The Bullet Ephemeris
I promised a review of this to someone on Facebook, so I figured why not write about it here and get a 2-fer.
I currently track the majority of my magical stuff in a bullet journal style ephemeris. I know there are some very awesome magical astrological journals and such (like this gorgeous one by Benebell Wen) but for me, there's something important about having my own journal.
First, it's always going to be more accurate. I track some things that are either less common (thanks to Gordon I'm a Decan fan) or completely personal (like times when the current astrological alignments match my personal horoscope). Things that I don't care about don't get in the way. Plus everything is in my timezone.
Second, there's a real power to handwrite the information in. There's skin in the game and a sense of ownership of the book. Plus unlike digital solutions, it's a real world object, which is important in my very digital life.
So what's a bullet journal? This is the best place to start -- watch the intro video, it's really short. Bullet journals are really hot right now and you can find zillions of sites with all kinds of journals -- from completely functional to stunningly gorgeous. But at its heart, it's nothing more complex than that video:
You leave a couple pages blank for an index
You number pages as you go
You create pages for whatever you need, for example:
* Month pages
* Week pages
* Day pages
* Tracking pages
Everything gets listed in the index as you go so you can find it. And apart from the index and page numbers there are no rules. Let me just say that again:
THERE ARE NO RULESThat can be scary, especially when you are faced with a brand new blank notebook. But it's also liberating. If you mess up, you just turn the page and move on. If you need some new thing, you just add it.
That said, it is interesting to see how other people do things, so here's a quick rundown.
What I don't do:
First, I do not spend a lot of time drawing beautiful creative artwork in my journal or prettying up pages with washi tape or stickers... because, bluntly, I have a life. If I had time to do that, I wouldn't need to keep a bullet journal to get all my shit done.
Second, I don't spend a lot. My journal is boring and inexpensive. I do have a very beautiful hardback book that I am creating a personal grimoire in (or will when I get over my absolute perfectionist terror at writing in it). So yeah, boring and inexpensive is the way to go.
Third, I don't sweat mistakes in my journal. This is not a book of shadows or a heirloom diary or that beautiful grimoire. It's a working tool for integrating magic into my life. It's also a way to give my personal stuff as much priority as my work stuff.
Fourth, I do not keep my entire schedule in the journal. I had 8 meetings yesterday alone, all with other people. That's gotta be digital. In fact, my work life has an entirely different system, mostly digital and segregated by confidentiality rules. My work already gets plenty of my attention though, so the journal is a way to give my magical/personal life as much clout.
Fifth, I don't track things I don't care about. Lots of people use their journal to track all kinds of things like the weather, their mood, etc. But I know I'm never going to look back at that stuff. Which means that right now I'm only tracking exercise and migraine headaches -- the former because I want to do more and the second because I can look back and see patterns that are useful (I have chronic migraines, this isn't an occasional thing for me). However, if you find it useful and relevant to your life or practice, you can keep part of the journal as an actual journal where you note relevant and important items daily.
So what do I do?
At the start of the book, after leaving a couple of pages blank for the index, I sketched in an annual calendar. This was a bit of a pain, but I only have to do it once a year. It matches my wall calendar at work, noting major events like travel, conferences, vacation, etc. This is actually super useful for long range planning (in fact I just had work order my 2018 calendar because I need to start putting stuff in). That said, I have way more travel than most people. So you may not need this.
I know what the different colors mean. Also, note I that messed up March -- and yes, that's embarrassing, but it happens and one of the joys of this system is that it's OK. That's good for someone like myself, who can get a little tightly-wound about this stuff.
Every month, I create a month page that lists useful astrological and personal information:
The columns from left to right are: date and day of the week, moon phase/sign/day, and solar sign.
Then I have a column where I write important items for that day -- magical operations, rituals, etc.
Plus there's usually a more boring todo section to the right, and a little calendar (my week starts with Monday).
The process of figuring and planning days for magic makes it more conscious for me which means I'm more likely to actually do some magic. So for example, if you plan to do a ritual for the full moon for abundance or on the second Thursday for wealth, this process means you have to think about it in advance and consider your schedule too.
I just draw the lines in with a ruler and yes, I use a colored marker for the header and lines, but it's far -- far -- from beautiful. And I mess stuff up too... see that arrow above the full moon? Yeah, I got the wrong day. But before I know it the month is over and I can turn to a fresh new page and make some new mistakes.
September was a really quiet month (thank goodness) but when things get very crazy, I sometimes also do a weekly page where I just track everything going on in a week. I haven't gotten to the point of really needing a daily page yet (and I kind of hope I never do).
I also have a whole set of pages with headers like: Sigil Ideas, Days of the Moon, Daily Prayers, Reading Log (for Tarot readings, not books), ritual outlines, EBER Project stuff (project planning on paper, yes!). Even better, if you find a template you like someplace, you can sketch a version right in your journal or copy and paste one in.
If you are picky about the order of things, you could do this whole thing in an appropriately sized ring binder and add and move pages as you like, but I like the bound book for its sense of permanence.
So, last note, where do I get the magical data?
Site for Generating your horoscope
Site for where the planets are astrologically
Android app for where the planets are in the sky
Android app for magic planetary hours
Android app for lunar calendar and sign as well as lots of other nifty astrological stuff
Plus some off line stuff in books as well naturally
By letting go of perfection and admitting that the only planner that's going to be perfect for you is the one that you create and control, you empower yourself to actually do the things you want to do -- in your magic and your life. Which is pretty cool.