Originally, witchcraft was an oral tradition. A witches’ believes weren’t written until the Middle Ages when witches were persecuted. At times, they would meet in the shadows in hopes of staying hidden. They books they began writing in were called Book of Shadows. Anyone found with a book was sentenced to death. There was one book per family or coven.
When a witch died, the Book of Shadows was burned. Once it was deadly to be a witch, individual witches began keeping their own books. Usually they’d copy the coven or family’s book and then add their own interests. The High Priest or High Priestess kept another Book for the coven.
Things the Book of Shadows had were The Rede and laws, Holidays, Esbats and Sabbats, Handfasting and handparting, divination, spells, chants and songs, and dances. Coven history and any by-laws were also recorded.
Depending on the tradition the witch or coven practices individuals might be allowed their own Book of Shadows, Some would be allowed to copy the Coven’s book but only certain parts depending on the level of knowledge the copier was at.
It’s believed that the Book of Shadows should be handwritten because the book is powerful some of its power is transferred to the writer. The title page should always be handwritten.