Magickal tools are used by the witch or magician for protection, to banish or invoke spirits and energies, and to contain and direct personal power. It is not really necessary to use these tools to perform magick, but it is a very good idea when starting out to at least collect and practice with a set of basic tools. These tools may be obtained everywhere from occult supply shops to your local grocery store. Don't believe that you need to collect these tools all at once, and certainly don't put out serious amounts of money for them (unless there is a very good reason). Indeed, some cherished tools and objects will only come to you when the time is right. Many tools may be made by hand, and it is often preferable to do so as more of the energy and personality of the witch or magician goes into the tool when it is manufactured by them personally. Examine your acquired tool and hold it for a while before being so quick to consecrate it and put it to use. If the tool is attractive to you and "feels right" in your hands, then you know that you have the one for you.
The athame is the ritual knife of the witch or magician. It typically has a black handle and a double-edged blade. Some traditions of magick and witchcraft use a sword in place of the athame, but for a solitary practicioner of magick this is unnecessary. It is used to consecrate, banish unwanted energies, and for casting the magic circle. Although this tool might be easy to find in any store that sells knives, I would recommend (as with all of your tools) that you do something to modify the knife and personalize it, such as decorating the handle or etching the blade with your name in a magickal alphabet. For those of you who really like to go all the way, you could try making your own athame from scratch (you could use the directions in Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft). When you decorate your new magic knife, you might engrave or paint the symbols of the knife from the Greater Key of Solomon onto the blade or handle:
The athame, unlike a traditional knife, is a tool of the element of fire. It never cuts anything in the physical world, and should never be used as a utility knife like a bolline. It is used for ritual purposes only. Please use common sense when using an athame, and remember that other people will take a different view as to what this knife is used for if you go out wearing it or get caught with it in a public place. I personally don't like the look or feel of a knife in my hand, so I prefer to use a wand instead. If you need to do ritual or cast a spell in a place where you don't have your athame available, you could use the forefinger of your dominant hand.
Where the athame handles magickal tasks, the bolline is the working utility knife of the witch or magician. It is typically white and has a crescent-shaped sharp blade that may be used for cutting things in the physical realm. The bolline handles practical tasks such as carving wooden wands, cutting herbs or branches, or inscribing candles and wood with symbols. It is not a magickal tool, but rather a practical one to handle physical everyday work. A bolline, such as the one depicted here, may be obtained at many occult suppliers.
For centuries, the magic wand has been the symbol of witches wizards and magicians. Even today, the wand is a very important tool for the working witch or magician. It is used for focusing and channeling personal energy or power for a particular purpose. While there are many beautiful wands out there for purchase, I personally believe that the wand should be made by the one who will use it. The wand pictured here was made by me, and the handle contains a few items that make it my personal object of power. You might find your own rituals and techniquesfor making wands. Traditionally, the wand is the length from the crook of the arm to the tip of the fingers. There are some who wrap thier wands in magnetic wire, or attach a crystal to the end. When creating your wand, you could make it from the wood of a willow tree and carve it yourself using the bolline. The wand is phallic in shape, and is associated with the element of air. Carefully carve or paint these symbols on your wand:
I also have a smaller wand that I keep in my bag for travel.
The broom, or besom, is a tool of the element of Water used in ritual to clear out the space in which the ceremony will take place. This is not necesarilly a physical cleansing, but more of a spiritual one as the broom sweeps out the negative energies from the area in which the circle is to be cast. Traditionally, the broom is of the round type, not the flat type. The broom might be given a name which could be inscribed on the handle. The broom is a great protective tool, and is sometimes hung above doors in order to protect the household. Some witches replace their brooms each Samhain. If you wish, you could try to make your own broom if the materials are available. The are good instructions for this in Edain McCoy's Sabbats.
