The information on this page is a general look at the various tools used in modern ritual. This is by no means a complete, fully detailed list. Tools used in ritual are focal points and aid in the shift of consciousness needed for effective magick. Remember, tools don't make the Witch. The use of tools in magick and ritual simply aid the Witch in raising and directing energy. As a Witch, the only tool that you must have is yourself.
For more information about why we use tools in magick, see Magickal Tools: Combining Personal Energy With Other Objects.
Altars are a focal point for ritual and magick. They serve as a surface to work with as well as a link between a Witch and his/her magick. Some modern Witches have multiple altars, both permanent and temporary. Ancestor altars were once very common and finally beginning to make a come-back in modern Witchcraft.
Usually a bundle of herbs used to sprinkle water and/or oil mixtures. Similar to the use of a feather to sprinkle water and salt mixtures by some Shamanic practitioners.
Pronounced as ah-tha-may. Sometimes called the Magickal Knife, the athame is not used to cut. It is usually a dull, double-edged knife or dagger. Traditionally it is known to have a black or dark handle; however, this is not mandatory. Because it is used to direct energy, the athame is linked with the element Fire and therefore sacred to the God. Some traditions link this tool with Air.
Used in some traditions to mark transitions during ritual. For example, a bell may be rung at the beginning and end of the spellcasting portion of a ritual. Also commonly used to for welcoming entities into the ritual space. Generally associated with Water.
Also known as the witches' broom, the besom is sacred to both the Goddess and God. It is known as a protective tool and believed to be powerful against curses and practitioners of evil magic. If laid across the threshold, the besom halts all spells sent to the house and its residents. If placed under a pillow, a small besom will guard the sleeper and bring nice dreams. By lightly sweeping the ritual area - usually just above physical surfaces - the besom can clear away negative energy. It is most often linked to Water and therefore useful in love spells and psychic workings; modern day handfastings still include a broom leap to solemnize a couple's union. The besom - most noted for its feminine attributes in Wicca - is also known to symbolize masculinity because of its phallic shape. According to some traditions, the besom handle is supposed to be carved with a phallus on one end, although this is not common today.
Considered the opposite of the athame by some, the bolline is used to cut herbs - as well as other things needed for ritual and magickal workings - and engraving. Traditionally, the bolline is white handled; however, this is not mandatory. It is single-edged and usually sickle-shaped.
A simple tool used for engraving. Sometimes made simply of a nail with a wooden handle. The burin replaces the bolline's use of engraving and inscribing, leaving the sickle-like knife for cutting herbs.
Candles represent Fire. The flame generates energy to aid in ritual and magick. A good substitution for candles would be stones the color of the candle called for or a gemstone with the magickal association to the desired effect.
The cauldron is traditionally used for cooking and brew making; however, because of the amount of patience needed, most Wiccans will simply use kitchen stoves for this purpose. The cauldron is a symbol of the Goddess and of Water, reincarnation, immortality, and inspiration. The cauldron may be filled with water and flowers, or a fire is sometimes kindled within to represent the birth of the God from the Goddess. Some practitioners will use a small cauldron for a censer. By filling with water and staring into it, a cauldron can be used to scry. Traditionally, the cauldron is iron with three legs and come in all sizes.
Used for burning ritual incense. May be a simple incense burner used for stick, cone, or charcoal incense.
Sometimes called the cup, the chalice is a symbol of the Goddess and represents fertility and the element of Water. It is most commonly used to hold ritual beverages. It is used with the athame for the symbolic Great Rite.
Ritual clothing is different depending on the group and/or individual. For some, ritual is done only in the nude (skyclad). For others, some sort of clothing is preferred. Those who wear ritual clothing will often have something special to be worn only for ritual, such as a robe or cloak. Others may just wear their everyday clothes. When clothing is used for ritual purposes only, the mere act of changing into them can aid in the shift of consciousness for ritual. Masks may also be used for this purpose and often crafted for specific intents or energies one wishes to bring into themselves.
