Book of Shadows

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.



6 thoughts on “Book of Shadows

  1. Karen Soutar says:

    Great! I am fascinated by witches and love to include them in my fiction writing. So I store up all and any information about them. Looking forward to more! 🙂

    • mari wells says:

      Email me on what you’d like me to cover. Sometimes I run out of ideas or I want to do so much I get overwhelmed. I’m so glad you like this column. 😀

      • Karen Soutar says:

        Will do! How about something like what you do with the vampires: different types of witch, or witch legends/stories, from around the world?

      • mari wells says:

        I was actually thinking of doing that, but was so overwhelmed by them all. And all the Vampire Witches.

      • Karen Soutar says:

        Just take them one blog at a time! I know what you mean: between blog and short story ideas I’m sometimes like “Aargh! Not enough time!” 😉
        I have a strigoi/striga (seen both terms used?) in my WIP. 🙂

      • mari wells says:

        OOOOO the Striga, I might have to do them soon. 😀 Thanks

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