Magical tools: Cheaper alternatives
There are a recognised set of magical tools that are used in witchcraft, but as a Kitchen Witch myself I tend to be fairly flexible on these. As a newcomer to the craft I thought I had to rush out and purchase all these things that I needed all the right tools to get the job done…and you don’t. Something that comes with experience, something that you learn over time is that really you don’t need a fancy sparkly athame; although it might look pretty a kitchen knife does the same job. I’m not saying don’t buy all these things but I am saying you don’t NEED to buy them, especially if you are working to a budget, be inventive, create your own tools, make them from natural items or look through charity/thift stores and buy things second hand.
Cauldron – every witch must want one of these surely? And yes it really is useful to have something cauldronish but it doesn’t have to be a fancy iron one, it can just be an old casserole dish or crock pot. The cauldron is a symbol of feminine; it represents a womb and also corresponds to the element of Water. I use my cauldron for burning things – incense, herbs, spells etc so really all you need is a pot shaped vessel that is fire proof.
Wand – One of those silver sparkly ones with glitter? Well yes, if that’s what takes your fancy have one. You can make a wand out of a piece of wood, sand it or leave it natural, carve runes or symbols onto it, tie ribbons and feathers to it – make it your own. The added bonus of having a wooden wand is that you can use the energies from the tree that the wood came from. You could have wands made from different types of trees to use in different rituals or for different spells. Alternatively you could use a wooden spoon from your kitchen or just your finger!
Athame (pronounced ah-tha-may) – this is essentially a dagger, it is ceremonial, usually not sharp and represents the masculine. It is often used in Ceremonial rituals placed into a Chalice to represent the male and female union (come on think about it…). It is also used for directing energy and casting circles. You can get some absolutely beautiful athames; I have one myself that was gifted to me that has the triple goddesses around the handle. I also have a very plain, simple athame with a natural wooden handle and a brass blade. You can purchase a pretty athame, you could also make one out of wood or metal if you are crafty or you can also just adapt a kitchen knife or even a vegetable peeler. I have had my small athame for many years and only ever used it once to cast a circle…the rest of the time it sits on my altar collecting dust.
Besom/broomstick – you may want one of these for when you need to nip down the shops in a hurry… The besom is used before a ritual to sweep away negative energies, it is only symbolic as the broom bristles never actually touch the floor (otherwise the besom would just get full up with dust and rubbish). You can also use a besom to symbolically sweep through your house if it needs a good shake up shoot any negativity out of the door. I also have a small besom hanging in my porch, bristles up – this helps keep unwanted guests away. The besom is also used in handfastings, the couple jump over it to signify their pledge. There are some beautiful handmade besoms available, keep an eye out at local country fairs. Also keep an eye out in the shops during Halloween, quite often they have some really pretty, natural besoms to go with costumes that can be utilised and are usually cheap to purchase (this is where my porch besom came from). You could also just use a broom from the hardware store.
Chalice – a cup or goblet. This holds water or wine and represents the feminine. I have a very pretty silver one that I purchased in my mad rush to collect all the ‘essentials’ when I first started, I think I used it once and now it sits in the cupboard. I also own a lovely gothic chalice with a dragon curled around, but that I use on my dragon altar and have never used it to actually drink from, its just looks fabulous. You can buy a dramatic or pretty chalice, you could also use a pretty wine glass, tumbler or any kind of drinking vessel, have a look in the supermarkets or charity stores. A plain class or cup can be decorated with acrylic or glass pens with a design of your own.
Bell – again this is something that I just had to have at the beginning and really I haven’t used it at all, that’s not saying that you won’t though. A bell is good to use when you need a quick fix to dispel negative energy in the house, ring the bell in each room to clear the air. It can also be used to call quarters in ritual. A bell can also be useful to help induce trance and meditation. Keep an eye out in the pound/dollar stores as they often have bells in the ‘novelty’ section. But you could just use a glass or metal cup and ‘ting’ the edge of it with a piece of cutlery.
Altar cloth – I love to change the cloth on my altars (yep I have more than one altar) to suit the seasons, but you don’t have to. Some of my altar clothes were purchased from occult stores with the sole purpose of decorating my altar, some are old scarves that I had, and others are just a yard or two of satin or chiffon that I purchased cheaply on eBay. Look for ‘fat quarters’ of material as these are a good size and cheap to purchase. Get creative, go with your flow and see where it takes you. I have some wicked red and black spider web fabric I use at Samhain (purchased on eBay) and I have some lovely bright coloured satin that I overlay with different colour chiffon to create a lovely effect, red satin with gold chiffon overlay is perfect for the Autumn Equinox for instance. But you can get some beautiful large scarves cheaply in discount stores, markets and charity shops; you might even find a few in the back of granny’s closet if you ask nicely!
Asperger – now it took me some time before I realised what this was, you don’t seem to hear the word very often, but it is actually the official name for the small brush that is used in ritual to sprinkle blessed water. Sometimes it is made from twigs often from feathers or even dried lavender stems tied together – easy to make if you want to use one. In our rituals we tend to dip our fingers in the water and flick…it is way more fun.
Boline – this is the fancy name for the knife used to cut herbs, it often has a white handle and will usually have a curved blade. It can also be utilised for carving symbols in candles for spell work. I have to admit I don’t own one, when I need to cut herbs I use secateurs, when I need to carve candles I use a large pin, but if you fancy owning one go for it.
Censor – this is a little pot on a chain for burning incense in (visualise a Roman Catholic priest swinging a brass pot around church wafting smoke). Useful in ritual if you have to walk around the circle with it, but you could also use a small cauldron, brazier or fire proof pot.
Drum – useful but not essential. Used in ritual to raise energy I also use mine in meditation and journeying. It doesn’t have to be fancy, although there are some beautiful bohdrans out there. I have one that I birthed myself at a workshop, whilst it was an amazing experience it wasn’t cheap. If you don’t want to spend out lots of money you could make one; all you need is an old biscuit or sweet tin. I actually learnt to the play the drums using a plastic tub with a lid on.
Offering dish/libation bowl – I have several offering dishes on my altars, one is Goddess shaped and purchased in Glastonbury, two I made myself from air dry clay, one is a large shell I found on the beach and one is a glass dish I purchased for a few pence in a charity shop. I also have one in the garden which is just a large flat stone I collected from Tintagel. These little bowls are used to leave offerings to the Gods, spirits or the Fae.
Mortar and Pestle – I have a very pretty stone mortar and pestle that I keep in my work room purely for magical use. Not for magical reasons but because I sometimes use it to grind up items that might be poisonous to ingest such as mistletoe berries – it would be a bit disastrous to then use it to make a nice spice mix to go on chicken for dinner…along with the left over mistletoe berries – ick! But I also have a small electric coffee grinder that I use for large quantities of herbs. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle use the end of a rolling pin in a small pot.
Staff – I have two very beautiful staffs that were gifted to me; they aren’t essential but can be used to cast circles and direct energy, also representative of the God. They seem to be used a lot more by druids than witches. There are many beautiful staffs, some of them very ornate but you can make your own, just take a walk in your local woods and find a fallen branch that is the right height and shape. Clean it up and voila! – A staff is born. If you feel the urge you could carve symbols on it, tie ribbons or feathers around it or even stick crystals on the top.
Magical tools do not need to cost a lot of money (if any). Be a bit creative with your thinking and you will end up with a very wonderful and personal set of tools.