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Tools of a Witch

Written and Compiled by George Knowles

Athame  / Pentacle  / Wand  / Chalice  /  Censer /  Broom  / Bolline  / Cauldron  / Bell /  Book of Shadows

As with most other religions, tools are used in witchcraft to aid and enhance ritual worship.  Tools have no power in themselves, though they do have powerful symbolic significances.  Some like the Wand and Athame (pronounced ath-ay-me) are used to invoke and direct whatever power we generate or pass through them. 

While tools are not absolutely necessary to the practice of the craft, some tools are nice to have if only to focus our will and concentration.  The basic tools to start with are the elemental tools or those tools which represent the four elements of life: The Pentacle for Earth, The Wand for Air, The Athame for Fire, and The Chalice for Water. 

Tools needn’t be purposely bought or excessively expensive.  Take a look around the household, many ordinary implements can be used or improvised as tools.  You could even make your own and by doing so, a certain amount of personal power will be infused into the item, thus increasing its effectiveness.  Other sources of tools are Car Boot Sales, Junk Shops and Antique Shops.  With a little patience you may find tools cropping up in the most unusual places. 

All tools as they are collected, should be cleansed of all negative energies and past use influences.  Lets face it, you won’t know how or for what use they may have been used before you acquired them.  To do this, clean the item physically and thoroughly while using visualisation.  Then bury the item in the ground for a few days, thus allowing past associations to be dispersed and purified with earth’s energy.  

Alternatively you could use the water method.  Immerse the item in water, preferably natural water like the Sea, a River, or a Lake.  If these are not available to you, used a bowl of water and add a few pinches of Sea Salt.  Leave submerged for a couple of hours before removing and drying the item off.  Obviously common sense must prevail when using these methods, as you wouldn’t want to ruin the item.  Do whatever seems appropriate for each item.  After the cleansing process, each tool needs to be consecrated, ready to use for magickal purposes.  (More about this later).      

Below is a list of the standard tools used in witchcraft together with their uses and significances.  For other correspondences see:

Incense /  Candles /  Colours /  Magickal Days /  Stones and Gems /  Elements and Elementals

 

Athame  - The athame is the traditional ritual dagger of the witch.  Commonly it has a black handle and steel double-edged blade.  Many Wiccans engrave the handle or blade with magickal symbols indicative of deities, spirits or the elements as sources of power.  The athame is a tool of command, it is used to direct what power we pass through it.  It is used to cast circles by tracing the circumference, to charge and consecrate objects and banish negative energies.  In most traditions, it is never used as a mundane knife for cutting purposes, and is used strictly for magickal purposes only.  As an elemental tools of the craft, in most traditions it is associated with the elements of Fire, in others it is associated with Air.  The phallic symbolism of the knife links it with the God. 

Pentacle  - The pentacle is a traditional tool of the craft.  Originally it is thought to have been adopted from ceremonial magic.  It is usually a round solid disc often made from stone, wood or cooper.  On the disc is engraved or painted an up-right five pointed star enclosed inside a circle called the Pentagram.  A disc decorated in this manner then becomes called a Pentacle.  In some traditions other symbols are added indicative of deities, spirits or the elements as sources of power.  The pentacle is normally the centerpiece of the alter on which objects are placed to be consecrated or charged, such things as amulets, charms and tools are placed on it, as is the salt and water for blessing.  The pentacle represents the elements of Earth and is sometimes used to summon the Gods and Goddesses.  For a more detailed description of the pentacle - pentagram see (Pentagram - Pentacle).

Wand  - The wand is one of the prime magical tools of the witch.  Traditionally the wand is made from the wood of a sacred tree.  These include the Willow, Elder, Oak, Apple, Peach, Hazel and Cherry, to mention just a few.  Its length should approximate the crook of the elbow to the middle of the index finger.  These days many modern materials are used instead, and even tipped with crystals and gems.  The wand is a tool of invocation, it is used to evoke the Gods, Goddesses and Spirits.  It is also used to bestow blessings, charge objects and draw down the moon during ritual.  In most traditions the wand represents the elements of Air, in others it represents the elements of Fire. 

Censer or Thurible  -  The censer is an incense burner used to contain burning incense during ritual.  Any type of censer can be used, even a simple bowl filled with sand will do.  The censer represents the elements of Air and is normally placed before the images of the Goddess and God on the altar.   

Chalice  - The Chalice is one of the four elemental tools of witchcraft and represents the elements of Water.  It is a symbol of containment and often represents the womb of the Goddess.  The base is symbolic of the material world, the stem symbolises the connection between man and spirit and the rim or opening symbolically receives spiritual energy. 

The chalice can be made of any material, in times of old - Horns, Shells and Gourds were used to hold sacred liquids during ritual, and then in later times - Silver became the preferred material, having long been associated with the moon and the Goddess.  The chalice is used to hold the blessed water and wine during ritual.  It is traditional in many covens to pass the chalice around all members, who then take a drink as a token of unity. 

