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Ritual Tools and Supplies


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I must say up front that not all Wiccan traditions are the same when it comes to their ritual tools, which ones they use, how they are made, what they look like, etc. This section will necessarily be something of a generalization. Most Traditional witches (British, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and Germanic Traditions) do not use the elemental tools which were brought into Wicca by Gerald Gardener from various Ceremonial magic traditions. In order to consider a cross section of traditions, the following material is based upon both my own experience and the scholarship of Scott Cunningham in "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" who was an ecclectic Wiccan,, Janet and Stewart Farrar in "A Witches Bible Complete" who were initiated into an Alexandrian coven, Raymond Buckland in "Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft" who practices Seax Wicca, and Doreen Valiente with Evan Jones in "Witchcraft A Tradition Revealed" who wrote from a more Traditional perspective.

Generally speaking however, it is possible to state that with a few exceptions all Wiccan traditions have some version of the four elemental tools. Each of these represents one of the four elements, fire, air, water or earth. The assignation of tools to elements varies somewhat, but the principle of having one for each remains fairly constant. These four tools are the most basic tools of the witch and the ones which you will want to make or find first if you are just beginning in the craft. Those who have been practicing awhile likely already have these basic tools, but may be collecting more goodies as you find those which appeal to you. Each new find, either newly bought or made, handed down or obtained second hand must be cleansed and consecrated for ritual use before you can use it in ritual. They are consecrated before use in ritual and once purified and consecrated it should not be touched by anyone other than the owner or their working partner if they have one. Ritual tools are never used for any mundane purpose. If at some point you want to hand one on to someone else or return it to everyday use it should be deconsecrated first. Rituals for these purposes are located in the section on Consecration. That said, we will begin with perhaps the most basic of ritual tools, the athame.

The Athame

 

Pronounced ah-tha-may. Many people begin with a letter opener or other such implement pressed into service as an athame so if this is what you use don't feel you're unusual. Once you know you're on your true path you may want to invest in a real athame, if you're at that point these comments may be useful. Traditionally double edged, made of steel, with a black handle which may be painted or engraved with markings which vary from one tradition to another the Athame is one of the four elemental tools. The edges are not normally sharpened as the athame is a symbolic tool rather than a practical knife. The athame represents fire in most traditions, the only exceptions being those who follow the attribution of the knife to air as given in some early Golden Dawn documents. There is a theory that this was a deliberate obfuscation on their part, intended to confuse outsiders. Athames are available from occult suppliers for a wide range of prices, it has been my experience that in many cases you will be able to get a better quality knife for less money by going to a sporting goods store or army/navy surplus store to purchase your athame. It is possible to find very elegant athames if you are willing and able to pay the price and it is also possible to have one custom made to your specifications.

It is considered desirable to forge or construct the athame yourself if possible or at least make the handle. Practically speaking, unless you are a blacksmith, or know one, most of us must purchase the blade for our athames. One good possibility is to purchase what is referred to as a boot knife and then create the handle for it. These are available at surplus stores or sporting goods stores for very reasonable prices, often under $10.00. What you want if you want to add your own handle is one that does not already have one, this will appear in a catalog as "solid 420 stainless construction" (The correct type will look like the illustration photo). If you can manage to produce a wooden handle and paint it black it will add to your connection to the tool but there are other options for the unhandy. I found that Fimo clay, available at the craft store, made a wonderful handle for my first one. You knead it till its pliable enough then form it in the shape you want on the knife blade. By baking it in a regular oven it hardens permanently. And talk about connection, it even has your fingerprints in it!

 

If you don't care to create the handle, you can purchase fabulous knives that will make a wonderful athame very inexpensively from a sporting goods or surplus store. Boot knives are available with a variety of ready made handles and generally are a convenient size being about 8-9 inches long (photo). You want a fixed rather than a folding blade and with two edges not one, that is why I recommend looking for a boot knife as most fit these specifications. The blade should be unsharpened as it is much safer and it will never be used for cutting in any case. Most come with a sheath that will have a boot clip which can be hooked over your belt.

