Witches use tools which help them to focus concentration, intent, and energy. These are usually attributed to the Four Elements. These tools may be made, gifted to you, or bought and each should be used only for Craft purposes. Each tool should also be cleansed, consecrated, and dedicated to its use. Care for your tools as the precious items they are and they will bless you in return.
Altar: This can be any shape or size. It is a flat surface, or sometimes tiered, on which you will rest ritual items, your Book of Shadows, candles, etc..
Athame: Some people use swords instead. Either is fine and a personal choice you must make. Sometimes the pantheon you are working with will make this decision for you. This is a knife that is used to command and focus energy and to draw the magic circle. It is associated with the Eastern direction and the Element of Air. It generally represents intellect.
Bolline: This is a knife with a curved blade and, usually, a white handle. It is used to cut herbs, carve magic symbols, to inscribe, and cut chords.
Book of shadows: Your Grimoire. Your personal journal of learning notes as you progress through your studies. It's like a lesson book and will hold all your notes about everything you learn. You will also keep records of spell workings here. Typical entries are: instructions, spells, recipes, prayers, rites, herbal lore, ceremonies, crystal notations, correspondences, poetry, dreams, songs, chants, and a calendar. It will not only show who you are and what you believe, it will also reveal how you have grown -- or not. Weinstein calls it a handbook, textbook, recipe book, diary, and journal.
Broom: Some people do not use brooms. Those that do use them to sweep negative energy away and as doorways to the circle.
Cauldron: This is a symbol of the goddess and is used -- go figure -- to make stews, brews, oils, for fire magic, to scry, and for divination.
Chalice/Cup: This is a symbol of fertility, emotions, the subconscious. They hold wine, mead, juice, or water and are often used to toast a Working or a god/goddess. Some traditions have a custom of lowering the Athame into the chalice; this represents the Great Rite of union between the god and goddess.
Incense and Burner: These are used to invoke mood, setting, and frame of mind as well as to purify ritual tools and areas. Some call the burner and Thurible. It is usually heat resistant and fire-proof since it will hold hot coals or incense.
Mirror: For scrying and special spells.
Pentacle: Some sort of flat disk, or concave one, inscribed or painted with the five pointed star. It is used to invoke, protect, bless, consecrate, etc. Generally, a single point is up, representing life/spirit, and the other four points represent the elements as well as the human body.
Wand: This directs/project energy. Generally they represent fire, but some traditions use the wand for Air and the Athame/Sword for Fire.
Staff: A long, usually wooden stick, about shoulder height. It is used as both a walking stick and the same way that a wand is used.
Other tools: altar cloths, amulets, beads, bowls, candles, holders, compass, crystals, gems, feathers, herbs, ink, mortar and pestle, parchment, pendulum, pouches, rawhide, runes, tarot, sea salt, statues, talismans, snuffers, affirmations, meditation, visualization, imagination, subliminals, repetition, reprogramming, neuro-linguistic programming, and dreams.
As you progress you will discover that the only tools you actually need are the mind (Air), passion (fire), creativity (water), and form/body (earth). Remember that everything is a tool used to teach you about ENERGY, FOCUS, and INTENT. Once you grasp the basics experiment with ways of using only yourself as the required tools; that is true magic.
Some traditions wear special robes, others work Sky-clad or naked. This is your choice as a Solitary. Some believe if clothing is worn, it must be made of natural fibers. Those who work naked often claim that clothing interferes with energy and serves as a sort of 'block' between the practitioner and the god/goddess. Personally, I don't think it makes one bit of difference -- it is intent and focus that determine these things. And for those who say that naked is the Old Way and only valid way I say -- try doing an hour long working in the winter during a snow storm and then get back to me on your ideas about whether or not the Forces might not find clothing perfectly acceptable!
© 2000 CDM Services