And yes, there are some things that all witches do. Probably in different levels, but I think all we do.
When I read this article from The Alchemist published in The Witchcraft, I realized, many of my “things” are witch related and not just me as a maniatic. For example I like to sleep 8 hours as least. Many of my friends make jokes about this, and sometimes is difficult to do it while traveling for business, but for me is sacred and is part of “have time for me and quality time”.
Please read all this 7 “things” and let me know if you do more or less. Let’s see what we have in common between us!
1. Feel and Move like Witches
Some may call this Vanity but it’s actually self-confidence. Knowing that you are Witch gives you power. And this power is noticed by others. As we’ve already seen above, witches usually lead normal lives. They work – and work hard – they make families (this is why all these hereditary Witches are born) and in general live like all the others. In fact, many of the current or ancient leaders, politicians and famous people used to be witches!
It is not easy to tell who is a Witch because of the former (and unfortunately even present-day) Witch-huntings. However, a Witch always knows who s/he is. They realise their power even if they are occupied by mundane activities. Deep inside they still feel connected with the Spirits and always keep an eye on synchronicities andomens.
2. They Never Ignore anOmen
Witches don’t actually believe in ‘random events’. They know that the World is built on patterns of cosmic Wisdom. Anything can be traced back to numbers and energy. Hence, they never ignore an Omen.
However, they usually don’t get crazy trying to find out the meaning of it. They know how to keep calm and they try to decipher it.Omensis the Language of Spirits. This is how they try to communicate with us.
3. Witches Always Write Down their Progress and Experiences
This is how the ‘Book of Shadows‘ started. Although many believe its an anthology of spells and incantations, the real ‘Books of Shadows’ are actually journals of solitary Witches of Covens.
Some witches may have been born with some knowledge or awareness of Magic due to their past incarnations, yet all Witches are here to learn more. This is why ‘Books of Shadows’ exist. To keep track of what they’ve learned and what they did. It’s actually a way to check their progress.
This World has a weird way of holding us down, making us forget our true nature. This is why Books of Shadows help us remember who we truly are and what we’ve succeeded so far.
4. Witches Keep in touch with their Roots & Nature
Witches know that this is not their only life. They have awareness that Soul is immortal transcending planes of existence. Although many witches may not be able to recall their past lives in this or other worlds, they most certainly know that duringSabbatsand powerful days, they can actually get a glimpse or magical feedback of their past incarnations and probably their powers.
Another very important thing for Witches is Mother Nature. They usually take some time to enjoy the Sunlight or the Moon beams and the stars. Playing with animals or keeping some close to them. Witches do love to be accompanied by animals while nurturing and protecting them like their children. AsJudika Illessaid inThe Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works, “The bottom line is that magic is communication: communication between yourself, Earth and all the other life forms with whom we share our Earth Mother.“
5. Dreams and Premonitions are taken seriously
Witches know that Dreams have powers. Energy doesn’t lie. This is why they keep track of their dream via a Dream Journal. Know that magic is sometimes presented via dreams. Spirits can also communicate via dreams and premonitions. This is why Witches know the power of their dreams and take them seriously. Witches listen to their guts.
6. Quality time is frequently needed
Witches may indeed lead normal lives but there is a time they know they have to withdraw from the madness and noise of the Material World. Although they are not irresponsible, they just need some time for themselves. Witches are wise and know that money is the way this World works. However, there should be some quality time for themselves and their Craft.
Even if this is just a day off or some hours prior sleep, they need this isolation in order to attune with the Spirit World and their magic. Although, there are some witches who live like hermits, completely withdrawn from the Material World, most Witches just ask for a couple of Hours or in some cases a day (especially in Sabbats) in order to recharge their magic and cast their spells.
7. Witches Know when to let go
They previous points were things about witches do regularly. This final one is about what witches don’t do. Witches know when it’s time to let go. They try not be attached with material belongings. Although they sometimes may even lose themselves, they attune back to the Source of Magic and become brave enough to let things go.
Witches know that loss is part of the Material World. However, they also know that what is lost may again be found, in this or another life. Witches know that there is no such thing as a real end. Sometimes this relieving wisdom, brings them back on track. In other words, they know when it’s time to Let Go.
