Ingredients and Tools of the Witch
When performing your spells and magical workings, you will probably find that you tend to use some objects more than others. Below is a list of the ones that are most commonly used.
These is a general term for the objects that you place on your altar – candle holders, flower vases, crystals etc. – which do not necessarily have a specific magical use of their own – they are present to create an ambiance. You should remember to dedicate them to the purpose in hand by presenting them to your chosen deity. Some may prefer to work according to Celtic tradition, Norse, Graeco-Roman or Wiccan.
By tradition, the athame is a ceremonial knife used especially in the performing of spells. It is not used for cutting of herbs and so on: its role is ceremonial – for example, indicating the quarters or directions. By tradition it should be of the best and purest metal available. Its handle is usually black and sometimes carved with magical designs and symbols. Many experienced magical practitioners consider that the most powerful athame is one which has been inherited.
A besom is a different name for a broom, and is particularly associated with the easily recognisable so-called ‘witch’s broom’ of old. A particularly personal tool, it is often made specifically for the practitioner, from twigs from the tree of her choice. It is usually kept specifically to be used in the sacred space or circle – this time for cleansing – and is also used both symbolically and spiritually.
The boline as a knife traditionally used in cutting plants, herbs, wands and other objects for magical workings. It is not the same as the athame which is purely ceremonial, but is akin to the gardener’s pruning knife as a useful, practical tool. It often has a white handle and a curved blade. It is consecrated because this is a way of honouring its purpose.
A burine is a sharp pointed instrument used for inscribing candles and other magical objects with symbols, words and pictures in order to make spells more effective. In many ways, it is more effective than either the boline or the athame and is seen much more as an instrument which pierces a surface rather than cuts it.
Candles are such an integral part of a spell makers work that they have become a whole branch of magic all their own. They represent the element of fire, but also light. As explained in more detail later, various colours bring different things to magical workings and they are an important part of any ritual.
Because cauldrons were easily disguised as cooking utensils in olden days, most people today tend to think of them as a large cast-iron pot. There has lately been a return to original materials and nowadays they can be made of almost anything. They are often of a size that can be stood on the altar, or in the sacred space. They are used mainly as containers for herbs, candles and other magical objects,
Used as a ceremonial drinking vessel, the chalice is sometimes made from precious metal, although it can also be made from glass. An elegant object, the chalice will usually be beautifully decorated with elaborate designs which may have magical significance – or jewels and gemstones.
During spells we often need to write our wishes or aims down and it is good to have some paper ready prepared, Parchment type is best, but heavier good quality is also good. You consecrate it by holding it for a short period in the smoke from your favourite incense.
PEN AND INK
Traditionally, quill pens were used for writing spells and incantations, but if you can’t find a quill then use the best pen you can afford. Try to keep it especially for magical work and consecrate it by passing it carefully over the top of a candle or through incense. Also buy a good quality ink and, if not already formulated for magical purposes, consecrate that in the same way. Neither pen nor ink should be used for other purposes.
The pentacle is a shallow dish which is usually inscribed with a pentagram – a five-pointed star. It is used as a ‘power point’ for consecrating other objects such as water or wine in a chalice, amulets and tools.
PESTLE AND MORTAR
The pestle and mortar are so symbolic of the union of God and Goddess that they deserve a special mention within the use of magical tools. Mainly used to prepare herbal mixtures and incenses they can also become part of your altar furniture when consecrated.
Scrying is the practice of using certain channelling tools which should be consecrated before use – such as crystals, mirrors, coloured water, runes etc – to try to gain an insight into external events. Any object can be used for scrying, though usually they are reflective, and they employ the arts of concentration and contemplation.
The staff is used very frequently by practitioners today, particularly if they are of the Druidic persuasion. Longer than the wand, it has the same attributes and uses. A staff is deliberately fashioned for the practitioner from wood taken from sacred trees, such as oak, hawthorn and hazelnut.
The wand should be no longer than the forearm and is often made from sacred wood. Since this is a very personal object, it should be chosen carefully and equally carefully attuned to your own energies. It cannot be used magically until it has been consecrated.