New Shadow Book
I have been wanting to post this for some time, and am at long last getting around to doing it – yay! I have finally created a Shadow Book that I am happy with. I’ve experimented for years with different combinations of methods for creating and maintaining my Shadow Book, or as more proper pagans than I call it, Book of Shadows (I’ve always called it a ‘shadow book’ and am too old to change that habit now, so deal with it). Here it is, in all it’s unveiled, gigantic glory!
Over the years, I’ve tried various books and journals and binders, only to find that nothing was big enough to house all of the information that I wanted handy. Or, if it was big enough, I’d find or write something that needed to go between two pages that were already written on. I’m also notoriously fickle, so I’d end up wanting to change the way the sections in the book were ordered, which is impossible in a traditionally bound book. So, frustrated, I’d try another method.
Binders worked well for me for a long time. I used two main three-ring binders, and a variety of small notebooks for reflections and journaling. That got tiresome, as everything had its specific book that I had to keep up with. I’m a pretty organized person, but that was too many books to keep up with, even for me. To make matters worse, when I was working, inevitably I’d want something that was in another book or binder, and have to stop, locate the information and then continue. Such disruptions became bothersome, to the point that it was interfering with my practice – why bother if I was constantly under-prepared (and by under-prepared, I mean some bit of information that would flicker to life in remembrance once I got started – not things I should have had prepared before beginning).
But now, I have all of my information – what would traditionally be separated into a Book of Shadows, a Book of Mirrors and a Grimoire, all between two covers. Because of the way this book is maintained, adding new information, or changing the way information is organized is a matter of removing the cover, adding or shifting pages around, and replacing the cover.
I was inspired by some of the more commercial journals that I’ve seen on YouTube, particularly Pagan Scrapbook Supply. I love her books and supplies, but I am definitely not in the market to spend in excess of a hundred dollars for something I was reasonably sure that I could make for myself. And so, I started crafting! I knew that I wanted a post-bound Book. As a formerly avid scrapbooker, post-bound albums have the best flexibility when it comes to making changes; even PSS used the same concept (but with straps instead of posts, and two instead of three). All I really needed was the front and back cover. My first version was made from an old scrapbook that I had. It was the bare-bones, cardboard covers that tied with a string that I found at a dollar-store years ago. I cut the cover down (from 12×12 to a more manageable 8.5×11) and then used a variety of glues, papers and paints to make it look like old leather. I was semi-successful. It worked, but ultimately was a little more ‘rugged’ than I wanted. As a first attempt, it wasn’t bad, but was crooked, and not as solid as I wanted.
The next version, and what I am currently using, involved a pre-made, 8.5×11 post-bound scrapbook frame that I found at the craft store (similar to this one, with extension posts and multi-size posts). With a coupon, it was $10. I’d have done this straight away had I known that there was a commercially produced 8.5×11 size album available. All of my Books before have been printer-sized; I didn’t want to change to a larger page (or a smaller one). This album was exactly what I was looking for.
Initially, I had each page punched and inserted, but like the books in the video above, found that for maximum visibility, they needed to be mounted. So I used old file folders to create a bracket for the pages to stick to. Rather than have each page on a separate bracket, some brackets hold several pages (mounted to the fronts and backs) so that I have sections of related information where necessary. I’ve also found that plastic page protectors work in a pinch, but I dislike the look (and feel) of the plastic in my book. I do have some pages (herb info, mostly) that are currently in plastic page protectors, but will remove them eventually and mount them properly.
To create the page mounting strips, I traced a plastic page protector that could hold an 8.5×11 sheet of printer paper, and traced the area where the holes are, then cut it out and replicated it (dozens of times!!). It was time-consuming, yes, but the result was exactly what I wanted. Then I coffee-stained (like tea-staining, but with coffee – smells *amazing*) the 500+ pages that I’ve collected in my various binders over the years, mounted them and added them to the book.
What I ended up with is an amazing (if slightly bulky), useful tool that houses everything I need, from basic information, to more personal reflections, correspondences, recipes, spells and relevant material all in one place. Another feature that looks odd now, but becomes less so as time goes on (and more is added), is that there is ample room for embellishments and additions to the pages. I am an avid ‘art journal-er’, and my Shadow Book is eventually going to end up with the same treatment as my art journals – as a platform for my art. In this particular case, I still need my Shadow Book pages to be legible, but adding embellishments that add to the look, feel and general attractiveness of the book is part of nurturing my spirituality that I have been neglecting lately, and I am eager to get back into the process.
Though I tend to keep the pages of my Shadow Book private (you probably won’t see me doing a flip-through on YouTube), I don’t mind answering questions about the contents, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask in the comments. As I said though, I’ve combined the elements traditionally separated into the Book of Mirrors (personal reflections; a diary of one’s path), a Book of Shadows (practices; Sabbat and Esbat Rites; history, etc.) and a Grimoire (spells, recipes, etc.). I also keep blank pages in the center of the book so that when I wish to add notes, I can write in the book itself, and then move the pages to the appropriate section later on. This keeps all of my notes and things in one place, which I find helpful (and space-saving).
The last touch, which will probably be a while in coming, will be to create the spine cover. I need to get black posterboard (or regular posterboard and cover it with fabric) to make the spine look neater; it’s not required, but it will lend a more finished look to my Book. If you’ve made your own Shadow Book, I’d love to see it! If not, I hope you’re inspired to create one of your own. It’s something I’ve found to be very rewarding. Happy crafting!