In this blog post found in www.explorewicca.com is explaining how to become a Wiccan. Remember, you already are, here we are just going to help you to remember it.
The path of Wicca is one filled with excitement, mystery, and wonder. If you’re seeking to become a Wiccan or learn more about what a Wiccan does and believes, you’ve come to the right place!
This article is meant to be a complete, in-depth guide for introducing you to the world of Wicca.
How to Get Started in Wicca
Getting started in the world of Wicca doesn’t have to be a complicated affair.
It simply begins with a desire to learn more about the craft.
Memorizing spells, buying supplies, performing initiations rites—all that comes later.The first steps on the path of Wicca involve keeping an open mind and having a thirst for knowledge.
Becoming a witch is more about cultivating a spiritual mindset and embracing the magick of the world, as opposed to doing and saying specific things.
CREATING YOUR BOOK OF SHADOWS
However, one formal thing I would suggest you do to get started in Wicca is begin a book of shadows. This is one of the most important supplies a Wiccan has in her possession.
Put simply, it’s a place where a witch keeps everything she learns—spells, correspondences, spiritual insights, nagging questions, and anything else deemed important.
The book of shadows is a deeply personal, living document that charts your journey through the craft.
Your book of shadows can be a traditional journal or notebook, or you can create one digitally—what’s important is that you have a place where you can jot dot down everything you learn in your study of Wicca.
To begin your book of shadows, I recommend a dedication page. Write down today’s date and a short statement about your intention. For example, you might write:
“This book of shadows is dedicated to my spiritual journey.”
USING YOUR BOOK OF SHADOWS
How you structure and organize your book of shadows is up to you.
Some witches prefer to write everything down in chronological order as they learn.
Others break theirs up into different sections—one area for spells, one area for gods and goddesses, etc. Everything about your book of shadows should be a unique representation of yourself.
Ultimately, getting started in Wicca is all about marching to the beat of your own drum and searching for truth, wherever the path may lead you.
Wiccan vs. Witch vs. Pagan
When you’re just beginning the study of Wicca, it can be easy to get tripped up by the terminology. There’s no need to be embarrassed by it—we all go through the “what in the world are they talking about?” phase.
By far, one of the biggest sources of confusion is the distinction between a Wiccan, a witch, and a Pagan.
These three terms are very closely related, and it can be very challenging to keep them straight.
First, the good news—if you use the terms “Wiccan”, “witch”, and “pagan” interchangeably, 99% of the time people will know what you’re talking about. Outside of the magickal world, these three words frequently all refer to someone who practices some type of witchcraft.
However, in Wicca, words matter.
We say certain things at certain times and in certain contexts because we understand the power that language has to shape our world.
Words are powerful, and words are magickal.
For this reason, I think it’s worth learning the distinction between these three terms.
This is the easiest one: a Wiccan is simply a person who practices the religion of Wicca.
This religion was developed by British occultist Gerald Gardner and is considered a distinct branch of witchcraft. But while it might be the most well-known branch of witchcraft, it is not synonymous with witchcraft in general.
While Wiccans may incorporate other belief systems into their personal practices, there are in fact some teachings within witchcraft that are considered exclusively Wiccan.
This refers to anyone who practices any branch of witchcraft. This means that all Wiccans can also be considered witches. (For our purposes, a witch is anyone who believes in and works with the power of magick.)
But the reverse is not true—all witches are not Wiccans.
Here’s where things get a little tricky.
Paganism is a broad umbrella term for religious practices that developed in the folk religions of rural areas (particularly in Europe).
Originally, the word “pagan” was used as an insult by Christians of the ancient Roman Empire towards people who continued to worship their traditional Gods and Goddesses instead of the Christian God.
Over time, people began to self-identify with the term Pagan, and it’s rarely used as an insult anymore, though.
KEEPING THE TERMS STRAIGHT
If you’ve been keeping track so far, you should have been able to deduce the following:
All Wiccans are witches.
Some witches and Wiccans.
All Wiccans are Pagans.
Some witches are Pagans.
Some Pagans are Wiccans or witches.
For example, a witch who only works with the traditional deities of ancient Egypt would not be considered a Pagan because that pantheon does not come from a folk religion—it comes from the highly developed religion of a highly developed society.
