Tools for Witchy Practices


If you’re new to spellcasting or well-seasoned, there’s a variety of sources that will go all out in describing a variety of tools and accoutrements you need to perform a specific spell. Now, I want to make it clear right here, from the get-go, that tools do NOT make the witch. What’s most important in casting your spells in your intention. If you’re not fully focussed on sending all of your energies and intentions for your spell into the universe, it’s not going to work as well as it could, if at all. Tools are only objects that can help elevate or direct your energy - YOU are the true source.


So, now that that’s out of the way, below is a list (in alphabetical order, of course) of common tools and items that you may choose to add to or include in your practice, should you feel so called.


Altar

An altar is a sacred space (deemed so by oneself) where you can perform your spells and rituals, and where you can have a permanent setup of sorts to display anything you choose in regards to your craft (literally anything - a shrine to a chosen deity, crystals you feel specifically drawn to, any spells jars you’ve made … ANYTHING!). Typically a flat surface is best for an altar, as it makes for easier workings during spellcasting. Honestly, a lot of creating and using an altar is personal preference - having an altar cloth (or not), having a designated surface for the altar or simply using the floor, etc. If you’re not “out of the broom closet” yet, you may even choose to make a “temporary” or “portable” altar (in something like a designated shoebox, or you could even go as small as a little altoids tin if you’re so inclined), or even have a more discrete but permanent altar on a bookshelf, where your items on display look like they’re just that, rather than part of something bigger.


Altar Bowl

An altar bowl is, you guessed it, a bowl that stays on your altar. The altar bowl is used for both potion making and scrying, so it should be able to hold a variety of items, such as salt, herbs, crystals, and water. Bowls for scrying are usually dark or black in colour, and in this case an altar bowl should be wide and fairly deep.


Athame

An athame (or witch’s knife) is a ritual dagger that does not seem to be overly popular for witches today. It has many symbolic uses, including cutting through negative energies and obstacles, and severing bonds, and is never to be used for physical doings (such as harming someone, or, less aggressively here, cutting vegetables or something of the like). There’s a lot of personal preferences that go into choosing or customizing your athame. Typically, they are 4-6” in length, have a black handle, and are double-edged. Some witches prefer an athame with a curve (like a crescent moon), while others prefer straight. Other uses for the athame include carving candles for specific spells, and some witches prefer to use an athame over a wand for casting circles.


Bells

Witch bells are a fantastic method (i.e. sound) to break up and banish negative energies in your space. You can use them for cleansing your home, your ritual space prior to casting a circle, or to invoke universal powers prior to beginning of your spell. Classically, a witch’s bell is crafted from brass.


Besom

A besom, or a broom, is classic witch iconnery - popular in costumes, Hollywood portrayals, and old folklore alike. The besom holds much significance to a witch, as it represents hospitality and maintaining the balance of harmony. Besoms are used to break apart and sweep away negative energies through the home, simply by using a sweeping motion a few inches above the floor. The besom, with its round bottom, is also a symbol of fertility, and is popular in handfasting ceremonies. They also represent protection when kept by the front door of the home or on/near the hearth.


Candles

Candles are essentially standard in most witches’ practices. They are super versatile, as they can be carved, dressed in oils and/or herbs, and you can use different colour candles to invoke different energies in your spells. Candles offer a point of focus, as you can gaze into the soft, flickering flame and allow it to calm your mind. Candles can offer protection, and can neutralize any negative energies and bring about positive ones. There is a lot of significance in the candle as it is, as it is said by some to represent each of the 4 elements - air in the smoke, fire in the flame, earth in the candle itself, and water in the melted wax.

In spells, if a coloured candle is called for but you don’t have that specific one on hand, a white candle can be substituted for any colour (we’ll get into colour coordinations and meanings in another post). As well, keep in mind the size and shape of the candles will have an effect on the length of time the candle burns for - so if you are performing a spell that will take an hour, don’t choose a little birthday candle that will be out in 30 minutes or less, and vice versa: don’t choose a candle that will burn for 7 hour if your spell will only take a maximum of 90 minutes. Also, please have some safety precautions in place when using candles to prevent any disasters or mishaps from occurring: ALWAYS burn in a safe and controlled manner and space, and never leave a lit candle unattended.


