You don't need to have them all right away; you can work without any tools really. You should have the full (solitary or individual) set before you receive your first degree initiation. Following are a list of tools commonly used in the practice of Wicca.
Athame - This is the ritual dagger. It symbolizes male energy. It is consecrated to YOU, and only to YOU. It is THE most personal of all of the tools. It is used for directing energy or drawing circles. Part of the symbolism is that centuries ago, only freemen were allowed to have daggers. Slaves were not. To have one symbolized that you were NOT a slave, and that you were free. It is NEVER used to cut anything, especially yourself, although sometimes it is used for inscribing other symbols, words, sigils, etc. For that reason, these blades are usually kept dull so no one accidentally gets cut on one. In fact, you should not be touching the blade AT ALL. These can be simple or ornate, or in about any size you want. All I can say is that it should feel right to you. I don't know how to explain that better, but you'll pretty quickly see what I mean. You can purchase a daggar or you can make one. If you need to direct some energy and you DON'T have one, or don't have one yet, all hope is not lost. You can use your fingers. Point with the index and second finger, and bend up the ring and little finger and hold them under the thumb. Always use your right hand to use your athame, even if you are left handed. If someone were to give theirs away, they would un-consecrate it first. It symbolizes the penis. Therefore, treat it with the respect you would treat someone's penis. NEVER handle someone else's! Do not use one of someone else unless it has been unconsecrated and re-consecrated to you. If it is necessary to touch someone else's out of some need, always ASK their permission for it. If it is someone you do circles with, the level of trust" should be there to allow it. If you do not have "perfect love and perfect trust" with everyone in your circle, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??? It would have the same associations as it would if you were to handle some guy's penis! Under most circumstances, even if you knew him well, he would at the very least be distrustful of you from then on, or more likely he'd hit you. It's an invasion of personal space! If there were some reason to under some unusual circumstance, and you told him why and asked first, he'd probably allow it. If he didn't allow it, he'd probably do it himself. For instance, suppose you're rearranging the altar table, and someone's Athame is in the way. Rather than YOU just pick it up and move it, you would say something like, "Brigid, I need to move your athame. May I?" She will either say that you can, or she will come move it herself. There is no difference in the ideas about it whether the witch is a man or a woman. The element represented is fire.

Chalice - A cup. This symbolizes the womb of a woman. You keep water in it, and stir salt into it to (partly) cast the circle. You drink your wine, juice, or water from it at the end of a ritual. The element represented is water.

Wand - This is also used to direct energy, although it is much more feminine in nature, and the energies directed are far more gentle. It can have other less-common uses too. Most people make their own from a stick that is the length of their forearm that is more-or-less straight. It should be about an inch in diameter. The bark is peeled. You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you want, but minimally one end is carved in the shape of the head of a penis and the other end is carved in the shape of a vagina. The "female" end is held toward the hand, and the "male" end is held outward to direct power. The element represented is air.

Pentacle - This is a 5-pointed star with a circle around it. It's used to invoke power, consecrate tools, ground other power, provide protection, and some other things. These are simple to make. You can make one out of wax and inscribe various symbols on it. You can even draw one on cardboard. You can make a very ornate one out of clay and inscribe it, color it, and decorate it. They can be purchased too. The element represented is earth.

Censor or thurible - Also called an "Incense burner". You can use any bowl. If you take one out of your kitchen to use, you might want to keep it separate so you're not eating matzo ball soup out of a magical tool. To protect the bowl from fire, you can fill it with sand or plain-clay kitty litter. Most people use self-igniting charcoal for their incense, an herb that corresponds with the intention of the circle or ritual or other celebration, and a resin of some kind - frankincense,, myrrh, camphor, etc. The element is, of course, fire.

Candles - OH BOY! There are lots of ways to do candles! These can be made or purchased. They can be simple or fancy. Some people will only use beeswax. Others will use paraffin. Minimally, you need 2 for your altar: One on the right for protection and one on the left for power. ALWAYS light the protection candle first! These are generally white for these two. They can all be white if you wish. Generally, the others are in colors representing whatever that candle is for.

Let's go all out and tell you the various kinds of candles you CAN use. You can leave the rest out. In fact, you don't really have to use any.

The first one you'll need is your working candle. It is not necessarily consecrated, and it can be anything. It might be the stub of the power candle when you replaced the altar candles last - the power candle doesn't burn as long as the protection candle. It's used to light other candles. It is lit - however you can or want. You can use a match, a cigarette lighter, from the gas stove, or however.

You'll need 4 (or 5 if you use center - I haven't talked about center at length yet); one for each direction invoked. I'm still waiting for your word associations from the 4 quarters/directions. The color should correspond to a color associated with that direction, or white. These can be scented with things associated with the direction.

You may want 2 more, representing the Goddess and the God for the altar. These also may be colored or scented in ways that represent the aspect of Goddess and God you wish to invoke. Or, they can be plain and white. You don't have to use these.

Candle Holders - These can be any sort of candle holders you want. They can be made of anything - wood, metal, glass, stone. They can be any color. If you are using large candles, they can even be plates or like plates in some way. If you're using tapers, they would be candlesticks for tapers.

Besom or Broom - This is your mode of transportation. Keep it gassed up and tuned up, and you'll be fine. Oh, you want me to be SERIOUS??? Sheesh, some people want everything! This has several uses. The first is to "sweep" the ritual area from any "bad influences" or any influences that will not help you in your purpose. It's more symbolic than anything else. It's also used in handfasting ceremonies, as I previously described. The element is air.

Altar - This can be any table big enough to hold your tools. It is preferably made of wood. I like mine to be about 3' high, so that I can stand in front of it comfortably, reach and use all of my tools. If you can't have a separate table for this, ANY table or shelf will do. Clean it off before using it for an altar though.