On the other hand, if someone worshipped the traditional Gods of the British Isles, they would be considered a Pagan but not necessarily a witch, if they didn’t utilize magick in their religious practices.
These are very minute and challenging distinctions to make. And like I mentioned before, it’s okay to mix them up or use them interchangeably.
You’ll rarely encounter a Wiccan, witch, or Pagan who will berate you for innocently using the wrong word.
Core Beliefs of Wicca
It can be hard to pin down any beliefs that all Wiccans share. This is mostly because diversity of thought and practice are a hallmark of the religion.
THE WICCAN REDE
However, if there’s one unifying belief that unites all of Wicca, it’s the Wiccan Rede.
This statement, though it looks deceptively short and simple, actually contains deep philosophical and moral insight. And it goes like this:
“An [if] it harm none, do what ye will.”
For those of us who aren’t well-versed in old English, this can be rephrased as something like, “Do what you will, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone.”
In some ways, this statement is similar to the ever-popular Golden Rule:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
This is because it takes into account how our actions can impact others. However, the Rede adds a truly Wiccan twist to things—do what ye will.
Witches and Wiccans love their independence. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that, historically, folks have not had a lot of tolerance for us.
From the Christian church dictating (quite often, violently) which God was acceptable to worship to the struggle for governmental recognition of our religion, we’ve rarely been given the opportunity to be left to our own devices.
Finding your own path, doing your own thing, discovering your own truth—these are all important aspects of the Wiccan experience.
However, compassion for all forms of life on this planet informs our experience as witches, too. And with the Wiccan Rede both of these conflicting ideas are brought into harmony with one another.
THE RULE OF THREE
Another common (but not universal) belief in Wicca has to do with the Rule of Three.
This is simply a belief that the energy we put into the world will come back to us threefold. This idea is slightly different from the Wiccan Rede, but it is absolutely consistent with it.
So, if you’re promoting peace and prosperity in your witchcraft, you should expect that good energy to return to you in some form.
And if you’re promoting negativity and evil, that will find its way back to you as well.
It’s important not to get too hung up on the “three” portion of the Rule of Three, though. Just because you do one good deed doesn’t mean you should expect three to come your way!
This is rarely an exact science—rather it’s more of a general reminder that karma exists and you can’t escape the consequences of your actions.
Wicca has two primary deities of its own that hold a special position within witchcraft.
They are the archetypal (classic or traditional) representations of divine feminine and masculine energy. These deities are known as the Triple Goddess and the Horned God—or you might also hear them referred to as the Lord and Lady.
THE TRIPLE GODDESS
Take a look at the image above—that’s the symbol of the Triple Goddess.
She is depicted as the three phases of the moon, and each of those phases corresponds to a different representation of the Goddess.
Over the course of a month, the moon enters different phases, and we can observe this by watching its light gradually get larger and then smaller night after night.
When the moon is moving towards being full, this is known as the waxing moon. And within the triple goddess, it represents the Maiden.
The Maiden is a young woman and is a symbol of purity and beauty. We as Wiccans turn to the Maiden for things like:
A fresh start
The blessing of people or objects
Basically, she represents all that is good and wholesome within the world.
Within the cycle of the seasons, the Maiden is celebrated on the spring equinox—with a Wiccan holiday known as Ostara.
When the moon is full, it represents the Mother—the second face of the Triple Goddess. As our spiritual Mother, she represents fertility and maternal protection.
In traditional times, witches and pagans would turn to the Mother to ensure a good harvest and a healthy family.
We might not have crops to worry about now, but we still turn to this manifestation of the Triple Goddess for the guidance and comfort that only a Mother can provide.
We celebrate the Mother at the time of the fall equinox—as this was traditionally part of the harvesting season.
Finally, as the moon nears the end of its cycle, it moves towards darkness.
This is known as the waxing moon, and it represents the third part of the Triple Goddess—the Crone.
“Crone” is a term sometimes used to refer to a witch of advanced age. Some people may use it as an insult, but within Wicca, the elderly hold a position of importance.The Crone represents all the spiritual and magickal wisdom that experience brings.
