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Grimoires

Hello and welcome, thank you ever so much for joining me today. How is the new year treating you so far? How is retrograde treating you? I have not had too many like, interpersonal issues but good god, the technical issues have been off the charts.

Last week as a matter of fact, I actually had to record the January Forecast episode twice. I got about probably 90% of the way through my notes, maybe more, I was feeling good, flowing through my bullet points pretty well. and then for no good reason at all, the podcast software that I use just shit the bed. All of a sudden, with no warning, the program just crashed and deleted everything that I had recorded. That has never happened before in 80 episodes. So I had to start all over. And yall I was praying the whole time I was rerecording that it wouldn’t happen again. Your girl was stressed out.

 

But other than some technical hiccups, I’ve been cruising along relatively smoothly, so I hate to complain. I have certainly had worse Mercury Retrogrades. And we are on the homestretch too. Just a few more days to go. So let’s hit the bullet points before this program crashes, shall we?

 

In case you’re unaware, there is a way to leave me voice messages on Anchor, which is the platform that I use to produce this podcast. I’ve gotten a handful here and there, usually comments or suggestions, but this past week I received a question. So I’m going to play it for you now:

 

AUDIO MESSAGE

 

Ok, good questions and the answer to the first question, do spell jars and mojo bags ever fulfill their purpose, is yes and no. It depends on the purpose of the spell. If it was a spell jar for a specific purpose, something measurable, such as getting a new job or if it was something like a banishing jar, and the target finally went away for good, then yes. That jar has fulfilled its purpose and we don’t need it anymore.

 

If it’s a spell jar for something more vague, like improved self-esteem, or making your boss be nicer to you, or you know, bringing more romance into your life, then that’s not going to be so easily measured, it won’t have such a clear-cut end, and it’s something that you may want to continue to receive. And so in those situations, you may want to keep it around. You also may want to charge it regularly to maintain its potency and make sure that it doesn’t get stagnant. 

 

And that’s my only concern with spell jars. If we rely too heavily on them but we don’t keep track of which jar is meant to do what and we don’t interact with them and we just end up with a shelf of dusty jars of mixed herbs, then we’re not going to get too much out of that.

 

As for the next part of that question, what do we do with them when they’ve served their purpose, again it depends on what’s in there and what the jar was for. If it’s just herbs, hair, fingernails, scraps of paper with sigils or names, then we can unseal the jar, return all those elements to nature and cleanse and reuse that jar.

 

If there’s salt in the jar, we don’t want to release that into nature. If the jar was used for baneful magick, again we may not want to release that into nature either. But we can burn the contents of the jar and keep the ashes to make black salt. If this was a vinegar jar, if it had some really nasty stuff in it like thorns, rusty nails and broken glass, then you’re probably best to just throw the whole jar away. I don’t like to do that and I avoid it as much as I can, but sometimes that’s all that can be done. 

 

And I do have a second email to read but this one is actually the impetus for the topic this week. Today, we are going to talk about grimoires at the suggestion of a witch who sent this email a couple weeks ago. 

 

I have a general question about books of shadows and grimoires that some people might consider “fussy” and too concerned with organizational logistics, but since I know no one else who keeps such books–and since you brought up the topic of journals in your last episode–I thought I’d see if you have any advice.

 

I’ve been on and off figuring out my spiritual journey for some time now, but last year I began trying to focus on it a little more predictably. In doing so, I started what I intended to be a grimoire, but I found that the style of book was too formal for me to comfortably write in it at this time (I’m sure other people have this same hang up). I decided to pause on this book for now and return to it later, and I shifted to more of a book of shadows or witch’s journal approach in a standard notebook where I could be a little more relaxed about how, what, and when to use the book, and that has been working much better.

