There are many sacred tools of the witch that have been around for thousands of years. Their importance and usage depends on the path and tradition of each witch. The tools outlined below are more general interpretations of each item and their uses. This is by no means a complete list or the only interpretation of these tools. This is a starting point for those curious about witchcraft and tools that are used within the craft. It also can hopefully help witches add more items and witchcraft supplies to their arsenal.
When using witchcraft supplies such as tools or objects for a spell or ritual it is good to cleanse it beforehand, to rid of any negative energies and prepare it for use. Here are a number of ways to cleanse a tool before use:
Holding the crystal in your hands, and visualize it immersed in white light, clearing and cleansing it of negative energy.
Let them sit under a full moon, the light is soft and great for cleansing crystals.
Use smoke from sacred herbs such as cedar, sweet grass, rosemary, lavender to cleanse the crystals. Use the smoke to pass over the crystal and cleanse it. Be aware, the process of smoke cleansing and smudging are different. Many people and associations have marketed on using white sage for “smudging” to cleanse a home or crystals, even though the practice of smudging is specific and sacred to Native American cultures. Smoke cleansing has been used throughout history in a variety of rituals and religions, while smudging is a practice used in Native American culture and some Native Mexican cultures for specific rituals, life seasons, ceremonies and as a way to honor the land. It is always used as an act of prayer or cleansing. Be conscious of this practice and be respectful. Also with the heavy usage of white sage, the plant is “at risk” . We do not recommend using this plant and to instead use the alternatives listed above.
Running them under running water
Preferably naturally running like a river, rain or a beach. But a tap will work fine if that works for you. Let them dry in sunlight, but make sure to research your stone and see if natural sunlight affects the look and integrity of the stone beforehand.
Place on a bed of rock salt for 1-2 days to purify
Bury them in the earth, soil or clay for 2–7 days. It provides a slow and gentle form of cleansing. The longer you leave it the deeper the cleansing.
An altar or workspace is typically a piece of furniture like a table or shelf where your ritual tools are kept or displayed. It is a place where you perform rituals or spells. Your altar does not need a permanent location but can be set up to your suit your needs.
Items that can be used with your altar include a cloth to protect the surface from damage by candle wax, candles, incense, athame, chalice, pentacle, cauldron, broom, wand, crystals or other elemental objects and statues of a deity. But use what fits best for your practice and rituals.
To use your altar, make sure whatever surface you are using it is used solely as an altar and not for any other purpose. It also would work best if used in the middle of your ritual circle, usually facing north. It can be positioned for different rituals (such as east for spring, south for summer, west for autumn, and north for winter, etc.) Use your selected objects to center your ritual to your altar. Your altar is your personal space, arrange it how you like and spell cast away.
An amulet is an object intended to be used to bring good luck and/or protection to its owner. It can also be an object that holds magical properties to protect against bad luck, illness and evil. It can be used for specific purposes or just for general good luck. Amulets can be gems, crystals, stones, statues, coins, drawings, diagrams, pendants, rings, plants or animals. They can be worn as a necklace or pendant but it is important to just keep it close to your body.
All that is really required for an amulet is an object that is to be the source of your spell to manifest good luck or whatever the intended purpose is. If you are looking into a stone or crystal that are commonly used in amulets, look into the specific significance and power of it to make sure it aligns with your intended purpose. For example, amber wards of evil spirits, aquamarine brings love, etc. If your amulet uses symbols or shapes, be aware that there are many symbols and they have different magical properties. Look into what the shape means beforehand.
To use your amulet, it is important to first make sure it is cleansed so it can properly receive your intention. After it has been cleansed you want to charge it at your altar space, so you can contain the magic and also stay focused. Finally, you charge your amulet, focusing your will on the intention and how it will be brought to fruition. Give thanks, ground yourself, and begin wearing your activated amulet.
An athame is a very common altar tool. It is usually a double bladed knife with a black handle. But many have adapted to using any kind of knife or blade as their athame. It represents the element of fire (or air, in some traditions) and is used to cast the circle. They are not typically used for cutting or other mundane tasks. There are other blades that are used for cutting things such as herbs or cords.
