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The ‘Why’, ‘Who’, ‘When’, ‘Where’ and ‘What’ of Wiccan Tools

Updated on August 18, 2016
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A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.

Guide to Tools of Wicca

A sample of Wiccan altar tools.
A sample of Wiccan altar tools. | Source

Wiccan Tools

Wicca is a fairly ceremonial religion, and as such there are a number of tools that we utilize. Because there are so many of them, this can be a source of confusion for the new Wiccan or someone just learning about Wicca. So let’s break it down a bit and talk about the 5 W’s:

  • · Why do Wiccans use tools?
  • · Who needs Wiccan tools?
  • · When should Wiccans get tools?
  • · What are Wiccan tools, exactly?
  • · Where do Wiccans get their tools?

Before you even purchase your first tool, you should know the answer to these questions.

Poll for Wiccans!

How long did it take you to accumulate a full set of altar tools?

See results

Why do Wiccans use tools?

Have you ever read a book or watched a television show with a Wiccan character? You probably saw them using these ancient looking tools that do all kinds of neat, magicky things, right? Well, wipe that image out of mind. It’s fiction.

We don’t believe these tools have “supernatural powers” on their own—that is, they don’t come from some secret “Wiccan magick factory” where they’re made out of faerie dust and blessed with unicorn horns. We don’t use them to fight evil and they can’t make things go “poof” like in fiction.

The only power these tools have are what we give them. They are imbued with our own personal power—that is, they are sacred objects to us. We lend them our own personal power each time we use them.

And just what is that power? It’s the power to induce the mind into ritual consciousness; that is why we use them. They act on the mind like a switch. That switch puts us into ‘spiritual mode’—a state of mind that is appropriate to ritual and worship. Wiccan tools are highly symbolic; each has its own meaning and purpose. They help us keep focus in our rituals and promote harmonious energies to our workings.

Wiccan Tools Can Be Useful

Lodge LCK3 Pre-Seasoned Country Kettle, 1-pint
Lodge LCK3 Pre-Seasoned Country Kettle, 1-pint

For example, I love my altar cauldron because I like to burn herbs and prayer petitions. But it's not like my Goddess will come down and yell at me if I didn't have it. If you don't burn stuff, you may not need a cauldron.

 

Who needs Wiccan tools?

This is actually a trick question. The answer is, no one needs Wiccan tools; not even Wiccans. That is, no Wiccan actually needs tools.

Don’t get me wrong—tools are traditional; they’re meaningful and have their place in ritual. They can enhance the ritual experience. There is nothing wrong at all with having or using Wiccan tools. But you should not consider the tools mandates; think of each tool as optional in its own right.

Wicca is primarily about you, your Gods, and how you live your day to day life. You should not feel compelled to spend a lot of money on a lot of things just because you are interested in becoming Wiccan. You should not put off being Wiccan until you collect tools. You should not treat Wicca like a scavenger hunt game.

Eventually, you may want to get tools, but it should not be a priority or hold you back from the religion.

Some of my altar tools...
Some of my altar tools... | Source

Wiccan Athames

14" Two Tone athame
14" Two Tone athame

Have great spiritual significance, but if owning a blade poses a problem you could find a substitution.

 

When should Wiccans get tools?

When you are first interested in Wicca, books are really the only thing you need at that point—lots of reading. When you are first becoming Wiccan, you want to pray and meditate—seek your Gods for guidance. You want to start thinking about Wiccan tenets and ethics, and start living your life by them. You would want to start observing the cycles of the seasons, of the Moon and of the Sun. These are all the important parts of a religion.

Once you realize you are firmly on the Wiccan path and most likely to stay there (at least for a while), you may decide to acquire ritual tools. Even at that point, however, there is no need to run out and buy them all at once.

Read about them first. Learn about the tools; understand their uses and purposes. Decide if you want it, basically—as stated, there is no requirement that you have them all. Each tool is optional, so weigh each on its own merits.

I recommend picking up one tool at a time. Trying to bring in and use every tool all at once is not going to help you focus, it’s only going to confuse you. Instead, bring one home, think about its place and uses in ritual. Cleanse and consecrate it, then use it. When you’re comfortable with it, you may decide to get another. This will give you time to focus on each tool in turn so you can use them to your full benefit.

the Tool Box

There are many tools that are unique or original to Wicca, and those that come from other belief systems that Wiccans adopt because they find them useful.
There are many tools that are unique or original to Wicca, and those that come from other belief systems that Wiccans adopt because they find them useful. | Source

What are Wiccan Tools, Exactly?

