14 Magical Tools for Pagan Practice

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Often, when people first discover Wicca or some other form of Paganism, they rush to go buy every single magical tool they can find. After all, the books tell us to buy this, that, and the kitchen sink, so you better hustle on over to Ye Local Wytchy Shoppe and get stuff. Remember, though, magical tools have an actual purpose. Let's take a look at some of the magical and ritual items that many Wiccan and Pagan traditions use in some capacity. Remember, not all traditions use all of these tools, and they don't always use them in the same way.

01
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Altar

Use your altar to celebrate the seasons, or to honor the gods of your tradition. Image by Patti Wigington

The altar is often the focus of religious ceremony, and is usually found at the center of a Pagan ritual. It’s essentially a table used for holding all of the ritual tools, and can also be used as a workspace in spell casting. You can have permanent altars that stay up year round, or seasonal ones that you change as the Wheel of the Year turns.

It’s not uncommon to meet someone who has more than one altar in their home. A popular theme is the ancestor altar, which includes photos, ashes or heirlooms from deceased family members. Some people enjoy having a nature altar, on which they place interesting items they find while out and about – an unusual rock, a pretty seashell, a chunk of wood that looks appealing. If you have children, it’s not a bad idea to let them have their own altars in their rooms, which they can decorate and re-arrange to suit their own needs. Your altar is as personal as your spiritual path, so use it to hold the things you value.

The altar in the photo holds a bell, a wand, a cauldron, symbols of the season, a book of shadows, an athame, a pendulum, and more. Put the tools that are important to your tradition on your own altar.

02
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Athame

Athame
An athame can be as simple or as fancy as you like. Photo Credit: Paul Brooker/Flickr/Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The athame is used in many Wiccan and Pagan rituals as a tool for directing energy. It is often used in the process of casting a circle, and can be used in place of a wand. Typically, the athame is a double-edged dagger, and can be purchased or hand-made. The athame is not typically used for actual, physical cutting.

If you'd like to make your own, there are a number of different ways to do it. Depending on how skilled you are with metalworking, this can be either a simple project or a complex one. There are a number of websites that offer instructions on how to make an athame, and they tend to vary in skill level.

03
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Bell

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Bells are used in some magical traditions as part of ritual. Image by Chico Sanchez/age fotostock/Getty Images

Hundreds of years ago, rural folks knew that loud noise drove away evil spirits, and the bell is a prime example of a good noisemaker. The ringing of a bell causes vibrations which are the source of great power. Variations on the bell include the shaking of a sistrum, a ritual rattle, or the use of a “singing bowl”. All of these can help bring harmony to a magical circle. In some forms of Wicca, the bell is rung to begin or end a rite, or to evoke the Goddess.

Blogger Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge at Coven of the Catta says, "In our Coven we ring the bell after calling the Watchtowers, and is to both to call them and to honor them. At All Hallows or Samhain we ring the bell 40 times to call the dead we wish to honor. Its hard to get the clapper to just ring 40 times so I usually just hit the bell with the athame to achieve this number. I am reminded at 9/11 commemoration ceremonies how they ring a fireman’s bell when they read the names of the fallen."

04
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Besom

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The besom is the traditional witch's broom, and can be used for ritually cleansing a space. Photo Credit: Stuart Dee/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The besom, or broom, is used for sweeping a ceremonial area out before ritual. A light sweeping not only cleans the physical space, it also clears out negative energies that may have accumulated in the area since the last cleaning. The broom is a purifier, so it is connected to the element of Water. It is not uncommon to meet witches who have broom collections, and it is fairly easy to make your own besom if you don't wish to buy one. The traditional magical formula includes a bundle of birch twigs, a staff of ash or oak, and a binding made from willow wands.

In many belief systems, household items have their own set of magical properties. Quite possibly, few things are as magical as the basic broom. Long known as one of the most popular tools in a witch’s magical arsenal, the broom has a lengthy and complex history of folklore, legend, and mystery behind it. 

05
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Book of Shadows (BOS)

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Your BOS contains all of the important magical information of your tradition. Image © Patti Wigington 2014; Licensed to About.com

Despite popular movies and television shows, there is no one single book of shadows. A book of shadows, or BOS, is a Wiccan's or Pagan's notebook of information. It usually contains spells, ritualscorrespondence charts, information about the rules of magic, invocations, myths and legends of various pantheons, etc. Sometimes information in a BOS is passed along from one Wiccan to another (and in a coven setting, there may be a coven BOS as well as individual members' books), but you can create your own with a little bit of effort. A BOS is a very personal thing, and should contain the information you find most important.

06
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Candles

Woman looking at candles
Jochen Arndt / Getty Images

The candle is a commonly used tool in Wiccan and Pagan rituals. In addition to being used as symbols of the god and goddess, and the element of fire, candles are often used in spell workings. The theory is that candles can absorb your personal energy and then release that energy as they burn. In some traditions of Hoodoo and rootwork, candles are burned for a specific amount of days as part of the working.

Some people believe that a candle you make yourself is far more powerful than one that is purchased. Others believe that it is the intent you put into the working that makes a difference, and not the source of the candle. Regardless, most traditions recognize certain colors as important to candle magic.

07
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Cauldron

Cauldron
Krisztián Farkas / EyeEm / Getty Images

The cauldron, like the chalice, is found in many goddess-oriented traditions of Wicca. It is feminine and womblike, the vessel in which life begins. Typically, it represents the element of Water on the altar. In Celtic mythology, the cauldron is associated with Cerridwen, who has powers of prophecy. She is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the Underworld.

