Virtually any item can be used in the practice of Witchcraft. The uses of the item depend upon its correspondences, that is, the properties or traits that that item naturally possesses. For example, dirt has a number of uses to a Witch. It is the ground beneath our feet, the foundation upon which all things are built; it is fertile, nourishing the plants and trees. So, a Witch might carry a bit of dirt on them when they need to feel grounded, stabilized, or when trying to conceive a child.
To figure out the correspondences of any object, first look at what it is and how it is normally used; this will give you hints to its magickal properties and how you can use it. Another example: a cat uses its whiskers to keep itself safe; they let the cat know whether or not it can fit into a tight place. So, cat whiskers can be used for protection, especially when traveling (in this or the Otherworlds; cats are said to “walk-between-the-worlds.”) Since they are quite thin and hard to spot when not attached to the cat’s face, they also have properties of luck and good fortune, since finding one can be difficult.
This next series of mini-articles will cover the various tools used within the religion of Wicca and the practices of Witchcraft and Divination. However, the tools mentioned are not the be-all-and-end-all that can be used to these ends. As previously stated, anything can be used –with the proper intent and focus.
Book of Shadows
A book containing all the rites, rituals, and spells of a witch, it may contain herb lore, correspondences, and other information deemed essential by that witch. In Wiccan coven use, there is on main book kept by the High Priestess and High Priest with the members keeping abbreviated versions (what information they are allowed to copy from the main book is based upon their rank and training within the coven,) and containing any other information they deem essential. There is no one true book, no original book (and there never was one, despite the claims of many a so-called “witch;”) all are valid and to be respected.
For more info check out the article A Witch’s Book of Shadows.
Masculine; a ritual knife, usually dull -it is never used for cutting. May be either single or double-edged, many traditions require a black handle. May be aligned to either the Element of Fire or the Element of Air. It is often used interchangeably with a Wand, they are complimentary to eachother (i.e. if the Athame is Fire, then the Wand will be Air, and vice versa.) As aligned with Fire, it is used for projecting energy, such as in casting a Circle or directing energy in spell work. When aligned with the Element of Air, it is used as a tool of invocation, to draw energies in rather than push them out, such as when calling the Quarters/Elements, Gods, and other Spirits or Entities.
Masculine; may be made of wood, metal, or crystal, though wood is the most common and most preferred. It is a smaller version of the Staff and Stang and can be used interchangeably. May be aligned to either the Element of Air or the Element of Fire. It is often used interchangeably with the Athame, they are the complimentary to eachother (i.e. if the Wand is Air, then the Athame is Fire, and vice versa.) When aligned to Air, it is a tool of invocation, used to draw energies in and when calling the Quarters/Elements, Gods, and other Spirits or Entities. When aligned to Fire, it is used to project or push energies, such as when directing energies as part of spellcraft. It is a bit more versatile than the Athame, as it travels safely and can be taken on airplanes. It is also an better suited to use in Circles with children, for obvious safety reasons, and is a tool that they would enjoy making and using.
Also called a Cup or Goblet. It may be made out of any material, but common and often preferred is silver for its correspondence to the Lunar Goddess. The Element of Water, it is a feminine tool symbolic of the womb of the Great Mother and the Ocean, from which all life came. In ritual, it is used for holding water on the altar or for holding the ritual wine or beverage. In spell work, it can be used interchangeable with the cauldron when being used for its energetic qualities and symbolic representations.
Representative of the Goddess’ womb and the ocean, from whence all life on this planet arose, the cauldron is fittingly aligned to the Element of Water. It is, obviously, a feminine tool, used for drawing and holding energy. It is, however, a tool of transformation and is thus aligned to the Element of Fire. As it is a vessel, it is also a tool of wisdom and can thus be used for divination, such as in scrying and wax readings. Use it practically to hold bale fires, make potions, and safely hold candles during spells.
Besom: the Witch's Broom
The Witch’s broom, used to cleanse an area of baneful energies. It can represent the Element of Air or Fire, depending upon Tradition and preference. The staff or handle is Masculine, while the brush, or broom part, is Feminine. It is this unity and balancing of polarities (not opposites, mind you,) that make the besom a natural choice for inclusions in Handfastings. Jumping the Broom, as part of marriages, is a tradition that sprang up both in medieval Europe and in the antebellum US. In both cases, the people doing the “jumping” were refused acknowledgment of their marriages by the Church, and thus had no recognition legally of their Union. This was their way of sealing the Union and stating their intention to each other, their community, and their God(s). Sweep your Circle with a Besom as part of the purification of space, hang one above the doorway for protection, or above your bed to increase fertility.
Masculine; Element of Fire. It is only with Sword in hand that the High Priestess may assume the role of High Priest (though this may be true to Tradition, how true to practice it is is an entirely different matter.) Primarily used for projection, a larger version of the Athame, it is used to cast the Circle and command various energies. Commanding and protective, the Sword is not a tool for casual use. Ideal for group rituals, both for its size and presence.
Staff and Stang
Masculine; made of wood, often decorated with crystals, feathers, and charms. The Staff differs from that of the Stang in that the Staff is straight whereas the Stang is forked at the top; they have the same uses and correspondences. Both are a larger version of the Wand and can be used interchangeably, both Staff for Stang (and vice versa,) and Staff or Stang for Wand (and vice versa.) May be aligned to either the Element of Air or the Element of Fire. The Staff or Stang can also be used as the primary ritual tool, being used for all that Athame, Wand, or Sword would be used for. They are each a personal tool, made to the height of the owner, and should not be used by anyone else.