Broom  - The broom is a ritual tool of the witch, sacred to both Goddess and the God.  The God - through its symbolic phallic shape, The Goddess - through its three-piece make up, the stick, brush and binding cord being symbolic of the triformis aspect of the Goddess.   

Traditionally the broom was made from three different woods.  Ash for the handle, Birch twigs for the brush and Willow for the binding cord.  Ash is protective and has command over the four elements.  Birch is purifying and draws spirits to one’s service.  Willow is sacred to the Goddess. 

The broom is used for a variety of purposes but most generally to purify and protect.  It is used to ritually cleanse an area before magick is performed by symbolically sweeping away negative energies and astral build up.  Of old it was used to guard the home and persons within against psychic attack or evil curses, this by placing it across the threshold, windowsills or doorways.  It was also placed under the bed or a pillow to protect the sleeper. 

Traditionally and perhaps the use which most people identify it with, are the old wedding ceremonies of the Gypsies and the early American slaves, where a couple leapt over the broom to ensure fertility, domestic harmony and longevity.  Today pagan hand-fasting rituals often include a broom jump.    

Bolline  - The Bolline or White-Handled knife as it is now known, is the practical knife of the craft.  Traditionally it was used to harvest herbs and had a blade in the form of a small sickle.  Today it is normally a mundane knife used for cutting and carving.  It has a white handle to differentiate it from the Athame, which has a black handle and is used only for magickal purposes.  The bolline is used to cut wands and herbs, to mark and carve candles with symbols and to cut cords for use in magick.  Any other ritual function requiring the use of a knife, such as cutting flowers for the altar, can be performed with the bolline. 

Cauldron  - The cauldron is probably the tool most associated with witchcraft and is steeped in magickal tradition and mystery.  The cauldron is the container in which transmutation, germination, and transformations may occur.  It is symbolic of the womb of the Goddess, and is the manifested essence of femininity and fertility.  Everything is born from the cauldron of the Goddess and afterwards everything returns back to it.  It is also symbolic of the element of water, as well as reincarnation, immortality and inspiration. 

In ritual the cauldron is used as a container for making brews and potions, or to contain a small fire for use with spells.  It can also be used for scrying (divination) by filling it with water and gazing into its depths. 

In ancient times the cauldron was used as a cooking vessel and for brew making.  Traditionally it was made from cast iron, it rests on three legs and has an opening smaller then its widest part.  Cauldrons are made in many sizes but can be difficult to find, so you will need to persevere if you want one. 

Bell  - The bell is a ritual tool of invocation and banishment.  The bell is a feminine symbol of the creative force, that of the Goddess.  The bell can be rung to indicate the start of a rite by banishing negative influences before the ritual begins.  Often it is used to invoke the Goddess during ritual, or sounded at the four quarters to call forth such spirits as the Watchers and Elementals. 

Bells can be used to guard the home by warding off evil spells and spirits, or evoking good energies when placed in cupboards or hung on doors.  Hung from a cord the bell symbolises the human soul suspended between heaven and earth. 

Book of Shadows  - The Book of Shadows is the workbook of the witch.  In it is recorded: Rituals guidelines, Invocations, Spells, Runes, Rules of a particular Coven or Tradition, Symbols, Poems, Chants, and anything else of use to the witch during ritual.  

Traditionally the Book of Shadows was always hand written by the individual.  A common custom for new initiates into a Coven, is to hand copy his teacher’s Book of Shadows exactly as it appeared, then later to add his own material as he progressed in the craft.  Today with the advantages of technology they are often typed and photocopied, or even computerised onto Floppy Disc’s.   

To make your own Book of Shadows, you can use any form of blank book, but perhaps the best type to use are those of a loose-leave nature, thus allowing pages to be shuffled around when preparing for rituals.  My personal Book of Shadows is made from recycled paper, bound up in natural tree bark covers, these are available in some art shops and bookstores.

Sources

Wicca, A guide for the Solitary Practitioner  - By Scott Cunningham

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft  - By Raven Grimassi

A Witches' Bible  - By Janet and Stewart Farrar

Witchcraft for tomorrow  - By Doreen Valiente

 

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

Site Contents - Links to all Pages

 

Home Page

 

A Universal Message:

 

Let there be peace in the world  -   Where have all the flowers gone?

 

About me:

My Personal PageMy Place in England / My Family Tree (Ancestry)

 

Wicca & Witchcraft

 

Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick

 

Traditional Writings:

 

The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality

 

Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Festivals:

 

The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:

 

Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:

 

Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom and Inspiration:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /  Amber KAnna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman Spare /  Biddy Early /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristina Oakley Harrington Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Isaac Bonewits Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” /  Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJoseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceMargaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillPaddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip HeseltonRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Robert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas Ady /  Vera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  

 

 

Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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