Generally you would want a knife that was to be used to have a carbon steel blade which is perfect for honing to a fine edge, but this is not the case with the athame. If the knife you are most drawn to has a carbon steel blade that's fine, but it is not necessarily desireable. Carbon steel blades darken with age and use, there is no way to prevent this, it is a natural effect. Such darkening may be removed with wet/dry emery paper in a very fine grit. You will need to take precautions with a carbon steel blade to protect it from rust, occasionally oiling the blade will help prevent corrosion. Always keep the blade dry and clean, remove fingerprints and wipe the blade after use and once a month wipe it down with a clean cotton cloth dampened with warm water and a bit of soap. Dry the blade completely and apply a thin coat of metal polish. When the polish is dry remove it using a dry cotton cloth to buff it off. Apply a thin coat of mineral oil to the blade with a clean cloth.

The easiest thing is to get a knife with a stainless steel blade which is resistant to rust, but not rustproof. You should still keep the knife clean and wipe it down with a soft cloth after use. Twice a year you should clean it more thoroughly, wiping it down with a clean cotton cloth moistened with warm water and then polishing it dry with a clean cotton cloth. If you will be storing a knife for a long period take it out of the sheath as it will encourage rust. If the knife has a wood handle it should be polished periodically with paste wax with a high carnuba content or linseed oil, those with leather handles may be periodically cleaned with saddle soap and then polished with untinted boot polish. This same treatment may be used on the leather sheath.

 

In some traditions the handle of the knife is marked with symbols of some sort. The Farrars suggest markings based on Gardeners writings as follows (see diagram on the left). They stand for the Horned God, the ankh, the Salute and the Scourge, The Goddess and Scorpio the sign of death and the beyond on side one. Side two is The Perfect Couple, power springing forth, and the eight ritual occasions. Buckland recommends marking your magical name on either the hilt or blade. Cuningham states that no markings are necessary. You may want to write, engrave, or paint your magical name on the handle in runes or any other alphabet if you like to increase your connection to the tool. If you like you may also draw a pentagram or other symbol or affix a stone or crystal to the athame.

 
 

The Pentacle

Also known as the altar paten, the pentacle is pronounced pen-ti-cal. One of the four elemental tools, the Pentacle may be made of wood, copper, brass, silver, clay, gold, tile; nearly any material; and either plain or ornamented with crystals and/or symbols. The Pentacle represents earth. The primary and often only marking is the pentagram. It is usually five or six inches in diameter. It may be used as the centerpiece of the altar. Sometimes it is displayed on an easel, other times it is laid flat on the altar. In some cases the bowl of salt is placed on top of it.

Pentacles are one of the simplest tools to make for yourself since there are so many options available on what materials they should be made from. One of the easiest methods is to create a circular plaque out of clay and incise the pentagram in it. This may be fired if you have access to a kiln or it may be left to dry. If left to dry you may want to paint it with some polyurethane to protect it from moisture. Instead of natural clay you may use Fimo or Sculpey which can be baked in your home oven to harden them.

 

Those of you old enough to remember sand candles may want to try using the sand cast method to create a pentacle out of plaster of paris. You just need a shallow pan full of moist packed sand, some vermiculite, and a box of plaster. Scoop out a depression in the sand the size and shape you want your pentacle to be. Cut a pentagram and any other symbols you'd like into the bottom of the sand. You may place crystals or other items in the sand as well if you like. Mix up the plaster with water according to the package directions and add about half as much vermiculite as plaster. Stir till completely combined. Pour into the depression in the sand up to the level of the surface of the sand. Don't make the pentacle thinner than about a half inch or thicker than about an inch. Allow time for the pentacle to set up completely before digging it out of the sand. Brush off any loose sand, but there will be a thin layer embedded in the plaster. Use a spray finish to protect the surface from moisture.

