There is a beauty in cherished objects, much more so if these objects are consecrated for the use in rites and magyc. I call these objects physical metaphors because they are used as a solid representation of a much greater, and often ineffable, reality. A simple stone, for instance, represents solid energy in its most condensed form. This is also true of metals, though iron, silver, and gold have the additional property of shine and malleability that can be forged into tools.
The best objects are ones you make yourself with intent and dedication, though no one is suggesting that you build a forge in your back yard. The next best option is to receive your treasures as gifts. But in the real world you will often have to purchase part or all of your tools, objects and supplies. Once they are consecrated, all negative energy is removed and they are yours until you gift them to another or they leave on their own accord.
The important thing to remember when selecting your accouterments is the essence of their present form. A stick is not a wand but may contain the necessary essence to fashion a wand. But would a glass or copper rod suit your purpose better? What are the properties of each that determines what it is and what it can be.
Aristotle spoke of the Four Causes of objects that bring them into being:
Material: That out of which something is made.
Maker: The means by which something is made; who made it.
Result: That which is made, the thing itself.
Purpose: What it is made for.
When you need a tool or material consider these four essences and you will not stray far from the representation, the metaphor or symbol, you intend. I am presently compiling a correspondence of materials, metals, colors, animals, planets, numbers and letters for a downloadable Book of Shadows but for now I recommend Eileen Hollandís The Wicca Handbook to get you on the right path.
On a more mundane note here is a list of needful things most witches will want in their possession:
The Wand: a witchís wand is the tool used to project his or her will or energy in a specific direction or cause. It is often made of wood, though I have seen copper, iron, silver and tin, depending on the purpose the wand has been made for.
If you choose wood, gather the wand from a local tree, it can be any variety but if the wand is for a special purpose it makes sense to research what trees have what essences. Avoid the elder tree. Traditionally, wands are gathered in the fall after all the leaves have fallen, ideally at the Winter Solstice. But if you need a wand now you can gather one anytime. Some say this should be from a dead branch. I disagree. Choose a living branch but take it carefully so as not to harm the tree. Then offer something of value in exchange. I dig a few small holes below the outer edge of the branches and fill them with fertilizer. Until the branch dries you will have to leave the bark in place. But in a few months you will be able to scrape and sand your wand smooth and perhaps add a finish, if this is more to your liking. In either case, you may want to affix a terminus to the wandís tip. This is often a crystal of special power. (see finding my sacred crystal) If you are not fortunate enough to be given a special crystal by the Powers I recommend getting one yourself. Two excellent books on crystals are, Michael Smithís Crystal Power and George Fredrick Kunzís The Curious Lore of Precious Stones.
The Broom: Brooms, as you have seen in Sacred
Spaces, are used to ritualistically cleanse an area of unwanted
energies. They can also be used as a threshold for your circle or
to jump over at handfasting (wedding) ceremonies to symbolize the
entering of the coupleís new life.
Do not attempt to fly on one, however. That is another misnomer from the times of ignorance and superstition when witches used their brooms as part of their journeying between the worlds rituals, much as shamans will use potions to facilitate communication with the Gods. An interesting book on this subject is The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by John M. Allergro, though it may be out of print.
Chalice: the chalice is the symbol of the womb and represents the
Goddess in rites and ceremonies.
The liquid she can hold represents many things such as life blood, holy water or passion.
Unless you are skilled in ceramics or wood
carving you will probably have
to start with an existing stemmed cup. Make it yours by decorating her with paint,
beads, ribbon, feathers, gemstones, or anything else
that would add to her symbolic power.
The Athame: this is the male counterpart of the chalice. It is usually a blade, either knifelike or a sword. However, you do not cut anything in the mundane world with these tools but rather they are for cutting in the astral plane. It is customary for someone leaving a cast circle to cut a doorway and seal it back when they return. Therefore, they are not sharp. If it is, I recommend carefully blunting it against a piece of consecrated quartz.
Your athame should probably be gotten new. If a blade has even spilt blood it is very hard to remove the negativity from its essence. This is especially important if you use an athame to symbolize the union of the male and female powers by sinking the athame into the liquid of the chalice. Never violate the purity of the Goddessí Womb with an athame that has drawn blood.
Bindings: rope, cord, lashes, ribbon, twine can be acquired anywhere and are used for tying, channeling, establishing relationships, recovering scattered situations, or just for decoration. In addition, there is an entire magyc that uses the knot as its primary symbol. Rope is also used to mark the circle, though you can also use chalk, salt, natron powder, or anything that can be closed completely.
