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Remember, not every witch needs a tool, some of the most experienced witches don't even work with any tools, but if you have them, great! Tools are here to help us direct energy and for some, help them get into the mind set. Many witches are aware of the many tools that that they can work with, ranging from the atheme (pronounced ath-e-may), the wand, th sword, the pentacle, the cord, the cauldron, the chalice, the staff, the robe, and the alter bell, just to name a few of the may tools that are available to us witches.
Many spellcrafters feel that the best ritual tools to use are the ones that you have personally made yourself, or the ones that are received as a gift. It is okay to use store bought tools as well, however, it is an old magical custom when buying a new tool and before using it, be sure to cleanse the item of any energy that way when working your spell, all you'll have is your own energy and energy that you have raised to worry about.
In fact, did you know to steal a ritual tool, or any object handcrafted or owned by a witch or magician, according to an ancient legend, brings down a powerful curse upon the thief, which they can never be free of until the stolen property is returned to it's rightful owner. Only then can the curse be lifted.
So obviously it's not a good idea to steal from a witch or magician, and it's also not a good idea to steal in general.
Remember, in order to be a witch, you don't have to have tools to work with. We know some pretty powerful witches and magicians that work best without them. All it takes is a little imagination and some will power and you're golden!
The atheme is a ritual dagger with a double-edged blade. It is employed for for casting the circle, the storing and directing of magical energy during rituals, the stirring of potions, the ritual mixing of salt and water, inscribing the magic circle, and the consecration and charging of such things as poppets, mojo bags, and amuletic or talismantic objects.
In addition, the atheme is used both in invocations and evocations, initiation ceremonies, pentagram rituals (invoking and banishing), the calling of the Lords of the Watchtowers, and many other rites and spellcastings.
In certain traditions, the atheme is never used to for cutting or for any purpose that is mundane (non-magical). However, there are many witches and magicians who will use their athemes as often as possible, both in and out of the circle, in the old belief that the atheme's powers will increase with use. If you choose to restrict the use of your atheme only to spell casting of circles or certain rituals work, that is fine.
The traditional use of the wand are to cast the circle, draw magical symbols on the ground, invoke spirits, conduct spiritual energy, and stir the cauldron brews. Some magical practitioners also use a wand for manifestations, which is the ritual transformation of spirit into matter.
The wand is an instrument traditionally carved from the wood of hazel, ash, rowan, or willow tree. Some modern witches' wands are fashioned from crystal, carved ivory or ebony, or metal such as silver, copper, or gold.
To witches and ceremonial magicians, the wand is the emblem of power and the life-force. It symbolizes the ancient element of Air (in some transitions it symbolizes fire), and is said to be sacred to all gods and goddesses of the Pagan pantheons.
The pentacle is a flat disc made of wood, wax, copper, silver, clay, or glass bearing the motif of the five-pointed star known as the pentagram. The pentacle is found on alters of many witches and magicians. Representing female/Goddess energy, and the ancient Element of Earth, it's main uses are aiding meditation, invoking spirits, protection against evil entities, and ground energy after rituals and spells.have been performed.
Cords are used by many witches and covens as tools to store magical energy for later use. In traditional core magic, nine knots are tied in certain patterns or orders on a cord while and incantation is chanted and one's intent is visualized. When the witch is ready to release the power that has been stored within the cord, he or she then unties the knots in the same order in which they were tied. Many untie one knot each night for nine night in a row.
An altar cloth can be any piece of cloth, although most witches prefer pure cotton or silk material. Natural materials are the best to use. An altar cloth is a special cloth only used for spell work. It can transform any flat surface into a magical surface. You may want to personalize your cloth with embroidery or embellishments.
Bells are like the Voice of the Goddess. When you ring one, it brings the Divine's attention to you. And your attention to the Divine! A bell with a lovely tone will call beautiful, healing energy to you. Bells can also be used to clear energy. At the end of a ritual is a good time for this, but if unwanted energy crops up during a ritual, you can use the bell to disperse it.
One candle for each of the directions, color-coded, are often used on a Wiccan altar. One would go in each appropriate direction
•For North: black, green, or brown
•For East: yellow or white
•For South: red or orange
•For West: blue or aqua
•For Centre, where you aren't using God and Goddess candles: white, silver, or gold.
Candles are used to invoke and hold the Powers of each direction.
Often large candles, such as pillar candles, are used to represent the God and the Goddess. These are usually set on either side of the Pentacle, or somewhere in the centre of the altar.
Other options are having just one large candle for the Great Goddess, or three - white, red, and black - for the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
Where they go is up to you. Somewhere they won't drip onto delicate items or catch things on fire is always good.
These candles invoke the Energies of the Divine.
A small dish, bowl, or cup can go in the centre, ready to receive offerings for the gods and goddesses.
You can also use your altar chalice or cauldron for this purpose.
Later, pour or bury the offerings in the Earth, or into living water (rivers, lakes, etc) to carry them to the Divine.
When you would honor the Divine with a gift of thanks or prayer, you can bring them to the Altar as an offering.
Often flowers are kept on the altar as an offering. Anything that is beautiful or special to you, or symbolic of the purpose for the offering, can be offered. It is probably not necessary to point out that offerings should not be anything that could harm anything (but just in case, I'll point it out anyway). For one thing, since the Divine lives in all things, anything you harm is an injury to the Divine. And pragmatically, you'll be giving the offerings to the Earth later.
Offerings are one of the most overlooked practices in Wicca today, yet one of increasing spiritual power and importance.
A small bowl of water with salt dissolved in it, for cleansing. This would be appropriate in the centre. Alternatively, the altar chalice may be used to hold the salt water.
Water and salt are both purifying agents, not only in the physical realm but the energetic as well. Salt water also represents the energies of earth and water united, the ocean womb which gave birth to all life on the planet. So while this may seem an insignificant addition to your altar tools, it holds great power.
Traditionally cast iron, a cauldron is like a 3-legged rounded cooking pot. You can get them in sizes from huge to tiny.
Cauldrons are handy items for burning things, like incense and herbs. This is one of the reasons it is one of the most common altar tools.
Put an incense charcoal in the bottom, and sprinkle the herbs and powders onto it for very pagan incense.
(Caution is required when burning anything, of course. Cast iron on legs, if made properly, will keep the heat from the surface it's standing on, but check to make sure. Also be aware of anything flammable nearby or above the cauldron - particularly sleeves and hair!)
Cauldrons can also be used to hold "witches' brews," that is, magical spells in liquid form. These range from simple salt-water purifications to complex spells.
If you have a Book of Shadows it should be kept on your altar, preferably. It is one of your most important altar tools. If your altar is not private enough, or you can't keep it there for another reason, then keeping it under your altar is best.
If you have other books that you use for reference for spells or rituals, it may be handy to keep nearby. It's better to remain within the cast circle than to leave it to look up something.
Some people like to use a sword for casting in groups. (The difficulty may be emotional safety in addition to physical safety. The symbolic hostility inherent in swords is more than many sensitive people can cope with, especially in as intimate a situation as ritual.) Often awkward around an altar, swords may be kept near or under it to be held in the magical aura.
In the past, swords were the Athene of the nobility, but this custom is obviously ridiculous from a spiritual standpoint. Blue blood does not equal spiritual nobility!
Unlike knives, however, swords have no practical use other than as weapons. This link with violence makes swords unadvisable as altar tools for most people.