Another good option is to obtain a round wood plaque of the sort intended for decoupage from a crafts store. This may be painted, stained or otherwise decorated and the pentagram painted, carved or burned into the wood. This is quite an inexpensive type of pentacle to create as such plaques are generally under $5.00. If desired you can add cabochon stones to the pentacle that are symbolic to you or represent the earth element. I made my first pentacle of a wood plaque which I painted black and topped with a circle of copper on which I painted the pentagram and affixed a sodalite cabochon. It was a very effective tool and cost very little to make.

There is no need to make your own pentacle, it is however nice to construct your tools when it is possible to do so. Pentacles in a variety of materials and designs are available ready made for those who don't choose to make their own. The one illustrated above right is a widely distributed design by artist Paul Borda called the "Moon Crescent Pentacle Plaque". This product line has several different pentacle designs available in two different finishes cast in resin. There are beautiful brass, copper and silver pentacles available if you prefer.

   

Not every Wiccan tradition uses the pentacle, Buckland does not mention the pentacle, nor does Valiente, neither of their traditions utilize it. Some simply use a bowl of salt to represent earth, or a crystal. The pentacle was in fact borrowed from Ceremonial Magic as is stated by Cunningham and Farrar. In that tradition it is used as a defensive weapon. Ceremonial magic sources indicate that it should be a disk of stone, tin or wood four inches in diameter with a 1/2 inch border in which should be engraved the Archangelic and Godname of Earth. In their description the pentacle is engraved with a pentagram on one side and a hexagram on the other.

   

The Farrars illustrate the pentacle with additional symbols on the face along with the pentagram and describe a circle of stones to represent the astrological signs, along with the symbols of those signs. Their pentacle includes the following symbolism (see diagram left): inverted triangle is the first degree, inverted pentagram second degree, upright triangle third degree, waxing and waning moons the Goddess, Taurus the God, the two S's represent Mercy and Severity as the Salute and the Scourge. The stones they used are Aries-bloodstone, Taurus-carnelian, Gemini-alexandrite, Cancer-moonstone, Leo-tigers eye, Virgo-sapphire, Libra-opal, Scorpio-lapis lazuli, Sagittarius-topaz, Capricorn-jet, Aquarius-amethyst, and Pisces-pearl. Their design is by far the most elaborate that I have heard of and by no means represents what you should have. The symbolism is meaningful to them, they designed it, the example is given to indicate what you could design to suit yourself.

 

The Wand

One of the four elemental tools, the wand is traditionally made of wood cut from one of a number of trees, depending upon the use to which it will be put. Willow, elder, oak, apple, hawthorn, peach, hazel, ash, blackthorn, cherry or nut bearing trees are all possibilities. A wand is made from a branch the length of the distance from the elbow to the extended middle finger. It is cut from wood of the current year, preferable with one stoke. It may be carved, painted or written on in any of a number of ways depending upon the tradition. The bark may be removed and the surface smoothed and polished or the wand may be left in it's natural state. The wand represents air in most traditions, however in those who assign the athame to air the wand is consequently assigned to fire. Hazel or ash is good for an all around wand with perhaps a venusian wood for magic regarding love, fertility, prosperity and such. Apple, cherry, peach or any of the fruit bearing trees is good for this second wand. You could theoretically have a wand of an appropriate wood, with appropriate crystals and markings for each planet. Suit your own needs, but one wand is enough for most.

There are a number of styles of wands, with crystals at one or both ends, with painted or carved designs, or with written or engraved symbols or runes. A wide variation in materials and decoration or lack of it exists. In Cerremonial magic there are designs painted in the planetary colors and tipped with silver or lead caps at each end. These may be made from dowels or from straight tree branches about the thickness of your index finger. For certain Sabbats a more male wand is used, a nut wood wand tipped with a pinecone or acorn and wrapped with black and white ribbons interwoven like the snakes on a caduceus. A traditionally designed Ceremonial magicians oak wand which has been painted black and tipped at both ends with silver caps was the inspiration for the stage magicians magic wand that we are familiar with today (see below).

