Magickal Tools & Ritual Basics...
Altar Set Up...
I'm sure you've heard that the only tool you need is your pointer finger. Well, I'm sure that will work great. However, for touchy-feely type people like me, I gotta have those tools in front of my face to concentrate on them.
You will need a quiet and private place in which to work. Whenever possible and weather permitting, you can set up your altar outdoors. Make sure the area is clean. You may want to sage the area to ward off negativity. This will represent your sacred space.
Here is my take on what I use, how I place and why...
Each of these tools is aligned with an element, and they are the prime symbols for that elemental energy on the altar. Four of them are also associated with genders, promoting the balance and polarity of genders in the circle.
Athame: a ritual double edged blade or dagger with a metal blade and, usually,
a black wooden handle. It is used to cast circles by tracing the circumference, to
charge and consecrate objects and banish negative energies. It is male energy and
inmost traditions it is associated with the element of Fire, in others it is associated
with Air. The phallic symbolism of the knife links it with the God. An Athame should
not be used to cut anything physical.
My Athame is in the South position of the Altar. I feel it represents metal and was
forged with fire. I use my Athame to start a ritual when creating a circle and when
I invoke the Elements. I have two Athames that I use. One of my Athames is actually a letter opener, it has a dragon's head and Rune symbols on the blade. I found it at a flea market
and had to have it.
Chalice: The Chalice is one of the four elemental tools of witchcraft and
represents the element of Water. A feminine tool, it can be a stemmed goblet or a
simple bowl. The chalice is used to hold the blessed water and wine during ritual.
The chalice is associated with water, psychic ability and the subconscious. I place my
Chalice in the West position of the Altar.
Altar Bell: The bell is a ritual tool of invocation and banishment. The bell is
a feminine symbol of the creative force, that of the Goddess. Placement on the west
side of the altar is ideal. The bell can be rung to indicate the start of a rite before the
ritual begins. Often it is used to invoke the Goddess during ritual, or may be sounded
at the four quarters to call forth spirits. I also sound it to end my ritual.
Altar Cloth: protects the altar from wax, burning embers, or any other forms of damage.
Traditionally black but, when celebrating a Sabbat or Esbat, use a color that is representational
of the event being observed.
The Wand: It is made from the wood of a sacred tree. Its length should be the length
from the elbow to the index finger. The wand is a tool of invocation, it is used to evoke the
Gods, Goddesses and Spirits. It is also used to bestow blessings, charge objects and draw down
the moon during ritual. In most traditions the wand represents the element of Air, in others it
represents the element of Fire. I place my wand in the Air direction because once it swayed in the wind.
Here’s my take on making your own Wand...
I feel that a ritual tool that I make with my own hands has a lot more meaning than
something that I bought. I made mine out of a stick that I found while walking. It’s about 18"
total length and 1-1/2" in diameter. I made a hollow place in one end and attached a quartz
crystal point to the end which I wrapped in foil, soldered and at the other end I wrapped an
onyx with foil, soldered it and . Then I used a woodburning tool to burn a small pentacle and a
some Rune characters on the side.
By making your own wand, you can make it plain or fancy, paint it, varnish it, or carve it.
You can use a rough branch from a tree, or a round dowel rod from a hardware store. The
length is up to you. Embellish your wand with small charms, pentagrams, or a tiny image of the
Goddess or even add feathers crystals and gemstones.
The Pentacle: It is usually a round solid disc often made from stone, wood
or copper. On the disc is engraved or painted an up-right five pointed star enclosed
inside a circle called the Pentagram. A disc decorated in this manner then becomes
called a Pentacle. The pentacle is normally the centerpiece of the alter on which
objects are placed to be consecrated or charged, such things as amulets, charms
and tools are placed on it, as is the salt and water for blessing.
The pentacle also represents the elements of Earth and is sometimes used to summon the Gods and
Goddesses. It can be place in the North position of the Altar. I prefer mine in the center and place items to be consecrated.
The Besom: although not an altar tool. The Besom is used to ritually cleanse
an area before magick is performed by symbolically sweeping away negative energy.
It also can be used to protect by placing it across the threshold, windowsills or
over doorways to guard the home and persons within against psychic attacks or evil
curses. It should not be placed on the altar nor touch the floor.
I made my besoms and depending on how fancy my ritual is going to be is when I
decide which besom to use.
Boline: The white-handled knife as it is often known as, is the practical knife of the craft
It is used to cut wands and herbs, to mark and carve candles with symbols and to cut cords for
use in magick.
Cauldron: the cauldron represents the feminine. Used to burn, brew and
mix things, it represents all the various elements, depending on its use. When
used to burn offerings, it represents fire; used to brew a potion, it represents
water; used for incense, air; and a cauldron of abundance, like a cornucopia,
is associated with the element of earth. Usually made of iron and stands on
three legs, cauldrons vary greatly in size, although most nowadays are small
enough to fit on a smaller altar.
Candles: there are usually three candles on the altar: one black, representing the Goddess; one white, representing the God, and a third, usually also white but used for lighting other candles, paper, incense, etc. A candle also represents the element of fire.
Censer / Incense Burner: It may be any flame-proof vessel used for burning incense
during ritual. The censer represents the element of air. Some censers are cauldron like, and are
hung on chains or suspended in tripods.
Book of Shadows: The Book of Shadows is a witch’s workbook in
which is recorded; Rituals guidelines, Invocations, Spells, Runes, Rules of a
particular Coven or Tradition, Symbols, Poems, Chants, and anything else
of use to the witch during ritual. My husband made my BOS. It consists of
hardwood for the cover and then inside it has a 3-ring binder spine. The
outer covering consists of leather and a window through which depicts the Goddess Tree of Life.
Salt Bowl: Salt is used to cleanse other tools, crystals, jewelry or any item to rid them of
negative energy. A small bowl of salt, usually sea salt, is kept on the altar. (Salt bowl pictured on the right). My husband turned the wooden bowl for me on the lathe, I love it.
Water Bowl: A water bowl filled with water is used as a symbol of the element water. It
can be used for scrying or for cleansing and purifying. (Water bowl pictured on the right). I couldn't use a wooden bowl to hold water, so I found this beautiful bowl at a flea market.
Goddess and God statues: Most practitioners choose the deities they are comfortable
with and invoke them to participate with their ritual. Many choose statuary placed on the altar
to represent the deity for their devotion.
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Basic Ritual Design...
1. List and write down all the items you will need for the ritual, such as color candles, stones or herbs, etc.
2. Choose a time. You may want to research the best time of the day, day of the week, which
lunar phase, etc.
3. Decide the intent or purpose of the Ritual.
4. Choose a Goddess and or God.
5. Plan on how to raise your energy by dancing, chanting, drumming, etc., or however you prefer.
6. Choose how to cast and close the circle.
7. Take a ritual bath/shower for yourself.
8. Cleanse your space with your besom or you may also want to sage your space.
9. Cast the Circle
10. Invoke the Elements, Watchtowers, Angels or whatever you prefer.
11. Invoke Deity.
12. State the purpose of your Ritual by telling those invoked what you are trying to accomplish.
13. Raise the energy by dancing, chanting or drumming, etc., or whatever you prefer.
14. Channel your energy by using candles, herbs, stones or other correspondences that fit your
15.Ground your energy when you have completed the Ritual working.
16. Cakes, cookies and wine, juice or water. Eat to help restore your energy.
17. Thank those who attended your Ritual in the opposite order that you invoked them.
18. Reopen the Circle
Updated: 12 Jun., 2017
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