TOOLS OF THE CRAFT
Many young aspiring Witches write me stating they are upset because they live with their parents and cannot have magickal tools. They feel they are not a Witch without their tools. There is one important thing a Witch must remember.....Witches must remember that tools do not make a Witch; A Witch makes the tools. She has everything inside her to make it happen. The three most powerful tools for any successful magick to manifest is desire, visualization and imagination. If you do not have these, your magick will not be successful no matter how many tools you might have or how elaborate they might be.
CHALICE - The Chalice is the womb of the Goddess and should not be used except during rituals. It is considered a cauldron on a stem and is related to the element of Water. It can be made of silver, brass, gold, earthenware, soapstone, alabaster, crystal, or any other material that is non toxic to drink from. It is considered Cups in the Tarot Card.
WAND - The wand is used to draw in and direct energies. It carries energy in a specified direction. You can make your own by acquiring a branch from a tree. (Please ask permission from the tree first). Willow wands are considered to be very magickal. You can also put gem stones in the wand and a crystal at the point of the wand. There are plenty of New Age stores where you can acquire some beautiful wands, whether it be wood or metal. Hold and point your wand when you invite the Watchtower Powers to your circle. You can also hold a feather, a quartz point, a stalk of dried wheat or simply your fingers during rituals. The Wand is related to the element of Fire and the Staff/Wands in the Tarot Cards.
SICKLE - more and more Witches are using a Sickle to cast the Circle of Hecate. The sword and/or athame is more of a man’s tool and not that of a woman. The sickle is the symbol of the Crone–of harvesting and death. In hunter-gatherer societies, women were responsible for gathering and harvesting plant material. When cultivation began as a result of Demeter’s gift of wheat, it was the women who were instrumental in the harvest. Hence, the sickle is an appropriate (and ancient) women’s tool. Its crescent shape further identifies it with the Moon and so with the Goddess. It is the waxing and waning crescents of the Moon. The sharp edge represents the gift of discernment–the ability to know what needs to be cut away–either to promote growth/provide food or to remove disease/the unwanted. As the Priestess walks around casting the circle, she visualizes a bluish white beam of light/power extending from the tip of the sickle to the ground. This beam marks the actual boundary of the Circle.
STAFF - The Staff is just a long extension of the Wand. It has all the powers of the Wand, and can be energized in the same manner. By adding gem stones, a quartz crystal, or maybe feathers which birds have left on the ground.
CAULDRON - Now what would any good Witch do without her Cauldron? A small cauldron or bowl is placed on the alter to hold consecrated water in it and for the consecrated salt to be added to and then cast around your circle for cleansing. Not only is it a magickal tool, but it symbolizes so much. The Cauldron is the symbol of the Goddess. It is used often in ritual as a focal point. Ideally, it should be of iron and resting on three legs. Cauldrons can be difficult to find, but I am sure if you ask the Goddess, she will help you in your quest. Antique stores are an excellent place for looking for cauldrons. (You could also try a hardware or kitchen store). Most Witches have a bowl on the alter and have the large cauldron sitting someplace of importance like a fireplace or by the broom.
BESOM/BROOM - The Besom is also not considered a magickal tool to some, but "The Church" was terrified of the Witch on her broom, flying through the night sky. Actually, the broom is used to "sweep out negativity from your hearth and home or your pre-prep for Circle setup. It, again, aids in your focus of cleansing your area. For Hecate, the broom is very sacred. She possessed a broomstick that signified sexual union. Many Witches hold their besom very sacred and may dance around their circle with it as if it were there partner.....well actually....it is. Many Witches even have names for the Besoms. When one thinks of a Witch......they think of a Woman and her broom. Please see Besom Chants for more information on Besoms and chants to use when sweeping your magickal Circle.
It is a known fact that Gerald Gardner was fascinated with swords, athames, and knives. He brought these tools in to play as The Witches Tools. A sword is and was used by the men in Free Masonry, in the Key of Solomon and other ceremonial magickal practices. Kings, Nobles, and Warriors used them for battles.
