How can you do a ritual or spell with no tools? It's quite simple, by using your personal power. How meaningful, powerful, and effective any ritual or spell is depends entirely on how much energy YOU put into it. Your personal power is the single most important, and only necessary tool you need. Many who are just starting out feel that they have to rush around going bankrupt to get every fancy looking tool they see in order to perform a ritual. They feel that it can't be done without them or that the tools themselves contain the energy they need. This is simply not true.
The tools you have should be chosen because you are drawn to them or feel that they will enhance your rituals. They are used as vessels to direct YOUR energy. Something to remember when you begin collecting your tools is that they don't have to be expensive. An athame can be a black handled common kitchen knife (my 1st was a letter opener). Your pentacle can be drawn on a piece of paper like mine is, or carved in wood or clay. I've purposely included photos of tools that are bought or made as well as substitutes of all my tools. I did so to show that you shouldn't feel obligated to have to purchase fancy, expensive ones. I'm an artist/photographer (among other things), and artists are very visual people. It would seem that while I've been at this for over 25 years...I need the visual tools or I wouldn't have bought, found, like the squirrel tail around the top right hand corner of my crowded altar (shown below), or been given most of them. They help me, but that doesn't mean they'll help you. Only get, or take home from the earth, what (if anything) calls to you. And if you take something from the earth, do something to give thanks. It could be a peanut, water or even a penny for the fairy folk.
Once you have chosen a tool to use for rituals, it should be cleansed and consecrated. Consecration is the act of performing a small ritual in which you declare it as your tool for magickal purposes. After this is done, it should NEVER be used for other purposes. If you use your athame to do a ritual, and then go butter your toast with it, it no longer carries any meaning. Although the tools posses no power of their own, they do carry a special symbolic meaning and your energy. After consecration, they have a purpose and therefor should be only be used for that purpose alone.
There is one tool in The Craft that surpasses all others. Every other tool, no matter how expensive, will be useless with out it. When it comes right down to it..it's the only tool you need. That tool is YOUR personal power. To enhance your personal power, you need to exercise it. Practice meditation and visualization techniques, and be able to ground and center yourself. No ritual or spell will ever be successful with out personal power, and you can't gain any without practicing these methods to be able to have control of your thoughts, and crystal clear visualization which is a MANDATORY aspect of any spell or ritual. Don't make light of the enormous importance of practicing the techniques of meditation, and visualization, on a regular basis. There's information about both on my web site in the "Mind and Body" section, along with other cool stuff.
Athame (ATH-am-EE, ATH-am-ay)/ Sword
The athame is used for commanding, and manipulating power, and directing the energy raised during rituals and spells. The knife comes in many different styles, but they are all double-edged and dull, as it does not actually cut anything on the physical plane. It is for directing energy in a dimension where real knives have no meaning. Some Witches prefer swords. Personally, I feel much safer in my home without a giant sword...but that's just me, and I'm not you. Always, do what feels right for you, not me, or anyone else be it in a book or on a web site. The athame stands for intellect, right thinking, and calculation. It is linked with the element: fire, and is a God symbol.
The altar is any flat surface that can hold all your tools. It can be anything from a table of any sort, to a cardboard box, book shelf, or even your floor, if need be. Traditionally Wiccans divide their altar in half. The left side for the Goddess. The right side for the God. Items that are Goddess related tools like your chalice, go on Her side and vise versa wand, athame etc., for the God. And items representing the elements i.e. incense = Air = South is put in that direction. But I feel that your altar should be a reflection of the individual. Above is a picture of what my ever changing altar looks like. As you can see, I have several gifts from nature, feathers, a squirrel tail (I found lying in the centre of a busy side walk!), pieces of wood, and various gems and stones. How you decorate your altar, and what you put on it is only limited by your imagination. You can add purely personal items as well. Just above the word "Witch's" in the picture, is a tiny porcelain cat. I put it there in honor of my beloved Wolfgang, who passed away in 2005. Be creative and make yours something that reflects you. If you're lucky enough to be able to have a permanent one, keep it, and the items on it clean. A dirty altar is just plane disrespectful to whom ever you worship.
The bell is commonly used to invoke the Goddess. It can also be used to announce the beginning and end of a ritual. When purchasing a bell, make sure the tone is very pleasing to you. If you ring one and the first thing that comes to mind is maid service, you've got the wrong one.