The Farrars illustrate a wand that they use which has both male and female ends so that the most appropriate one for the ritual can be used. It has the symbols of the planets along the wand and beads and metal at each end. One end has a jet bead with copper wire, the other an amber bead with iron wire. Buckland mentions rowan, ash, willow or hazel but agrees with Cunningham that any wood may be used, including dowels purchased from the hardware store. The Farrar wand is illustrated on the left.

 
 

It has become popular to use silver, copper or pewter wands with crystal tips. Some have natural quartz points or other semiprecious stones, others have cut glass crystals. They are attractive, but somewhat expensive. Many of these come with velvet or silk wand cases, drawstring bags which may be decorated with pentagrams or other symbols and which protect the wand from scratches. Silver and pewter are both subject to scratching, and copper and silver tarnish so some care in handling is appropriate. Some are lacquered to prevent tarnishing so read the information that comes with the wand before you go at it with silver polish or you will remove the laquer in patches and have a real mess. The lacquered ones may be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth. Store your wand in it's pouch for protection from dust and marring.

 

The Chalice

Pronounced as chal-ess and also known as the cup. The last of the four elemental tools, the cup or chalice is used to hold water, wine or juice during the ritual. It represents water and is the primary feminine symbol on the altar. It is symbolic of the Goddess in several rituals of the calendar. The chalice may be made of silver, brass, copper, glass, alabaster, soap stone, wood, porcelain, earthenware; any material you like. It is unmarked in most traditions where it is used. The cup is used to hold water, either plain or salted, when consecrating tools, amulets, etc.

This is one of the easiest tools to find at thrift stores, and antique shops. Many of them started out as wedding goblets. If you plan to put wine in the chalice be sure that the material is safe to drink out of. Wine is acidic and will leach contaminates from the container easily. Not all earthenware has food safe glazes and unlined metal chalices should be re-tinned by a silversmith to make them safe. If you will only be using it for water and salt to cast the circle this will not be a concern.

 

In Ceremonial Magic the cup is used as well, in which case it is engraved with the Archangelic and Godname of the element water and is made of silver or copper, with glass as an acceptable substitute. The cup may be jeweled or decorated using correspondences to it's symbolic water and feminine connotations. It is symbolic of rebirth, reincarnation, wisdom and immortality. Venus is the appropriate planetary correspondence. Valiente states that the cup is symbolic of the Cauldron of Cerridwen, and she places the emphasis on it as opposed to the cauldron. Cunningham reverses this and places much more emphasis on the cauldron referring to the chalice as a small cauldron on a stem. Valiente includes the cup in her list of coven tools rather than an individual tool. Buckland does not mention the chalice at all.

 

Traditionalists whether Norse or British may use a drinking horn or two handled cup instead of the wine glass style chalice of Wicca. On the left is an Anglo Saxon style drinking horn with stand, on the right a reproduction of a Viking style drinking horn.

 

The Cauldron

The cauldron is considered a coven tool in many traditions rather than an individual one. It represents water, the Goddess, reincarnation, immortality and inspiration. As Cunningham states, it is "the container in which magical transformations occur, the sacred grail, the holy spring, the sea of primeval creation". He calls the cauldron "the witches tool par excellence". It is often used as the focal point of group rituals and can contain flowers, a ritual fire, charged water, or incense. It may also be placed empty on the altar as a symbol of the Goddess or used to prepare brews or for divination by filling it with water and using it as a focusing point.

Cunningham suggests that the cauldron should be iron, the Farrars agree but also mention that brass or copper may be easier to find. Valiente considers the cauldron a coven tool and mentions all the same uses described above and discusses the symbolism but she also emphasizes that the coven must arrive at it's own communal understanding of what the cauldron means to them.

 

If you would like to purchase a cast iron traditional cauldron online I suggest that you search for a "potjie" rather than a "cauldron". The potjie is an African cooking pot illustrated to the right above and is perfect for use as a cauldron. By searching for it by the name of the cooking utensil you will save allot of money over the witchy stores that sell the same thing but call it a cauldron. They are available in very large sizes up to 75 gallons if you like. Copper and brass versions are readily available at thrift stores and occasionally you may even find a cast-iron cauldron in a smaller size. I collect them and find most of mine at the Goodwill.