Altar Cloth - This is a cloth to put over the altar to protect it and to give an extra layer to the magic. You can use a differently colored one depending upon the season. You can decorate it by coloring it with markers or embroidery. It should cover the altar, but not hang down very far.

Salt bowl - Any type of bowl, glass, or cup to contain salt for ritual use.

Bell - Used for summoning things, like the Watchtowers. It should be struck from the outside, Remove the clapper if the bell is purchased. It can be metal or glass.

Platter - This is to serve your cakes on after the ritual. The "cakes" can really be any kind of cookie or cracker. Sometimes fruit is used too or instead. I've got a VERY traditional recipe for ritual cakes from my family tradition. They're delicious, spiced, and not too sweet. I'll give you that recipe when you get out if you want. Ask me then.

Scourge - Don't freak out on me! This is nothing to fear! The intention of the scourge is not to hurt you! The only way minimal hurt can come from it is to accidentally be hit with the handle! You'd break it before you done any serious harm. The handle is a stick, usually about 9-12 inches long and about ¼ inch in diameter. You attach a number of strands of red embroidery thread to the handle. I used 23 for mine, quasi Discordian that I am. You tie knots in each strand. Most people use 3, 7, or 13. I used 5 for it's Discordian implications. It's used for purification of a person at the beginning of a ritual. Salt is more commonly used though. Anyway, let me put your mind at ease about the scourge. For instance, suppose you felt that you'd done something wrong, or you WERE something wrong at the beginning of the ritual, and you seriously wanted to be purified. Purified does NOT mean punished!!! At that point in the ritual, you'd come up to the high priestess and tell her, "Mother, I wish to be purified with the scourge." She says, "yes" (She always says "yes"!) You kneel down in front of her. She takes her scourge and gives you 40 lashes. Remember how I said this is made? You've heard the saying, "40 lashes with a wet noodle"? This is where it came from! While you're being lashed with the "wet noodles", you think about what it is that you've done or why you are in such a need for purification. At the end, she gives you her hand and helps you up, then gives you a kiss on the cheek. Whatever you've done or think you've done, you're forgiven. If I wanted to be purified with the scourge, or with salt, I'd go to the high priest. You always go to the officiant of the opposite sex.

While I'm on the topic of purification, it's more common to be purified with salt. In that case, you'd say, "Mother, I wish to be purified with salt." She says, "Yes". She'd pick up the bowl of salt as you knelt down in front of her. She'd pick up a pinch of salt and put it on your tongue and say, "Cleanse the body, cleanse the soul.", then help you up.

Another way is with fire. That's easy enough. You ask for it, she picks up the thurible and blows smoke on you from the incense.

Cords - I explained these last time. They are for holding in your personal power, as well as for measuring a place for a circle. They can double as a place to tuck your athame when not in use. These can be white, red, blue, or gold depending upon your degree.

Robe - If you are working in a robed group, or you choose to wear a robe in solitary practice, you've got to consider what you are going to wear. Usually, these are mid-calf length. They may open in the front like a bathrobe, or they may be slipped on over the head like a t-shirt. Black is a popular color, although some like different colors depending on the season and the intent of any given ritual. These can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Most people make their own. At the very least, you should be wearing clothing that is NOT tight or constricting in any way. You can even wear jeans and t-shirt, but either loosen or remove your belt.

You may choose to work sky-clad as a solitary, or be with a group that works sky-clad. This means without clothing, nude, naked, or however you want to put it. There is something about having NOTHING between you and your environment and whatever energies you invoke or are otherwise present. Even if you are working sky-clad, you probably should at least have a robe for ritual use to wear before and after the ritual, if you get cold, or if for some reason you need to "cut out" of the circle and may encounter those may be offended by nudity. Robes of this type are also EXTREMELY comfortable for any use you want!

Cloak - If you're working outdoors at all, you probably want a cloak so you don't get too cold, or in case you do. These too are usually calf-length. They're held closed with a cloak pin, which you can make or buy from a store that sells medieval jewelry. They're useful for other things, like when I got out of the warm springs outdoors when it was -32F, I put on my cloak FAST! I couldn't have gotten into anything else that fast. They've got some other uses too, like if you're at a Beltane ritual and feel the desire to walk out into the woods with someone for some private fun, it's great to have a nice cloak between you and the ground. You can use them as a blanket if you need to sleep somewhere. They're great for snuggling in around a campfire. Big cloaks are big enough for 2 to get under and stay warm together. There are 101 uses for a cloak.

Statues representing Goddess and God - These are whatever figurines of whatever gods you like or are invoking at a particular ritual. Most people have one, or a few pair of these. These are usually purchased, but you can make them if you want.

Working or "White Handled" knife - This knife is used for cutting, for scraping, for prying things apart. This is kept sharp. It's used to make other ritual tools. It's only consecrated for that use. It does nothing with power on its own directly. You can use this for anything - for cutting cords to their proper length, for inscribing the wax in pentacles, for breaking up frankincense, for scraping out the excess wax from a candle holder or you name it. It's usually not kept on the altar, but rather under it in case some need for it arises.

There are a few less common tools. These are used for group or coven use, and an individual would not have them.

Sword - This is used much the same as the athame, has all of the same symbology and uses. It's just bigger, and for group use. It's not the property of any one person though, but of the group as a whole.

Cauldron - This is used for mixing herbs, or cooking something. They're usually made of metal. They can be any size. You can even use something out of the kitchen.

You will probably need to find a source for charcoal, incense, and various herbs and gums used in your rituals for incense. Also, depending on how picky you wish to be about your candles, you will need to find a source for the candles of your preference, or obtain the materials to make them yourself.
Copyright 2004 by Elizabeth Harper
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