Element of Air; the bell itself is Feminine, while the clapper is Masculine, separate they are useless as it is only together that they are able to accomplish anything. In ritual, a Bell is used to signify key points of the ritual, specifically beginnings and endings of the overall ritual but also of beginnings and endings of any rites within that ritual. For example, once the space is cleansed and the Circle cast, the Bell may be rung to signify the start of the work but also to further seal the Circle. The Bell may then be rung again once all Spirits, Elements, and Deities that are being worked with have been properly called and have appeared. A Bell can also be used as part of cleansings and banishings, as its clean, pure notes have the ability to drive away unwanted energies. According to folk lore, the ringing of a Bell can chase away faeries.
Element of Fire. Used in ritual and in magick as a significator or point of focus. In ritual, a candle may be used to represent each Deity being honored in that ritual (i.e. one candle per Deity,) or a single candle may be lit to represent nameless Universal Energy, that from which all comes. Candles may also be used to represent the Elements, especially the Element of Fire. In this fashion, a candle representing Fire can be used as part of consecrations, cleansings, purifications, and banishings. In magick, a candle may be used to represent the subject of the spell, such as a person, object, or habit, for example. Or, a candle may be used simply as a focal point, a place to center one’s concentration on while one does the work internally (this is the case with most candle spells.) Candles can also be used this way as part of meditation, as something to focus one’s attention on to better subdue the conscious mind. Candles can also be used for scrying: simply gaze into the flame while focusing on what it is you seek to know.
For more info check out the article Candle Spells.
aka Stones, Gems, Gemstones, semi-precious stones; Element of Earth. Crystals are used to amplify energy, heal, charge, and also as part of and as standalone charms (amulets and talismans.) Each type of crystal has its own specific properties and Elemental associations. Some crystals may be better suited for healing, some for protections, perhaps working with Chakras, or maybe general spell craft. Clear Quartz is an interesting type of crystal as it can be programmed, or charged, for any use. You may also find that so0me stones are more effective for you than others.
NOTE: Most crystals are obtained through strip mining. If any part of your practice involves honoring the Earth or healing, it is highly suggested that you be scrupulous of from where and how your crystals are obtained, choose ethically harvested stones!
See also the article The Joys of a Found Stone for some ideas on eco-friendly, cost effective stones, and Working with Crystals for everything you need to know to get started.
As living creatures, herbs possess a vitality and energy that can be harnessed in magick and Witchcraft. While it is perfectly possible to work with the plant while alive, it is more common that harvested and dried herbs are used. See here for more information on properly and respectfully harvesting herbs. Each specific type of plant has its own general energetic attributes (i.e. correspondences) and magickal uses, such as healing, protection, love, and divination. Each type of herb also corresponds to one of the physical Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Herbs may be used in a variety of forms with the most common being dried, then powdered, and then smoldered (i.e. incense.) Other uses include Teas, Tinctures, Natural Oils, Powders, and Charm Bags.
aka Speculum, Dark Mirror; a Divination Tool. Used for scrying and Drawing Down the Moon in indoor rituals. Either concave or flat, though concave may be easier when first developing one’s scrying abilities. One can easily be made by painting a piece of convex glass black (such as from the face of a clock; any thick paint will do, such as acrylic which can be gotten at any craft store) and setting it in a picture frame (i.e. paint the bulgy side black so that you cannot see through the glass. Once dry, using a sturdy craft glue, glue a piece of velvet, or similar fabric, to the back to prevent the paint from being scratched off, and put the glass in a picture frame; the frame can be decorated however desired, though any sort of design or pattern on the frame could be distracting while scrying.) Making a Scrying Mirror can be a great craft for kids or for families that practice together.
See also the article Scrying for a how-to on scrying and other objects that can be used to scry with.
Element of Earth. The Pentacle is a flat disc and may be made out of metal, stone, wood, or even wax. It sits flat upon the altar, usually at center, and will have various symbols inscribed upon it, varying from Tradition to Tradition. The term “pentacle” has come to commonly mean a pentagram (5 pointed star) within a circle, however the tool Pentacle need not have this symbol upon it and often does not. It is used as a representation of Earth on the altar and is a tool used for charging, consecrating, and blessing items. As such, it is where the ritual Cakes will be placed, as they are always consecrated as part of that Rite. The Pentacle can also be used for protection, as it is a sort of magickal shield. Experimentation is fully recommended to better understand this use for while protecting with a Pentacle is rather simple, it is also quite effective.
Masculine; Element of Earth. More than just a representation of Earth on the altar, Salt is also used in consecrating Water and casting a Circle. Magickally, Salt can be sprinkled about for protection as well as for purification. Salt may also be used in the consecration of ritual tools and spell items. As Salt is fundamental to life, it may be used as part of healing magick.
Sea Salt possesses the same qualities as Earth Salt, however it additionally represents Union of the Divine (Masculine Salt in the Feminine Water.) As it does come from the Ocean, Sea Salt has a noticeably strong watery, Feminine influence, making it even more suited for healing. As such, it is also suitably used when working with Oceanic deities.
aka Thurible, Brazier; Masculine; Element of Air. Perhaps one of the most overlooked (though frequently used) altar tools, the censer is more than just an “incense burner.” Though, its primary use is to hold the smoldering charcoal briquette and smoking incense, this is not the be-all of its purpose. The censer is a tool aiding in transference. Consider its uses in sending messages to the Otherworlds, casting a Circle, in the giving of offerings and libations, or in astral travel; the censer is a tool that aids in the sending energies from one place to another.