Athame? Besom? Chalice?
To someone who is new to the Wiccan practice, it can seem like an arduous task trying to figure out what tools you need when performing a spell or engaging in a ritual. Whether you’re practicing solo or part of a coven, knowing the tools of the trade is something that all new witches should learn. In this article, we’ll explore some of the more common items you’ll need as you continue on your journey.
Before we dive in to the witch’s toolbox, however, I would like to make one thing clear: you already have the most critical tool you need to practice witchcraft: YOU! Although the tools I talk about here are great things to have and they definitely enhance the entire spell/ritual experience, the only thing that you really need to practice witchcraft is your body.
When I first began practicing witchcraft, I was on a very limited budget. In fact, the only things I could afford to purchase at first were a few white votive candles and some extra virgin olive oil. When I dedicated myself to the practice of Wicca, I was living in a small town and the only place I could find Wiccan supplies was on Amazon.
Later on, I found a new age/esoteric shop in a neighboring city, but it was a 65 mile drive one-way to get there. So if you’re just starting out with witchcraft and you don’t have the means to buy any of the tools I discuss here, don’t be discouraged! Magick is created not with the things we use during our rituals, but with our will and intent.
Dedicating Your Tools
Once you begin to amass different tools, it is a good idea to dedicate and cleanse them for your magickal purposes. The reasons for this are twofold: first, cleansing the tools ensures that no residual energy from individuals who have handled the objects in the past (such as during the manufacturing and shipping process) remain on the object. Second, it provides a cosmic connection of sorts between you and your tools.
There are many ways in which you can cleanse your tools. Smoke from incense is a great way to cleanse, as is using sea salt. The cleansing doesn’t have to be anything fancy; the main goal is to ensure that energetically, your tools are clear of residual energy. You also don’t have to do a complex ritual to dedicate them.
When I obtain a new object to add to my collection, I hold the object in my hands, focusing on infusing my energy with the object. I take some time and really look at the nuances of the tool; its shape, size, weight, etc. Then, I recite a simple incantation to complete the process. Something like the following:Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download
I dedicate this [name of the object] for the working of my magick. May it always be used for light, love, and positive things, harming none.
That’s it! Even if you’re part of a coven, a witch’s toolkit is a very personal collection. Personally, I do not let anyone handle any of the objects in my collection. This is just a personal preference, but you’ll find it’s a preference that’s popular amongst many witches. If someone does handle any of your tools, it’s a good idea to cleanse them again before you use it in any spell or ritual.
Now, let’s talk about what you would find in a beginner’s kit for practicing the Craft.
Pronounced uh-THAHM-ay, the athame is probably the most common tool that every witch possesses. An athame is a short, double-edged knife, similar to a dagger, that has a steel blade with a black handle (however, there are athames out there with wooden handles). The athame is used to direct energy. It is used when casting a ritual circle by either tracing the circumference of the circle or pointing to the four corners of the circle.
Generally, the athame is never used to cut physical objects or inscribe symbols on anything. It should only be used to direct energy. See “Boline” below for information on a tool you can use for cutting objects and inscribing symbols.
Pronounced BESS-uhm, a besom is a broom. Just a regular old broom. When you think of a witch and a broom, obviously you think of the Wicked Witch of the West riding around Oz harassing Dorothy and the Munchkins. In addition to being a good mode of transportation (Disclaimer: sarcasm. You should not attempt to replace your current mode of transportation with a besom. It will not work.) a besom has a few different roles in witchcraft. First, it is used symbolically to “sweep” an area clean of the energy that is there. When used for this purpose, it is generally held just above the floor and it is moved around the space just as you would a regular broom.
A besom is also used during some Wiccan wedding ceremonies. Known as “jumping the broom,” which has origins in Romani and ancient Welsh tradition, the besom is considered the “threshold of the home.” The newly wed Wiccans would jump over the broom to signify entering into a new (symbolic) home together.
In Raven Grimassi’s book, “Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft”, he states that “Traditionally, the Witches’ broom is made from three woods: an ash handle, a birch twig for the brush, and willow for the binding string (in honor of Hecate).” A besom doesn’t have to be made from these materials, nor does it even have to bear a resemblance to the “old” besom (such as the one pictured above). But be warned: there’s something about that old besom that brings out a cackle in you and the urge to say “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, too!”
Boline (or Bolline)
Pronounced bow-LEEN, a boline is a ritual knife that is used for cutting things or inscribing symbols on candles during a ritual. A boline is basically a “utility knife”. Although originally the boline was a sickle-shaped knife (as pictured above), it doesn’t have to be. Many modern Wiccans use a variety of different knives as a boline. This is one of the only tools of the trade that doesn’t necessarily serve a magickal purpose. Personally, I use a small Leatherman-type multi-knife because I find the pliers on it to come in handy when I’m burning a piece of paper during a ritual.
As we saw earlier with the besom, there are some tools that evoke the image of a stereotypical witch. The cauldron is one of those things. However, in witchcraft, the cauldron is not used for “bubble, bubble, toil ‘n’ trouble”, but is instead viewed in a symbolic sense as the “womb of the Goddess.” Functionally, it can serve several different purposes. It can be used for mixing oils, holding incense, housing a candle, or, if filled with water, it can be used for scrying. Although cauldrons can be large, multi-gallon containers, more commonly you see smaller versions that would fit on a table for use on a smaller scale.
Personally, I’ve used the small cauldron in a negativity banishing ritual that involves the use of some rubbing alcohol and a match, which creates an awesome flame inside the cauldron (CAUTION! Check out the full ritual here, and be sure to follow the instructions carefully! I cannot be held responsible if you inadvertently burn your house down. A careful witch is a happy witch.)
The chalice is another tool that is symbolic of the womb of the Goddess. “It is a symbol of containment… The opening represents receptivity to spiritual energy. The base is symbolic of the material world and the stem represents the connection between heaven and earth.” (Grimassi, 2015) The chalice can be used to hold wine, which is typically consumed at the end of a ritual during the “cakes and wine” time. Other than that, the chalice is used more as a symbolic tool that is present on the altar during spells and rituals.
Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle is an ages-old symbol (there have been mortar/pestles found that date back to at least 35,000 BCE) and it’s definitely not specific to witchcraft. It’s symbol is used for pharmacology and pharmacies due to the fact that a mortar and pestle was used in the 18th and 19th century to grind up different ingredients for a prescription medication.
For purposes of witchcraft, it’s a utilitarian tool that’s used to mix various things like herbs. Personally, I use my mortar and pestle to crush up a combination of herbs and flowers to create my own custom incense. I crush and mix the ingredients thoroughly, meditating on what purpose I want the incense to serve. So if it’s mixin’ you need to do, get yourself a mortar and pestle.
The last tool that we’ll discuss in this article is the wand. The wand is generally a sturdy branch taken from a tree and measures between 12-16 inches. The wand is used to charge objects, invoke spirits, invoke the God & Goddess, and serves other purposes that vary from tradition to tradition (and, indeed, even witch to witch). Many witches decorate their wand or inscribe runes upon it.
There are other tools that you’ll come across; some of them will appeal to you, others won’t. In the future, I’ll do a second part of the Tools of the Trade and describe some of the other “moving parts” used in Wiccan spell work such as the materials you use in addition to the tools (candles, herbs, incense, etc.), but the tools I’ve mentioned above are by far the most common items you’ll see in a witch’s toolkit.