The Witches' Tools

A Humorous Look at Ritual Paraphernalia

by Don McLeod

The effectiveness of any ritual can depend to a great degree upon the establishment of the circle area itself, so I would like to offer some information about the ritual tools that are necessary for the creation of a potent magickal circle. These tools are symbols which are archetypal in nature, and they activate the unconscious mind in conjunction with our will. In this way they become an excellent psychological aid to concentration, and the result is more effective magic. The following tools should be displayed on the altar; positioned at the appropriate cardinal points around the circle; or waved about with dramatic flair by the person conducting the ritual...


The wand is a stick that allows the Witch to concentrate their powers to a specific place by pointing it in that general direction...I think that Freud would be very interested in this theory! As described in most books on the Tarot, the element associated with wands is fire. Some traditions associate wands with air, but this was due to historical inaccuracy from a source within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the early 1900's - unfortunately, this mistake stuck in some traditions, even after official documents from The Golden Dawn - showing the actual attributions of wands/fire and swords/air - were released for general publication.

In the book The Key of Solomon it is stated that your wand should be cut from hazel wood on a Wednesday at sunrise, and that you must personally inscribe astrological and Kabbalistic signs upon it, but Solomon obviously didn't have a metaphysical shop nearby, and he must not have needed his beauty sleep on Wednesdays. Unfortunately, most of the magicians that I have met definitely need all the beauty sleep that they can get.


A sword is a necessary part of any ritual - why? Because it looks very impressive - and that's what being a Witch is all about! A sword can be used for creating a circle; cutting doorways in circles; and for banishing the energy of a circle. It's also good for pointing at curious, uninvited people who wander too close to a ritual that is being held in the parklands.


A sacred chalice is always placed upon the altar. Apart from being decorative, it has the essential role of containing the booze for the after-ritual party! A ritual cup is representative of the feminine principles and the element water, but remember to fill it with wine or mead, or your fellow participants will not be too happy with you.


An athame is a black-handled knife, the use of which is said to be interchangeable with the sword for ritual purposes, i.e. casting circles and closing them. It is regarded by Janet and Stewart Farrar in their book A Witches Bible Compleat, (a book with lots of details, but dubious spelling) as a masculine symbol - which is interesting when you notice the varied styles of ritual knives made or chosen by Wiccans - the women usually have pocket knives (they are the realists) and the men carry machetes (they are the wishful thinkers).


Atmosphere is an important element of ritual work, so make sure that your ritual space is dark and smoky from lots of incense. Remember to dismantle the smoke detectors though, or you may be interrupted mid-orgy by the Metropolitan Fire Service. But if by chance a real fire does start during a ritual, you can cover your embarrassment by explaining to the coven that you just wanted to get the feel of the Burning Times for yourself!

The right blend of incense can enhance the effect of a ritual by symbolically uplifting magical wishes to the Gods and Goddesses. It also effectively masks the body odour from all of those naked people running around trying to raise power. Your incense must therefore be a sweet, but strong and pungent aroma from natural ingredients that you have given a good grinding between your mortar and pestle. (No Freud, I didn't mean it like that!)


A large black cauldron is essential within a Wiccan circle, as it makes a great finger bowl during the party afterwards.

Magick Circle

You will need to have a magick circle inscribed or painted upon the floor of your temple area (preferably not over shag pile carpet though - especially if you are renting). Always decorate the outer perimeter of the circle with esoteric symbols and lots of Hebrew letters - it doesn't matter which letters, because even the Gods can't read Hebrew. And include a pentagram in the centre of the circle - inscribe it the right way up though, as an up-side down pentagram is the symbol of second degree Witches, and they may be upset if you are only an initiate. As to how you work out which way is the right way up in a circle is your problem! The inverted pentagram is also the symbol for Satanism (no wonder the general public get confused) so make sure it's covered when grandma comes to visit.

Hopefully this brief description of some of the necessary tools for Witches will inspire you to start collecting these items for your own circle. By making some of them yourself you can imbue them with energy for a specific purpose, but I'm sure that your local metaphysical shop won't mind if you purchase just one or two items from them instead.

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Last Updated 19-Aug-2016   Sitemap

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