Technically, all tools in witchcraft are optional.
What tools you need for your practice can only be determined by you, the practitioner. The tools that I use on a regular basis may be very different to the tools you use, and vice versa. Tools will, also, vary by tradition.
What I have listed here are common tools in witchcraft that you’ll see mentioned in plenty of witchcraft 101 books but not all of them are necessary – at least to start with.
A useful tip for beginner witches looking at tools is this: only buy what you need.
It’s Not About the Money
As a beginner, you’re likely limited by a budget. Even if you have the spare cash, you’re unlikely to drop serious coin on something you’re a complete novice at. The same thing applies to learning any new skill – you wouldn’t buy the most expensive camera if you’re new to photography, for example.
One of the first tools I ever bought was a ritual knife when I was only 14 years old (actually, my mum bought it for me – thanks mum!) It was gorgeous – it looked like a bronze dragon with wings coming out of the hilt. I was so excited to start using it in ritual.
Do you wanna guess how many times I’ve used it?
Not even once.
The moment I opened the package, I knew it wasn’t for me. Sure, it looked great – like something out of a fantasy movie. But, in the end, it felt more like a film prop than a ritual tool. I still have it in a drawer somewhere, nearly 20 years later. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it!
The moral of the story is: sometimes basic (and more affordable) is best.
Not all of the following tools are used by all witches.
Some tools are more ceremonial and are used in ritual magick. These tools often descend from medieval grimoires (such as the Key of Solomon) and Western Esoteric traditions. Wiccans, Thelemites and ceremonial magicians tend to practice high magick which is ritualistic in nature.
Other tools are associated with low magick (also called ‘mundane magick’) which includes traditional witchcraft and folk magic. Low magick is typically less ceremonial and more instinctive and spontaneous, using what tools and ingredients are around the home and garden.
Some witches, like myself, like to use a blend of the two.
Either way, you’re not obligated to use any tool you don’t connect to or have use for.
Commonly known as an ‘athame‘ (ah-thah-may) in modern witchcraft circles.
Traditionally, they are double-edged and black-handled. Black is an absorbent colour and is thought to help absorb and focus the energy of the user. The blade is usually kept blunt as it’s not used to actually cut anything.
In ritual, they are typically used in a number of ways. The most common way is in circle-casting. Casting a circle in ritual magick involves cutting sacred space around the practitioner for protection. This is done by holding out an athame and walking in a circle around the area, starting in the east and walking clockwise. The circle edge can be laid with physical items as well, such as candles, flowers or rope, or drawn with chalk on the floor.
An athame can, also, be used to inscribe sigils or symbols onto surfaces, like candles.
BUDGET TIP: Use any clean knife from your kitchen. If it has a black handle, that’s a plus.
I don’t think there’s a more iconic witches’ tool than a cauldron.
Thanks to Shakespeare and the three witches of Macbeth, the cauldron has become a staple of witchy and magickal folklore. It, also, features in mythology such as Ceridwen’s cauldron of transformation and the Dagda’s magic cauldron that never ran empty.
For witches, cauldrons are typically cast-iron (or brass) and are used to mix ingredients or burn things like incense, paper or offerings.
In some traditions, the cauldron represents the womb and is used in fertility rites.
BUDGET TIP: Any fire-safe bowl will work in a pinch.
A chalice is a ritual cup.
Like the cauldron, the chalice is often used to symbolise the womb and, therefore, the divine feminine. When an athame (the masculine principle) in lowered into a chalice (the feminine principle), it’s thought to represent the hieros gamos – sacred marriage – and the Great Rite of Wiccan traditions.
A chalice can, also, be used to hold offerings, such as wine, or represent the water element on a witch’s altar.
BUDGET TIP: A simple wine glass or your favourite mug will, also, work.
A wand can be used to replace an athame in directing energy in spell work and ritual.
Unlike an athame, which is usually made of metal, a wand is typically made of natural materials like wood. It’s thought that the type of wood effects the energy that the wand focuses. In traditional witchcraft, a blackthorn wand works well for baneful magick due to blackthorn’s associations with ill omens and death. Similarly, a hawthorn wand is good for protection and Faery magick. In fact, many witches choose to use a wand over an athame because the Fae are adverse to metal (particularly iron).
Other options for wands are deer antlers and crystal points.
BUDGET TIP: Any small fallen branch you find can work as a wand. Knowing the wood-type is not essential.
A pentacle is a magickal talisman used for consecration on a witch’s altar. It’s usually disc-shaped and features the pentagram sigil within a circle – a symbol representing the 5 elements (earth, air, fire, water & spirit) and protection.
Other popular symbols include the Seal of Solomon and magic squares.
BUDGET TIP: Either draw a pentacle onto a piece of paper or print one out from the internet.
Also known as a witch’s staff.
This tool is more common in traditional witchcraft where it acts as the axis mundi or World Tree – a witch’s connection between the upper and lower realms.
Traditional witches typically don’t ‘cast circles’ like ceremonial practitioners. Instead, they ‘lay a compass‘ and set the stang within the hallowed space in the centre. Each of the cardinal points of the compass point to the 4 directions – north, south, east & west – with the central stang connecting to the pole star above our heads. This creates a sacred dome and liminal space between worlds.
The stang is traditionally made from wood and topped with a two-tined iron fork like a pitchfork. Some stangs, like my own, are topped with deer antlers. Ash wood is a popular choice because of its links to Yggdrasil of Norse mythology.
A besom is a witch’s broom.
While not very practical for riding, a besom is often used as a tool for purification and cleansing. A witch simply sweeps the unwanted energies out of the sacred space, usually before casting a circle or laying a compass.
Besoms can be made from straw, twigs or herbs. Miniature besoms can be made entirely from herbs, like lavender, and kept on the altar.
They can, also, be used in fertility rites – newly-handfasted couples jump over a besom to increase their chances of conceiving.
Traditionally, besoms are associated with the Witches’ Sabbath. Witches are thought to fly through the air on the night of the Sabbath astride their besoms. It’s thought that flying ointment (hallucinogenic herbs mixed with animal fat) was applied vaginally using the broom handle and this gave the psychotropic feeling of flying.
Other Witchcraft Tools
- Boline – a white-handled curved knife used for harvesting herbs.
- Censer – used to burn incense.
- Sword – often used in place of an athame in large groups.
- Offering bowl – used for offerings to deities/spirits.
If there are any other witchcraft tools you use that aren’t mentioned here, please leave them below in the comments!
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