The traditional tools used by most Wiccans and other magickians include the athame, pentacle, wand, and cup or chalice, all of which symbolize the elements. Most altars also include candles, an incense burner, bowls for salt and water, and of course a Book of Shadows. These basic tools, as well as some other fairly common ones are described below:|
Asperger (or aspergillium) - A device used to sprinkle water for purification at the beginning of rituals. Some are constructed of brass or silver. but a spray of evergreen, a pine cone, or fingers will do as well.
Athame - A black-handled, double-edged, knifelike tool used by Witches to channel energy, as in casting the circle, but not used to cut anything material. It is marked with the owner's name in runes and with other symbols, including the pentagram, and may symbolize either Fire or Air elements. Different traditionas vary on this point.
Bell - A bell or gong can be used early in the ritual to "alert the quarters," that is, to prepare Younger Self to operate in the modes of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
Bolline - A white-handled knife used by Witches for cutting, carving or inscribing things in the course of a ritual - candles, talismans, cords, etc. It is usually single-edged, and sometimes has a sickle-shaped blade.
Book of Shadows - A magickal journal kept by each Wiccan initiate, in which spells, invocations, ritual notes, herbal recipes, dreams, divination results, and material from the coven book can be recorded. Some people write it in Theban Script or in other alphabets.
Candles - These are used frequently by some magickians in spells. The oils they are anointed with and their colors, as well as the shapes and inscriptions carved on them, all have a symbolic purpose.
Chalice - A goblet or cup usually holding wine, which is shared around the circle in Wiccan ritual. It is both a female-and a Water symbol, and can be used for scrying or crystal gazing.
Charcoal - Often incense is burned on a charcoal briquet, placed in a thurible or on a stone. Self igniting charcoal discs are sold in occult supply stores and are very convenient to use.
Cord - A "cord" can be either a heavy string used in binding and releasing magick, or it can refer to the piece of apparel circling the magickian's waist (also called a "girdle" or "cingulum"). In many covens and magickal lodges, the color of the cord indicates the wearer's degree of attainment.
Incenses - These come in sticks, cones, powders, resinous chunks and herbal floral mixtures, and can be purchased or made. The incense burned depends on the purpose of the ritual and on the energies being invoked, but frankincense and sandalwood are two all purpose favorites which can be used for almost any ritual.
Lamps of Art - These are two candles on the altar which provide illumination, made preferably of beeswax, although paraffin will do. Choose white, or use colors based on the season or on the nature of the magick being done.
Pen of Art - A special pen which is reserved only for entries into the Book of Shadows, or for other ritual uses. This can be an old-fashioned dip pen or quill pen, but any writing implement may be assigned this role.
Pentacle - This is a disc of metal, ceramic or wood with a pentagram and other symbols inscribed on it. It is a symbol of the element Earth; sometimes salt or cakes are placed upon it, though it can also be used in rituals of protection as a magickal shield.
Salt Bowl - Rock salt symbolizes Earth, and is mixed with water and sprinkled over things to purify them. See "Asperger."
Sword - A special sword can be used to cast the circle for a group, and is considered a symbol of either Air or Fire.
Thurible - A metal censer, dish or burner to hold charcoal and incense. It can either stand on the altar or swing from a chain, and is often considered to be an Air symbol.
Wand - A stick about 18 inches long, or "from elbow to fingertips," carved from one of the traditional sacred woods and used to channel power and represent Air or Fire, according to various traditions. It may be carved and decorated, with a phallic shape (acorn or crystal) on one end and a yoni on the other. Also called a baculum.
Water Bowl - Water mixed with salt may be used to purify; the bowl (or large shell) containing it is kept on the altar.
Other tools or symbolic apparatus include the caldron, scourge, staff, stang, herbs, oils, stones, and an astrological calendar. In addition, there are divinatory tools such as Tarot cards, the magick mirror, showstones, pendulums, casting stones, yarrow stalks or coins for the I Ching, and runestones or rune sticks.
There are several ways to obtain tools. Often it is best to make them yourself, so that they are well attuned to you. They can be as simple or as elaborate as your tastes and skills dictate. For a wand, you can simply cut a length of ash wood, or you can carve coiling serpents and complex runes on ebony and set in rubies or sapphires. The cup can be molded of river clay and baked in the coals of a Sabbat fire, or turned on a potter's wheel, fired and glazed with vivid colors.
If you feel the need to have an elaborate tool, but do not have the skills to make it, commission a craftsperson to make it to your design.
Some tools can be purchased at antique shops or estate sales. Never haggle over the price: the perfect tool is invaluable. And never buy something "pretty good" because the price is right - it must feel just right, either "as is," or with modifications you can accomplish.
Any purchased tool should be ritually cleansed before use. The simplest ways are immersing it in running water (in a stream under a rock, for example) or burying it in the Earth from Full Moon to New.
Sometimes a family heirloom from a favorite relative can be adapted as a tool, or a friend will offer one as a gift. Whatever the source, you may want to personalize it by painting or engraving your magickal name on it in runes.
When you have a new tool, consecrate it at the Full Moon. Bless it with Earth (salt), Air (incense), Fire (flame), and Water (or wine), as well as Spirit (ritual oil). Present it to the four Quarters, then to an appropriate God/dess, or to your favorite aspect of Diety.
You may wish to say something like this: "Goddess of love and emotions deep as the sea, I present to you this chalace, ritual tool of Water and West, of all emotions and intuition. Grant that I may use it in your favor and power, with harm toward none and for the greatest good of all." Then immediately use the tool for its intended function - in this example, by sipping wine from it, by mixing a healing herbal drink, or by scrying.
Keep your tools safely stored when not in use, wrapped in natural-fiber cloth and placed in a special box, pouch or basket.