The bolline is the tool used for cutting things in the physical realm. It usually has a white handle, a blade curved inward, and it's very sharp, and usually very expensive. It's used for cutting wands, carving words in them as well as candles, but mostly herbs and branches for wands. In my opinion, as a city Witch, this tool is not really necessary, and just a waste of money (which is why you don't see a picture of it). You can carve with the tip of an athame, and cut or carve, with magickally charged heavy duty scissors (like the one's above). But for Witch's with giant herb gardens and lot's of trees, the bolline may call to you much more than a city Witch.
Book of Shadows
is your personal book which contains all of your rituals and spells. It's
important to keep detailed records of the results of your works. The date,
time, moon phase, exactly what you used, and thoughts on your over all
feelings of it once completed. If you found the results of it unsatisfactory
or it felt like something should have been different, you will be able
to go back and change it. Some Witches (like myself) keep several other
things in this book, such as dreams and interpretations, meditation exercises,
divination records, and a daily journal in different sections. Although
it is traditional to write your BOS by hand, many keep theirs on disc.
I tried to put mine on disc, but frankly, it just made it look less personal,
it's hard to add side notes, doodles of your goals and so on. I think it's
just more convenient to have in book form so you don't have to go running
to your computer to look up what the spell you made is, when you can simply
have it right in front of you. It's your choice, but I truly think you'll
love having such a personal thing in your own handwriting. It makes it
so much more of a keep sake. Also, discs can be scratched, and having it
just on your computer isn't a good idea as they can break down and cause
you to loose everything on it.
This is used to sweep away negative energy, to cleanse and purify the area in which a ritual will be done prior to casting the circle. It's done at the start of a spell or ritual starting in the centre of the circle and sweeping in an outward motion in a clockwise or as we Witches say deosil (pronounced jessel) motion. And of course ending it by sweeping in a counter clockwise or widdershin direction. "Jumping the Broom" can be added to handfastings or Beltain/Mayday rituals. It can be used as an instrument of protection by hanging or placing it at the front and back doors to your home. Brooms come in many varieties the straw ones in most stores, to a variety of hand-made ones which are more costly. As you can see, I couldn't find a straw one, but this one works just as well. It is both a Goddess and God symbol. Element- Water.
Note about Brooms. I use the same broom for clearing negativity away from a magickal circle, as I do for regular cleaning. Why? Well I'm sure some Witches would highly protest this, but when I'm cleaning, magickally or otherwise, I have the same intent. That being that it sweep away all negativity. The only difference, is that one way gathers dirt at the same time. It makes perfect sense to me, but if you don't feel right using it for both, then get 2 brooms.
The cauldron is usually made of black cast iron, and has three legs like the one on the left, but as you can see on the right, it can be any highly heat resistant bowl. The darker colour the better (preferably black) if you wish to use it for scrying. If you don't have a dark bowl or cauldron, buy some black water colour paint and use it to colour the water. You could even experiment with different colours. Many people have trouble scrying, and the number one reason is because they don't meditate on a regular basis, if at all, like any good Witch must. The cauldron is a symbol of the Goddess.
Technically, a chalice is a silver or brass stemmed cup. But before I had my chalice, I used this cup and it worked just fine. Chalices are used for dedication and initiation ceremonies, holiday rituals to honor the Goddess and God and spell work. It holds water or ritual beverages such as wine, cider, or fruit juice for those who do not drink alcohol and minors. It's primarily used at the close to the end of rituals and spells in the 'cakes and ale' portion of it. It is a symbol of emotion and fertility and a Goddess symbol. Element- Water.
A 5 pointed star surrounded by a circle. The top point representing the Spirit, the other 4 North, South, East & West. The circle represents the spirit, the elements, and universal wisdom. It's a symbol of protection used in rituals, worn as an amulet & hung over doors. For altar purposes, it's used in consecrating tools. After having numerous mishaps at airports, I drew a small one on a piece of paper and placed it in my luggage. Since then I've never had problems or lost my luggage! I also have tiny paper ones in my purses and nap sack, to prevent it from being lost or stolen after the 2nd time it was stolen, and it hasn't since, and that was over ten years ago, and I'm still using the same paper ones today! Try it, what have you got to lose...but your purse or nap sack. Element- Earth. For much more indepth information on the pentacle, go the Craft section of my web site or press this link.
Witch or Pagan finds 'gifts' of nature. Branches to make wands from, special
stones to charge for different purposes, shells, feathers, and those sorts
of things. Druids have a special tool that I think is worth mentioning
here, and that tool is something called a crane bag. It's a special bag
they carry with them when they venture out into nature to use to bring
back special gifts they find in nature, along with things such as nuts,
bread or pennies for the fairy folk, to give back as a way to thank nature
for what they took home from it. It can be any size or shape you wish.