A witch is at the height of her power as she nears old age, and the Crone is a celebration of that power.
She is celebrated at the winter solstice—a time when we remember that life is a cycle of death and rebirth.
The Horned God is the classic male nature deity within Wicca.
He is commonly depicted as having the antlers of a stag and represents harmony with nature and the power of the natural world. Sometimes, you will hear witches refer to him as “Cernunnos”, which is the name he is given within Celtic witchcraft.
There are some people who like to claim that the Horned God is the Christian Devil. However, this is not the case.
The Wiccan God has no ties to Christianity whatsoever—in fact, he predates the religion by centuries. Cernunnos is not some malevolent entity who is going to poke you with a pitchfork and send you to Hell!
He is our protective Father who helps us attune ourselves to the natural world.
The Horned God is classically associated with the Underworld, so as with the Crone, we celebrate him at the winter solstice. You might also see Wiccans invoke Cernunnos and his protective power during memorial services for the deceased.
If you’re interested in giving Wicca try but aren’t sure how to get started, I’ve created a simple seeker ritual just for you!
There’s nothing formal or binding about this ritual—you won’t have to sell your soul or swear allegiance to witchcraft or anything like that.
It’s simply a way to symbolize your intention to grow spiritually. You’ll be asking for Divine guidance in your quest to find truth, and that’s something beneficial whether or not you decide to become a Wiccan.
This seeker ritual is also a good introduction to what Wiccan magick looks like.
While magick can range from incredibly fast and simple to incredibly detailed and complex, Wiccan spells and rituals have some components in common.
Symbolism that affects one or more senses (sight, smell, etc.)
Invoking of a deity (like the Triple Goddess)
Particular words and actions that must be performed
This seeker ritual illustrates all three of these things, and I’ll be sure to point them out as we get to them. But for now, let’s get started!
COLLECTING YOUR ITEMS
To begin with, you’ll need to collect a few items to use during the ritual. These will provide a visual representation to help strengthen the symbolism and spiritual energy of the process.
In this particular instance, you need to find four items that represent the four primal elements of magick—fire, water, earth, and air.
These four elements have traditionally been seen as the four building blocks of all life on earth.
Within Wicca, they each represent different attributes. For example, fire is a symbol of passion and desire, while earth is a symbol of wisdom and stability.
They show up pretty frequently in rituals, and you’ll be invoking these elemental spirits to assist you with different aspects of the seeker’s journey.
As far as the items you choose, feel free to get creative with this process.
Traditionally, a witch might choose a candle to represent fire, a flower to represent earth, incense to represent air, and a bowl of water to represent water.
But as long as the objects represent the elements in your mind, it’s fine to use them!
In addition to these four items, you’ll also need a candle—a white one, if possible. It represents Divine energy and will be used near the end of the ritual.
Don’t forget the matches or a lighter! (And always use precaution when dealing with fire!)
So to recap, your item list should look like this:
Object representing fire
Object representing water
Object representing earth
Object representing air
1 white candle
Matches or a lighter
PERFORMING THE RITUAL
Clear a space and place your four elemental objects on the ground, as if they were the four points of an invisible square.
Stand in the middle of that square (with the candle near your feet). Clearly say the following:
All spirits of goodwill are welcome here to join me on my spiritual journey. May I learn the truths you have to teach me.
Now, move to your object representing fire. Stand in front of it, and with your palms up in the air, say:
Element of fire, giver of passion. Light the flame within my soul that I may always desire to seek the truth. So mote it be.
(FYI—“So mote it be,” is a phrase you’ll see a lot in Wicca. Without getting into all the details, it’s basically the witchy equivalent of a Christian saying, “Amen.” It’s a phrase we use at the end of some invocations to reemphasize our desire for the words to become reality.)
Next, move to the air object. Once again in the same position, say:
Element of air, giver of flight. Move me closer to the truth with your gentle winds. So mote it be.
This time, stand in front of the object representing earth and say:
Element of earth, giver of wisdom. Plant the seeds of knowledge within my soul. So mote it be.
Finally, move to the object representing water. Repeat the following:
Element of water, giver of purification. Cleanse my soul that I may be worthy to embrace the truth. So mote it be.
