My witchy origin story

Like most others, I discovered witchcraft in junior high school. I think it was sixth or seventh grade. A girl in my class had told me about Wicca, and showed me spells on very 90s-esque websites. I didn’t get into it then, but to say it piqued my interest is an understatement.

I first approached witchcraft seriously in 9th/10th grade. I started taking witch books out of the library as well as books on divination and anything else I could get my hands on. I had a friend in real life I could practice and share knowledge with. We bought all of our supplies from the Dollar Store. Sometimes we would walk into the woods, sit down in a clearing, burn some incense and just listen to nature. I really, really liked this. I didn’t really consider it as a religion or spirituality, though. It was more of something I liked to read about, but I didn’t have the freedom or the resources to practice often.

When I was 18 years old, I really got into tarot reading. I loved everything about it and I finally had the resources to buy my own decks. I became email “pen pals” with a girl I met online who offered to trade readings with me. We wrote each other long e-mails, sharing the different nuances of our paths. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have some sort of companionship on your path, even if you’re a solitary witch. It makes a world of difference.

This was really my first true, wholehearted experience with witchcraft, spellwork and deity work. I believe at the time I labeled myself a Dianic Wiccan. I don’t subscribe to this title any longer, however I still feel more comfortable working with female deities over male ones.

I’m only 27 now, so I’ve been on and off with witchiness and reading cards for about 10 years. It’s hard to keep something in your life permanently, when everything else is fighting for a space. I work full-time now but I’m not going to school anymore which affords me more free-time and I feel like I’ve truly found my place among witches at last.

Part of the problem for me was overcoming my own anxieties and insecurities about being a witch. I felt like I would get made fun of or laughed at by my friends. My friends have changed a lot in the past ten years. Luckily, everyone currently in my life accepts me for who I am. I can only deny who I am for so long, and it feels like I am finally coming clean.

Why tarot “works”

I’ve been reading tarot for over ten years on and off. I’ve gotten a handful of readings from professional readers both online & in person and I’ve gotten even more for free from friends in the tarot community.

The cards can be eerily accurate, or cryptic (and usually eventually accurate) but what makes the cards ‘know’ things about us?

There are generally a few theories ranging from psychological archetypes to communing with/via spirits and deities.

Personally, I believe that since tarot is such a visual tool, it allows our brains to process the information the cards give us in a different way than we might if we were just giving advice. Since we are using the right-side of our brain in this interpretation, it allows readers to meld their own intuition with the interpretation of the card.

I used to hear the word ‘intuition’ and thought it meant nothing, or something irrelevant. I know now from copious personal experiences what intuition is, and what it feels like. Intuition is like imagining or dreaming about a situation happening in a particular way, and then it does. Or thinking about someone you haven’t spoken with in forever and then they reach out to you, seemingly out of the blue.

Whenever I start really ‘tuning in’ with my intuition, I can notice a difference right away. I become more sensitive in a way I can’t quite explain and it allows me to sense things I might not otherwise sense.

I believe using tarot with a heightened sense of intuition allows you to perform readings not just for yourself, but for other people, even – and especially in some cases – complete strangers.

Tarot cards have interpretations but there are multiple different meanings for every card. This is where intuition comes into play – having a particular feeling that one meaning is standing out bolder than the others.

This is the interpretation I subscribe to, but that doesn’t mean it’s “right”! There are loads of different tarot readers who approach their tools differently.

I’m a “witch”?

I suppose sooner or later, a witch needs to come out of her broom closet.

I’m a witch. But what does that mean?

Witchcraft is a practice, and witches practice magic. When I say that I practice magic, I mean that I perform little rituals and spells, with a goal of making something change. Sometimes the changes are small: I might cast a spell to give me enough energy to do the dishes, or I might draw a sigil to make me feel more creative and motivated.

Witchcraft is a practice, and witches practice magic. When I say that I practice magic, I mean that I perform little rituals and spells, with a goal of making something change. Sometimes the changes are small: I might cast a spell to give me enough energy to do the dishes, or I might draw a sigil to make me feel more creative and motivated.

I’m not a wiccan, but my beliefs align with the wiccan rede: ‘An ye harm none, do what ye will.’ I don’t aim to hurt or change anyone.