There a number of magical ways you can use your cauldron:

  • Burn incense, candles, or offerings in it
  • Use it to represent the goddess of your tradition
  • Blend herbs in it for magical workings
  • Fill it with water and use it for moonlight scrying

Keep in mind that many magical uses will make your cauldron unsuitable for food preparation, so if you're going to use one, keep a separate cauldron designated as your magical one. Also, be sure to season your cauldron properly if it's made from cast iron.

08
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Chalice

Chalices
Tobias Thomassetti / STOCK4B / Getty Images

The chalice, or cup, is found in many goddess-oriented traditions of Wicca. Like the cauldron, the chalice is feminine and womblike, the vessel in which life begins. Typically, it represents the element of Water on the altar. In some covens, the chalice is used in tandem with the athame to represent the female aspect of the Divine during a symbolic re-enactment of the Great Rite.

Wren, over at Witchvox, says, "Chalices may be of any material. Many use silver or pewter (be careful with untreated metals when serving wine), but ceramic ones are now quite popular and readily obtainable. Some Witches have many different kinds for different types of rituals. Many a practitioner will avoid real "lead" crystal because of the Saturn energy influence. The chalice is sometimes passed around the circle so each participant may take a sip from the cup. This is a bonding experience and often the words "May you never thirst!" are passed throughout the circle with the chalice."

09
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Crystals

Image by Michael Peter Huntley/Moment/Getty Images

There are literally hundreds of stones out there to choose from, but which ones you opt to use will depend on your intent. Select crystals and gemstones for use based upon their correspondences, or attributes, and you won’t go wrong.

You can also use birthstones in magical workings. Each month of the year has its own birthstone - and each stone has its own magical properties. 

Keep in mind that when you get a new crystal or gemstone, it's not a bad idea to cleanse it before your first use. Here are five easy ways to cleanse a crystal - as well as a tip on what NOT to do!

10
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Divination Tools

Heart Shaped Planchette On Ouija Board By Candle In Darkroom
Carlos Guimaraes / EyeEm / Getty Images

There are many different methods of divination that you may choose to use in your magical practice. Some people opt to try many different types, but you may find that you’re more gifted in one method than others. Take a look at some of the different types of divination methods, and see which one - or more! - works best for you and your abilities. And remember, just like with any other skill set, practice makes perfect! You don't need all of these different divination tools cluttering up your workspace - figure out which one or two you're more interested in, and work from there.

You may find you're fairly adept at reading Tarot cards, but can't figure out the Ogham staves. Perhaps you're really good with the pendulum, but the Norse runes make no sense to you. Brush up a little bit each day, and you'll find yourself getting more and more comfortable.

11
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Pentacle

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Image by Patti Wigington 2007

Nearly every tradition of Wicca (and many other Pagan paths, as well) uses the pentacle. Not to be confused with the pentagram (a five-pointed star), the pentacle is a flat piece of wood, metal, clay, or wax inscribed with magical symbols. The most commonly seen symbol, however, is the pentagram itself, which is why the two terms are often confused.

In ceremonial magic, the pentacle is used as a protective talisman. However, in most Wiccan traditions it is seen as representative of the element of Earth, and can be used on the altar as a place to hold items that are going to be ritually consecrated. You can make your own, or buy one commercially. The one in the photo was made with a wood-burning kit and a piece of sanded pine purchased from a craft store.

12
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Robe

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A ritual robe is simple to make, and can be created in any color your tradition calls for. Photo Credit: Patti Wigington

Many Wiccans and Pagans prefer to perform ceremonies and rituals in special robes. If you're part of a coven or group, your robe might have to be a certain color or style. In some traditions, the color of the robe indicates the level of training a practitioner has. For many people, donning the ritual robe is a way of separating themselves from the mundane business of everyday life -- it's a way of stepping into the ritual mindset, of walking from the mundane world into the magical world. Most people prefer to wear nothing at all under their ritual robe, but do what is comfortable for you.

Make your own ritual robe by following these simple steps: Sew a Ritual Robe

13
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Staff

Magic Staff
In some traditions, the staff is used to direct energy. Image by Roberto A. Sanchez/E+/Getty Images

Many Pagans and Wiccans use a magical staff in rituals and ceremonies. While it's not a required magical tool, it can come in handy. The staff is typically associated with power and authority, and in some traditions only the High Priestess or High Priest carries one. In other traditions, anyone may have one. Much like the wand, the staff is considered symbolic of male energy, and usually is used to represent the element of Air (although in some traditions, it symbolizes Fire). Like other magical tools, the staff is something you can make yourself.

14
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Wand

Your wand can be fancy or simple, and you can either buy one or make your own. Image by John Gollop/E+/Getty Images

Clichéd as it may sound, the wand is one of the most popular magical tools in Wicca, as well as in some ceremonial magic traditions. It has a number of magical purposes. A wand is used for the directing of energy during a ritual. Because it’s a phallic symbol it is used to represent male energy, power, and virility. Representative of the element of Air (although in a few traditions it symbolizes Fire), the wand can be used to consecrate a sacred space, or invoke deity.

Witchvox author Wren points out that the wand can be made of any material, but the traditional one is wood. She says, "There are wands of glass, copper, silver and other metals, but the "classic" material is still wood. Various woods have different magickal associations and uses. It is very common for a "Wand Witch" to have many wands of various types in his/her magickal closet. Witches who do not use athames often use a wand instead."

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Wigington, Patti. "14 Magical Tools for Pagan Practice." ThoughtCo, Nov. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/magical-tools-for-pagan-practice-4064607. Wigington, Patti. (2017, November 1). 14 Magical Tools for Pagan Practice. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/magical-tools-for-pagan-practice-4064607 Wigington, Patti. "14 Magical Tools for Pagan Practice." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/magical-tools-for-pagan-practice-4064607 (accessed November 19, 2017).