I think it's a wonderful idea to have one even if you aren't a practicing
Druid. I often find things in the woods or at the beach, but have nothing
to put them in but my pocket, or have to carry it in my hand so it dosen't
get ruined. I also don't always have something to give back to nature when
I take something away from her. A crane bag is an absolute must have tool,
specially when you are going on a nature walk. Decorate it however you
wish, or make one by hand out of cloth. Just dont forget to put some things
in it to give back to nature, so it's a fair exchange.
Rattles are used when you are trying to raise energy, often referred to as a "cone of power" when performing magick spells or rituals. Other things such as a drums, music, and dance work just as well. But drums are expensive, I haven't been able to put together a suitable selections of music that slowly builds to a peak. While I've been casting spells for over 25 years without a rattle (I always used my voice, movements and rhyme to build power), for some reason I felt compelled to have one. When you get that kind of a feeling about a tool, it's the one you should make or buy. And after using it a few times, I must say that I find it extremely helpful in raising energy during my magickal workings.
you can plainly see, this rattle was not bought at a store. They can be
ridiculously expensive, so I figured out how to make one on my own. This
picture is my rattle. I made it from an empty kitty treat bottle, and put
a few teaspoons of unpopped popcorn inside. You could also use lentils,
small pebbles, or anything else that will produce a suitable noise. If
the noise it too startling, you could always line the inside with toilet
paper, tissue, or a paper towel, to muffle the sound, until it sounds good
to you. I'm going to paint it black, and perhaps paint a few helpful rune
symbols on it. But before I did, I wanted to show you this, so you can
use it as an idea, and/ or spark your creative imagination, so you can
either use this idea, or come up with other ways to make one.
While you may be surprised to find salt in this section, I feel it's the right place for it to be as it has many uses. I use salt to outline my circles to for protection, to show the area clearly, but most importantly to prevent anything I don't want to come through be able to enter the room. For whatever reason, salt does the trick. To your left you see a generic pound (750 g) of salt that cost 99 cents. To your right, you see a bag of salt, 3/4 of a pound (500 gr) of fancy salt that cost $17.99 (plus 15% tax)!
While there are many chemical differences between the two, magickally speaking, I've used generic, sea salt, and fancy salt, and they all work equally well. The only reason I even have the 'fancy' salt is because like I'm sure many new Witches would think, "The more expensive the better". So when I asked a friend to pick up some salt for me at the store for "my magick", they made the same assumption. And it is better, for seasoning food, not for wasting by pouring a big circle with it, then returning it back the earth.
Salt is also used to cleanse and consecrate tools, gemstones and such. As well as cleanse rooms of unwanted entities or energies. Salt is a purifier, and an absolute must for any Witch.
Used for focusing energy, invocation and drawing a ritual circle or other symbols on ground or sand. Any type of wood can be used for a wand such as willow, elder, apple, oak, to name a few. Any branch which is fairly straight works just fine. Some like to decorate their wands by painting, engraving symbols on them, tying leather straps to the handle, attaching a quarts crystal on the end (shown above) and so on. Use your imagination. Your wand should reflect you. With that in mind, be creative and enjoy the experience of crafting and bonding with yours. However, decoration is not necessary, it's a mater of taste, you can simply use a fairly straight branch (shown on top). I like mine around the length of my hand to elbow. That's how I measure them. Element- Fire. For more info on making a wand, go the the Crafts section of my site.
A mortar and pestle is both a Goddess & God symbol, and it's shapes make it obvious as to why. It is used to grind & blend herbal mixtures. It works just as well if small amounts of essential oils are added. It may not seem like an important thing to have to the beginner, but if you do any work with herbs be they for spells or just loose incense, you'll find it invaluable. I never thought I'd have any use for one, but after a friend gave me one for Yule, I soon found myself using quite frequently. This is an invaluable tool. It could even make a good cauldron.
This little mentioned tool has been invaluable to me over the years. It's an extremely important tool if you want to know *exactly* what direction north, south, east, or west is. It's very handy for rituals when calling the quarters because you actually know precisely where they are. They're easy to find and very inexpensive. If you get any tool...get a compass. You'll be amazed how handy it is to have around specially if you're doing your ritual outside, or in the woods where it's hard to know what direction you're facing.
with the tools described above, it's a good idea to keep a stock of the
following other items: candle holders, candles in a
wide variety of colours and sizes, a good assortment of incense, fabric in various colours to make mojo bags and sachets, various
colours of thread, or yarn, herbs, dried plants, dried flower pettles, various spices (basically all of them have some kind of use,
particularly rosemary), and an assortment of jars and bottles to store various herbs and oils in. And lots of bottles in various sizes
for a variety of uses.