The spiritual aspect of being a witch is a little difficult to explain, however. I don’t ascribe to one particular religion, yet I’m not completely secular. The deity I feel closest to at the moment is Bast, the Egyptian goddess of protection (and cats).

The basis of my belief in magic, and even deity work, is energy. I can’t really explain what energy is, and if I could I’m sure someone else on the internet has worded it 100 times better than I could.

I’ve always considered myself a skeptic – I’m a Capricorn rising, if that means anything to you. Taking into account the sheer size of the universe, the existence of Earth, it’s hard not to believe that there’s something else at play, linking us together, influencing our lives.

I also have a tendency to be a little pessimistic. I have a nihilistic streak in my past and nothing makes me sadder or angrier than thinking that Everything is for Nothing.

Despite what’s real and what isn’t, my belief and work with magic helps to restore an imbalance inside of myself. It makes me feel a little bit more in control. It helps me see the bigger picture.

So, even if in the end, Everything really is for Nothing, at least I’m in a mentally better spot than my usual default.

How to make a digital grimoire

A book of shadows, or a grimoire, is a book that witches use to keep information about their craft including tracking spell efficacy, moon phases and signs, tarot logs and more.

There aren’t a lot of options, especially if you want something customizable. I do have a physical grimoire, but it’s mostly for my own art and reference pages that won’t need to change in the future.

The first thing you should do is list out what you’re looking for in a book of shadows. Do you want someplace that just stores raw data, and doesn’t need to look too fancy? Do you want something that can be shared to others’ or is kept completely private? The digital format isn’t for everyone.

One solution that worked well for me for a while is Google Docs. It’s easily accessible from any computer or mobile device (which was important to me) and it was pretty easy to keep things organized… for a while. Soon I had so many docs and folders, it was getting a little unmanageable!

Then I started using a web application called Notion to keep track of the notes I took while learning programming. This was especially useful to me in the context of programming because they are one of the few ‘notepad’ web apps that support syntax highlighting, which makes all of the special programming words light up according to a specific color scheme.

I saw a few posts around for people who use Notion as their bullet journal, which is also a really cool idea. I have a section that I use kind of to that effect. I think it’s important to mention that I believe Notion projects are public unless you add privacy rules – which I highly recommend if you’re to do journaling of any kind.

Let’s get to the witch stuff

It didn’t take long before I started considering using Notion for witchy things. It started with Astrology. I was originally keeping this giant document relating to my natal chart inside of a Google Doc. It became difficult to find things, so I worked on moving it over to Notion, in a more organized way.

It occurred to me that I could also use this app for recording my Tarot entries. I love to keep track of how frequently a card comes up, and I feel that I always benefit from writing down my interpretations. I use Notion for this too, because they have a ‘journal’ page template that lets you write & tag entries.

I tag my entries with every card I pull and I have a separate tag for which deck I used!

Here are a few pages (and subpages) I have designated under my ‘Grimoire’ folder:

  • Astrology
    • natal chart & interpretation
    • info about transits
    • info about planets/houses/signs/elements
    • everything about the moon
  • Tarot
    • log of every self-reading
    • individual card correspondences
    • list of decks I own/decks I want
    • list of tarot spreads I’ve created and want to reuse
    • tips for getting to know a new deck
  • My Deity (Bast)
    • list of correspondences
    • prayers I’ve found/created
    • collection of epithets
  • Spellbook
    • list of spells I’ve done, ways in which they did/didn’t work
    • list of spells I want to do
    • common spell correspondences (herbs, candles, etc.)

As you can see, I can pretty much put anything in here! The best part is that it’s synced to the internet, which means I can edit or reference it from anywhere whether I’m at work or home, or at a friend’s house. There are also apps for iOS and Android to access the app and comfortably edit/add more information!

Notion is only free up to a certain number of ‘blocks’ of content. You can have up to 1,000 on a free plan, but if you like to go crazy organizing and tracking info like me, you can upgrade for $48 a year.

Since I use this not only as a digital grimoire but as a regular journal, a financial tracker, and a general all-purpose notebook, I think it’s pretty worthwhile.

I should note that I’m not endorsed by anyone or anything whatsoever, so this is just a recommendation based on my own experiences.

Have you ever tried keeping a digital grimoire? What did or didn’t work for you?