 

The Besom

Also called the broom, besom is pronounced beh-som. Traditionally made with an ash handle, broom or birch twigs and a willow wrapping, the broom or besom is one of the more well known of the tools uses by witches. Every Halloween witch has a broom, and pretends to ride it, but not every real witch owns one. It is often considered optional, particularly by solitaires. Round is preferred over flat. The twigs can also be hazel or yew. The example illustrated above is made with broom corn bristles which is a perfectly acceptable substitute and is available from The Traditional Broom Company To care for your besom you will want to clean the bristles if you actually use it to sweep once every month or so by washing them in warm soapy water, then rinsing them and shaking out the excess. Hang the broom to dry with the bristles down. If you don't actually sweep with the besom you should rehydrate the bristles about twice a year by putting the bristle end in a bucket of warm, clean water and letting it stand for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse and shake out the excess water. Be sure to hang the besom with the bristles down so they won't bend as they dry. The wooden handle of the broom may be rubbed down with some linseed oil to keep the wood in good condition unless it's painted or has bark on it.

According to Doreen Valiente the symbolism is as follows: the handle represents the male aspect, the twigs the female, birch twigs represent birth and rebirth through the combination of male and female; hazel stands for fire, fertility, divination and knowledge; yew is the tree of death and resurrection. The message of the besom is that only though birth will there be life, from that life will come poetry, art and knowledge. Yet because of birth there must be death and with death rebirth and resurrection. Cunningham states that the broom is associated with water due to its purpose of purification. He states that the broom is protective and purifactory, used to ritually cleanse and area or guard a home and should be reserved for ritual use. Valiente and Farrar agree as to the uses mentioned, in addition Valiente mentions using the besom as a gateway to the circle by laying it at the north in the gateway of the circle as it is cast. Buckland does not mention the besom, it is not used in his tradition.

It is nice to make your own besom and not really difficult. You need a branch about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and 3-4 feet long for the staff, a bundle of small twigs about 18-20 inches long for the broom part and something to tie the twigs to the handle with. Willow is traditional, but twine works well and is easy to obtain. Just insert the handle about 6-8 inches into the center of the bundle of twigs and wrap the twine tightly around them to tie them to the handle. Be sure you wrap and tie them tight, so your twigs don't fall out. Hand made besoms produced in this way are best used for more symbolic than actual sweeping.

 

The Censer

Pronounced sen-ser this is also referred to as an incense burner or thurible (thur-a-bel). Censers come in a wide variety of styles, material and colors. There are fewer conventions surrounding the censer than any other ritual tool. Some are metal suspended from chains, some are bowls filled with sand or salt, and every possibility in-between. The censer represents air and may be made of wood, ceramic, soapstone, earthenware, glass, stone, brass, copper, iron; literally any material. The censer is often placed before the image of the Deity(s) in the middle of the altar. All authors who mention the censer agree that the design and material are unimportant, each practitioner should go with what they like. The incense represents air like the censer.

 

If you will primarily be using stick or cone incense you may use any sort of incense burner you like. At some point you may decide to branch out into loose incense, compounding your own incense, or chosing herbs for magical correspondences. then you will need a censer capable of smoldering incense on a burning charcoal. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to obtain a bowl you like, fill it with sand, and voila, you have a censer. The sand is necessary to dissipate the heat from the burning charcoal and incense. It will prevent the surface under the censer from being damaged by high temperatures and will protect the bowl itself so that it won't crack or explode. Despite the sand however, do not use a combustible container for such a censer. Glass, metal, ceramic or stone are all good choices.

 

The Bell or Gong

A feminine symbol used to invoke the Goddess, ward off evil spirits, evoke positive energies; to mark the beginning, end, or sections of the ritual. It is used for the vibrations the sound produces so it is important to find a bell with a pleasant sound, clear and sweet. The bell may be engraved or decorated if desired. Not all traditions use the bell, only Buckland and Cunningham mention it. It is often used to punctuate various high points in the rituals of Ceremonial Magic as well. The bell represents either spirit or air if it can be considered to represent any of the elements. It is a fairly commonly used tool by Traditional witches as well as Wiccans.