Candles, which represent the element of Fire, are providers of light and warmth. There should be at least two candles on the altar which represent the Masculine God and the Feminine Goddess. I typically use black and white or black and silver candles, but you might use colored candles that match the seasons. Black or white will always do. Any type of candles will work. I usually use pillar candles for the God and Goddess candles and votives and tapers for illumination or spellworking candles. In any case, you could paint or inscribe the traditional runes on the candle's holders:
The ritual chalice is the symbol of Water and represents the fertile womb of the Goddess. The chalice is a goblet (bowl on a stem) that could be made of any material except glass, brass, or copper (especially the last two, as they will make wines and citric juices poisonous). You could inscribe the traditional runes on your chalice:
The Robe and Cingulum
For ritual and meditation, the robe is a nice thing to have. Changing into the robe is a great way to shift your focus to magickal thought. You are looking the part and feeling the part. Instructions for making a nice robe (with or without a cowl for blocking out distractions) may be found here. You could use a costume pattern, or make your own from scratch. You could wear anything beneath the robe, but I would suggest wearing nothing (skyclad) underneath as that would bring you closer to the magickal energies that clothing might inhibit or block. This is, of course, a matter of preference, and will depend on the situation you find yourself in. Always use fabrics of natural fibers, and watch the length and width of the sleeves to keep them from setting on fire from a candle! I have two robes, one for simple working and one for more dressy occasions such as Sabbats. The color of your robe is also a matter of choice, but here are some color correspondences to help if you can't decide. You might want different colors for different workings and occasions:
- Black: Universe, night, ultimate source of energy
- Red: Protective or God related rituals
- White: Spirituality and purity, Full Moons, or Goddess worship
- Brown: Animal work
- Green: Herbal magic
- Blue: Healers and psychic awareness
- Purple: Pure divine power
- Yellow: Divination
The cingulum is a 6 or 9 foot cord that is worn about the waist, and is used for marking out the magick circle or for cord magick. Traditonally, the color of the cingulum depends on what your "rank" as a magician or witch is. Green symbolizes a beginner or Apprentice, red a mid-level or Journyman, and blue and purple for advanced or Adepts. I personally use a red one because I like it. The cingulum is worn about the waist over the robe.
The pentacle, which represents the element of Earth, is a flat disk made of some earthly material inscribed with a pentacle (5-pointed) star and sometimes other symbols. The pentacle is used in magick as an instrument of protection. It is also a tool on which to place items such as salt, water, herbs, etc. that are to be consecrated. To make your pentacle, you could use a piece of round wood, clay, or metal and inscribe or paint a pentacle along with the traditional symbols (if you wish). The outer runes on the pentacle spell out "EARTH" in the Theban alphabet and the inner ones are taken from the Key of Solomon.
The cauldron is the vessel of transformation and symbolizes the element of Water. It may be used for cooking, brewing potions, burning fires, or might even be used for skrying divination when filled with water. It should be made of iron. Sometimes cauldrons can be difficult to find (especially larger ones). Try occult supply stores, or you might find one through a cooking outlet.
The censer is a burner for incense. It could be a simple as a small bowl (I use a tiny iron cauldron on a chain, but it gets pretty hot quick) or one of the fancy swinging affairs used in churches. It could be made of any material (avoid glass as the heat might break it). I recommend filling the bottom halfway with sand to absorb some of the heat. The heat source is a small charcoal block treated with saltpetre upon which incense, resins, and herbs may be sprinkled. These may be obtained at occult and church supply outlets and at some health food stores. You might decorate your censer with the traditional runes shown below:
Bells have long been used in ritual to signify the beginning and end of a spell or rite, clear the air, chase away evil entities, and bring out good feelings in the practicioner. The sound of the bell can have a powerful effect on the environment and its inhabitants. You can decorate your bell with astrological symbols.
The book, or "Book Of Shadows" is the book of magickal and ritual note-taking and record-keeping. The Book Of Shadows gets its name from the fact that in the olden days witches and magicians had to practice in secret to avoid persecution by the mainstream church, who viewed their work as evil. The book was only pulled out for use "in the shadows". Each witch or magician should have their own Book Of Shadows in which they document the different magickal lessons and spells that they learn in their spiritual journey. The book might be an ornate leather affair, or (a more practical approach) a three-ring binder that things might be shuffled around in. I took a binder and decorated it with different color crushed velvets to make a beautiful Book Of Shadows. Although the traditional color for the book is green, you could use any color (I used black and purple).