Athames are used for rituals as previously mentioned. You want to use an athame when working with negative energies, to cut away that energy. You want to keep your blade at the third eye level to stay close to the energy frequencies. And make sure you hold your blade horizontally, not vertically. There are many ways to cut energy depending on the ritual or purpose.
A bell is a ritual tool of invocation and banishment. It drives away negative energy and keeps evil spirits away. It is claimed that evil spirits cannot tolerate the sounds of a clear high-pitched bell. Use the bell with rituals to indicate the rite of banished negative influences before the ritual begins. Or you can also use it to clear and disperse energy at the end of a ritual if unwanted energy is built up.
Besom is another word for broom. The besom isn’t a tool used as often as some others. It is usually used to ritually clean your altar or space before casting a circle. It can also be placed near a doorway in an upward pointed position to help protect the house from evil spirits or negative energies.
A boline is another type of ritual knife. It is a knife with a curved blade, used to harvest fresh herbs, cords, wands, and carving candles. It has a more practical use compared to an athame.
Book of shadows
A book of shadows is your own personal book that can contain spells, rituals, and any other findings or thoughts related to your practice and learning. Your book can be written in whatever way you choose; a journal, word document, etc. You can use it to record spells, observations, dreams, and incantations as you find them through your research and learning. Think of it more as a diary.
Candles are frequently used on the altar to represent the presence of a deity such as a god and goddess and in the four corners of a ritual circle to represent the presence of the elements: fire, earth, air and water. They are burned at all ceremonies, and the lighting and dimming of the candles mark the opening and closing of the ritual. Reference more about candle magic and their various uses beforehand.
A cauldron generally is a large metal pot or kettle for cooking and/or boiling over a fire with a large mouth and often with an arc-shaped hanger. They are traditionally made with cast iron and rest on three legs. It is not used for cooking often anymore, and in western culture has been used in witchcraft to prepare potions, house small fires (especially at Beltane) and scrying.
In modern Wicca, the cauldron can be placed in a ritual circle and used to burn items during a ritual, hold ingredients for a spell or incantation, scrying in water, as a container for brews and potions, provide a vessel for transmutation, germination and transformation. Your specific spell or purpose will direct you if it is needed and how to be used.
A chalice is a goblet or cup that is intended to hold a drink, but is typically used during a ceremony or ritual. It is a very common altar tool, representing the element of water. The chalice can contain a variety of liquids depending on the ritual, such as wine, whiskey, water, etc. The base of the chalice is symbolic of the material world, the stem is the connection between witch and spirit, and rim receives spiritual energy. There are a variety of uses depending on the tradition or ritual.
A cingulum or cord is worn about the waist by members of specific traditions of witchcraft. It is a symbol of initiation and is often used members of traditions to initiate new members. They are usually nine feet in length (three times three, the magical number) and made of a synthetic material. They can be used to measure the circumference of a ritual circle to make sure it is set up correctly. They can also be used to indicate rank in certain traditions.
In some traditions, they are not worn by people and instead are used for spell casting. Knots may be tied in a cord to focus power when performing magic or spells. Knots may also be used a meditation tool, like a rosary or in a witch’s ladder. Reference the practices of your tradition and rituals to see the intended usage.
A crystal is a mineral capable of receiving, storing, transmitting or amplifying energy. They are often used for healing, prophecy or communication. Like candles, crystals play a key part in most Wiccan rituals. Different crystals are associated with different elements and have different properties and attributes. Reference various crystals and their usage if you plan on using them in your practices.
A grimoire is a textbook of magic, typically giving instructions for spells and incantations, and other more technical information. You can write instructions for potions and the magical properties of herbs and crystals. Unlike a book of shadows, they are often used within groups or covens, shared, and can be passed down to spread knowledge.
You can create a grimoire similarly to a book of shadows, but keep it for technical information only. Keep dreams, personal thoughts and recollections for your book of shadows. If you are involved with a coven, consult a head member for access and information.
Herbs are used in a variety of spell work and magic. Each herb has unique properties that can enhance magic being used in rituals. They also have medicinal properties. A witch can draw up these aspects with each herb when performing a spell. Reference the practice of herbalism and uses for each herb if you plan to use in your practice.