The gong may be substituted for a bell if you like, it is often used in Ceremonial Magic. The sound of the gong or bell is used in Buddhist, Hindu and Shamanic rituals to attract the attention fo the Gods and as the physical representation of the spiritual force. Bells are easier to find and less expensive, but a coven or group may want to go to the extra effort to find a gong as a communal tool. I was able to find a triangle and it makes the most wonderful sound. You may also choose to use windchimes in ritual which may be struck with a mallet or brushed with the hand. Some choose to incorporate Buddhist singing bowls into their practice.

 

The Sword

It represents fire and is used for many of the same purposes as the knife. Its main use is for casting the circle. All authors agree that the sword is optional, and that a replica is appropriate. Most suggest that some part, either the handle or an inscription be added to make a purchased sword more personal. All agree that if it is possible the sword should be made by the owner or a coven member, but unless you are a blacksmith you are unlikely to be able to manage the blade. The handle could be made or at least decorated however. There are a number of suppliers of fine replica swords that cater to the SCA and Renn Faire groups, keep your eyes open and you may find just the one for you. They are also readily available at occult supply stores, often of lesser quality, but also lesser price.

 

The Staff

The staff or stang is commonly included among the tools of Traditional witches as well as Wiccans. It represents air and is, in effect, a long wand. It should be made out of hardwood, equal in length to the height of the owner, and decorated with feathers, leather, crystals, carving or engraving according to Buckland. The staff has little practical use being largely ornamental. Farrar and Cunningham do not mention it. A staff or walking stick can be a very personal accessory since there are so many options for decoration. One can affix any number of items to leather cords to dangle from the top, and it can be carved with symbols, runes, the owners magical name - any meaningful words you like. I recommend putting a rubber cane tip over the bottom to provide traction and avoid marring floors.

Valiente tells of her traditions use of the Stang, a type of staff. It serves as an emblem of faith and walking aid to and from meetings, a sign one is of the craft, and a personal altar. The stang is forked at the top. It is of ash, cut during the full moon with your knife. A small coin must be left with the tree as payment for taking the branch. The stang must be shod with iron by driving a nail into the bottom of it, the purpose being to hold the magical charge within the stang once it is consecrated. Garlands and arrows are hung on the coven stang for the four major rites. In some traditions the stang rather than being forked at the top has a forked antler or even a whole skull with antlers of a deer or similar animal. It may be decorated with fur, feathers, crystals or other objects as well.

 

The Robe

This is perhaps one of the most controversial items in this section. For those of you who believe that the only way to work is skyclad (naked), by all means, proceed. I'll not argue with you, work as you like. There are those of us, into middle age and living in cooler climates, who like robes. Robes also appeal to the more theatrical among us who enjoy costumes and for whom the robe sets a mood. This area is best left to personal opinion. Robes can be quite ornate, with hoods, rope belts, long and flowing fabrics; or very simple.

The matter of color is a personal one as well. Many prefer black, being the color of the night sky, mystery, and the unknown. Some feel black has negative connotations and wear white, it is up to each witch to decide for themselves. In Ceremonial Magic and some traditions robes are worn in planetary colors, elemental colors, and the colors of the office held by the individual. You may decide to utilize color correspondences appropriate to the particular magical working you will be doing when choosing the color of your robes. Do what suits you. In some covens tabard in the elemental colors are worn by those who call the quarters over the top of their normal robe.

Do consider practicalities when choosing a robe, if you will be attending outdoor rituals be sure to consider the weather and select appropriate fabric to keep warm if necessary. A heavy wool cloak can be added to help with this, as well as long johns. Be aware of the sleeves and flowing fabric since you will likely be around candles and perhaps even a fire. The fabric should be flame resistant and the sleeves containable. Whatever sort of robe you use it should never be worn for anything other than ritual, it is a magical garment and must not be used for any mundane purpose. When you are done with ritual change into your regular clothes.

