Tools of a Witch
As with most other religions, tools are used in witchcraft to aid and enhance ritual worship. Tools have no power in themselves, though they do have powerful symbolic significances. Some like the Wand and Athame (pronounced ath-ay-me) are used to invoke and direct whatever power we generate or pass through them.
While tools are not absolutely necessary to the practice of the craft, some tools are nice to have if only to focus our will and concentration. The basic tools to start with are the elemental tools or those tools which represent the four elements of life: The Pentacle for Earth, The Wand for Air, The Athame for Fire, and The Chalice for Water.
Tools needn’t be purposely bought or excessively expensive. Take a look around the household, many ordinary implements can be used or improvised as tools. You could even make your own and by doing so, a certain amount of personal power will be infused into the item, thus increasing its effectiveness. Other sources of tools are Car Boot Sales, Junk Shops and Antique Shops. With a little patience you may find tools cropping up in the most unusual places.
All tools as they are collected, should be cleansed of all negative energies and past use influences. Lets face it, you won’t know how or for what use they may have been used before you acquired them. To do this, clean the item physically and thoroughly while using visualisation. Then bury the item in the ground for a few days,allowing past associations to be dispersed and purified with earth’s energy.
Alternatively you could use the water method. Immerse the item in water, preferably natural water like a stream, river or such or a bowl of water if the others are not available and add a few pinches of Sea Salt. Leave submerged for a couple of hours before removing and drying the item off. Obviously common sense must prevail when using these methods, as you wouldn’t want to ruin the item. Do whatever seems appropriate for each item. After the cleansing process, each tool needs to be consecrated, ready to use for magickal purposes. A Consecration Ritual example will be located in the Rituals section. However, you are welcome to copy the ritual and change to suit you.
Below is a list of the standard tools used in witchcraft together with their uses and significances. You Will find Altar layout at the bottom of the page as well as a circle diagram.
For other information see Correspondence.
Athame - The athame is the traditional ritual dagger of the witch. Commonly it has a black handle and steel double-edged blade. Many Wiccans engrave the handle or blade with magickal symbols indicative of deities, spirits or the elements as sources of power. The athame is a tool of command, it is used to direct what power we pass through it. It is used to cast circles by tracing the circumference, to charge and consecrate objects and banish negative energies. In most traditions, it is never used as a mundane knife for cutting purposes, and is used strictly for magickal purposes only. As an elemental tools of the craft, in most traditions it is associated with the elements of Fire, in others it is associated with Air. The phallic symbolism of the knife links it with the God.
Censer - The censer is an incense burner used to contain burning incense during ritual. Any type of censer can be used, even a simple bowl filled with sand will do. The censer represents the elements of Air and is normally placed before the images of the Goddess and God on the altar.
The chalice can be made of any material, in times of old - Horns, Shells and Gourds were used to hold sacred liquids during ritual, and then in later times - Silver became the preferred material, having long been associated with the moon and the Goddess. The chalice is used to hold the blessed water and wine during ritual. It is traditional in many covens to pass the chalice around all members, who then take a drink as a token of unity.
Traditionally the broom was made from three different woods. Ash for the handle, Birch twigs for the brush and Willow for the binding cord. Ash is protective and has command over the four elements. Birch is purifying and draws spirits to one’s service. Willow is sacred to the Goddess.
The broom is used for a variety of purposes but most generally to purify and protect. It is used to ritually cleanse an area before magick is performed by symbolically sweeping away negative energies and astral build up. Of old it was used to guard the home and persons within against psychic attack or evil curses, this by placing it across the threshold, windowsills or doorways. It was also placed under the bed or a pillow to protect the sleeper.
Traditionally and perhaps the use which most people identify it with, are the old wedding ceremonies of the Gypsies and the early American slaves, where a couple leapt over the broom to ensure fertility, domestic harmony and longevity. Today pagan hand-fasting rituals often include a broom jump.
In ritual the cauldron is used as a container for making brews and potions, or to contain a small fire for use with spells. It can also be used for scrying (divination) by filling it with water and gazing into its depths.
In ancient times the cauldron was used as a cooking vessel and for brew making. Traditionally it was made from cast iron, it rests on three legs and has an opening smaller then its widest part. Cauldrons are made in many sizes but can be difficult to find, so you will need to persevere if you want one.
Bell - The bell is a ritual tool of invocation and banishment. The bell is a feminine symbol of the creative force, that of the Goddess. The bell can be rung to indicate the start of a rite by banishing negative influences before the ritual begins. Often it is used to invoke the Goddess during ritual, or sounded at the four quarters to call forth such spirits as the Watchers and Elementals.
Bells can be used to guard the home by warding off evil spells and spirits, or evoking good energies when placed in cupboards or hung on doors. Hung from a cord the bell symbolises the human soul suspended between heaven and earth.
Traditionally the Book of Shadows was always hand written by the individual. A common custom for new initiates into a Coven, is to hand copy his teacher’s Book of Shadows exactly as it appeared, then later to add his own material as he progressed in the craft. Today with the advantages of technology they are often typed and photocopied, or even computerised onto Floppy Disc’s.
To make your own Book of Shadows, you can use any form of blank book, but perhaps the best type to use are those of a loose-leave nature like a three ring binder with anice notebook cover, thus allowing pages to be shuffled around when preparing for rituals. There is the matter of placing your familiar on your altar, it may not stay.
Your Familiar is an animal that can contribute its animal power to your spellcasting. Though most familiars are cats because of thier long association (through History) with the occult( both in story and reality) any pet can be one. So here is a bit about familiars and training them using a cat.
Witches and familiars, especially the cat, have long been associated. The similarities between the two are numerous, the strongest being resourcefulness and independence. Regardless of gender, both are called "she". Both have also enjoyed a long history of being deified and maligned in many cultures. Not every cat is a candidate for a familiar and not all witches like cats. There are those times, though, when a witch meets a cat and the magick is so strong the two definitely belong together. Bonding instantly is magickal, however, the relationship must grow with love and respect. It is well known that cats see very well in the dark. Their eyes reflect light which enables them to get a double dose of the available light. A cat can alert you to the presence of another human, animal or bird in the dark. There are rituals to strengthen this psychic bond.
Here, from an eighteenth century Book of Shadows, are instructions for the training of the cat to occult use:
"To be performed every evening, at the same time, in the same place....Adapt the cat to sit close by you, facing in the same direction you face which shall be the place where the moon will rise. Stroke gently but firmly with love in your hands until its purrs and your breathing are heard as one sound. Now you and the cat possess the same will, your eyes will see as its eyes see, and your thoughts will travel together. The time has come to work spells and cast enchantments for power is doubled through the agency of your familiar." Witches All, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977
Altar and Circle Layouts:
Items that can be used for your sacred room or space should you have one.
I have found a few discarded in the trash so don't be afraid to stop and look. Many times a person tries a new belief system only to find it is not what they were looking for so they discard thier stuff in the closest place, THE TRASH!
Dollar Trees are always getting pretty novelty bottles in. They are a beautiful and cheap way to show off your precious oils.These little bottles in the plastic container cost 57 cents each at Wal Mart last year.
The two fish bottles I got for $1 in 1998 at the Just A Buck Store.