 

However, for various reasons, I’m still finding the format of the book to be a problem and difficult to continue with. I’d like to move my record keeping into a different book that I think I’ll be more pleased with long-term, but I’ve already put quite a bit of work and information into the book as it stands now–I’m about a quarter of the way through it after beginning a few months ago. I’ve already gone through the process of consecrating and protecting my current book and putting a lot of energy into it. I don’t want any of that to be a waste, nor do I want the book hopping to create difficulty in the chronicling of my journey.

 

Okay, so first of all, major Virgo vibes from this email, right? I love it. But I actually fully relate to this dilemma. I had several false starts with my own grimoire before I finally settled on a system that works for me, and I completely understand the agony of trying to strike the balance between wanting to put entries in your grimoire and also wanting it to look perfect. You want it to be functional and you’re also terrified to commit anything to it because you might change your mind later.

 

So we’re just going to rip the bandaid off and get into grimoires, what they are, what they can be, how to compile one, some ideas about what you might want to include, and so on. Now the term grimoire is European, but these kinds of magical textbooks are found all over the world in every magical tradition and have been for thousands of years. 

 

A grimoire, for the purposes of this episode and just to standardize our definition a little bit is just a magickal text compiled by a witch, and this may include any number of subjects, such as instructions on how to perform spells, different forms of divination, the magical and medicinal properties of different plants, herbs, and crystals, how to create and use magickal objects like talismans, sigils, and amulets, how to invoke supernatural entities such as spirit guides, ancestors, ghosts, deities, angels, and demons. And that’s barely scratching the surface of what a grimoire might include. 

 

On the other hand, we have the term Book of Shadows, and as the witch who sent the email is using it, will just mean a more informal kind of journal-style book in which we might include daily tarot draws, ongoing spellwork that maybe hasn’t been finalized or formalized yet, it might have different signs or omens that we’ve seen in our day-day life or even in dreams, things like that. And it’s also probably not going to be perfectly organized into like, cohesive sections.

 

But the cool thing about a book of shadows is that we can use the information in it to create those formal entries for our Grimoire. I really hope this is making sense, I’m trying not to get too deep in the weeds. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But the book of shadows, while it is a very important chronicle for a witch to keep, is generally a little more loosey goosey, a little more flexible. 

 

It is up to the individual witch exactly how to construct and compile his or her grimoire, what to include, how to organize it, and so forth. All of what follows here are just suggestions, just food for thought, just to get the wheels turning a little and hopefully to remove the mystique and the mystery. A grimoire is very special, no doubt, but it’s just a book. And you get to write yours however you like.

 

Now, there are some gorgeous, high-quality bound books that you can use for your grimoire. My only beef with these is that they are not easy to adjust, rearrange, add and subtract from. Once you’ve got a page completed, that’s it. It’s in there and it ain’t coming out, so if you’ve got 30 pages of spells in there and then beginning on page 31 you start your list of magical herbs, well you’re not going to be able to go back and include any more spells. That section is done. 

 

Yes, of course, you can skip a bunch of pages to leave room for more entries, but again, it just isn’t as open to change as you might like. But there are alternatives. You can find some beautiful post-bound, strap-hinge, and three-ring books that are much more flexible in terms of what you can add and take away, you can rearrange your sections, you just have a lot more freedom and creative license. You can google those terms and find all kinds of sizes and options and designs and just see what suits you. 

 

Another cool feature of strap-hinge and post-bound albums in particular is that the covers are often completely customizable. You can decorate them, cover them, bind them however you like and according to the exact aesthetic you have in mind.

 

Now I am not an especially artistic person, so my grimoire is literally a leather three-ring binder. It looks nice, it’s got clean, rugged lines and it serves my exact purpose. I would love to go fully mixed-media and decorate the hell out of it, but that isn’t my strength, those are not my gifts, but it’s just what I need it to be. Again, I can easily add pages and rearrange it however I see fit, and that’s the beauty for me of using this kind of book.

