As in most religions, Wicca makes use of certain items as tools in ritual and in the performance of magick. Many of these tools have gained their own reputation, much of it misconceived, among the uneducated masses and with the popular media. The tools are symbolic, but do have purpose. They direct and receive energies, invoke the God and Goddess, and banish all realms of negativity. As witches, it is important that we gather at least some of these items, consecrate them, and use them. It is not necessary to have tools, but they do lend their energies, energies you've infused them with, to whatever magick or ritual you're performing.
Where can you find these tools? Just about anywhere. Antique stores, flea markets, junk stores, garage sales, and occult and metaphysical stores. Just remember that the tool, be it a lavish, crystal encrusted athame or just an old, scratched knife, it must feel right for you. What is good for one witch is not necessarily right for the next. Also remember, used what you have! I have an old butter knife that has served me well as an athame and I will continue to use it until I find that perfect dagger to call my own. And if I never find this perfect athame, its okay. I've got one now that's just fine.
The athame (pronounced ah-thah-may) is normally a dark or black handled, double-sided knife or dagger. The athame is normally dull, for it is not used to cut. The athame is used to direct energy and is often employed when casting circle. Symbols and words are sometimes engraved on the handle, but it is not necessary.
The athame is the tool of the East and is associated with the element of Air. In some traditions it is the tool of Fire.
The athame is phallic in nature and is therefore a masculine tool and linked to the God.
The wand is one of the most renown of the tools and one of the most versatile. Traditionally, the wand is made from the wood of many different kinds of trees including willow, elder, oak, hazel, and fruit trees. The length of the wand varies from tradition to tradition, but it is safe to say that the wand should be fairly straight, comfortable in your hand and is not so long as to be unwieldy. When searching for wood for your wand, even wood from a building supply store will work. If you take your wood from a living tree, remember to ask the tree first, then thank it for its sacrifice. Wands can also be made of crystals and metal. Make the wand your own by carving or painting symbols on it, adorning it with ribbons, whatever makes the wand special to you.
For thousands of years the wand has been used in both magick and rituals. The wand is used mostly to invoke the God and Goddess, direct energy, and to charge other objects. It is used to draw symbols on the ground and even to stir the cauldron.
The wand is the tool of the South and is associated with Fire. In some traditions it is the tool of Air.
The wand is phallic in nature, is a masculine tool and is sacred to the Gods.
The cauldron is an ancient tool of magick and ritual. It is normally a three-legged vessel, ideally made of iron and has the opening smaller that the body of the cauldron. They come in a variety of sizes from little ones that can be held in one hand to behemoth cauldrons that take three strapping young men to move. Finding cauldrons may not be easy, but there are mail order houses that they can be ordered from or possibly a metal smith could help you out.
The cauldron is used for many different purposes. It is used for magickal brewing and cooking, and is used for scrying. It is used many different ways during ritual, especially the rituals of the Sabbats.
The cauldron is the tool of the West and is associated with Water.
The cauldron is feminine in nature and represents the Goddess, fertility and femininity.
Of all the symbols and tools used in Wicca and witchcraft, this is probably the most misunderstood. The pentacle is usually a flat piece of metal or wood inscribed with a pentagram, a five-pointed star.
The pentacle came from ceremonial magic and has been used in ritual and magick for thousands of years. It is used to represent feminine energy and to consecrate objects such as amulets and charms. The pentacle is also a traditional symbol of protection and is one of the official symbols of a Wicca.
The pentacle is the tool of the North and is associated with Earth.
The pentacle is feminine in nature and represents the Goddess.
The pentacle, as used by Wiccans, has the a single point of the star pointing up, which is not to be confused with the Satanic version which is inverted (two points up).
The censer is an incense burner. It can be an ornate brass burner that hangs from chains or something as simple as a small ceramic bowl. I have a wonderful incense burner that I made from a seashell that I filled with sand from the same beach that the shell came from.
