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Sunday, September 4, 2011

RITUAL TOOLS





BOOK OF SHADOWS: The Book of Shadows is the workbook of the witch.  In it is recorded: Rituals guidelines, Invocations, Spells, Runes, Rules of a particular Coven or Tradition, Symbols, Poems, Chants, and anything else of use to the witch during ritual.  


ATHAME: The athame is the traditional ritual dagger of the witch.  Commonly it has a black handle and steel double-edged blade.  Many Wiccans engrave the handle or blade with magickal symbols indicative of deities, spirits or the elements as sources of power.  The athame is a tool of command, it is used to direct what power we pass through it.  It is used to cast circles by tracing the circumference, to charge and consecrate objects and banish negative energies.  In most traditions, it is never used as a mundane knife for cutting purposes, and is used strictly for magickal purposes only.  As an elemental tools of the craft, in most traditions it is associated with the elements of Fire, in others it is associated with Air.  The phallic symbolism of the knife links it with the God. 



CHALICE: The Chalice is one of the four elemental tools of witchcraft and represents the elements of Water.  It is a symbol of containment and often represents the womb of the Goddess.  The base is symbolic of the material world, the stem symbolises the connection between man and spirit and the rim or opening symbolically receives spiritual energy.






THE CAULDRON:  is a well-respected Wiccan tool. It is a vessel for transformation, and represents the very essence of fertility and femininity. Is a common tool, though not all modern Wiccans have one. The cauldron has a great deal of history and tradition associated with it, and for Wiccans, it is the vessel where magickal transformations occur, such as brewing and cooking, along with much more mystical purposes. It is also sometimes used to light a fire at certain ceremonies.



THE PENTAGRAM: A five-pointed diagram, one of the most sacred geometric forms of magick. Each of the five points represents one of the five elemental powers. The uppermost, single point is symbolic of Spirit, Goddess and dates back as far as 3500BC.



PENTACLE: A ritual item, symbol of the Earth, consisting of a flat, round disc, engraved with a pentagram


CANDLES: One candle for each of the directions, colour-coded, are often used on a Wiccan altar. One would go in each appropriate direction . . .
  • For North: black, green, or brown
  • For East: yellow or white
  • For South: red or orange
  • For West: blue or aqua
  • For Centre, where you aren't using God and Goddess candles: white, silver, or gold. and are used to invoke and hold the Powers of each direction.
Often large candles, such as pillar candles, are used to represent the God and the Goddess. These are usually set on either side of the Pentacle, or somewhere in the centre of the altar.


Other options are having just one large candle for the Great Goddess, or three - white, red, and black - for the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
Where they go is up to you. Somewhere they won't drip onto delicate items or catch things on fire is always good.
These candles invoke the Energies of the Divine.



WAND: and staff is made of wood and made by the person who will use them. Since all woods have unique Powers, Both Staff and Wand are of the Element of Air and are aligned with the East(although some traditions hold that the wand is an instrument of fire and aligned with the South).The wand is like a portable, handy version of a broom. There is a theory that originally one instrument performed all the purposes served by the two today.  


  you may like to choose the wood to suit your particular needs.
Wands can be used for divination and channeling magickal energy. They can be used to cast and recall circles, in place of the athame.
The magickal wand goes in the South, for the power of will, magick, and transformation. It also god, energy.

  
THE BELL: Are like the Voice of the Goddess. When you ring one, it brings the Divine's attention to you. And your attention to the Divine!   

 
A bell with a lovely tone will call beautiful, healing energy to you. Bells can also be used to clear energy. At the end of a ritual is a good time for this, but if unwanted energy crops up during a ritual, you can use the bell to disperse it.





 BOLLINE ( WORKING KNIFE ):  The Bolline or White-Handled knife as it is now known, is the practical knife of the craft.  Traditionally it was used to harvest herbs and had a blade in the form of a small sickle.  Today it is normally a mundane knife used for cutting and carving.  It has a white handle to differentiate it from the Athame, which has a black handle and is used only for magickal purposes.  The bolline is used to cut wands and herbs, to mark and carve candles with symbols and to cut cords for use in magick.  Any other ritual function requiring the use of a knife, such as cutting flowers for the altar, can be performed with the bolline. 
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 INCENSE BURNERS AND CENSERS:  The censer is an incense burner used to contain burning incense during ritual.  Any type of censer can be used, even a simple bowl filled with sand will do.  The censer represents the elements of Air and is normally placed before the images of the Goddess and God on the altar.   