Wiccan tools have come to us from several sources. Originally Wicca was heavily influenced by Ceremonial Magic, and many of our tools came from that source. Other tools are just common to ritual or magic. Still others came from the folklore of Witches (or should I say ‘fakelore’, as none of them have any basis in reality, they originally came from stories). Wiccans at some point began to borrow these ideas and adapt these tools for their own spiritual purposes.

Some well known altar tools Wiccans use include:

  • The Book of Shadows-- a personal journal and record keeping system for your spiritual journey
  • Athame--a ritual knife or dagger used for directing or severing energy
  • Pentacle—a disc with symbols inscribed upon it, generally used to bless things lain upon it
  • Wand— a stick or rod of some sort used for directing energy and for invocations
  • Cup—used to hold water or a ritual beverage
  • Bolline—another type of knife, usually used for practical purposes such as cutting plants or carving symbols
  • Besom— ritual broom used for cleansing energy
  • Cauldron-- a heat-proof pot with multiple purposes
  • Censor—a vessel for burning incense
  • Cords—used to signify degree, measure circles, symbolic ritual bondage (symbolic being the key word)
  • Scourge-- a type of whip used for purification and inducing visions
  • Staff—a super-sized wand
  • Sword-- essentially, a super-sized athame

When it comes down to it, there are no actual limits to what a Wiccan can use. You can make space on your altar for anything you might deem worthy to put there: crylstals, candles, statuary and such.

It should be noted that Wiccan tools are designed for religious symbolic use. Blades, scourges, cords and such may sound scary on the surface thanks to horror movies, but none of these are used to hurt anyone or anything. Blades merely direct energy or are used for making cuts and marks on objects (like carving a symbol into a candle, or cutting herbs). Scourges are rarely used anymore except by British Traditional Wiccan covens, but they are gently brushed over people. In some covens, initiates have a cord tied around the leg and the arm to enter the circle ‘neither bound nor free’.

Poll for Wiccans:

What's your favorite spiritual tool?

See results

Where to Get Tools?

Wiccan tools are actually not as hard to come by as you might think. There are many specialty stores-- New Age shops, Wiccan/Pagan supply stores, spiritual and religions shops, etc.-- that carry Wiccan tools. You can also Google "Wiccan tools" and you'll be met with thousands of advertisements. They're so common these days that popular websites like E-Bay and Amazon sell them.

You don't need specialty items, however. Many tools can be found in nature, or made by hand. For example, why buy a wand when you probably have access to a tree branch? Other tools can come from any store-- a cup is a cup, whether it comes from a New Age store or Walmart or a thrift shop.

Look around your house; you'll probably find many things you can adopt for your altar. You should not feel like you need to limit yourself to only special items-- be practical and look around. You may find a decorative letter holder makes a fine athame, or a wooden trivet will make the perfect pentacle. There are no "rules" about it when you're buying your tools-- use what ultimately feels right to you.

Leaving us with one more question…

The final question that I’ve left out thus far would be, of course, how are Wiccan tools used?

Well, that is something best left for articles devoted to each individual tools. As stated, it’s not just about decorating the altar. They all have their own story, their own purpose, their own special way of being handled. That should not be taken lightly, which is why collecting a full set of Wiccan tools can take a year or two from when you first begin to walk the Wiccan path. Some things are worth taking slow.

Choose Your Wiccan Tools Carefully

Remember-- they're sacred. Don't have them just for the sake of having them. Have them because they are meaningful.
Remember-- they're sacred. Don't have them just for the sake of having them. Have them because they are meaningful. | Source

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      Alanna Whitestar 9 months ago

      My favorite tool is one that I learned about in my first Wicca 101 classes. It's called the Book of Mirrors. It's a self assessment book, where each page has a question to be answered, divided into mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual areas. There are about 50 questions. I write in it during Full Moon rituals. The questions often require much thought. My Book of Mirrors is a small journal, and I've filled up almost every page. So, since my Book has about 150 pages, I'm starting a new section, with the same questions. This time I want to think more deeply about them this time. The answers in the first section are often off-the-cuff, sometimes even flippant. So I'm starting all over.