If you were paying attention, you probably noticed that all four of the previous invocations followed the same basic structure—they began by addressing an elemental spirit and followed with a request to that spirit.
This ties into the idea that I mentioned earlier of particular words and actions being an important component of spells.
By creating repetition and rhythm in our words, we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of magickal energy all around us.
Finally, return to the candle in the middle and light it. As you do, say this:
Divine spirit, accompany me on my journey. Show me the road towards truth that I may come to love all the wisdom of the Universe. My intention is set, my will is sealed. This is the path I have chosen. So mote it be.
And now we’ve reached the end of the ritual!
It may not seem like much, but these words and actions you’ve just performed have serious spiritual significance.
Even when we don’t notice it, the energies and spirits of this universe are always in action—so you can rest assured that your intention has been telegraphed loud and clear.
Learn More About Wicca
So that about does it for our crash course in the world of Wicca!
You’ve discovered the basics, but there is so much more to learn about this exciting art! Deities to discover, incantations to memorize, spells to write—your options at this point are wide open!
If you’re looking for resources that delve into the advanced specifics of Wicca, you’ve come to the right place!
I found this interesting article and decided to share it with all our community. It is recommended for any witchcraft level. You will found in detail steps for casting a Spell. Published by Sage at Exemplore she explains spells as simple steps that can be followed by witches of any level of knowledge. The use of a spell is meant to 1) change the ‘inner landscape’ to prepare you for going after your intent and 2) to direct the conducive energy that will draw your intent to you, or ‘clear the path’ for you to reach it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The way one designs and executes a spell can vary greatly, but the underlying principles are the same. I like to think of it like buildings—all over the world there are buildings with completely different designs. No matter what they look like outwardly – tall or short, brick or steel, ornate or simple — they all have to adhere to basic engineering principles for a sturdy frame and foundation to hold them up. Likewise, a much about the way one designs and executes a spell can vary. A lot depends on the Witch’s methods, religion, philosophies, preferred tools and components, etc. but underneath there is a common framework and foundation that is what actually makes it hold up. There are essentially five essential parts to casting spells.
How to Cast Spells
Spell Casting Part 1: Preparation
Preparing for a spell is pretty much all the pre-spell work that you’ll be doing. This begins with defining your intent, which involves identifying your need and determining the ultimate goal of the spell. I have found the best intents are:
Personal (the spell is cast on you, or someone close to you with your permission, rather than others who aren’t actively cooperating).
Specific (no “wish” spells or “just make life better” spells – think about your actual needs. This is no time to be ambiguous).
Focused (if you can’t say what you want in a few words, you’re not focused enough).
Positive (always strive for positive goals— never use negative language like not, won’torcan’t. For example, instead of a spell to not be lonely, cast a spell to find a friend or romantic interest).
Broken down into small goals when your overall goal is complex (just think about how many steps or how many changes it would take to achieve your intent; do a specific spell for each one of those rather than one big spell to try to change everything at once).
Find, or write, a spell. Review it, tweak it and familiarize yourself with it well. You don’t have to memorize it (you can if you want), but you should really be familiar with the steps and what you have to say so it flows naturally. Even if using notes, you should not be stumbling over them because you barely glanced at them.
Determine timing if you wish to work with magical timing.
Gather materials and supplies. Make a list; check it twice.
Prepare your space. Clean the area, cleanse and purify it if you feel the need. Set up your tools and supplies. Send the kids to grandmas, walk the dog, feed the cats, turn off the phone, put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door if you think it’ll help.
Prepare yourself. On the day leading up to the spell you may want to eat light or fast, meditate and center yourself, take a cleansing bath or purify yourself in some way.
Spell Casting Part 2: State of Mind
Your state of mind needs to be conducive to your goal from the earliest preparation stages, through the spell and until your intent is manifest. State of mind is everything, which is why it’s so important to have mental discipline (a regular meditation regime helps).
In the weeks/days leading up to the spell, keep positive thoughts. The worst thing you can do is walk around worrying, “Will it work? I hope I don’t screw this up! I’m scared of what might happen!”
