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Friday, 5 December 2008

The Witch Tools 1 Altar Tools

The Witch Tools 1 Altar Tools Cover
"The same of the Working Tools; let them be
as ordinary things that any may have in their
houses. Let the pentacles be of wax that
they may be melted or broken at once. Have
no sword unless your rank allows you one,
and have no names or signs on anything.
Write the names and signs on in ink before
consecrating them and wash off immediately after."

Rule one, when it comes to tools, is to use whatever feels right to you. The descriptions that follow are suggestions only and are not to be considered strict dictates of Craft. These suggestions have been culled from a wide range of books covering a number of conflicting traditions. They have further been filtered through my own personal preferences. There are very few strict dictates of Craft. If a bread knife feels like a sword to you, then, by your power of will, it is a sword.

Rule two, never haggle over the price of the tool. If you truly desire the tool for ritual purposes, then pay the set price without comment or question. Its perfectly fine to shop for bargains, however you demean the tool with haggling.

The Temple

Many Witches work and meet outdoors. However, this is not always possible for the city or town dweller. Your temple can be a whole building, a room or a small section of a room. A room set aside for working is ideal, however, this is not always possible. Whatever space
you set aside to become your temple, should be thoroughly cleaned and dedicated.

The word "temple" derives from the Latin "templum", which comes from the root 'tem' meaning to divide. To the Etruscans, this meant the dividing of the heavens into four quarters. The intersection at the center of the heavens was the cosmic temple. The Wiccan Temple is a sacred place in where the worshippers enter into sacred time to live with their Gods at the moment of creation. Often a Wiccan temple is painted black. This is because black cuts out distractions and creates a feeling of mystery. Black also relates to the spiritual level of the element Earth. Black also symbolizes the formless cosmic night prior to the moment of creation. This is the unformed potential of the cosmic womb. Black also represents the night, which is the Moon's domain. Sometimes a Wiccan temple is painted in the elemental colors, or hung with quarter banners. This scheme represents the next step in creation, where the point of origin is expanded in the four cardinal directions, enabling one to find one's way. However, if your temple is not closely aligned to the Cardinal directions, this scheme will not work.


Physical YellowRed Blue Green
MentalGreyOrangeSea-Green Brown
Spiritual VioletSun-Yellow IndigoBlack

To use all the colors at once would be very distracting, so a choice of levels must be made. The physical level is the one most used. Symbols of each element is also painted or employed at each quarter. Although the whole temple is sacred, it is the magical circle that
contains the energy that is raised during ritual. This invisible barrier is raised and dissolved each time a ritual is performed. Sometimes a representation of the Magical Circle is painted on the floor. This is to indicate where the circle will be cast, and also to
assist the members to stay within it's protective field. The traditional size of the circle is nine feet in diameter, however, this really depends on the size of your temple and your membership. Symbolically circles represent original perfection, wholeness and totality. Since there is no beginning or end to a circle it also represents timelessness and infinity. Many Wiccans see the Magic Circle as the cosmic womb of the Goddess, and the cycles of life including the seasons. In macrocosm circles represent the universe. In microcosm it
represents the self. Three circles in a Wiccan temple indicate the physical, mental and spiritual levels of existence. A circle within a square is what you have when you draw a circle in a square temple. This represents the union of heaven and earth. Squaring the circle is drawing down the circle of heaven to earth by building a square temple.

Altar and Altar Tools

Your altar tools are the sacred instruments with which you do your work. They are an extension of your self, and thus you must be patient and take time in acquiring the tools that you can personally relate to. The process of getting tools that are `right' for you, can span over years. In the meantime, you can work with temporary tools before finding your own personal implements. Some traditions feel that the altar tools must be bought brand new, because second hand tools may carry negative energies of the previous owner. Similarly, people feel that mass produced tools are not suitable for ritual. Many people seek only those tools that have been created by artisans who put love and care into their work. However, these can be quite expensive. Some people also feel that the witch should produce all of her/his own tools. Whatever the case, your tools must be thoroughly cleansed and consecrated before they are put to use. Most people feel that when you are buying altar tools, you should not haggle over the price, as this could create the impression that you do not value the item. The tools that you have selected to become your magical items should be used only for that purpose. If you are unwilling to pay the asked price, look elsewhere. Your altar tools should always be treated with the utmost respect.

The Altar - The consecrated place that holds the witch's instruments and is the "mise en scene" of the magickal workings. Any table will do. Try tohave it large enough to keep all the necessary tools but not large enough to cramp the circle area. An altar top or cloth is optional. The left side is feminine (Earth and Water), the right side is masculine (Fire and Air).

