite number of pages.
Part One: What is a Book of Shadows?
Part Three: Books of Shadows, Then and Now Coming Soon!