Cauldron

Ah, the cauldron. A classic witch’s tool - used for brewing potions, among other things. Witches nowadays still use cauldrons, but for a variety of reasons: to burn a ritual fire (as most are fireproof), create magickal potions or cook ceremonial meals, or to accentuate a part of a ritual. The cauldron is representative of the womb, so it can nurture and grow your intentions.


Chalice

The chalice (or really any “fancy” cup you want) is used only to hold your ritual brews, magick potions, and other ceremonial beverages. Typically a chalice has a longer stem so that it may be passed between witches, symbolizing the connectedness and unity of purpose of the group. Some witches choose to adorn their chalices with ribbons, gemstones, symbols, and sayings that have personal meaning to them.


Crystals

Crystals are fantastic, as they possess pure and natural magick from the earth. Different crystals have different properties that can be used to elevate your spells, or even to aid your own energies in your daily life (I have a malachite crystal in my wallet for abundance, and on days where I know ahead of time I’ll be facing something mentally trying, I’ll put some crystals in my bra). Crystals are wonderful because they can be recharged in a variety of ways, from sitting in the light of a full moon, to salt, to selenite, to incense (the list really goes on and on here). As with the white candle, a clear quartz can take the place of any other crystal required in a spell.


Essential Oils

We all know someone who is OBSESSED with essential oils (if you don’t, it might be you). Witches are a fan because of their potency of magickal properties, as the oil is essentially a concentrate of a specific plant. Some spells may use oils, though in sparring quantities because of the potency. Essential oils can also be used to dress candles, added to ritual baths, and used to anoint oneself (please note that these oils can cause allergic reactions if placed directly on the skin, and some are even toxic. ALWAYS do your research prior to using oils on yourself, others, or in ritual baths, and ALWAYS dilute with a carrier oil before putting essential oils on your body!).


Grimoire

The grimoire, or book of shadows, is essentially a journal in which a witch documents her spells, rituals, and information she thinks is important to her craft. A grimoire can take on many forms (binder, journal), can be hand-written or virtual, and can include essentially anything you want to put into it. The grimoire just helps you keep track of all the information, all the spells and rituals, and everything else floating around in your head that you need to just get out. This is also a great place to write out your shadow work!


Herbs

Many spells require herbs to amplify their overall potency. Each herb carries their own significance (discussed in another post at another time), and while there are instances of overlap, for a kitchen witch the actual taste and aroma of the herb is just as important as the significance behind it. There are writings and poems dating to way back when that mention a variety of herbs and flowers and their healing properties - quite a few of these carry forward to modern day.


Incense

Incense is a fantastic tool used for cleansing (and making everything you own smell, well, like incense). It comes in a variety of scents and you can get it in easy burn sticks, if you will, and resin chunks to be burned on charcoal. The smoke from incense has cleansing properties, and is great for clearing out rooms of negative energies, tools, and bottles, and divination items. Plus, it smells great.


Jars

Jars! Witches have so. Many. JARS. Why, you ask? Well, to store all the herbs, ingredients, and other such items used for spells! Jars are imperative for keeping all of your “spell pantry” items organized and fresh. As well, if you’re avid on cultivating your own herbs, flowers, or anything of the like, you’ll need some sort of vessel to store them, no?


Mortar & Pestle

A mortar & pestle is great from grinding your own herb mixtures for spells, as you can really set the intention into your actions. It’s also good for, say, grinding eggshells into powder to add a little “umph” to your protection spells.


