A wide variety of "working tools" are found in Wicca, the tools or objects used in making magick are essential, although they are just tools. They hold no inherant power within themselves, but focus and refine the power within you. They are visual and manual aids or symbols to help in contacting the subconscious mind and persuading it to work the magick you desire. The success of magick is in the belief, emotion and discipline you bring to the ritual, not in the tools you use.
The altar or working space is the first thing you'll need in any magickal working. Ideally, you should have a special room for this, but few of us live in ideal situations.
The ritual altar serves a dual purpose; it's a place to keep your ritual tools and materials; and it serves as a visual focus for your magickal work. Some traditions hold that the altar should always face the East, or the South, or in the center, etc., etc... Put your altar where it feels right for you. More important, put it somewhere where you will be able to see it easily, where you'll be able to reach the things you need to reach, and where you won't trip over it.
The right side of the altar is usually dedicated to the God. A red, yellow or gold candle, or an appropriate figure, is usually place there, as are the censor, wand, athame, bolline and a bowl of salt.
Your athame (or personal knife) should be purchased new, the shape and size depending upon what appeals to you. In the Wiccan tradition the hilt is usually black and the blade sharp on both sides. The blade should also be of a metal that can be sharpened as you will use this knife to cut herbs and incise candles. The sharp edge is also a reminder of the power we take into our hands when we work magick.
Some Wiccans use a bell in their rituals,
though certainly not all. Sound is vibration and vibrations are important, not only in everyday life but, especially, magick. To help achieve the right vibrations, the right "mood" or "frequency", it helps to ring a bell. It can actually be just as effective-and thereby as important-as the burning of incense, which also affects vibrations. Don't overdo the bell ringing. A very occasional single-, double-, or triple-ring, scattered throughout the ritual, can be far more effective than a constant jangling.
The Besom is used to cleanse the ritual area. There are those who insist that a besom must be made of broom, but this isn't necessarily true. In fact, it is said that fairies hate the scent of broom. Straw or grass brooms are fine for indoors, while outdoors, any leafy twig found on the ground will work well. Many stores and craft shops carry the old-fashioned "witch" broom made of straw or grass that is perfectly acceptable as long as it feels right to you. I made my besom with an oak branch and eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender and twine. It works and that's what matters most.
One of the most important items is the Book of Shadows, or Journal if you prefer. This is where you should record everything associated with your journey; rituals, spells, thoughts, inspirations, and any other information you deem needful. It can be in any form you choose; 3-ring binder, journal, computer file(!), etc...
This is usually a white handled knife traditionally used for physical cutting if you don't want to use your Athame for that. It is simply a practial, working as opposed to a purely ritualistic magick knife. It is used to cut wands or sacred herbs, inscribe symbols onto candles or on wood, clay or, wax, and in cutting cords for use in magick.
Some Wiccan dictate that the white-handled knife be used only within the magick circle. This would, of course, limit its usefulness. Do what feels right to you. Personally, I don't use a bolline, unless you'd consider my garden clippers qualify!
Candles are associated with Fire and Air, and are used for everything from lighting the altar to specifics in spells. The type of wax does not matter, Color is what is important here. For basic magickal working the basic candle colors needed are white, black, green, red, yellow, blue, gold, and silver. For more information on these colors see my candle page.
The cauldron is an essential in Celtic magick. It represents the element of Water. The cauldron is mentioned in many Celtic myths (most notably Cerridwen's story) and is always connected with magickal happenings. Black cast iron is best and most traditional material, although it can be of other metals. Filled with water it can be used as a scrying tool, similar to a magick mirror or a crystal balll. During certain spells candles are set in it and allowed to burn out. It is an all purpose tool; a vital part of your Celtic spellworkings.
The Wicca see the cauldron as a symbol of the Goddess, the manifested essence of femininity and fertility. Ideally the cauldron should rest on three legs, its opening smaller than its widest part. Cauldrons can be difficult to find, and expensive when found. I use a cast iron dutch oven. It doesn't have legs but it seems to do the trick anyway.
Your chalice or goblet can be of any shape, size or composition. Beware of pretty pewter cups, they contain lead and can be dangerous to drink anything from, especially wine. The chalice holds water or wine, but is occasionally used empty. The chalice, like the cauldron, is of the Element of Water and associated with the West. It may be used for everyday drinking but is usually reserved for occasions when it is felt necessary to pour libations to the gods, or similar ritual use. Personally, my goblet is part of my Renaissance costume as well as a magickal tool. Since I feel like it will pick up the right energy when I use it at RenFaires this really doesn't stray too far from tradition.
Herbs are often burned for incense during a spell or ritual. Charcoal blocks are available for this purpose in gift and candle shops as well as new age and occult supply stores. Essential oils are used for anointing candles, tools, the altar and the body in rituals and spell working. They may be used as tokens of esteem and respect for the deities and energies of the Craft. As plants of various kinds have customarily been offered to the Lady, herbal offerings can be especially meaningful for their particular significance and properties. Since all herbs and oils have their own particular energies they can be a valuable, if not essential, addition to your magickal matierials. Herbs are always associated with the element Earth.
A good incense burner is essential, especially if you plan to use the better incenses that are burned on charcoal. Choose a burner that has some sort of a foot or stand under it. Fill it with a layer of fresh sand, which makes it easier to clean and cuts down on the heat that will pass into the altar. If you can't find a suitable censor make one. Any bowl or cup will serve well provided that you fill it at least half-way with salt or sand. If you plan to move it as all while hot, chains or handles are a necessity.
A pentacle is traditionally a flat disk made of metal or wood and inscribed with a pentagram. It is used as a power point for consecrating ritual objects, such as water or wine in a chalice, amulets and tools; and is associated with the Earth Element and aligned with the North. It can also be used for grounding stray energy in a room.
The pentacle was "borrowed from ceremonial magick. In this ancient art it was often an instrument of protection, or a tool used to evoke spirits. Pentacles are also hung over doors and windows to act a protective devices, or are ritually manipulated to draw money owing to the pentacle's Earth associations.
A robe that is only saved for spellworking can be a fundamental part of your magickal paraphernalia, (if your tradition doesn't call for you being skyclad that is!). It can be plain, decorated, and of any color that appeals to you as long as it makes you feel "magickal". It is nice to have more than one robe, each in a different color. The colors can be matched to the candle colors required for a particular spellworking.
Colorful stones of various shapes and sizes are used in some spellworks. Whether you purchase them or find them yourself, be certain that their vibrations feel comfortable to you. Crystals and other stones are good conductors of magickal energy in their natural state and need not be polished to be of use.
The sword, like the staff, is a tool of command, It is not used often, but can be necessary for certain spellworkings. Its size, style and length are a personal choice; just be careful that you can easily handle the sword you choose. The weight and length of a Scottish Claymore, for example, becomes a real test of endurance after several minutes. For a woman, a sword length of 17 to 25 inches is a good choice. Like the Athame, the sword is of the Element of Fire.
Traditionally, both a wand and staff should be of wood and made by the person who will use them. If your purchase these or have them made, fill them with your own vibrations before using them. This is easily done by handling them often and deliberately sending you own positive thoughts into the object. The wand and staff can be naturally-formed tree branches or made of dowels ornamented with crystals, stones, wooden beads, or whatever else you fancy.
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