|Book of Shadows (object)|
Documentation of Magic.
|“||Some books are made to be read, others to be written. Every one of us must keep one... a private grimoire of all our thoughts and dreams, our magic and experiments, all our deeds, dark and light. If it be worked properly, no one but she who inscribes it will be able to read what it contains, at least not while the author still lives.||”|
— Mary Sibley to Anne Hale
A Book of Shadows, also known as grimoire, is a personal and private journal documented with magical recipes, rituals and spells as well as personal goals and thoughts.
The Book of Shadows is a spellbook where a witch records all of their experiments, opinions and rituals. They vary in shape and depending on the witch, some grimoires are more valuable than others because of their content. After the death of a witch, the Book will find its way to the Samhain as a means to protect the identity of witches and also to ensure the survival of the Old Ways.
Throughout the Salem Series
Bringing forward her apprenticeship in Witchcraft, Mary Sibley gave to the young Anne Hale a diary from a precious black cover with silver decorations on the front cover (Book of Shadows). The Samhain described it as a secret book in which write down thoughts and spells after having signed the first page with blood, to tie the grimoire to the witch's power. Anne immediately began to become familiar with the journal, writing recent events that led to the realization of being a witch. Mary, however, does double game. In fact owns an identical book that replicates anything Anne writes in her diary, so Mary can know the most secret thoughts of young ginger witch.
The Countess is shown several times (Wages of Sins) while writing notes thoughts in a large book resting on an elegant writing desk, on board of her ship, possibly her own Book of Shadows.
The same Countess, eager to discover the secrets of the Essex coven, assigns to Anne the task of recovering John Hale's Book of Shadows by Mary's library, because she is the only one who can break the concealment spell since she's Hale's daughter (The Beckoning Fair One). However, Anne is determined to take with her the book that belonged to her father, using the dried blood from the site of the murder of the same to bewitch the page so that they reveal their contents. Anne begins a deep study of the spellbook and discovered some shocking secrets such as the payment she must undergo for the powers received from the Devil. This same Book of Shadows will also confirm to Cotton Mather his suspects of having married a witch, when trapped in Anne's room by accident (Midnight Never Comes).
- Mary Sibley: If it be worked properly, no one but she who inscribes it will be able to read what it contains, at least not while the author still lives.
- Anne Hale: And after they are gone?
- Mary Sibley: After the death of a witch, the book finds its way to the Samhain. This ensures the survival of the discovery of witches so that the old ways are not lost. Some of these go back hundreds of years to some of the earliest Essex witches. In fact I have your father's book. That's how I knew he was dead. The book appeared that morning. Now go home and inscribe your book.You may write with ink, but first you must sign it with blood.
- Anne Hale: What?
- Mary Sibley: Yes. The deep magic, the strong and permanent kind, always requires a little blood. Your blood signature guards it from all eyes but yours.
- -- in Book of Shadows
- "Three innocent people are dead because of me, including my own mother and father, so this is my promise to you, book, and to you, little Brown Jenkins, and to myself I will master this power inside me, but I will use it for the common good. I will do no harm."
- -- Anne Hale entry in her Book of Shadows.
- "Tonight, Mary Sibley bade me confront my fear and go down into the well. And so I went to create a warning charm. I drowned the animal. I filled the vial. I saw the hag. She spoke to me in the voice of the Countess Marburg, and I do not know who I fear more Mary Sibley or this Countess Marburg."
- -- Anne Hale second entry in her Book of Shadows.
- "My dearest daughter, if you are reading this, then I am dead, and you have gone some way down the dark path. I sealed this work so that you could only read it if you had attained some skills and a familiar. But what awaits is yet more significant and treacherous. Perhaps I was mistaken in keeping this all from you, but I dreamed I could save you from your fate. Now the lessons I should have taught you, you'll have to learn without me. But my heart and love are with you always. Know that you are not alone."
- -- John Hale entry in his Book of Shadows.
- "You have known for some time that you can move objects with your thought and without touch, but you must learn to do it without the heat of emotion. A lightning bolt may scorch an entire forest. Only a human hand can build a fire and tend a flame. Control is all. There is one power above all others, a divine power that comes with the greatest of responsibilities That of life and death. The essence in all things is palpable to you. With it, you can give life or snatch it away. This is the truest malice a witch may perform To kill at a distance with nothing but their will. You may wonder, dear daughter, with such gifts at your disposal, why I hid them from you. Because, dearest, there is no gift that is not also a curse, and I wish you save you from the price of your gifts. But having come this far, the price must be paid. I am so deeply sorry, my child, but it cannot be escaped or evaded. No gift without a curse. And He is the curse."
- -- John Hale entry about Sorcery and the Devil in his Book of Shadows.
- The first page must be written with the blood of the owner to seal the book to the witch's magic.
- In Puritan theology, a person made a covenant with the Devil by signing, or making their mark, in the Devil's Book "with pen and ink." Only with such signing did a person actually become a witch and gain demonic powers, such as appearing in spectral form to do harm to another. In testimony in the Salem witch trials, finding an accuser who could testify that the accused had signed the Devil's book, or getting a confession from the accused that she or he had signed it, was an important part of the examination.
- Mary has a copy of Anne Hale's book that replicates anything the ginger witch write down on her own grimoire, Mary Sibley just need to spit on the page to bring up the ink. This was possible because Mary previously tasted a drop of Anne's blood obtained by pricking her with a pin.
- John Hale's Book of Shadows cover is very similar to to that of his daughter's book.
- Some of the pictures contained in John Hale's Book of Shadows are copied from real grimoires' depictions, as the magic square from the Black Pullet Grimoire or inscriptions in the angelic alphabet from the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, a 13th century practical Kabbalah grimoire, primarily written in Hebrew and Aramaic, but surviving also in Latin translation, as Liber Razielis Archangeli.
- The term "Grimoire" (from the Old French word grammaire, meaning "handbook") commonly serves as an alternative name for a spell book or tome of magical knowledge. The most famous fictional grimoire is the Necronomicon, a creation of H. P. Lovecraft.
- Originating within the Gardnerian tradition of the Craft, the first Book of Shadows was created by Gerald Gardner sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. The concept of the Book of Shadows was then adopted by other Wiccan traditions and with the rise of books teaching people how to begin following Wicca, the idea of the Book of Shadows has changed over time, becoming a common personal diary of the practitioner.
- In popular culture, the term has been used in several films and TV series about witches, such as Charmed and The Secret Circle to name a few.