Oracle Cards

Oracle cards, like tarot cards (but so different at the same time), offer a glimpse into the general future or a specified situation. Oracle card decks come with a varied number of cards, typically about 48-68, and have no set similarities between one deck to the next. Each oracle deck is unique in its art, messages, and meanings. Oracle cards can be used on their own or in tandem with tarot cards as they tend to offer a broad outlook or “big picture” of an event, where tarot offers a more detailed analysis.


Pendulum

A pendulum is a divination tool that consists of a small weight at the end of a short chain. After cleansing, ask the pendulum simple questions to gain insight on yourself or events concerning you. You can use a premade chart or cloth with the answers (commonly yes, no, maybe, rephrase) and read the way the pendulum swings over the chart, or you can analyze the way the pendulum swings on its own to learn your answers. Pendulums can be made from a variety of materials and crystals. Keep in mind that each pendulum is different, and will give you different movement responses for the same question!


Pentacle

The pentacle, or pentagram, is one of the most common and most essential tools a witch can have. It is a powerful and positive symbol that offers the witch spiritual protection and a safe, happy homecoming. The correct orientation for the pentacle is with one point upright, 2 points downward, and 2 points facing out towards the sides, such that it mimics the human body. Pentacles are everywhere and are commonly infused with multiple aspects of a witch’s life, including symbols around the house and/or place of work (even a pet’s collar!) for protection, in spells, on the altar … EVERYWHERE.

NOTE: The pentagram in the upright position is associated with positivity and protection and looks like the human form, while the pentagram in the reversed position or upside-down is said to resemble a goat, which symbolizes the horned god of some neo-pagan faiths. When the overall outlook of witchery was frowned upon, the reversed pentagram became associated with both Satan and devil worship, making its way into horror movies and other various depictions. Witches with good intentions and practicing “white” magick will have the pentagram solely in the upright position.


Runes

Runes (meaning “secret” or “mystery”) are a form of divination that are based on the old Nordic alphabet, in which each letter (rune) has a specified meaning to an animal, deity, object, or condition. These runes can also hold a deeper meaning when combined with spellwork.


Ribbons, Ropes, & Twine

These items are great for creating bundles of herbs for drying (and later burning), as well as for knot spells (typically attractions, banishing, and protection). They are also nice if you want to add a little something extra to your spell jars. The act of tying a knot encases the mental and emotional energies at the time of tying within the knot until you are ready to unleash them.


Spell Bottles

As with regular sized jars, some witches (like myself) have so many little jars! These smaller jars, usually with a cork for closure, are used to contain various elements (herbs, flowers, and/or other ingredients) with similar energies related to a specific intention. The bottle is essentially used as a vessel for the spell. Once all of the ingredients are contained, the stopper is put in the bottle and the jar is sealed with a designated candle, typically with a colour that coordinates to the intention of the spell.


Tarot Cards

Tarot cards are a beautiful way to connect with your spirit guides when you are in need of guidance. Though there are a variety of decks available to you, they will all contain the same 78 cards with similar (if not the same) meanings between decks. There are multiple ways you can lay out these cards (called “spreads”), and a multitude of reasons that the cards can be called upon. Apart from divination, tarot cards may be used in spells, as talismans, and for visualization, among other uses.


Wand

One of the most common mystical attributes in Hollywood accounts of witchcraft are wands. The main purpose for a wand in practical witchcraft is simply to direct your energy. Wands can be made from a variety of materials, including various woods (each wood having a unique significance), resin, or even crystals. The important part here, as with everything else in this list, is intention. The wand is used to guide and direct your energy, such as in the act of casting a circle.


Happy witchery and blessed be!

References


Alexander, Skye. The Modern Guide to Witchcraft. 2014.


Alexander, Skye. The Modern Witchcraft Spell Book. 2015.


Ahlquist, Diane. Moon Spells. 2002.


Hawthorn, Ambrosia. The Spell Book for New Witches. 2020.


Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The Green Witch. 2017.


Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The Green Witch’s Grimoire. 2020.


Robbins, Shawn; Greenaway, Leanna. Wiccapedia. 2011.


Vanderbeck, Paige. Green Witchcraft. 2020.