Once again, your women of old would be using a regular kitchen/garden/utility knife for her magickal workings for cutting herbs and the like. Being a country dweller, she would use what she already had on hand to be practical. Unless you were of nobility or royalty you would not have this luxury. It is doubtful that any woman ever accused of being a Witch owned anything that Gardner called a Witches Tool.
SWORD - In organized Wicca, (at least the Covens we have encountered) get caught up in all the fancy material products. But as the Lady said, "Do not get caught up in tools and trappings. "The covens that use the sword feel it is used: to channel the Will of the entire coven, in the opening and closing of the Circle, (if it is used to cut the circle, that is), to pass and reserve power, and control - channeling of energies from entities that are outside of our physical domain. Because it represents the Will of Both the Witch and the Gods, all Covenants are sworn upon it. "With this in thy hand, thou are ruler of the Magick Circle".
ATHAME - Much emphases has been put on the athame. And again, due to Gardner, as he had a fascination with knives. He brought in the double-edged athame using it to cut a circle. But when you think about it, Witches who wanted to cast a circle, more than likely used a branch off a tree to draw a circle in the ground or and imaginary one. Current day Witches have their sacred wands and staffs. (See wands and Staffs). The athame or knife, is also used for consecrating of the elements on the altar, and of the blessings of the cakes and wine. The athame is related to the element of Air and The Swords in Tarot Cards.
PENTACLE - Usually made out of brass, gold, silver, wood, wax, or clay with a flat surface having the Pentagram and other related magical symbols embossed on it. The Pentagram, the five pointed star was taken from Ceremonial Magic. In this ancient art, it was used for protection or a tool used to evoke spirit. In the Craft it represents the element of Earth and generally is used to place amulets, charms or other items to be consecrated and charged. Some Witches buy a piece of round wood and using a burning tool to inscribe the Pentagram and other various items on it like runes and symbols. Some Witches also add gem stones and crystals for more empowerment.
CENSOR - The Censor is used to hold the charcoal and incense to sweeten the air and heighten our minds that the Circle will be a fit place for the Goddess. Incense used in ritual is an art in itself. The censor can also be considered a cauldron brewing up your incenses for the ritual at hand. Please make sure when acquiring one that you get one big enough to hold your charcoal and will retain any sparks. Many Witches use a large cauldron to put their charcoals in.
BELL - Ringing a bell unleashes vibrations which have powerful effects according to its volume, tone, and material of construction. The bell is a feminine symbol and is often used to invoke/evoke the Goddess in ritual. It is also rung to ward off evil spells, evil spirits, and to evoke good energies/spirits. Hung on the door, it guards the home. Bells are sometimes rung in ritual to mark various sections of thought/speech, like a period used at the end of a paragraph.
SCOURGE - Witches of old did not use a Scourge. Gardner was into a lot of things and he brought this "beauty" into the Craft. He called it Magickal Art, stating that it represented the inner suffering the Initiate must endure on the path to enlightenment!
WITCH'S ROBE - Now this is not a magickal tool but it certainly is magickal. There is much to-do about this item as well. Some organized covens claim that it MUST be 100% cotton, it must be black, it must be made by your hand, and the "MUST" goes on and on. If you are a solitaire, then black, blue, purple are very good colors to wear simply because it helps you to connect when you are "Between the Worlds". Meaning it helps put you in an altered state of mind, away from the mundane world. It puts you in that ritual frame of mind. White can be difficult because it can be guaranteed that you will spill wine on it! It does not have to be 100% cotton, what ever material makes you feel like the Goddess you are - you use. It can be made out of any material you like, but be careful, make sure it is flame retardant and does not have large bell sleeves. (Yes, we had someone catch on fire while in Circle! Remember you are in an altered state, you don't want to be distracted by your robe.) There are some beautiful robes out there, you don't have to sew them yourself. You can always buy a robe, add things to it and charge it by running it through charged incense and cleansed salt and water. Offer it up to the Goddess instilling that from hence forth this robe is to be worn only when the Priestess seeks the Goddess whether it be in magickal purposes, ritual, or simply to sit and be with the Goddess. During first Degree initiation, the High Priestess and High Priest charge the Initiate's robe, bought or sewn. That way they are making the initiate feel that whatever they choose to do while wearing it, the robe would be sacred.