INCENSE: Incense has long had associations with magick and witchcraft, as indeed it is used commonly by many other religions.  The use of Incense in witchcraft  is threefold : 


(1)  It conditions the mind by stimulating our senses of smell.
(2)  In connection with spells, it draws down the spirits through it's magickal association with the elements of Air.
(3)  According to ancient beliefs, when a spell is done.  It raises the spell up into the ether and sends it on it's way.
In magick, the type of incense used needs to correspond with the nature of the spell being worked.  Most spells require an incense associated with a particular planet or deity.  Many are used for their purification and cleansing properties during ritual. 
THE GOD AND GODDESS:  Honor the god and goddess, which helps invoke them into your ritual and spell. Recognize them during every spell and ritual you perform.

ALTAR CLOTH: An altar cloth is optional, but useful. By choosing one with an appropriate colour or design, you set the stage for the energy of your altar.




OFFERINGS: When you would honour the Divine with a gift of thanks or prayer, you can bring them to the Altar as an offering.

Often flowers are kept on the altar as an offering. Anything that is beautiful or special to you, or symbolic of the purpose for the offering, can be offered.


Since the Divine lives in all things, anything you harm is an injury to the Divine. And pragmatically, you'll be giving the offerings to the Earth later.
Offerings are one of the most overlooked practices in Wicca today, yet one of increasing spiritual power and importance.


SALT WATER: A small bowl of water with salt dissolved in it, for cleansing. This would be appropriate in the centre. Alternatively, the altar chalice may be used to hold the salt water.


Water and salt are both purifying agents, not only in the physical realm but the energetic as well. Salt water also represents the energies of earth and water united, the ocean womb which gave birth to all life on the planet. So while this may seem an insignificant addition to your altar tools, it holds great power.



THE RITUAL ROBE: It is said that the truly skilled practitioner of magic needs no special equipment or clothing, but this is a counsel of perfection rather than a practical suggestion for most people! Robes and other magical clothing support any ritual by altering the wearer’s psychological state, and indeed the cloth itself acquires a magical energy of its own with repeated use.



LIBATION DISH: all dish, bowl, or cup can go in the centre, ready to receive offerings for the gods and goddesses. You can also use your altar chalice or cauldron for this purpose. Later, pour or bury the offerings in the Earth, or into living water (rivers, lakes, etc) to carry them to the Divine.



BESOM ( WITCHES BROOM ): Many pagan traditions have the bridal couple, jump across the broom, a symbol of  fertility (old bit of agricultural fertility magic), to signify the establishment of their new household. The brooms are usually decorated for the occasion and then kept in a place of honor in the home.
In many Wicca handfasting(marriage) rituals, couples often jump over the broom if they want children.
Historically, brooms made great gifts for weddings or handfastings. Just add a little ribbon, some flowers, and your are good to go. No wrapping needed. Every new home needs a new broom!

Witches use brooms in magick and ritual. The pagan broom or "besom" is used in ritual for cleansing the general circle or ritual area.  The besom is sweeping away the psychic dirt, getting the area purified for the ritual at hand. 
A Witch may begin a ritual by sweeping the area with the magick broom, visualising the psychic dirt being swept out of the ritual area. The sweeping also helps to get the mind ready for the ritual, quieting the mind and narrowing the focus for the witch.  The besom is a purifier and is related to the element of Water.

Besoms have been used by Witches to indicate to other occultists that they were resident, or at work, by placing a besom (broom) outside the door. This is NOT to say that anyone who has a kitchen broom sitting outside their door is a witch. Only Witches keep a besom by their door, or hanging from their door to protect the home from unwanted outside energies.




 





CAKE AND ALE: The Wiccan ritual known as Cakes and Ale is often celebrated as a way of thanking the gods for their blessings. Cakes are usually just cookies prepared in the shape of crescent moons, and the ale can be alcoholic or it can be apple cider, juice, or even water.


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