Decorating Your Book of Shadows

Unique Inks

If you’d like to make your own ink for your Book of Shadows out of natural materials, it’s not as hard as you might expect. The Native Americans often used the juice of pokeweed for ink, while Europeans decocted elderberries, hollyhock, and sloes. Or, for a really neat twist you can write secret or highly private parts of your spell book-diary in vinegar, lemon juice, or onion juice. These three mediums dry invisibly. The text can be read by holding the paper in front of a light source.

The scent inks, simply add about ten drops of essential oil to a small bottle of ink and label it. You have to find a pen that can accept the ink from a well to use this, but it’s worth it. The scent adds extra symbolism and even acts as subtle aromatherapy whenever you’re reading that section.

Drawings/Photographs

Adding imagery to your pages gives your magickal purpose a visual form. Even if the drawing is simple, like that of a rune that corresponds of the page’s theme, it provides one more dimension to the energy you’re creating. Every sensual cute you give yourself improves the overall impact of the page on your superconscious self. In other words, these extra touches help you internalize what you’re writing in your spell book on a more intimate and spiritual level.

Note that if you use graphite or colored pencil drawings you can fix the image by dipping the pencil in skim milk and lightly painting the image with it afterwords. This is a nice alternative to using chemically based sprays.

Pressed Flowers and Herbs

There is nothing more whimsical than opening the pages of a book and discovering a perfectly preserved blossom inside. Better still, if the flower or herb resting on the page of your spell book represents the section theme you’ll have a handy, dry, energized spell component at the ready!

To press flowers or herbs, try and choose ones that are already somewhat flat. Pick the when they’re dry, and use a soft toothbrush to clean off any residual dirt. Place your chosen herbs and flowers on a large piece of absorbent paper. Space them out so there’s about an inch between each item. Put several paper towels on top, then another sheet of absorbent paper, and more flowers and herbs.

You can assemble up to one inch of material in this manner, hen lay several heavy books or slabs of wood on top. It will take about six weeks for the greenery to dry and press completely. The greenery should peel off easily and not feel the least bit damp when you check the layers. If it seems damp, wait another week. Then use them in your spell book to give more significance to the words.

Book Covers

Many will create custom book covers to your specifications for under $75. A less expensive approach is to buy everything you need at a leather working shop and get some instructions from the salespeople. Making a book cover this way is kind of fun because you can design a look that makes it appear like the tome is hundreds of years old, right off a mage’s shelf!

A third version is a little less complex than working in leather, but looks quiet impressive when done. Take a piece of fabric large enough to cover your binder or diary, and make a small pocket on the inside. To measure, lay out the fabric and lay the open book flat on top. Cut an excess of one inch above and below the book, and at least four inches to the right and left (Note: That at least one inch of this gets taken up when you close the book.)

Next, from the top of the fabric, fold over one-fourth inch two times and stitch it down (this creates a finished edge). Repeat this on the bottom. Fold down the top and bottom again another one-half inch and iron it in place. Lay this on a table with your book on top. If you’ve done the first part correctly, the top and bottom of the fabric are now even with the outside of the top and bottom of your spell book’s cover.

The second phase is a little easier. Slide the front cover into the pocket created b the folds of fabric at the top and bottom. Do the same with the back cover. Close the book and stitch the inner fold to the outside cloth (this will leave some strands of thread going over the edge of the book cover). This way when the cloth get soiled you can simply snip those strands, remove the cover, and wash it. From here you can do a lot of things to customize the cloth. You could add a small pocket on top of the front cover into which you can put magickally charged herbs, or glue on some crystal cabochons in a pattern that pleases both your eyes and spirit.

One of the neatest covers I ever saw incorporated a mirror that was held in place by quilted fabric. This idea comes from the old story about the seeker who looked the world over for the secrets of enlightenment. Finally she found herself atop a high mountain staring at a sacred book. Excited, her heart pounding the person opened the book to discover a mirror. The secrets of enlightenment and real magick are always inside us — we just have to look!

Color Symbolism

Psychology has shown us that colors can drastically influence human behaviors and emotions. If you don’t think that this is true, just watch the difference in energy levels between when you’re in a brightly colored room and when you’re in a dark area for the same amount of time. Wiccans and many other metaphysical practitioners use the effects of color to empower their techniques and add more symbolic dimensions to various projects.

Each color has specific magickal associations that have been used for hundreds of years. You can use these same associations to energies and augment your Book of Shadows. Do this by carefully considering the colors you choose for your paper, ink, book cover, drawings, pressed flowers, ect. For a list of general correspondences to get you started, refer to the correspondence tables section.

Mind you, if, because of personal experience, a color has a different meaning for you than what is provided, always go with your first impressions. It’s not necessary that anyone else understand the “why’s” of how you assemble your spell book, and it’s completely unnecessary to allow any person to dictate this creative, intuitive process. What’s important is that you know why, and put some sincere thought into the whole process.

Paint

If you decide to use paint to adorn your spell book in any way, I suggest choosing a nontoxic variety. Why? Because toxicity has a generally negative affect on magickal energy (this is also why so many people suggest using no chemical sources for lighting ritual fires). Additionally, for individuals with pets or children, the rule “safety first” definitely applies. Go with what’s safe so you can focus on the energy you’re creating instead of worrying that your base materials might get into the wrong hands.

Calligraphy or Special Fonts

Starter calligraphy sets are readily available in many gift shops today, including larger bookstores. Mind you, if you’re a beginner I’d practice a bit before trying your hand on the pages of your spell book. Those more adept calligrapher can look through the various styles available and choose one whose visual personality best suit’s the overall look of the tome. For example, someone who has made an elaborate leather cover with brass hinges and a lock might want to use a medieval-style script, akin to those found in monastic books of the Dark Ages. Someone who has chosen a Victorian theme might want to try a precise yet flowery style as was seen in many period signatures.

For people like me who tend to leave globs of ink behind while attempting such an endeavor, the wonderful world of technology offers a simpler alternative: computer fonts. You can look at either the name of the font, its visual impact, or both, to make a decision here. For example, Albertus or Letter Gothic might be suited to an antique-looking spell book, while Universe is good for more contemporary.

You can also use different styles of fonts to emphasize various parts of your text. For example, use bold lettering for things that you want to draw your attention to, or use the strikeout function as part of a banishing spell. Progressively larger lettering would be neat in a ritual or spell designed for increasing anything, while subscript and other tiny prints emphasize diminishing. Italics work wonderfully to show that someone in particular is speaking in a procedure, such as the High Priest/Priestess in a ritual.

Scent-ual Appeal

The reemerging art of aromatherapy is thousands of years old. Texts dating back to at least 1500 B.C.E. reveal the use of various aromatics to make people feel better or as suitable offerings to the god/dess. For example, lavender was often recommended for melancholy and it also appeared on numerous altars around the world to please the divine.

You can use scented paper or inks to symbolically accent segments of your book of shadows.

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