At one point, I was a teen. As teens are wont to do, I kept diaries. Meticulous diaries full of yearnings and discontent, bubble letter doodles naming my various unrequited loves (I had a serious thing for Jesse McCartney, y'all). My desire to record my life and thoughts in writing has obviously followed me onto the online realm, and it's become an important part of my witchcraft.
Written records have been a huge part of how witchcraft has carried on to modern times. Along with oral tradition, witches have learned from previous generations through notes, diaries, published books, zines, and all sorts of documents. Now that we can share written information digitally, I think it's even MORE important to have records of our practice. Witchcraft, whether deity-based or secular like my practice, lives on through the people who share it, and online communities make it easier than ever before to share knowledge and form covens of like-minded or diverse witches.
Most witches refer to their magical diaries and texts as grimoires, but you don't have to if you don't like the word. Some witches don't like the concept of grimoires, as the word has been used in negative and evil ways in pop culture and media. However, if you're like me and think that the concept of a grimoire is, at its heart, a pure expression and record of our magic, the word can suit you just fine! It's also fine to refer to your record as a diary, or book, or whatever you like.
One of the cool things about grimoires is that they have been found in almost every culture! Books of magic have been found in Persia, Jamaica, Greece, France, Sumatra...magic has thrived amongst all types of religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Some of these grimoires were believed to house the souls of the witches and warlocks who wrote them, others were just crude scribblings of amulets, curses, and potions. The array of grimoires that have been found in ruins and old libraries and even excavation sites just reminds me how wonderful it is to be part of a long tradition of witches who molded and sculpted their crafts based on their personal knowledge and experience. And I get to do the same thing!
I call my grimoire The Good Witch Grimoire, mainly because I like alliteration, and because it communicates what my magic is about. I practice because I want to spread good in the world, to shine light in dark places, and only use magic to further peace and goodwill. However, my grimoire acknowledges that sometimes darker magic must be used to advance a greater good and peace for myself, so there is a curse or two in the pages, as well as several strong binding and banishing spells. My grimoire is just a cheap $5 journal I got a Half Price Books. It has graph grid line pages, which I find helpful for drawing tables and diagrams. I didn't always keep a written grimoire though, In fact, I consider my first grimoire to be my tumblr page!
Tumblr has a pretty good witchy community, and the easy reblog and like features make it easy for a new witch to compile a lot of information. I recommend tumblr or other online platforms for people who are starting out and want an easy and discreet way to compile info, especially if it's on a platform they already use. I advise that you eventually move on to a more private grimoire, though, either written or a more private digital form. Tumblr has a lot of noise, and a lot of distraction—it's a great way to get started and develop confidence in your craft, but I found it to be too much and too easy to waste time instead of actually developing practices I could use, that resonated with me.
Once you find a journal or an online space you like, I encourage you to start your grimoire by journaling about what you want to get out of your practice! Do you believe in a deity? Are you secular? Do you feel at home in nature? Is your kitchen your magical playground? Is your magic best practiced in groups? Alone? This is a great way to start building your magical identity, and seems less intimidating than just trying to immediately jump into spell writing.
Fill your grimoire with every little magical thought that comes to mind! Grimoires are not the place for final drafts. They are the place to record your process as well as your final practice, and to collect marginalia, bits and pieces, scraps of paper, musings from witchy mentors, and your own thoughts. My grimoire is home to lots of haikus about gemstones, ponderings about the intersection of color and candle magic, and many many crossed out jar spells that got away from me. Let your inner teen shine through—doodle without being paralyzed by perfectionism.