 

But that’s all window dressing, let’s talk about the meat of the grimoire. Back to that whole list of different sections we can include. I’m going to get into a few different topics that you may want to include, but I’m not going to cover everything thoroughly. There’s no time, and it’s not really necessary. This is just to get the wheels turning. Now my first entries in what has become my grimoire were, perhaps not surprisingly, herbs. Herbs that I use a lot in my practice, herbs that I grow, herbs that I forage locally. 

 

I’ve also got a section for crystals. And this, much like the herb and plant section, is one that has expanded and continues to expand every time I get my hands on a new crystal. I include info about what it looks like, its abilities and correspondences, any known chakra associations, and so forth.

 

I have a section for sabbats, and each sabbat has its own entry. I like to include a bit about the history, traditional practices, and of course my own rituals that I’ve come to include over the years. And I frequently will add traditions that I’ve picked up from other witches. I am not embarrassed to say that some of the coolest and most meaningful sabbat practices have come from witches who have written to me and shared information and even pictures of their unique traditions.

 

I don’t have a formal section in my grimoire for astrology, because it’s such a vast discipline, but I do have my own birth chart in there, and I’ve got information about all the placements in my chart, all of my houses and such. This was a section that took quite a bit of time, but it’s been a really great way to get to know myself and understand aspects of my personality and my behaviors.

 

I’ve also got a section on magickal curios. So, a curio is just some kind of magickal object. And the most common curios are probably good luck charms. Think of like, a lucky rabbit’s foot, or a horse shoe, things like that. But there are a lot of others, like seashells, railroad spikes, coffin nails, acorns, chicken feet, hag stones, wishbones, feathers, apple seeds, etc. And I just like to keep a list of things like this because they’re great additions to spell work. 

 

And another cool thing about curios is that  there are going to be some that are unique to the individual witch. I like cherry pits for love spells, and I like popcorn kernels for manifestations. These may not be super common amongst practitioners, but they’re items that I personally associate with these kind of workings and therefore they’re powerful for me. 

 

And now for the spells. Some witches organize their spells according to the type of spell it is, for example they’ll group their candle spells together, and their spell jars together, their oils together, their poppets together and so forth. But I personally prefer to group my spells according to what the spell itself is for. 

 

So I keep my love spells in a section, and my banishing spells in a section, any healing work, any abundance work, baneful spells, money magick, protection magick, you get the picture. And within those sections, I’ll include money drawing oil in the money magick section, banishing oil in the banishing magick section, etc.

 

This is the best way for me personally to arrange things. If I’m doing a protection spell, I don’t want to have to flip to the candle section to get the herbs I need to dress it, then to the oils section to get the protection oil recipe, then to the amulets section to get the instructions for that. I just find that grouping my spells according to the intention has been the most efficient method. But that’s just how I do that, your preferences may vary.

 

And you can include sections that we haven’t even talked about today. You might want to include a section on the moon phases, or your favorite method of divination, like tarot or pendulums, you may include a section on deities, on different altar arrangements, on altar tools, casting a circle, or anything else you want.

 

But all of this takes time. One thing you probably just shouldn’t do is try to rush through the process. A grimoire is a living, growing, expanding document. So take your time with it, and let this be a labor of love. There’s no rush, and there’s no finish line. Ideally, a grimoire should really never be finished. We as witches should continue to grow too, and we should always be acquiring new skills, new knowledge. The day I’ve got it all figured out is the day I’m full of shit.

 

The purpose of a grimoire is to chronicle our journeys as witches, and to act as an archive for our work. And, ultimately, the purpose of this is to be passed on. I hope that one day my grimoire will be a guide for another witch. I hope that my words and my works can help another witch find their own magick. 

 

So I hope this hasn’t been too much. Building a grimoire is a big undertaking but if we just approach it one page at a time, it can be a really rewarding experience, and it helps us get  more intimately involved in our own craft. And that’s the whole point.

 

So thank you for joining me today, please write to me any time at eli@middleagedwitch.com or on socials at @middleagedwitch and we will talk next week. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle Aged Witch podcast.

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