During the spell, you want to achieve the ALPHA state, the most conducive for magic and energy work. Alpha is a meditative state of relaxed awareness. It opens the way to the subconscious while you still maintain consciousness. You know the feeling—it’s when you run on ‘autopilot’ and are so focused on the moment. You don’t notice the time passing. You’re not thinking about what you need to do in the future, or what you could have done differently in the past. You’re not worrying about your chores or whether you feel cold or hungry; you are completely and fully absorbed in the activity. You’re in the zone.
After the spell, you need to keep your thoughts positive. Thinking negative thoughts or letting doubt creep in just sabotages the results. It’s best to not think about it at all, but if you do think about it you must think about it in a positive way. You need to banish doubt and worries, and know you not only canachieve your goal, but — on some level — you have achieved it.
Spell Casting Part 3: Linking to Your Intent
During the spell, when you’re in the ALPHA state, you need to establish both a psychological and metaphysical link between you and your intent. There are multiple ways to do this, and you can actually throw several into the mix:
State your intent. By saying and hearing it, you make it part of your reality and thus begin to forge a connection between yourself and the intent.
Sensory stimulation. Pick image, scents, sounds, tastes and objects with the feel that reminds you of your goal. For example, if satin sheets remind you of wealth, use a satin altar cloth for a money spell. On the flip side, a lot of healing spells utilize blue. If blue just reminds you of depression and having ‘the blues’, then it’s not a good option for you and you should pick a different color.
Creative Visualization: the more detailed you can envision your intent already manifested, the better.
Symbols and imagery have a powerful effect on the subconscious. Use something that makes sense to you. For example, if you work with runes, you might see FEHU as symbolizing material wealth and career success. That’s great—use it. If you don’t work with runes, then don’t use FEHU just because someone else says so. Perhaps a dollar sign, or the amount you want written out on a fake check.
Objects. In sympathetic magic, you might use a poppet, or in candle magic you might use one candle to represent yourself and one to represent your intent. Personal items are a great way to infuse personal power and link it with your intent. This is why you find so many spells that call for using nail clippings, hair, blood or personal belongings.
Spell Casting Part 4: Raising, Directing and Releasing Energy
Once you are focused on your intent and have connected yourself to it, it’s time to begin raising energy. Part of this energy comes from internal sources—your emotional state, your thoughts and desires. This is why it is so important to keep your mind exactly where you want it: on the intent. The rest of this energy is drawn from external sources—your tools, correspondences, components, the Elements, other participants (if any), deities you might invoke, the Earth, Moon, Sun or other planets. Basically, everything in existence has energy, and you can draw from one or more sources when casting your spell.
Energy should build up slowly but surely by your chosen method(s) for raising it. Work on raising energy for as long as you can, until you feel it’s reached a crescendo.
How long does it take? Some people feel they can do it for as little as 5 or 10 minutes; others will spend hours. This will take time for you to experiment to see how you personally are able to build a sufficient amount.
At that point, you direct and release. To direct it, simply keep focused on the intent. There are a number of ways to release energy. Some people might stomp and shout. In sex magic, achieving orgasm is the release. Burning or breaking something is a great way to release energy. If you’re using an infusion or potion, you’d drink it. “Seal” the spell with a final thought or gesture to formally signify it’s done. This might be saying something, such as, “So mote it be!” It might alternatively be a gesture, such as throwing up your hands or making the sign of a pentagram with your finger or blade.
Make sure to ground as well, once you’re finished, as a final step of working with energy. Just envision pouring out any last bit of excess into the earth, a tree or a tool.
Ways of Raising Energy
Spell Casting Part 5: Creating Channels
I go much more into depth about channels is in my article, but essentially a channel is creating ways for that energy to flow freely between you and your ultimate intent. For example, if I cast a love spell to meet a compatible mate, I then create ways for the spell to take effect—I join a dating service online, I start going out by myself to coffee shops or museums, I take classes at a community center or volunteer at a charity, putting myself in the position in which the energy can help manifest my desire.
Thus, you put yourself in the perfect position for your spell to manifest.
In the neopagan religion of Wicca, a range of magical tools are used in ritual practice. Each of these tools has different uses and associations, and serve primarily to direct magical energies. They are used at an altar, inside a magic circle.
