How important is it to keep a magical diary?

A magical diary is the single most important tool for any sort of magical practitioner. No matter which magical tradition you’re coming from, no matter how long you’ve been practicing, there’s just nothing else that even comes close.

When I consult with clients, whether for a tarot reading or a natal astrology reading, I’m amazed at how few people keep any sort of diary at all. But if you’re a magician? I honestly don’t know how you can get by without one.

If you’ve never kept a magical diary before, let me explain both why it’s so important. I’ll also give you some advice on how to begin a diary, and how to stick with it.

Why keep a magical diary?

An inexpensive notebook and pen are all you need to start a magical diary.

A diary in general is a record of your life and the events and circumstances you experience. Ideally, you write at least one entry for each date describing the highlights and lowlights of the day. Even this minimal sort of work-a-day diary can be extremely useful–particularly if you’re a student of astrology.

I’ve written before about keeping a journal to track planetary transits, but a point from that post bears repeating here. There is no better way of knowing how astrological events affect you than looking back on specific dates to see what happened. For example, let’s say you’re about to experience your Saturn return. One way to receive a hint about which areas of your life are likely to be affected most by this transit is to go back and look at the events surrounding your Saturn opposition.

You can’t do that if you never wrote anything down!

In the broader sense, though, keeping a magical diary is even more important if you’re actually doing magic. In fact, your diary will often be the only “proof” you have that your magic is working at all.

Want an example? Here’s one from my own direct, personal experience…

Several years ago, someone close to me was having a lot of difficulties in school. Every day they were faced with confusing assignments, unsympathetic teachers, and bullying peers. They were trying their best, and going through all of the proper, “mundane” channels to address their issues, but nothing seemed to help.

So why not try a little magic?

I did an in-depth tarot reading on their situation, came up with a list of about a half dozen enchantment goals, and performed a ritual to assist them. Some of these goals were things like “This person’s teachers are understanding and patient,” and “This person feels safe and secure in their learning environment.”

Fast forward a year later, and I was reading over my magical diary and found the entry describing this ritual. For a moment, I was discouraged. None of the goals seemed to have ever “come off.”

Then, with something of a shock, I realized that they had. All of them! Every single one of the magical targets had been absolutely, 100% fulfilled within about two months of performing the ritual.

How so? The person’s parents had taken them out of public school and began homeschooling them.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I keep a magical diary, I might not ever have noticed this. Nor would I have noticed the countless tarot readings I’ve performed where I was left a bit confused by the cards, but my predictions ultimately proved to be accurate down to the smallest detail.

Sometimes–a lot of the time, actually–magic is slow. It can take weeks or months for results to appear. The best way not to lose track of what you’re doing and why? Write it down.

How to start?

Starting a magical diary is as simple as writing down today’s date, followed by whatever’s on your mind. Before we get into more specifics, let’s talk first about formats: digital or hand-written?

Some people prefer to keep their journal or diary on their computer. This might mean using a word processing program, or it could be a dedicated journaling or diary app. Other people handwrite their magical diaries in actual, physical books.

Me? I fall into the latter category. I have tried keeping my diary on a computer, but I never seemed to keep them updated for very long. Maybe I’m just old, but I really do prefer putting pen to paper. At the very least, it makes me feel more “wizardly.”

Whichever format you decide to start with, try to stick with it for a couple of months before trying to switch over to something else. Getting started with a magical diary is often the hardest part, so any format is going to feel like a challenge in the beginning. Build up the habit of writing first, and only switch it up if you’re sure your chosen format isn’t going to work out.

That said, I’m going to assume you’re using a physical book for your magical diary for the rest of this post. Don’t worry, though. The advice all works out much the same if you’re using a computer.

On the first blank page of the diary, I write my name and the date on which I’m starting it. (Once I’ve filled the book completely, I’ll go back to this page and write the date of the last entry.)

I leave the next page or two blank, then start writing my daily record.

The first thing I write each day is the date, along with the day of the week. I record the day of the week because I do a lot of work with astrology and planetary magic. Being able to tell which planetary day it is at a glance is pretty important to me.

Then, because I tend to write several entries each day, I write the time of the entry, followed by my thoughts.

A sample diary entry.

