How to Obtain Magickal Tools

I often get letters from teens with no money wondering how they can obtain the tools required for spells and rituals. These tools are often costly and can leave young witches empty-handed when it comes to supplies. Fortunately, there are several teen-friendly ways to obtain tools aside from getting a part-time job.

First, you should realize that ancient witches did not have money to buy fancy and ready-made supplies. Their tools were what they had on hand. The entire practice, in fact, was based on making do with what you have. To us, a cauldron is a somewhat arcane tool. To ancient witches, it was just your regular run-of-the-mill cook pot. Wands today are fancy crystal-encrusted metal centerpieces. Ancient Pagans used plain wooden rods. Even the witches' broom was just a common household tool. Here are some excellent alternatives for you to use in ritual:

Cauldron: A cauldron need not be made of iron. The symbolism of the cauldron is that of the womb of the Goddess. It is also used to hold water for scrying and candles and herbs for spells. The bowl will need to be a dark color such as black, blue, purple, or brown. It can be a ceramic or glass bowl or a wooden salad bowl. I have a beautiful wooden one I bought at a second-hand store for a dollar. Look for bowls in thrift stores, dollar stores, and garage sales. You can paint beautiful and magickal symbols on the outside of the bowl or glue on glass rhinestones and crystals.

Wand: Do some research on trees and wood types before choosing the wood for your wand. Some witches say you should wait for a wand to choose you, that is you find one on the ground and it calls to you. While there have been quite a few instances of powerful wands falling from trees and being found by their appropriate users, I prefer to cut my own from the tree. There are a few reasons for doing this. First, when you find a branch on the ground, you really have little way of knowing what type of tree it was from, unless you know your trees well or there is only one tree anywhere around it could have fallen from. Second, branches which fall from a tree are usually dead when they fall. They do not contain the life-force of the tree in any great quantity. They also usually die from disease or infection, in which case, you do not want to use this type of wand in magick. Branches cut directly from the tree will retain their strength and the life-force from that part of the tree before it was cut. To cut a branch, ask the tree first if you may cut it. You will either get a positive or a negative feeling in response. If it be negative, find yourself another tree to cut from. If it be positive, cut a branch that is no wider than your finger. Traditionally, the branch should be as long as your forearm (your elbow to your fingertips. It can be shorter, but should not be longer. Always leave a gift for the tree or the spirit guardians of the tree as thanks. This can be a crystal, sweet cakes, a libation of juice, fertilizer for the tree, or some other gift. Scrape the bark from your wand with your boline. If you do not have a boline, use a regular pocket knife. Never use your athame to cut. If you want to paint your wand, you can use natural dyes made from leaves, flowers, or berries. Symbols can be painted on your wand using colored paints. Runes and ogham are common decorations for wands and staffs. You can add a quartz crystal to the end if you have one or leave it plain. Boys can glue a pine cone to the end of their wand as a symbol of the God.

Athame: The athame must be a virgin blade. That means that it can never have been used to cut anything. If you have a pocket knife, you can whittle an athame from wood. Be sure to give it two edges. It does not have to be sharp. Traditionally, the handle should be black. If there is no way for you to get an athame, do not fret. It is not a necessary tool and can be replaced by the wand, or your index finger in spells and ritual.

Boline: This can be any knife that is cleansed and consecrated for all ceremonial cutting. It can be as simple as a pocket knife which can be found in many stores for only a dollar. This knife traditionally has a white handle.

Crystal Ball: You do not need a crystal ball to scry. Filling your cauldron and gazing into it works best for scrying. If you are crafty, you can take the glass out of a small picture frame. Paint the back of the glass with thick black paint. Once it is dry, you can place the glass back in the frame and you have yourself a scrying mirror.

Pendulum: I use a crystal pendant hanging from a necklace chain. Nearly any necklace will work. You can even tie a stone or other object from a piece of string, though a metal chain will work best.

Chalices: I bought my silver chalices at the second-hand store for a dollar each. You can also use clay cups or small bowls. Find something that appeals to you. You can find beautiful wine glasses for a dollar or less in most grocery stores.

Incense: Many parents do not allow teens to burn things in the house. If you cannot burn incense inside or outside, try using scented perfume oils or aromatherapy oils instead. It is the smell that counts during ritual, since the incense represents the element of air.

Candles: These are sold very inexpensively in nearly every store anywhere. If you cannot burn candles, try writing your spells without them. Instead of candles at the four quarters (or watchtowers), use the actual item that the candle would represent. For example: a stone at the north, a bowl of water or a seashell at the west, a candle or a picture of fire, lightning, the sun, or a bowl of oil at the south, and some perfume or incense at the east. If it is a particular color of candle that you are looking for and cannot find, remember that white contains all colors and can be used in place of any other color candle.

Pentacle: Make your own on a round piece of wood. You can also try painting one on a piece of ceramic tile, a mirror, or a piece of glass, or just sew or paint one onto your altar cloth.

Wine: Substitute juice for wine.

Crystal Bowl: If a spells calls for a crystal bowl, just use a regular bowl or your cauldron.

Spring Water: Substitute rainwater.

Pentacle Necklace: If you don't want anyone to say anything about your jewelry, just wear a regular star necklace. No one will think twice and it will mean the same thing — the five elements — which will make it special to you.

Tarot Cards: Make your own or use playing cards.

Runes: You can make your own by painting the runes on anything: rocks, pieces of wood, sticks, glass, or shells.

Book of Shadows: This can be a plain notebook. It does not need to be a special leather-bound volume (especially if you are just starting out). You will find that you want to rip pages out, move pages, and make corrections, so start with something like a three-ring notebook and decorate it with paints, stickers, or colored rhinestones. If you do not want anyone to read your book of shadows, write it in a secret language. My best friend and I made up our own with symbols that are quick and easy to write. You can also try writing in runes. Practice makes perfect.

Statues: You do not have to have statues for your altar. If you need an image of something there, use a photograph or draw it on a piece of paper.

Salt Dish: This can be any small cup or dish.

Broom: This is rarely a necessary tool. If you absolutely must have one, make your own by tying grasses around a stick and letting them dry. The broom can be a small hand broom. You do not need a big long broom.

Bell: The bell is also not a necessary tool. If you absolutely must have one, just get one from the thrift store or use a Christmas tree decoration.

Herbs: Grow your own herbs in a garden or in pots on the porch. If you cannot have a garden, gather wild herbs that grow in your area. Even grass has its magickal uses.

Mirror: You should not have any trouble finding a magickal mirror. Any mirror will do. I have one I popped out of a make-up compact.

Ritual Clothing: Robes are not necessary if you cannot obtain them. Try, instead, to wear clothing all of the same color or just go skyclad.

Sword: Obviously not a necessary tool. I can't say I know a single witch who owns one.

Staff: Also not a necessary tool. This is mostly used by advanced Shamans.

Altar: You can use any table for an altar. Try your bedside table or just go without an altar. There is no rule that says you cannot put your ritual items on the floor.

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