Stones used in magick. Each crystal has energy vibrations useful for different intents and purposes. Modern Witches often make use of crystals in rituals in magick. Uses vary.
Plants and parts of plants used in magick. Like crystals, plants carry different energy vibrations that are useful to the Witch. Some herbal energies correspond with their medicinal uses, whereas others are used for different purposes. Magickal associations of herbs should not be confused with medicinal uses, and research is required before a Witch ingests herbs or otherwise uses them in ways that could be physically toxic.
Incense represents Air. It comes in many forms including stick, cone, powder, smudge sticks, and, recently popular, oil. A good substitution for incense would be fresh flowers. Incense is traditionally believed to carry prayers and messages - usually to the Gods - by its smoke.
Ritual jewelry - such as crowns, armlets, rings, necklaces, etc. - is not necessary, and some individuals/groups prefer to not have it at all. For those who do, the jewelry often holds ritual significance and is only worn for such occasions. Like clothing, simply wearing the jewelry can aid in the shift of consciousness needed for ritual.
A dish used specifically to hold offerings to the Gods, guides, ancestors, and other spirits. Usually a portion of the Cakes and Ale will be added to the libation bowl. The contents of the bowl are then either left outside or poured, most commonly on or by plants and trees.
Mortar & Pestle
Used for grinding herbs and creating mixtures. The use of old fashioned mortar and pestle to more modern inventions allows the Witch time to focus their intent and energy into the herbs.
Used to help set mood and shift consciousness. Music helps to enhance ritual and can provide a focused means of inducing trance or creating a cone of power. Common instruments include drums and rattles.
Commonly used for anointing to help lift energies and create intention, oils are used for a variety of ritual and magickal purposes. May be added to incense, to anoint candles or the body, and other uses.
Paper or Parchment
Parchment is traditional, though some modern Witches will use any form of paper. Often used for writing intents and commonly burned - sometimes torn first. Can be used in a variety of magick.
A five-pointed star within a circle painted or carved onto a disc. A symbol for Earth. Generally provides a focal point during magick on which items to be cleansed or charged are often placed. Some traditions refer to this tool as a peyton.
Less commonly used today, the Scourge is a ritual whip. Some traditions used this tool to draw blood to an affected part of the body in an effort to induce ritual consciousness. Some traditions today do not use the scourge whereas others use it merely as a symbol, like the Egyptian flail that is believed by some to have been a symbol linking the Pharaohs as decedents of the Gods.
Generally a larger version of the wand. Associated with the God. When forked at the top, it is referred to as a stang for the Horned God. More common in Druidic traditions, many Wiccans do not make use of a staff in ritual.
A larger version of the athame. More common in traditional covens, used for circle casting and some initiation rituals.
Symbols of Deity
The symbols for the Goddess and God can be most anything that holds significance to the individual. Normally they are statues, paintings, or items found in nature. One of the most used symbols are two candles; a red or gold candle to represent the God, and a green or silver candle to represent the Goddess. Sometimes, the symbol used depend on whether or not a particular deity is called upon. Some Witches will use multiple symbols for the Goddess and God, also including symbols for other spirits and entities they work with.
The wand is used for evocations and invocations. In some traditions, it is used to direct energy in place of the athame, draw symbols or a circle on the ground, and to stir magickal brews. Traditionally the wand is made of wood, however these days it can be made of various metals and crystals. The traditional length of the wand is from the crook of the elbow to the tip of the forefinger. However the length, as well as the width,should be comfortable to the individual. Normally the wand will represent Air; however, some traditions argue that it is sacred to Fire.
Water and Salt
Water represents the element Water and salt represents Earth. Some Witches prefer spring water, however nothing is wrong with using well or tap water. Sea salt is preferred; however rock salt is just as good. To some, table salt is considered a last resort. Water and salt are usually found in matching bowls, although that is not always the case. A good substitute for water is a seashell, which can be the container for the salt.
© 2003-2014 by Evylyn Rose
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