The altar signifies many things; divine presence, sacrifice, reunion with the diety by means of sacrifice, integration and thanksgiving. Its situation at the east end of the temple, cathedral, or church represents the position of worship towards the sun and the
direction of paradise. Being in the shape of a tomb symbolizes the passage from death to life and time to eternity. Steps up to the altar are ritual ascent. Stone altars signify the indestructability and everlasting duration of the divinity, associated often with the tree as the supplementary aspect of change and renewal.

The main focus of the Temple, as a womb symbol, is the Altar. The Tools which are placed on the Altar, represent the story of creation, and the principals which govern it. Sacrificial altars of ancient times, represented union with the divine by the means of sacrifice.
Today, however, the burning of incense is seen as a suitable sacrifice. Wiccan Altars can be round, square or rectangular. Any table made of natural materials will do fine, as long as it is big enough to hold all of your altar tools. Building your own altar is preferable. Use natural materials such as wood, stone, slate etc. Avoid cement and plastics, as these are void of lifeforce. Altars made out of wood, stand for change and renewal. Altars made out of stone represent indestructibility and the everlasting duration of divinity. A wood altar with a stone top makes a good combination. Altars can be dedicated to a specific deity by building the altar with materials associated to that particular deity. A dedicated altar is often painted with the appropriate colors, and has related symbols carved or drawn on it.

The Sword - is the symbol of power, protection, authority, royalty,leadership, justice, courage, strength, vigilance, and physical examination. It also represents the male principle, the active force and is phallic, with the sheath as the receptive feminine. On the metaphysical level, the sword is symbolic of discrimination, the penetrating power of the intellect, spiritual decision and the inviolability of the sacred. It possesses supernatural powers either on earth or under the water and is associated with giants and supernatural beings, such as the Lady of the Lake. It is also wielded by the cosmic or solar hero, the conqueror of dragons and demonic powers. It is a symbol of the higher forms of knighthood with the lance as the lower form. The sword separates and divides the body and soul, heaven and earth, and the flaming sword separates man from paradise. The two-edged sword symbolizes the dual powers and universal currents in manifestation, creation, and destruction, life and death, powers which are contrary in appearance but complementary and one in reality. The sword is a channel for energy and is used to create sacred space. It is an air tool, although Janet and Stewart Farrar attribute the sword and athame to Fire and the wand to Air. It is ritually exchangeable with the athame. When a woman witch buckles on a sword, she is ritually assuming a male role and must be regarded and treated as masculine until she takes it off again. The difference between the athame and the sword is that the sword is more formally authoritative. A Coven circle is cast with the sword
to underline the group significance of the act, whereas a private circle would be cast with the athame. The sword's presence adds weight to a solemn occasion.

The Wand - should be a thirteen inch oak rod. It may be polished, painted black and tipped with silver, but even a rough un-finished one will suffice. This is a passive Fire tool. It is not strictly necessary.

The wand familiar to us from fairy tales may have tree worship at its root, for magickal branches plucked from sacred trees in sacred groves figure in many mythologies. The most efficacious wand will be made from one of the woods sacred to the White Goddess: elderberry,
willow, rowan, hazel, oak, or mistletoe. A straight and slender branch should be hollowed out at the centre(the pith removed), sanded to a silky smoothness, filled with cotton wool, and brought to life with three drops of the witches own blood. Some traditions recommend that it be inscribed with a pentagram as well as the witch's ritual name.

It should be blessed in the name of the Mother Goddess and consecrated as a tool of the witches will. The stronger the will, the more invincible the wand. It is quieter tool than the sword or the athame. "Its use is to call up and control certain angels and genii to whom it would not be meet to use the Magic Sword". When it and the scourge are held in the Osiris position, the scourge represents Severity and the wand Mercy.

The Scourge - was, in old times, used for purification. It is now mostly for initiations. The traditional scourge was made of leather with a phallic handle. Modern scourges commonly consist of four, six, or eight strands each of the colours red, white, and blue. Cotton embroidery fibre is OK. Strands should be 13 inches long. It is a symbol of the discipline of the craft. The scourge has two uses: 1) purely symbolic and 2) for gentle, monotonous, semi-hypnotic application to affect the blood circulation as an aid to 'gaining the sight'.