In traditional Gardnerian magic, there was as an established idea of covens. This included initiated members that used rituals involving magical tools and secret books (Book of Shadows). These tools were predominately kept within a specific coven because they were so sacred. These were owned, and used by individual Wiccans, but could also be used collectively by the coven. However, there has been a tremendous shift in the way that the Wiccan religion is practiced today.
This practice may derive partly from Masonic traditions (such as the use of the Square and Compasses), from which Wicca draws some material, and partly from the rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The latter made much use of material from medieval grimoires such as the Key of Solomon, which has many illustrations of magical tools and instructions for their preparation.
In Wicca, ritual tools are used during rituals which both honour the deities and work magic. The general idea is that the tool directs psychic energies to perform a certain action.
In modern day Wicca, there is an encouragement of solitary practice of rituals and study. Covens are still a part of Wicca and related doctrines but there is now insistence that solitary practice is permissible. This has filtered down to lightweight (in the sense of being heavily illustrated, not exactly scholarly and not entirely serious) books being available in the bookstores of any modern town which are marketed as manuals of how to become a Wiccan (or Pagan). The allowance of solitary practice is clearly an important factor in terms of the growth of adherents, as the requirement to join a coven would involve transaction costs of locating fellow members and/or being initiated.
In Gardnerian Wicca, as laid down by Gerald Gardner, someone who had been initiated in the 1st degree had to create (or, alternately purchase and then engrave) their own ritual tools. One of the requirements for being initiated for the 2nd degree is that the Wiccan had to name all of the ritual tools and explain what their purpose and associations were.
Before tools are used in ritual, they first are consecrated. In the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, there is a section based entirely on consecrating ritual items. In this, it states that items must be consecrated within a magic circle, at whose centre lies a paten. Each item that is to be consecrated is in turn placed upon the paten, sprinkled with salt and water, and then passed through some incense. This is followed by the declaration, Aradia and Cernunnos, deign to bless and to consecrate this [tool], that it may obtain necessary virtue through thee for all acts of love and beauty. Aradia and Cernunnos, bless this instrument prepared in thine honour.
The Primary Tools
Various different tools are used in Wiccan ritual. Chief amongst them in importance are the paten, athame (or sword), wand, and chalice, each of which represents one of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.
Pentacle or Paten
The Pentacle or Paten disc is an altar consecration tool with a sigil or magical symbol engraved or inscribed upon it. The most common symbol is a pentagram within a circle, specifically a pentacle, although some other symbols may be used such as the triquetra. The disc is symbolizes the element earth. It is typically used to represent the element of Earth during evocation, as a symbol which blesses items, as well as magically energizing that which is placed upon it.
Sword and knife
A sword or a ritual knife, commonly known as an athame, is often used in Wiccan ritual. In Gardnerian Wicca these are associated with the element of fire and in Golden Dawn influenced traditions with air. This is only true, though, of the Dagger, which is painted with a yellow handle. The Sword itself is fire in that it is attributed to Geburah and is under the presidency of Mars. The Sword should not be confused with the Dagger in the Golden Dawn or Hermetic systems. The Dagger is Elemental in nature, the Sword is Planetary/Sephirotic in nature.
The athame is traditionally black-handled, usually inscribed (sometimes in the Theban alphabet). It is used to direct energy for the casting of magic circles, controlling of spirits and other ritual purposes. Gerald Gardner described it as “the true Witch’s weapon” in the Bricket Wood Book of Shadows, something which he has been criticised for, by Frederic Lamond believing there should be no “weapons” in Wicca. In some traditions, it is never under any circumstances used to draw blood, becoming tainted and requiring destruction if it does.
The term “athame” in its modern spelling first appears in Wicca, but it originates from words found in two historical copies of the Key of Solomon. The version currently held in the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris, uses the term “arthame” to describe a black-handled knife. This was adopted by C.J.S. Thompson in his 1927 book The Mysteries and Secrets of Magic and by Grillot de Givry, in his 1931 book Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. The historian Ronald Hutton theorised that Gardner got it either directly or indirectly from one of these sources, although with a modified spelling.
