Ritual Tools

What can be used as a Tool of the Craft is virtually limitless, as a result, the lists of tools that are published will have a handful of common tools and the occasional out-layer. This is where some schools of Magick will vary. I feel it necessary to say, physical tools are just trappings, their purpose is to give you focus. You can, and may eventually decide to work without them.

The tools or objects used in making magick are essential, although they are just tools and as such if you want to pound on something a rock works just as well as, sometimes better than a hammer. They hold no inherent 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. Ritual tools used in Wicca are not a necessity, only an enhancement. They are however a very enjoyable enhancement, Just as silverware is an enhancement to your meal when you sit down to eat.

Don’t worry about having all your magickal tools at once, they will come to you when the time is right. The purposes of rituals are varied; they include compliance with religious obligations or ideals, the satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one’s affiliation, or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself. But again they will come to you when you need them, not when you want them.

This is a list and summary of the tools of Witchcraft: Note that below the summary explanations at the bottom of the page are links to pages for each tool that you may want to know more about:

The Book of Shadows: 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…

The Personal Altar: This is different from the Ritual Altar, actually a personal Shrine for everyday connection to the sacred. 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.

Athame: Your athame (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 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.

Bell: Some 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 “mood,” 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.

Besom: The Besom (broom) 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, some Faeries 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.

Cauldron: The cauldron is essential in Celtic magick. It represents the element of Water. The cauldron is mentioned in many Celtic myths (notably Cerridwen’s) and is connected with magical happenings. Black cast iron is the 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 ball. 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 spell workings.

Chalice: 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 is 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.

Censor: You want 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 halfway with salt or sand. If you plan to move it while its hot, chains or handles are a necessity. Representative of the Element of Fire and aligned with the South, the incense burner can also be used in spells that require the burning of paper.

Pentacle: A pentacle is traditionally a flat disk made of metal or wood and inscribed with a pentagram. It is used as a power focus 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.

Sword: The sword, like the staff, is a tool of command, It is not used often, but can be necessary for certain spell workings. 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.

Wand: Traditionally, wooden and crafted by the user. They may be ornamented with crystals, stones, wooden beads, or whatever else you fancy. The length of the wand depends upon what feels comfortable to you, but tradition states that it should be no longer than your forearm. The Element of Air is aligned with the East.

Salt: Representative of Earth, used for blessing, grounding, protection, and cleansing. Salt works in banishing spells for breaking up or splitting apart any negative influences, due to its purity. It is used in holy water and is a staple on most altars.

Staff: Traditionally, wooden and crafted by the user. They may be ornamented with crystals, stones, wooden beads, or whatever else you fancy. The staff is the sword and wand rolled into one, and as such is a symbol of both magical knowledge and the right to petition deities or archetypal powers. Both Staff and Wand are of the Element of Air and are aligned with the East.

The Stang: This tool is often used interchangeably with your Ritual Staff. More Shamanic in history than ceremonial the Stang embodies each realm of existence and acts as a direct tie between you and the world tree in meditations and astral work.