Common spells found in a traditional Book of Shadows include protection spells, banishing spells, spells that are targeted to themes, such as wealth, justice or love, and seeking or "scrying" spells. These core spells are intended to give a beginning practitioner guidance to familiarize themselves with magic workings as well as to preserve personal variations on the part of the book's owner.
A traditional Book of Shadows has spells attuned to the user's particular belief system. For example, a witch or Pagan following an Egyptian pantheon may have a Book of Shadows with devotions to Bast or Anubis.
While a finished Book of Shadows may incorporate the spells or recipes of another witch, a traditional book incorporates personal touches to a spell, such as the substitution of one herb for another or a different, more personal incantation.
Spells are typically generalized to apply to a wide range of purposes. A Book of Shadows may also contain reference information or observations of its owner in addition to spells. A B.O.S. acts as part workbook, part diary and part legacy to pass on to future generations of witches. It is often made with an oversized binding or blank pages, intended to accommodate the addition of information over the years.