Pentacle: like its three dimensional version, the pyramid,
is a power lens. Use it to draw energies to you or prevent
energies from getting to you. Many witches wear a
pentacle on their bodies at all times to ward off evil
forces. You can use them in your rites and
spells to focus your intent on a specific
object, say for consecrating the item.
Pentacles are either made as part of a ritual
or obtained ready made, as in pentacle jewelry,
and then consecrated. They do not, however, need to be drawn in blood. Thatís just
anotherholdover from the bad old days when we were believed to sacrifice babies.
The Bolline: This is a knife used for cutting, traditionally with a white wooden or bone handle. It is a common tool for gathering herbs and wands or for preparing ingredients for a ceremony. If you are preparing a love potion as a meal to win a heart you should use the bolline to prepare the dish, though most witches would say it should only be used for cutting sacred materials. However, the bolline pictured is used primarily for gathering and would be pretty useless in the kitchen.
Incense Burner: Incense is used to elevate the all-important sense of smell. When working magyc each of the five senses needs to be engaged in the process. You can either use sticks, cones, or raw. I use all three but my favorite way is to use a mixture of raw incenses correspondent to a particular deity. For instance in a spell that called upon Ra or Helios I would not use frankincense. In fact, I rarely use frankincense at all because of my strong association with the Catholic Church. What I use is an incense burner with little rounds of charcoal for heat. Mine is a present from Greece made of weathered green copper with Panís image in relief on the cover. The charcoal contains an ingredient to make it a snap to light (as long as itís kept dry) and I can add any kind of incense I choose. But be careful, the incense burner can get extremely hot--hot enough to ignite a wooden table it sets directly onóuse a trivet.
The Caldron: the caldron presents a problem for indoor use. It is and has been used over the ages in a blazing fire to make witches brew and as the center piece of ancient ceremonies all over the world. The legend of the Holy Grail is said to originate from this eternal symbol, though some say the symbol was the Goddessí Chalice. The problem is having a boiling caldron indoors. The best solution I have is a hot plate, though I think itís ugly. I have used backpacking stoves but they turned out to be far too dangerous. Again, I cannot stress too strongly the importance of having a fire extinguisher handy at all times. And never leave anything burning over night. Fire is both an essential power and a constant threat that must be guarded against inside and outside of your circle.
The caldron itself is cast iron and another item you will have to forgo making yourself. If you live in a rural area, especially in the Midwest, you might be able to find a bean kettle at a yard sale. That would be just the thing for outdoor feasts and ceremonies. And since there are no prohibitions on what you put in the caldron you can have caldron-luck gatherings where everyone brings an ingredient for the soup or stew.
Bell: the bell can be made of anything in any shape. My personal
even bell-shaped but a small metal tube on a wooden sounding block that I
purchased from a musical instrument shop. I love the clear clean
tone it produces. Sound is another of the five senses that you
will engage in elevating your consciousness above
the mundane plain of existence. A drum
is also useful.
Candles: In addition to these essentials, you
will also want to have candles.
They are usually specified in a particular rite or spell but itís convenient to
have a selection around. You can find them almost everywhere and online
with sales common. They represent the element of fire, of course, but can
also be scented to include the domain of Air.
Recorded Music: this is an important element for me. I
always have music for my rites and spells. I will often spend more
time on my playlist than on any other aspect of the proceedings. I
started by making mix tapes and then graduated to mix CDís that I
would burn on my computer. The thing I like best about the CDís is
that I can play them on a DVD player with surround sound so I can
have speakers at the five points of the pentagram outside of the
circle. I have even done spells with my Ipod, though some would say
bringing electronic equipment into the circle can interfere with the
flow of energy, much in the same way cell phones can interfere in
the functioning of aircraft. However it happens, adding sound
to a rite is another of the senses fulfilled. To hear some of the
music I use click the buttons below. You will want to
choose whatever music touches you.
These are the essentials but your cabinet will soon be stocked with every imaginable object either in preparing classic spells or in creating your own rituals and celebrations. Sometimes an item will come to you but you are unsure how it should fit in or what use you will find for it. As often as not, the future holds the answer. I am astonished every time this happens. I may be walking in the woods or sitting by a stream or in a shop and something will capture my attention. I have no idea why but know that somehow that particular item is meant to play a role in my future.
In the end, the best consul I can offer is to trust your instinct and imagination. They are often guided by powers we donít understand but are nonetheless are germane to our purpose.
so may it be