TOOLS USED IN MAGICK AND RITUAL
Athame: This is usually a double-edged blade with a black or dark handle. It looks a bit like a miniature sword. (Swords are sometimes used too, for the same purposes as an athame, but they are not as common and are usually used by a leader of a gathering.) The athame is aligned with the male energy (the God) and the element of Fire (which is the south). This knife is not used to cut anything, except sometimes a magickal door out of the circle and in really special situations a few other things. Rather, it's used as a way to focus energy and make it go where you choose. Most people hold it in the projective hand (the right for most people; often the dominant hand) and visualize this tool conducting power or energy (or anything) to its desired place. Some use it for invoking purposes but I like the wand better for that.
Wand: Speaking of the wand, here's what it's for. Some people buy them, some people make them. (I found mine.) It's often a piece of wood and usually decorated or adorned somehow (mine isn't). The wand is aligned with the male aspect (the God) and with the element of Air, which is the east. As I said, you can use it for invocation purposes, and sometimes for indicating objects or calling outside influences to yourself or the circle. I like to use it while I'm asking for the presence of the deities as I see them (sort of like asking the Universe to pay attention to me 'cause I'm gonna do something).
Bolline: That's another name for the "other" knife. I mentioned above that the athame is not for use in cutting, but sometimes cutting needs to be done in rituals and magick. You would probably use a bolline to cut an apple in a ritual, or to make symbols in wax or anything else you decide to cut. The point is that this one is not used to direct energy, but still it's usually just used for ceremonial things, as in most people have one special knife they use during their ceremonies and they don't throw it back in the kitchen drawer after they're done. Usually the bolline has a white or light handle.
Chalice: This is a cup or goblet. As you may imagine, the cup is aligned with the Goddess or female aspect and the element of Water (the west). Sometimes the cup is just used to hold water, and sometimes it holds blessed wine or whatever the person wants to drink symbolically. You can put things, usually liquids but not always, into a chalice and cleanse them. You can also give ceremonial offerings to the Goddess or whatever you want in a cup, by either leaving it out or dumping it into the earth.
Cauldron: Yes, many Witches actually do have cauldrons. And though a few probably still make stew in it, it's mostly a ritual tool now. It's just like the chalice in that it is aligned with the female aspect and the element of Water. The cauldron is a symbol of rebirth and renewal! It's a great tool to use for many, many things; you can put things into it that you want in the Goddess's "hands," you can burn things in it to renew them or cast wishes, and you can use it as a symbol in combination with another symbol (like a candle) to start a new beginning or set something in motion. Usually cauldrons are any fireproof containers that are smaller at the top than the bottom.
Pentacle: Sometimes it's called a peyton, in this case I'm talking about a flat platelike disc with a pentagram inscribed on it. Sometimes they're metal and sometimes wooden or even wax. They're symbolic of the element of Earth, aligned with the Goddess and the north. This is the thing that you place in the center of the altar when you're doing a ritual. A lot of the time a ritual will focus on a particular symbol, and that's what you put on the pentacle. You can also put things on it to consecrate them, and you can use it for anything from placing symbolic candles on to using it as your plate to cut a symbolic apple. It's kind of a rip-off to buy one; they're REALLY expensive even for a small one. You're better off doing what I did: Make your own.
Broom: Oh yes, Witches do use brooms. That's not a complete myth. "Flying on a broom" is also not a complete myth, as a lot of the time people hoping to be fertile used to run through the fields with a broom between their legs as some sort of a blessing. As for flying, that might've gotten mixed up with the practice some Witches have of leaving their bodies, or astral projection, and it's sometimes referred to as flying. Anyway, a broom is often used to clean; surprise, eh? In magick, though, brooms are spiritual cleansing devices; people "sweep the area" to get rid of negative influences. It's also a symbol of fertility. They're often referred to as "besoms," by the way, and are sometimes hung over doorways for good luck. They're actually usually homemade and round, rather than the flat brooms that are found in stores today.
Bell: Another symbol of the Goddess. The bell is wonderful for marking important points of rituals. You can ring it to mark the beginning or the end of something, to mark a passing, to remind yourself that "it is done." Some people think it's a good way of telling the deities that you're done and "They can leave," but I'm not into that; I mean if They're the deities They can leave whenever They want and don't have to come to my silly ritual. I *ask* for Their presence but I don't demand it (and again, I don't think of Them as sentient beings like a lot of people do; when I invoke I'm not trying to get people-like attention but to align myself with whatever powers that do exist and also to remind myself of the sacredness in myself). Anyway, the bell is for marking whatever you choose to mark.
Cord or Rope: A cord is a length of rope of just about any sort; it can be as simple as string or yarn and as complicated as fancy knotted ropes. You can use these for ceremoniously tying things together or binding, or for cutting as if breaking away a barrier. It's also good for measuring things. Cords have all kinds of magickal uses and trying to describe them all could take forever; I leave it to you to come up with good things to do with this versatile tool.
Book of Shadows: Though this is not a "tool" per se, it's used in magick and ritual (and, in fact, in everyday living) so I thought it best to mention it. The Book of Shadows is where you write down all your thoughts related to the Craft. It is both a journal/diary and a resource; you copy down inspiring things, information, spells and rituals that you collected elsewhere or that you wrote, and anything else. It's good to bring this book into your circle or to your ritual and use it to help your memory; it is hard to "really mean" a chant or passage if you have trouble remembering it, and it is hard to really enjoy a ritual if you have to stop and run through the steps in your mind. The Book of Shadows is a great tool and everyone who is interested in magick should have one in some form, whether it's a mystical-looking tome, a three-ring binder, or a directory on your computer!
