The Book of Shadows is the Halliwell's magical spellbook. In addition to spells and potion recipes, a Book of Shadows contains information on warlocks, demons, and other supernatural beings. Important or powerful individuals have their own entries, which typically include specific vanquishing spells. A Book of Shadows, also acts a witch's journal, in order to write down everything she feels necessary, as well as to pass on to the next generation.
Although the term "Book of Shadows" is stated in one episode to be a common noun which refers to witches' magic books in general, it is usually used by the characters as if it was a proper name. That is, the Halliwells' book is refered to as The Book of Shadows, as if it were the only one-- even by characters tied to a different Book of Shadows and/or outside the Halliwells' inner circle, who would be expected to say "their Book of Shadows" or "your Book of Shadows" instead. This is possibly because they are recognized by prophecy as the world's greatest witches as well as part of a long running line of witches.
The Book of Shadows is very large, about the size of a dictionary or encyclopedia volume. It is bound in green leather, the front cover has a symbol composed of an interlocking triquetra and circle on it, symbolizing the Power of Three and the Warren/Halliwell Family of Witches. Despite being three hundred years old, the book is actually in very good condition, although the pages have yellowed somewhat with age.
The book is written by hand in ink. Entries have their titles in elaborate multicolored calligraphy. The book is written by the whole Warren/Halliwell line, throughout the generations, and possibly by also very close friends. The book contains many illustrations, chiefly of demons and other magical creatures. Most of the book is in English, but some of it is in Italian and Latin.
The book's organization is haphazard at best. The sisters remarked on several occasions that they searched "the entire book" when looking for specific information. This suggests that the book's previous owners simply filled in the pages sequentially rather than arranging the contents topically. (Given that the Book of Shadows is a collaborative work with contributions by generations of Warren and Halliwell witches, topical organization was likely a practical impossibility.)
The Charmed Ones' book was started by Melinda Warren, who began the Warren/Halliwell line of witches, with the year "1693" written on it's cover page. Although it was fairly small then, each succeeding generation of Warren witches had added onto it, particularly information on demons, but also on other supernatural things and magical items they came across and felt necessary to be journaled. One of the earliest entries that was around when Melinda was alive included a curse, and possibly the entry which details the coming of the Charmed Ones, through carvings, (mentioned in Something Wicca This Way Goes), though this could've been done by a future descendant . After Melinda was burned at the stake, the Book passed to her daughter Prudence, and was passed down throughout the generations.
Penny Halliwell, often noted that she created most of the potion recipes in it, and the only other entries we know for a fact that she wrote was the entry on the Necromancer, the Stillman Sisters and Gammill, The Collector. Patty Halliwell added text on Barbas, the Demon of Fear, and also, the page on how to properly raise and nurture magical children. ("Happily Ever After," "From Fear to Eternity," "Reckless Abandon")
The Charmed Ones themselves have added information, spells and potions, as well, for future generations. The first entry they made themselves was "Woogyman Spell", or how to banish the Shadow of the Nexus. Phoebe added a page on Cole Turner, Belthazor's human half including personal information like his favorite food and hobbies; "anything that could help future witches" after he'd broken her heart. This was reminiscent of the alterations Penny made to the Necromancer page, adding such things as "likes Clarke Gable movies" to aid in her getting over the end of their romantic relationship. Phoebe also wrote an entry on the warlock Anton. ("Is There a Woogy in the House?," "Pardon My Past," "Look Who's Barking," "Necromancing the Stone")
At the end of the series, Piper, Phoebe and Paige added their own entries regarding what they've been through in their years as the Charmed Ones in order to pass down the knowledge to future generations.
Leo added the entry titled, "Tips for Future Whitelighters," logging information about whitelighters and how to properly use their powers, for his sons, Chris and Wyatt, just in case he wasn't around to teach them, himself.
At the end of the series when we are given a glimpse into the future, Wyatt and Chris Halliwell can be seen making a potion with the Book laying aloft the table top; it can be assumed that the sisters retire from their demon hunting and their progeny continue the Charmed Ones' destiny.
A few spells in the Book of Shadows are used for personal gain. No explanation has been given to why such spells would be in the Book but it's likely that these spells were put in to teach future witches about the personal gain consequences; or as to they served a magical purpose to deal with evils of the time.
Powers & Abilities
The Book of Shadows, is also notable because evil cannot touch it, thanks to the shielding & sensing powers it is enchanted with. Nor can it be taken out of the Halliwell Manor, except by the sisters. This is particularly important, as many evil beings covet the book, and the Charmed Ones would be much weaker without its knowledge. Although it is protected by good magic, evil has found a way around this and captured the book several times.
The Book is tied very closely to the Charmed Ones' powers. For example, when Rex Buckland blackmailed them into giving up their powers, the Book went blank after they read the Relinquishment Spell. However, when Leo healed and restored the Book, their powers were restored as well. ("Wicca Envy") Though, when the Angel of Destiny offered to take away their powers in the Season 4 finale, Witch Way Now?, he said the Book would not be harmed, and would pass down to a future descendant.
Also, if one of the Charmed Ones turns evil, the other two will turn evil as well, and the evil will flow through the Book (although in later episodes, when one sister has turned evil, the other two did not succumb to it). Dantalian, a high-level demon priestess, realized this, and tricked Prue into marrying a warlock, Zile, turning her evil. As expected, this turned Piper, Phoebe and the Book evil as well, enabling her to briefly get the Book. The plan backfired when evil Piper and Phoebe vanquished Zile, breaking the evil bond and restoring the Book to normal. ("Bride and Gloom") In season four, in the episode Hell Hath No Fury, Paige tried to copy the book, but because of its protection power every page came out blank.
The Book has a different protection mechanism against evil, when someone tried to take it in several episodes; jumping off the stand in Once Upon A Time and The Seven Year Witch, repelling the being away from the Book in Death Becomes Them, a spherical shield around the Book in Death Becomes Them, burning the user's hands in Imaginary Fiends, and so on.
In Thank You For Not Morphing, an evil shapeshifter is able to touch the book and take it as far as the front door before it repels itself from his grasp. In future episodes, it is established that it is impossible for evil to even touch the Book. In this episode, however, the Charmed Ones' magic was not strong enough for its full protection to be activated.
The Resting OneThis book was used in scene's were the Book of Shadows is present but isn't used. It would mostly just sit on its stand or lie on a table. The Hero book was kept in a safe when not filming to prevent it from being stolen. It weighs less and holds copies from the real pages and looks exactly the same as the Hero book. This book was also used in scene's were the sisters magic would have disappeared like in The Day the Magic Died when Phoebe finds an empty Book of Shadows. The book then would have flat pages without any drawing or text. The flat pages seen in this book were the remaining flat pages from, the first season.
The Back UpThis book was used during the third season and had about 80 pages. The Hero book was damaged and had to be fixed as well as the Triquetra, which had to be glued on again as it began to come off. This book was an exact copy of the Hero book and had all original pages until the Hero book was fixed again. This book was sold on Ebay in August 2003.
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