A guide to the witches toolkit.
When I started practising witchcraft, I didn’t have any magickal tools. I used kitchen scissors to cut herbs, a piece of string or ribbon to hang them for drying, and the back of a spoon to grind them. More importantly, I had my energy and my intent.
A witch does not need a huge toolkit to perform rituals or to cast potent spells. However, as we are connecting with magickal forces, physical tools are useful to help you concentrate, direct energy, and perform tasks or rituals more easily.
What tools do I need to perform witchcraft?
The best magickal tools are ones which you make or find in the wild, although there are many metaphysical shops online or, if you’re lucky enough, on your local high-street. When choosing tools, select items which feel personal and appealing to you.
Each item has a purpose, but not all traditions use the same tools, and they are not always used in the same way. Bells, for example, were originally used to drive away evil spirits, but nowadays, in some branches of Wicca, bells are rung to evoke the Goddess.
Below is a list of some of the tools most used by Witches, Wiccans and Pagans:
An altar is a sacred space where you keep all your ritual tools. It is also used as a workspace for spellcasting. The most common type of altar is a table, but I know witches who use a small carry case as a portable altar, bedroom drawers to keep their craft secret, and even a cardboard box to prevent their cat from knocking everything off when it’s not in use!
Altars are often the centrepiece of Pagan rituals or religious ceremonies and a place to communicate with your guides or deities. Some people have more than one altar in their home, each used for different themes such as a seasonal altar for the sabbats or an ancestral altar holding family heirlooms and photos.
To decorate your sacred space, you could use a special altar cloth, scarf, or tile. Materials such as stone, wood or ceramic help the energy stay grounded and can be engraved with symbols, such as the pentagram or personal sigils.
An altar is your personal magickal space and should hold items that are of value and importance to your unique spiritual path. There is no right or wrong way to set one up.
Athames, Bolines and Swords
A blade represents masculine energy and the element of air. As a cutting tool it is associated with movement and used to metaphorically cut something. In witchcraft, athames and swords are not sharpened as they are not used for physical cutting.
An athame is a double-edged blade, usually with a black handle. It is used to direct energy, cast a circle or as an alternative to a wand.
A boline is a blade in the shape of a half-moon, usually with a white handle. It is used to harvest herbs.
A sword is a large double-edged blade, used to mark a large sacred circle. In a coven, the High Priest or Priestess are usually the only ones who have the right to use it.
Bells, Rattles and Singing Bowls
Centuries ago, bells were rung to ward off evil spirits and caused vibrations which were believed to be the source of great power. Rattles and singing bowls are also good noisemakers that can bring a symphonic, peaceful vibration to a sacred space or magick circle.
Bells can be used to banish or summon spirits. Ring a bell or clap your hands in the corner of a room to remove unwanted or negative energy.
Book of Shadows (BOS) / Grimoire
A book of shadows is a notebook or journal of information and your magickal practices. These books are written by you and contain everything you have learnt so far, such as spells, invocations, rituals, legends of deities and pantheons and moon charts.
A BOS is a very personal and intimate tool. Many witches keep theirs private, however sometimes information from a book is passed from one witch to another, such as from a mother to her daughter. Covens may have also have a coven BOS, as well as each member owning their own individual books.
Besom or Broom
The brush of a broom is usually made from straw, bound together at the end of a long wooden pole.
The brush of a besom is usually made of birch twigs, making it more rounded in shape and is tied on to an ash or oak staff using willow strands.
A besom or broom is used to spiritually cleanse and sweep negative energy from a space; purifying it before a ritual or spellwork. This tool should be used separately to your every-day cleaning tools.
To use a besom or broom, lightly sweep the room in a clockwise direction. When you are done, open the nearest door and sweep the negative energy outside, shutting the door behind you so it doesn’t return.
When you are not using your besom or broom, hang it above your front door to ward off negative energy from entering.
Candles can be used for many purposes such as summoning deities or manifestation and represents the fire element in spells and rituals.
As well as being used in Wicca as the symbol of the God and Goddess, candles are used in spell work to absorb your energy and release it as it burns.
A traditional three-legged witches cauldron is made from cast iron and can be used in many ways, such as to burn incense and herbs, make offerings, perform water scrying or brew potions.
A chalice represents the element of water and can be used in your sacred space as a feminine vessel. In magick circles, a chalice is sometimes filled with wine or water and passed around the group as a bonding exercise so everyone can take a sip. It can also be filled with wine as an offering to the goddesses.
There is no dress code when it comes to performing magick, however some witches choose to wear specific items or colours of clothing when casting spells or performing rituals. Colours can affect the way energy moves and many witches choose to wear black to prevent distraction. Wearing a ritual cloak, robe or mask focuses the mindset and helps differentiate magickal work from non-magickal activities.
Crystals hold the energy of the Earth and each one holds a unique vibrational frequency. They are commonly used during meditation, manifestation and healing work but the ones you use will depend on your intention, so choose a crystal with an appropriate correspondence for your spell work.
Crystals should be cleaned regularly and recharged either by the full moon, or by burying them in the Earth overnight.
Divination tools, such as crystal balls, tarot cards, oracle cards, runes, scrying mirrors and pendulums, have many uses, including to receive messages and information, confirm your intuition and communicate with your guides.
Most witches don’t work with all the available divination tools, instead choosing one or two practises which the connect with best and perfecting their gifts in those methods.
Like crystals, herbs hold the energy of the earth and each one holds a unique vibrational frequency. Herbs can be used in a huge variety of ways in spellwork such as teas, incense, smudging, kitchen witchery, baths and self-care rituals or sachets.
A mortar and pestle is a useful tool to have in your inventory when working with herbs as it allows you to easily crush leaves, petals, stalks and resins to make powders.
Incense is a powerful tool, used to focus on your intentions for manifestation and meditate on your goals while it burns. They are also helpful for cleansing and blessing a space and purifying yourself and others before casting a magick circle.
There are many forms available, such as sticks, cones and powders, and many different fragrances, each for specific purposes, which are sold widely in online or local metaphysical shops.
For those who follow a religious path, an offering bowl or container is used to place offerings for your deities.
A pentacle is a protective amulet made from flat wood, clay, metal or wax and engraved with a magickal symbol, most commonly a pentagram.
The pentacle represents the Earth element and is usually placed on an altar to holds items that are going to be blessed.
Rope or string
Rope or string can be used for knot magick, witches ladders, charms and hand-fasting ceremonies. They can also be used for binding spells or securing pouches.
3D statues such as figurines, dolls or sculptures are used to represent the target for your spell or in manifestation for your target. This may be another human (with their consent), an animal or yourself. They can also be used for visualisation or offerings.
Some witches keep statues on their altar to honour or represent the deities.
Wands can be made from any natural material and are used for summoning entities or invoking deities, directing energy, blessings and consecrating magickal tools or sacred spaces. Most traditional wands are made from wood, with the type of wood having its own magickal correspondence.
A wand represents male energy and power.
The most powerful tools you will ever use are your intentions, energy, true will and confidence.