Journaling is a staple in my everyday life. It wasn’t always like that but over the years I have come to realize the many benefits journaling has to offer. These benefits go beyond just helping you remember your day or keeping your thoughts straight. I wanted to share them with you because lately, journaling has taken up a large significance in my life.
What is a journal?
I wanted to include a little section here on what a journal is if you’re not familiar. When I speak about a journal, I am speaking about a notebook (electronic or not) that you use to write down thoughts, events, and anything else. That’s it. A journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It doesn’t have to be outrageously decorated or strict and simple. I find that if I can’t connect with my journal in an aesthetic way or a way that makes writing easy, I’m less likely to use it. This is why I don’t use journals that have prompts and different things for me to fill in. So yes, that composition notebook can be a journal. That fancy notebook you bought because it looks awesome can be a journal. Evernote can be a journal. Your notepad on your computer can be a journal. If you use it in this manner, it’s a journal. There are no other qualifiers.
Benefits of Keeping a Mundane Journal
Let’s talk about some mundane benefits of keeping a journal first because these will lead to the magickal benefits. I think these all go hand in hand, and once you realize that, keeping a journal might be a little bit easier for you.
- Multiple Cognitive Benefits
Some studies show that keeping a journal can have many benefits on your cognitive function and the way you handle stress. One study from Cambridge University discusses that daily writing exercises like journaling can lower stress, a feeling of greater psychological well-being, improved mood, and improved working memory.
- Cultivate a Sense of Mindfulness
Another important benefit of daily journaling is mindfulness. When we can begin to remember the things that have happened during the day, take them into account, and see them for what they are, we can begin to develop a regular mindfulness practice. Past anxieties and frustrations may lose their edge in the moment, and calling the wandering mind to the present to focus evokes mindfulness.
“It seems that practicing mindfulness can improve our quality of life and make us feel happier.” – Berkeley Science Review
- Improve Communication
If we can’t effectively communicate with ourselves, communicating with other people will be more difficult. The active process of journaling is, in effect, writing to yourself. Typically no one is going to see your journal but you, so think of your journal as letters to yourself. Write in a way that, if you were to look back ten years from now, you would be able to understand your ideas and thoughts without much interpretation.
Benefits of Keeping a Magickal Journal
Your mundane journal and your magick journal don’t need to be separate, but they can be. I have a few different journals going right now. One of them is my mundane journal where I write about my day, how I was feeling, and anything that happened. My magickal journals are a bit different. In that journal, I keep track of different tarot readings and spellwork that I do. This is different than my grimoire, though, because a grimoire keeps information for future use. The magickal journal keeps track of things in-progress.
I have three main reasons for keeping a magickal journal, but I’m sure you could add more to this list.
- Learning Tool
When I try anything new, I always find it best to journal about it. This is especially helpful when it comes to learning things like tarot, ogam, or any other sort of divination method. Having a journal to document your learning process gives you something to look back on in reference, but it also helps you see how far you’ve come. You can also use it as a way to track the accuracy of your divination. Did you predict that you’d get a new job in a few months? How did that go? Sometimes things work out unexpectedly and it is great to have a journal on hand.
If you’re connecting with a deity – or trying to – a magickal journal can help you with that, too. Sometimes we can’t properly interpret signs or symbols in the moment. It isn’t until later when we can look back objectively that we think, oh yeah, that WAS something the Gods were telling me. Journaling about your meditative or journey experiences to read back later can definitely help with developing a relationship with deity and opening up those lines of communication with Them.
- Keep Track of Spells
As for keeping track of spells, this one is two-fold. I recommend keeping track of any spell you’ve never done before. What ingredients did you use? Tools? Did you say anything? What were your steps? This way if it works out well, you can reference it, clean it up a bit, and add it to your grimoire. On the other hand, if something didn’t work right, you can look back at it and see what you can change or where you may have gone wrong.
The second part of keeping track of spells is in the case of long-term spells. Sometimes you might work spells that are meant to work slowly or over long periods of time. Keeping track of your spells this way can help you see those little victories – or setbacks – and adjust your course as needed.
- Shadow Work
I am a huge advocate for shadow work. Regardless of where you are in that process, I believe that journaling is an integral part of working with your shadow. I talk about it in length on my podcast and YouTube channel – and I’m currently writing a book – but we need to be able to objectively view ourselves as we are, good and bad. Uncovering those uncomfortable truths through journaling can lead you to reveal those pieces of your shadow that are holding you back. You may also have some hidden truths that, when brought to light, can help you lead a more fulfilled life.
However you choose to journal, know that journaling doesn’t have to look any particular way. Use it in a manner that works for your needs and have fun with it. If journaling becomes a chore, try changing things up! It’s no use to you if you don’t find it enjoyable.
As a side note, a magickal journal can also be called a Book of Mirrors.