Music: Music can be a great tool. It is especially effective if it is made by you! Not necessarily written by you (though that's great too), but played by you, to raise energy. You can bring a recorder or other instrument you are proficient on and inspire yourself with songs, to get your blood moving and your awareness awakening. Keep in mind that singing is music too, as is chanting in rhythm or beating out a rhythm. Just playing music and dancing is wonderful too. If you'd like to choose music (either to play or to listen to) that symbolizes or emphasizes certain directions or elements, you can do that: Stringed instruments are symbolic of Fire, wind instruments are symbolic of Air, brass instruments are symbolic of Water, and percussion instruments are symbolic of Earth. Some might say that singing is symbolic of the spirit while others might call voice a wind instrument. It is up to you.
The elements: The elements themselves are not tools, but the things used to represent them sometimes are. The four elements plus spirit make up the five points of the pentagram. Earth is often represented by a bowl of earth or salt and is put at the north of the circle. You can use a censer or an incense burner to represent Air to the east; some people prefer using flowers or other fragrant things to symbolize Air because the smoke bothers them (it used to bother me but then I realized I was just using really strong incense!). Special types of incense might be used on special occasions; if you want to know about that specifically, you should check out the incense page. Moving on to Fire: Usually you use a candle for Fire in the circle, matching its color with the occasion, or you can use an oil lamp. And of course, Water is represented with water, usually in a chalice unless you just like puddles in your circle. There are a HUGE variety of alternate ways to represent the elements. For instance, you might just use four candles, each with a color symbolism for the elements (the most common one I've heard of is green for Earth/north, yellow for Air/east, red for Fire/south, and blue for Water/west). Or you might prefer using specific crystals or rocks, like sandstone for Earth, pumice for Air, obsidian for Fire, and limestone for Water . . . by the way I just made those last four up on a whim because they make sense to me; you should do the same if you want to use stones or look for a better authority than me.
Crystal Ball: Heh . . . yes, these are used, mostly for something called "scrying." There are lots of methods of scrying that I won't go into here; just so you know, it's the practice of trying to discern the future or other unknowns, loosely. You can actually use a crystal ball, but you can also use a mirror, anything shiny, or even a bowl of water with dark food coloring in it. I actually have one that I got a long time ago; it is tiny.
Candles: A word must be said about candles. They really are one of the most often-used tools in magick, and that's because they're readily available, come in all colors, and make for relatively easy spellwork and ritual symbolism. You can make your own or buy them. Candles can be used to symbolize the deities and also to light the circle, and are routinely used in so many ways that I can't even count them. You'll just have to imagine or do your own research.
God and Goddess images: Lots of people like to have symbols of the God and Goddess on their altars or in their other sacred spaces. As mentioned, sometimes They are symbolized with candles, but more often They are symbolized with little statues, trinkets, stones, or even hand signals. Some well-known ones to use for the God are an appropriately colored candle (some will say black, red, yellow, green, gold), a pine cone, a pointed stone of some kind, or an acorn, or any of the tools aligned with the God that I mentioned before. The Goddess symbols might include, again, an appropriately colored candle (some say white, red, green, black, silver), or a seashell, or a round stone, or again any of the tools mentioned above that are aligned with Her. These are used to invoke, to provide inspiration, and for whatever other purposes the practitioner decides are appropriate.
Robes and other attire: Some people like to wear a special "magick" robe. Some people like to do everything naked (or "skyclad," as they would say). Both serve the same purpose; like the casting of sacred space, they get you into a different frame of mind, more conducive to using your mind in ways you don't ordinarily. It is a reminder that reality has shifted. Often in a circle, Wiccans or Witches will declare their sacred space a place outside time, it helps to transport to another reality. Having special clothes (or wearing none at all) helps to enhance that feeling. When you feel "magickal," you just work better. I think magickal jewelry also serves the same purpose.
The circle and the altar: While not really "tools" per se, the circle and the altar are both (as already mentioned) spaces that are termed sacred. Usually an altar is more permanent than a circle, but I have a "permanent" altar that I dismantle at times to create more appropriate temporary ones for rituals and other work. In any case, the circle is a really a sphere (some think of it as a cylinder) and it helps, as mentioned above, to section the moment and the place off from the rest of reality. Altars are simply the sacred place where people put their tools and symbols.
Personal Items: Very important in most rituals and spells. Sometimes you'll use a charm, or a photograph, or anything else that reminds you of a person, intent, or anything else important to your purpose. Every once in a while I'll use a specific Tarot card from my deck as an inspiration to help me clarify my purpose. Also, in almost all of my rituals and spells I've had my rose quartz stones in the circle, because that stone is symbolic of unconditional love and is a reminder that nothing but love should enter in or leave out of the circle. It is amazing how effective it is to just have one or two reminders on your altar somewhere.
YOUR HANDS: The most powerful natural tool. For most people, the right hand is the projective and the left is the receptive. You would use the right hand to hold projection tools and to cast energy, while the left hand might be used to absorb energy and possibly to pick up vibrations if you are into doing that sort of thing. Also, you can use your hands to invoke the God and Goddess and ask for Their presence. Inventing your own private hand signals for them works fine. I am not sure if the ones I use were ones I read somewhere or if I changed them from what I read (I know I read something about it at one time), but for the Goddess sign I use my left hand, putting my thumb between my first and middle fingers and making a fist (kinda like "I got yer nose!!"). The God sign is the right hand, with the first and last fingers up to symbolize the horns of the God. You can direct and channel energy with your hands and sometimes use them for purification, complicated signals, or healing.
If you want to find out how to use some of these tools in your work, try the rituals page, the techniques page, or the spells page.
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