In Gardnerian Wicca, the wand is symbolic for the element of Air, though in some traditions it instead symbolises Fire. It can be made from any material, including wood, metal and rock, and Wiccan wands are sometimes set with gemstones or crystals. Though in the Golden Dawn system, the Elemental Wand of Fire is not the same as other sticks (such as the Lotus Wand, Caduceus, or the staff of the Kerux). Some traditions appear to confuse and conflate the various wands and staves into a single symbol.
In his Book of Shadows, Gerald Gardner stated that the wand is “used to summon certain spirits with whom it would not be meet to use the athame”. Frederic Lamond states that this referred to elemental spirits, who were traditionally believed to be scared of iron and steel.
The chalice, or goblet, is symbolic for the element of Water. Many Wiccans do not consider it to be a tool, but instead to be a symbol of the Goddess, particularly her womb. The chalice bears many similarities with the Holy Grail, except for its symbolism used in witchcraft. Rather than being the blood of Christ, it is symbolic of the Goddess’ womb. The chalice is traditionally used to hold wine.
The boline is a white handled knife, sometimes with a curved blade, like that of a crescent moon. It is used for more practical uses than the athame, for instance for harvesting and cutting herbs, inscribing candles with symbols or sigils, or cutting ritual cords. Unlike the athame, the boline is used in the physical process of magical works (such as ritual cutting); the boline serves for the physical plane what the athame serves for work in the spiritual/astral planes.
Censer and incense
The censer is used to dispense incense.
The scourge is used in Gardnerian Wicca to flagellate members of the coven, primarily in initiation rites. Frederic Lamond said that whilst Gardner never told his Bricket Wood coven which element this was associated with, he believed that as an “instrument for exercising power over others” then it should be Fire. The scourge stands in contrast to “the Kiss” in Gardnerian and other forms of Wicca. These being representatives of the “gifts of the Goddess,” the scourge standing for sacrifice and suffering one is willing to endure to learn, the kiss being the blessings of abundance in all life’s aspects.
In the various forms of British Traditional Wicca, cords, known as cingulum, or singulum (which literally translates as “girdle” or “belt”), are worn about the waist by adherents. These are often given to a Wiccan upon their initiation, and worn at each subsequent ritual. Traditionally they are nine feet in length (nine being three times three, the magical number), and are used to measure the circumference of the magic circle so that it can be set up correctly.
In many traditions of Wicca, the colour of a person’s cingulum indicates what rank of initiation they are; in several Australian covens for instance, green denotes a novice, white denotes an initiate of the first degree, blue for the second, and a plaited red, white and blue for the third, with the High Priest wearing a gold cingulum (symbolising the sun), and the High Priestess wearing silver (symbolising the moon).
Wiccan High Priest Raymond Buckland has said that the cingulum should not be worn, but kept especially for spellcraft.
The besom, or broom, is often associated with witches and witchcraft.The stories of witches flying on brooms originated from the besom. In Wicca, it is used in handfasting ceremonies, when a couple jumps over it. It is also used in seasonal fertility dances as a representation of a phallus.
A cauldron is often associated with Witches and Witchcraft in western culture. In Wicca, it is sometimes used to represent the womb of the Goddess, like the chalice. It is often used for making brews (such as oils), incense-burning, and can be used to hold large, wide pillar candles, depending on how small it is. A fire is often lit within and the flames are leaped over as a simple fertility rite or at the end of a handfasting. If filled with water, a cauldron can be used for scrying. It plays a large role in Celtic magick, taking after Cerridwen’s cauldron. Cerridwen was a Celtic goddess who possessed a cauldron that had a brew that took a year and a day to construct.
In various traditions of Wicca, jewellery depicting pentacles and other relevant symbols are sometimes worn, both in ritual, and as an everyday piece of jewellery.
Doreen Valiente, the Gardnerian High Priestess, claimed that when she was initiated into the craft by Gerald Gardner, she was naked, but accidentally left her necklace on, only to be told that it was traditional for witches to wear such things.
In traditional forms of Wicca a necklace is worn by all women within a circle, representing the Circle of Rebirth.
In the tradition of Seax-Wica, the spear is used as a ritual tool as it is symbolic of the god Woden, who, in that tradition, is viewed as an emanation of God in place of the Horned God. According to Norse mythology, the god Odin, who is the Norse equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon Woden, carried the spear Gungnir.
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