Incense is a substance that releases fragrant smoke when burned, and is used is a variety of ceremonies and rites. It is also commonly used for meditative purposes. Incense has been used throughout history, being made with a variety of locally available ingredients like wood and barks, resins and gums, seeds, fruits, leaves, roots and rhizomes, and flowers and buds.
Incense is often used in Wiccan and Neopagan rituals to represent the element of air. Many modern approaches to incense magic use incense to represent all the elements. It is believed to create a magical atmosphere that responds to deities and spirits. Incense is burned in a censer during a ritual, which is placed before images of the goddess and god on the altar. Uses and types of incense vary from tradition to tradition, but some of the most common are:
- Frankincense (burned for purification and spirituality, and associated with the Sun and with masculine powers);
- Myrrh (similar properties to frankincense, although it is also used for healing and attraction as well, and is associated with feminine powers);
- Copal (white, black and golden, most often burned for purification and cleansing, both spiritual cleansing as well as the cleansing of physical items);
- Dragon’s Blood (a red resin from various plants, burned for love, strength and courage, and used to add potency to any spell-work);
- Pine and Cedar (helps cleanse space of negative energy).
An orbuculum, or also known as a crystal or glass ball is used for fortune-telling, clairvoyance and scrying. Scrying or also known as crystal gazing is the practice of looking into a medium in the hope of receiving a vision or detecting an important message. The objective can be a variety of things: it can be personal, for guidance, learning of a prophecy, gaining inspiration and more. Through time the orbuculum has become prominently used with fortune-telling. They are often portrayed as glass objects, but the material can vary from witch to witch.
A potion is a consumable medicine or poison that can possess magical properties. They can be used to heal, bewitch or poison. Popular examples are love potions, sleeping potions, and elixirs.
A wand is a rod or branch used to direct energy in a ritual. It represents the element of air. They are traditionally made from the wood of a sacred tree such as willow, elder, oak, apple, peach, hazel or cherry.
You will most likely have to make your own since they are difficult to find in stores. A branch from a tree is a traditional wand. It can be decorated with feathers, runes, crystals or whatever works for you. It is best to find a branch that has fallen off naturally instead of tearing one off. Its length should approximate the crook of the elbow to the middle of the index finger. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to make a wand in a grimoire called The Great Book of Saint Cyprian.
A witch ball (or friendship ball) is a hollow sphere of plain or stained glass that is hung in windows to ward off evil spirits, spells or ill fortune. The balls are enchanted to enhance their potency against evil. According to folk tales, witch balls capture entire evil spirits with their color and the strands capture the spirit and prevent it from escaping.
They are usually green or blue in color and made from glass. There are some that can be made with wood, grass or twigs. They measure as large as 7 inches in diameter. After they are enchanted they are suspended by a cord for a decorative effect.
A witch bottle is a spell device that is used to draw in and trap evil and negative energy. It protects against evil spirits and magical attack, also to counteract spells cast by witches. They are usually a small bulbous flask made from blue or green glass. There are large bottles known as Greybears, Bartmanns or Bellarmines. They are often made of brown or grey stoneware, glazed with salt and embossed with severe bearded faces to scare off evil.
The bottle is typically filled with something of the witch, such as hair. It can also include other elements like seawater, earth, sand, stones, feathers, herbs, flowers, ashes, etc. The bottle is then buried beneath the house hearth or the farthest corner of the property or placed somewhere undisturbed the house. The bottle is active as long as it is hidden and unbroken.
A witch’s ladder is an object made from knotted cord or hair, normally used as a curse by also in other types of spell-work, meditation or rituals. Charms are knotted or braiding with specific intentions into the cord, the intended effect depending on the number of knots and nature of the charms. It is a more advanced and dangerous form of witchcraft. So proceed with caution.
It usually consists of a rope or cord with three, nine, or thirteen or even forty knots. Feathers, bones and other objects are braided into the string. Chants and intentions are cast into the knots. The ladder can be created a section at a time or all at once. When the last knot is tied, the energy is directed into the cord and the ladder will start committing to its intentions.
Becoming a Witch
Learn about the general principles and thoughts behind becoming a witch and practicing witchcraft.