Home Discussion Forum What's the difference between a book of shadows and a grimoire?

What's the difference between a book of shadows and a grimoire?

I don’t understand the difference between the two, especially as they pertain to eclectic Wicca/solitary practitioners.


  1. Classically, a grimoire was a book that held information on spells to summon demons/angels for various purposes. The book would usually contain the correct times to summon the spirit, tools to use, etc. Also, the old grimoires would usually require you invoking the Christian God.
    The Book of Shadows was basically a Wiccan grimoire, except Wiccans don’t normally summon demons. In this day and age, both names are used synonymously, except when referring to the old grimoires.

    • Generations of my family have always called it a grimore. Actually it more referred to as the family book because calling it a grimore would give others the wrong idea if over heard in social conversation. Most people believe our ” family book” to be evil and therefore my family is evil. Which is a big misconception that has been a reality my whole life. And explaining it further just puts us in a position for more question and jokes towards my family.
      Anyways in the grimore we keep a famiy history, spells, rituals and dates and summary of what happen at those events. Generally, the oldest of the generation, or who was the most devoted, would be the one who would house the book but anyone could record in it. It has what each season ritual should be… the meanings, teaching, supplies, gods , why we do what we do, the origin and history of it and what our ancestors did. So pretty much everything and anything that had to do with our faith. It was always kept under lock and key in a safe place. Not for any reason other out of respect of our ancestors and gods. And to avoid unwanted attention from unbelievers which was anyone who wasnt family. We didnt even share this with other pagans. And we werent to fond of Wiccans either. Well my grandparents mostly. But thats another story.
      As for a BOS … i see it a self help tool or just another name for it the same thing. Just like another name for it is a journal. However, reading the thoughts of an ancestor would be call a book of mirrors or book of reflection. Thats what we call it in my family anyways . Which again is a journal or autobiography of their own life or point of view. Dreams and experiences. Calling something else really just starts up unwanted questions when really we are no different they anyone one else. No one questions why christian call a bible ,a bible. Idk But in everyday life and everyday conversation none of these books were called anything fancy but a book. Only referring to that book with such names with a title is when reading from that book itself.

  2. I have always thought of them as being the same. Perhaps there is a subtle difference. A Book of Shadows is a personal handwritten book where a witch keeps His/Her craft information that they have compiled through their own experiences and through study of others information. Some more modern witches have it on disk but I prefer handwritten as I believe that it contains or retains more power from human contact than computer storage.
    Grimoire is a term I have seen in relationship to Medieval books which were written before the common use of the printing press. They were also craft orientated but were probably written by men more than individual witches.
    This subject should probably have more study on my part but that is my understanding at this time.

  3. Traditionally, a grimoire is a set of instructions, like a protocol in science. A Book of Shadows contains your experiences and practices, that you have refined.
    A grimoire is like a protocol (set of instructions) in science, and a BOS is like a lab notebook. One tells you what to do, what tells what you have done…
    The word grimoire is actually related to grammar, which essentially means a set of rules (like a set of rules for language, for example.)
    Not sure why most Wiccans would need a grimoire, but there you go.

  4. I don’t understand the difference myself so I just think you can call your book whatever you like no matter what you put inside. 🙂


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