The censer is used to burn the incense that are often offered to the Deities, as well as being used to invoke the spirits of the Air, the Sylphs and Faery.
The censer is a tool of the element Air.
The broom is a tool of magick and ritual that is still used by Witches today. The traditional Witch's Broom is made of ash, birch and willow because of the attributes of those woods, but it can be made of just about any wood available.
Although not employed for flying purposes, the broom does have many uses. It is used for protection. It is also and most commonly used for physically and magickally cleaning an area that will be used for sacred space. The broom does not have to touch the ground to sweep away the psychic clutter that often collects in well used spaces. Brooms are also often used in handfasting rituals (broom leap).
The broom is associated with Water and is sacred to both the God and Goddess.
The Book of Shadows is a book that contains a witch's rituals, spells, runes, dreams, recipes, etc. Within covens, the original Book is copied by hand by the initiates. A solitary may also keep a Book, recording within spells, etc. The Book is normally a secret book.
What is found with in the Book is often spells and such copied from other sources and, of course, those that are uniquely your own. The Book is a record of a witch's magickal work. What is wonderful about it is that every Book of Shadows should be a little different. Maybe you've found clove oil works best for a prosperity spell while the original spell called for patchouli oil. Because of the multitude of personality and available resources, not every Book of Shadows should be the same and therefore not only ONE Book is the right Book.
To make a Book of Shadows, any blank book will do. Most are hard bound, but that's not mandatory. I prefer a ruled book because of my lack of ability to write in a straight line. The color of the book is optional, but black does seem to be traditional. Today, in this wonderful world of computers and the internet, many witches are keeping their Books on their computers. Just keep in mind that if you keep your Book on computer to back up the data! I work for a wholesale computer parts warehouse. Trust me, I've heard more disaster stories about valuable information lost when a computer crashes and the owner didn't have this must-have info backed up. It's not a pretty sight.
These are some of the other tools that are used by witches. For a few of these tools it is believed by some that they are a direct result of the persecution of witches over the centuries. Take for example the sword. A sword is long, cumbersome, and very visible. During the darkest years of the Burning Times, for a villager, especially a woman, to possess a sword was very suspicious. Some believe that to blend in, to assimilate if you will, the sword became the dark-handled knife we call the athame. It was not unusual for all walks of life to possess daggers. The same applies to the staff. The staff is several feet high and again, very visible. Some believe the wand is a direct result of "shrinking" the staff to a stick, something that could be found in every home in one form or another.
The Sword directly relates to the athame and has the same attributes and uses. The sword is still used by many witches in ritual and magick.
The Staff directly relates to the wand and has the same attributes and uses. Staves are used very frequently by witches today. I've seen some of the most beautiful hand crafted staves that are both functional and works of art.
The Stone is used in much the same way as the pentacle and relates to it in many ways. It is a tool of the North and represents the Earth. For those of the Faery Tradition, the Stone has a very rich history. Again, the Stone is another tool that is often thought to be a trade off for many witches. Where a pentacle can be an inflammatory symbol, much misunderstood, just about everyone has rocks lying around in some form or another. Only you need know what meaning it really has.
The Chalice is actually used more today than its direct descendent, the Cauldron. The Chalice has the same attributes and is used in many of the same ways as the Cauldron (minus the cooking parts). This is again an example of witches using what they had and what would not get them burned at the stake. During those dark years, everyone in had drinking vessels, but not everyone had cauldrons. Witches just used their chalices for more than quenching thirst.
Remember that the tools you use should be comfortable to you. If a pentacle does absolutely nothing for you, don't use it. Use a stone or maybe just a small bowl of salt to represent the Earth and North. If your athame is too heavy and you tend to avoid using it, why have it? Wicca is a wonderful religion that celebrates creativity and improvisation on the part of its followers. It is part of our tradition to use what we have and this applies to our tools as well.
Copyright © 2003 K K
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