 

The Boline

Pronounced as bow-leen, the Boline or white handled knife is the usable, practical knife used to cut herbs, cords, whatever one must cut. It should be kept sharp enough to actually be useful.A simple kitchen or hunting type knife that has a painted white handle or sometimes a white horn or antler handle may be used for a boline. There are bolines available that are shaped like a crescent and are reminiscent of a Druids knife. These are lovely, and perfectly acceptable, but by no means necessary. They can be difficult to cut with.

 

The Book of Shadows

The book of shadows or grimoire is used to record your magical workings and strictly speaking may not be considered a too. by all. Traditionalists tend to use the term grimoire and Wiccans book of shadows or BOS for short. There is a section of this site dedicated to describing the BOS in some detail located here.
 

Miscellaneous Bits and Pieces

The Cords

Cords are used in some traditions as an indication of the rank or degree the individual has attained. Different ranks are distinguished by color. Most are 9 feet long. Valiente uses a red cord for initiates and a black one for full members. In her system the officers are as follows; Lady-silver, yellow or orange for East, gold or bright yellow for South, black or dark brown for West, black or white or both for North. She mentions that there is a difference of opinion on the number of knots to be tied, 13 or 9, she prefers 9. The Farrars suggest that everyone should have a set of at least three cords, they suggest red, blue and white, 9 feet long with knots at each end only. Buckland recommends a 9 foot, red cord made from three lengths of cord braided together, knotted at each end. The 9 foot measurement is after braiding. The cord is used for cord magic, not worn. The color red represents life. This last version is the one that my former coven used, and to get 9 feet after braiding you really need three pieces of rat tail cord about 29 feet long. Solitary practitioners rarely use cords as an emblem of rank, some use them for cord magic.

The Scourge

The Scourge is only mentioned by the Farrars. According to them it is purely symbolic and used to help induce self hypnosis for gaining the sight. It is used in initiations occasionally. It has eight tails with five knots in each tail. The tails on theirs are embroidery floss set on a nut wood handle. No markings are on the scourge. See image below for an example of a commercially available leather version.

Candle Holders

 

You will need at least 6 candle holders for a basic altar set up of two altar candles and four quarter candles but most people will use additional ones for candle magic, God and Goddess candles, and other activities. These can be made of any material, glass, brass and other metals are all good choices and easy to find. If you are interested in doing candle magic you may want to purchase a dozen or so inexpensive simple taper holders at a dollar store or Goodwill. These should be small in circumference since in some rituals the candles must touch each other. Glass is a good option. You may want to round up additional candle holders of other types such as votive holders depending upon your practice.

Candle Snuffer

Many authorities advise against blowing out the candles used in ritual saying it insults the elemental spirits or disperses the power of the spell, others say you must blow out the candles to add your life force to the spell, if you aren't going to blow out your candles you still need to put them out. You can just pinch the base of the flame to put it out or you can use a snuffer. Some of us are not quick at pinching out the candles and to save our fingers use a candle snuffer. This is optional and may be of any material you like. They are readily available at thrift and discount stores for very reasonable prices.

God and Goddess Figures/Images

Not everyone chooses to use figures of the Goddess and God on their altars, and of those who do, not everyone uses a literal representation. Some prefer to use an object to remind them of the deities such as a holey stone for the Goddess and a pine cone for the God. If you choose to use statuary or graphics of the deities they should be to your taste and of the God and Goddess you worship. They are not necessary, this is a matter for personal choice.

Offering Bowl

This is used to symbolically give back to the Goddess and God what they have given us. A bit of the cakes and ale or some of the wine used in the ritual is placed in the bowl during the ritual. Afterwards the contents of the bowl are generally taken out doors and poured on the earth to complete the offering. Also known as the libation bowl by some, this can be any sort of bowl you like made out of any natural material (i.e. no plastic).