February 5, 2023 — Sunday

4:15am – Got up around 3:30am. No dreams to note. Seem to have slept alright and feel rested.

5:00am – Two cups of coffee. Maybe not as rested as I thought. Received email reply from J.R. regarding tarot consult. Very happy with result. Beginning astro consult for F.G.

9:00am – Report sent to F.G. Meditation now, then lunch.

9:35am – Twenty minute meditation. Very hard to keep my mind from wandering. Feel relaxed, but frustrated. Really need to make meditation a daily habit again.

While I didn’t take the above from my magical diary verbatim, it’s a good example of the sort of record that I keep for myself. Yours doesn’t have to look like this at all. It can be more or less detailed, more narrative in structure, or whatever you want.

The main point is that you want to record whatever magical work you do (I include consultations in this category), as well as any surrounding context which might be relevant. For instance, maybe those two cups of coffee had something to do with my meditation difficulties.

(Incidentally, I learned how to keep a magical diary way back in my teenage years when I was reading a lot of Crowley. As a result, my record-keeping looks quite a bit like what you’ll find in one of his diaries, published as John St. John, which you can find freely-available here. If you’re looking for another, albeit dense example of a magical diary, you could do worse than check it out.)

Anyway, so that’s what a typical entry in my magical diary looks like. Now, why did I leave a page or two at the beginning of the book blank? Because if I perform a major ritual or experience an even or situation of incredible significance, I’ll go back to those pages and write down the date, and a one-sentence description of the event.

In effect, this allows the first couple of pages to serve as a kind of table of contents for the most important things included in the book. This isn’t to say the rest of my magical diary is unimportant, just that some events are particularly noteworthy and I’ll likely want to refer back to them in the future.

One last thing I want to mention about getting started is actually a repetition of something I wrote above. Getting started is absolutely the hardest part of keeping a magical diary. Just getting into the habit of cracking the book open every day and writing something down seems like the most challenging thing ever if you aren’t used to it.

The best advice I can give you here is this: when you first begin your diary, make a commitment to yourself to write in it every single day for two weeks. Even if all you write is the date followed by the sentence “I don’t want to write today,” that’s enough.

I’ll have some more tips for keeping your diary going in the next section.

What are some tips for sticking with it?

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m just an ordinary sinner. As much as I insist on writing in your magical diary every say, I frequently go days, weeks, or even sometimes months without even touching mine. Why? Just ’cause.

Maybe I’m particularly busy or stressed. Maybe I’ve let my magical practice slip. Or maybe I just can’t be asked to sit down and scribble out “watched Netflix, ate half a pizza, played video games.”

Whatever the reason, I don’t really sweat it. Yes, ideally, I’m writing every day and you should, too. But you know what? Don’t beat yourself up if you slack off. Just recognize when you do, then make a concerted effort to pick up the practice again. That’s the first tip: be kind to yourself and just do your best.

Another tip for keeping your magical diary up to date is to write at a set time each day. Try putting aside ten minutes just before you go to bed. Again, even if you write “did nothing today” or “meditated” that’s enough. Sure, a more detailed entry will probably be more useful to you later on, but just getting on with the practice is sometimes all you can hope for.

One tip I learned from a friend of mine is really helpful for keeping track of when noteworthy events happen during the day and you don’t have your magical diary with you. Whenever something significant happens while you’re at work, school, or out and about on errands, send yourself a text message, or a short email–just a sentence or two will suffice to jog your memory later when you sit down to write. And, as a bonus, your message to yourself will have a timestamp!

The last tip I want to share about keeping a magical diary is to not be afraid to get “crafty” with it if that’s your thing. This might mean including small sketches or doodles, or it could mean turning your magical diary into a full-blown scrap book. For whatever reason, I’ve known many people who have a hard time motivating themselves to write, but they absolutely love to draw or do some sort of paper crafting. So, that’s their “way in.” They’ll crack open their diary, do a small watercolor, then find themselves writing a few sentences.

Whatever helps you open the book and keep it going.

Do you have any tips to share on keeping a magical diary? If so, leave a comment down below. I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, have a blessed day!

If you would like a Tarot or natal astrology reading, please visit my Consultations page. I would be happy to help.