There are three tools that I use in my practice more than anything else: my athame, goblet, and books. I’ll never forget the first time I bought an athame because I could finally afford one. I was in my early twenties and had been practicing NeoWicca for about a decade. With a little extra cash and a desire to burn a hole in my pocket, I scoured Etsy like any other normal person. I found an athame for ten dollars (ten dollars was what I could afford, y’all) that had little blue flowers painted on the handle. It was definitely frilly but I loved it because it was mine. Admittedly, though, I loved the taboo feeling that I got from purchasing a KNIFE. If my grandma only knew what I had done! It was exhilarating.
Most books on Wicca tell seekers they don’t have to have tools to practice the Craft. They tell us that tools are “enhancements” and that Real Magic® “comes from the inside.” It’s particularly comforting to read those words when you have zero artistic abilities and not a penny to your name. I’m not disagreeing with the sentiment, so don’t jump the gun, but we can’t pretend that tools aren’t useful. Having candles and a dedicated altar to my practice and gods assisted in making my practice more tangible. I didn’t just want my magic to be in my head – I needed to see it and touch it. I need my magic to be real and there are just some tools that make it literally feel more real than others.
The Point of My Athame (pun intended)
The athame was the first witch tool that I had bought for myself besides books. Yes, books are tools. We read them, learn from them, and sometimes use them to press our tofu. Books are incredibly versatile tools and so are athames. In fact, you can throw both of them at people for super dramatic effect, though only one of those things is likely to have dire consequences. But magic’s about the intention, right? I didn’t intend to maim you with my athame, good sir. “Just a flesh-wound!”
Holding an athame triggers something in the brain. There’s this little voice in your head that reminds you that you’re holding a weapon. While it may be a weapon that doubles as a ritual tool, the primary function of a knife is to cut. Granted, Wiccans don’t usually use their athames to cut people but accidents happen. And who’s to say what we wouldn’t do for self-defense? There’s lore to suggest that we should sleep with our athames under our pillows or between the mattress and box spring. Is that to ward off psychic attacks in our dreams or for protecting us from physical harm? Perhaps both. I like both.
My athame enhances my Craft in many ways. The athame commands respect from spectres, spirits, and its user. It consecrates, directs energy, and energetically cuts. It also symbolizes that I’m taking my safety into my own hands. Whether it’s safety from baneful spirits or people, I’m not always sure. There’s magic in feeling secure in your ability to take care of yourself, though — in the circle and out of it.
Hold My Goblet, I’m Going In
Cup. Chalice. Goblet. Whatever you might call your sacred drinking vessel, it is quite possible my favorite witchy tool. For many, it represents the womb of the Divine Feminine, the Goddess, because of its similar shape to a womb. Often, red wine is used in ritual, symbolizing the menstrual waters from which all life has sprung. However, from a gender neutral perspective, it can represent the well from which we draw our inspiration, courage, and wisdom. It is a symbol of kinship, too, as we share the consecrated wine held in its parabolic grasp. We use it to toast good fortune, hail our gods, and drink deeply of old magic.
When I practiced eclectic Wicca, I didn’t have a dedicated goblet. I used whatever wine glass I had in the cabinet and it worked just fine. The first time that I was introduced to a dedicated ritual goblet was at my first Outer Court meeting with my mother coven. My HPS has this gorgeous set of silver goblets, each one uniquely designed. There’s one that she reserves for her own use and the others she graciously lent out to any member who didn’t bring their own. After a while, I gravitated toward one goblet that suited my aesthetic tastes and used it at each meeting. We naturally desire the comfort that comes from familiarity, which in turn creates a bond between us and that familiar thing. Eventually, I wanted my own goblet with which to develop that bond.
Other tools in my possession took years to find, but my goblet was basically dropped into my lap. My partner’s mother asked if we wanted any pieces from a set of polished pewter dishes that was gifted at his birth. It’s a Southern thing. Pewter can be kind of fugs so I wasn’t particularly interested until she sent photos of the goblets. The one I chose has a nice heaviness to it and can hold about 12 ounces of
wine liquid. It could very easily double as a weapon, too. Hell yeah. I’ve spent many ritual nights drinking wine from that goblet with my covenmates and students. Though the pandemic won’t allow our coven to safely meet, my goblet serves as a tool of connection to them in my solitary rites.
It’ll come as no great shock that me, a librarian, considers her books to be tools. Most pagans are very proud of their book collections and I am no exception. I’m a Gardnerian on top of all that and y’all know we fall hard for our books. The first time that I heard the word “Wicca” was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the late 90s. The first time I learned about Wicca, though, was from a book. In the late 90s, we had shitty Geocities websites from which to learn about Wicca, so books were our primary method for learning if we didn’t have access to a coven.
I remember just how excited I would get to read the word “Wicca.” It struck a chord deep inside me back then and it still does to a certain degree. It’s a beautiful, striking word with those hard-C’s. It can be a very sexy word. Damn. Okay, back to books. I can lose myself for hours in a good book. Having read many books on witchcraft and Wicca, I no longer get as lost as I used to because a lot of material these days is often rehashed. I find that I’m less interested in the books on rituals and spells and more interested in the history of the Craft.
A Book’s Value Lies In Its Use
Books connect us to information, obviously, but they have the most impact when they’re well-written and researched. They can teach us new things, make us question our beliefs, spark conversations, and inspire new behaviors. Books are innocuous until they’re opened and read. Books can be the motivation behind extremist beliefs and behaviors, too, as we’ve seen throughout history. Like any tool, a book is of no real value unless it’s used.
Books are versatile tools in that they can serve as invaluable sources of information. But, they can also double as weapons. Is that a Book of Shadows or a Book of Self-Defense? See, the real point of this article is to show you how many of my witchy tools can double as weapons. I joke. I kid. But, armed with an athame, pewter goblet, and hardback book, I am basically unstoppable. I can manifest a beautiful ritual or physically level any potential attackers using one or all of these tools. Witchcraft is so goddamn empowering, y’all.