The White-handled Knife (Bolline/Burin) - is double-edged and sharp. It is used to inscribe tools, candles, etc. , and to carve other magickal tools and objects within the circle. White symbolizes the Goddess. It is only used during ritual and is used for no other purpose.

Crystal - Some traditions have a scrying crystal on the Goddess side of the altar.

The Four Elements - Earth / North / Pentacle/ Salt/ Green
Air / East / Censor / Incense / Yellow
Fire / South / Fire candle / Candle / Red
Water / West / Chalice / Wine/ Blue

The Pentacle - circular wooden or metal plaque with a circled pentacle on it. The point of the pentacle faces up. The pentacle symbolizes Earth. It can cover the libation bowl or be used in place of the cake dish, or salt dish.

The Censor/(Incense burner)/(Thurible) - It is the symbol for Air and is used as a correspondence to the Goddess as a female element. Use sand or sea-salt as a base to contain the heat. Use charcoal and granular incense. It is used for cleansing.

The Fire Candle - Red through out and need not be fragrant. Should be in a red container. May be carried and can be used in place of the maiden candle.

The Chalice - should be silver or silver-plated. It is used for drinking the ceremonial wines(the bounty of nature) or to contain the salt and water mix used to purify the circle. In some traditions , the sacred marriage (sexual union between the incarnate God and the worshipper) is performed symbolically by plunging the Athame into the Chalice. This represents the reproductive forces of nature. The chalice is a female/phallic symbol. Wine symbolizes blood or the life forces of the universe.

Salt and Water dishes - silver or pottery. Use sea-salt and distilled or well water.

Granular Incense Dish - set on the altar beside the censor to contain the appropriate incense to be added to the charcoal.

God and Goddess Statues - represent the covens' identification of their particular God and Goddess. Symbolizes and are tokens of love and respect for the Lord and Lady. They are a channel for energy to work with.

God and Goddess Candles - are two white candles used only on the altar. Silver and gold, pink and blue, and other God/Goddess correspondences can be used.

The Source Candle - represents the void, what preceded Goddess and God. The flame is the spark that gave birth to the Goddess. It or the Fire candle are the only candles that can be lit by a match.

The Maiden Candle - White candle on the female side of the altar used for illumination. The Fire candle may be used instead. This is used by the Hand-maiden to provide light for the High Priest and High Priestess.

The Bell - Gives forth a pleasant bell or tone to summon the Lords and/or a particular God or Goddess. It is also used to draw the attention of the coven members. It can be used to provide ritual punctuation and to separate parts of a ritual. It can also be used for the symbolic representation of the Gods.

In Judaic ritual, bells are embroidered on the hem of the High Priest's robe and the sound lets people know where he is in the Synagogue.

In Catholic Mass, a small bell is rung at the beginning and at the end of the service. It is rung during the offering of the Eucharist to signal the congregation to sing the Cherubic hymn and it is also rung when the priest is ready to hear confessions. In Hindu, Buddhist, and some shamanic belief systems, it is believed that the sound of the bell is the physical manifestation of the spiritual force that pervades all the planes. This sound attracts the attention of the Gods to the ritual and frightens off any evil spirits in the area. In certain Hindu and Buddhist rites there is a bell and a sword or thunder-bolt on the altar. The sword represents the male principal, while the bell represents the female. With one in each hand, the high priest is endowed with supernatural powers allowing him to compel the participation of the Gods.

The Consecrated Matches - used only for lighting the Fire candle.

The Consecrated Ritual Bic - used only for lighting the ritual cigarettes during the break in the ritual.

The Ritual Ralph - affectionate Gardnerian term for the consecrated box of Kleenex.



Complete Book of Witchcraft - Buckland, Raymond; Llewellyn; 1987
Magic, An Occult Primer - Conway, David; Mayflower; 1972
What Witches Do - Farrar, Stewart; Pheonix; 1983
A Witches Bible Compleat - Farrar, Janet & Stewart; Magickal Childe; 1984
The Symbolic Weapons of Ritual Magic - Highfield, A.C.; Aquarian; 1983
Mastering Witchcraft - Huson, Paul ; Putnam; 1970
Witches - Jong, Erica; Granada Publishing; 1982
An ABC of Witchcraft - Past and Present - Valiente, Doreen;
Pheonix Publishing Co.; 1981
Positive Magic - Weinstein, Marion; Phoenix Publishing Co.; 1981

Books in PDF format to read:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Cats Of Ulthar
Marion Crawford - The Witch Of Prague
John Musick - The Witch Of Salem

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