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Tools of the Trade: What do you NEED to be a Witch?

Updated: Jun 23, 2023


This topic will discuss 'in order' the most vital tools of the trade in witchcraft, what you cannot do without when casting a spell, what helps, sacred spaces & even what to wear. I may not talk in detail about the intricate uses of each item, but I aim to discuss how they can be used generally and also possible substitutions with a little bit of historical context.


What You Cannot Do Without


Absolutley Nothing.


Yes, that's right a witch needs only Her/His Self.


An unpopular notion, particularly to those new to the craft or the...aesthetic witch.


We require our bodies. Our own power, the sky over our heads, the earth beneath our feet. Everything else is window dressing.


No wands, no brooms, nor funny hats. Don't be too disappointed as the other 'stuff' does have it's uses, but they are not necessary to cast a single spell.


However, if all witches practiced like this nobody would ever sell any spell books, and part of the attraction to the craft for many is shiny stuff.


A great witch needs nothing but their inner power, and the innate connection the powers which flow through them and around them.


A handy witch needs only what they have on them at the time. A bit of string, a stone, a bracelet, a necklace; whatever can be found in the local environment or happens to be in their pockets.


Typically spells call for a certain herb, crystal, coloured candle, this is because a certain spell 'recipe' has worked for someone before so they tend to say this is how you do X. But there is more than one way to bake a cake.


( ...more on this in my 'Power of the Witch' Blog Post'


The Garments


What do you need for witchery?


Obviously, nothing at all! In fact 'Sky Clad' is often the preferred option.


Being naked strips away the barriers to the energies around you and can make the connection easier, you feel the grass between your toes, the wind in your hair, the warmth of the sun on your skin. it is very liberating once past the awkward, embarrassment stage. this being said, be aware of the laws in your local vicinity, don't be arrested for indecent exposure on my account.


Robes


It is quite commonplace, especially in established covens for their to be a dress code of robes. This long flowing covering may denote a rank in the coven, or role, such as priest or priestess.


Robes are also just useful for covering up being sky clad.


They come in all forms, capes, velvet, Hogwart Houses, but when part of the witches dress code it is useful for putting one into a ritualistic mind set. Garments become your 'Sacred Garments' separate from mundane wear and though it offers little to the crafting of a spell in itself, if it gets you thinking a certain way or puts you in that synergistic state then all the better.


Robes can also just be your witchy wear. There is very much a witch 'aesthetic' popular at the moment. So witch wear can also be mundane wear and some swear by living the craft at all times, while others keep their craft to certain times and places so have clothes especially for those occasions. Remember that if you do have specific clothes for the occasion, the only thing which changes, is you!


The Hat


Stereotypical though it may be, the Hat follows the same principles as the Robes. There are many possible origins of the witches hat, I won't go into there here, but it has become a symbol of the craft, so when you put it on your head, as a king would don a crown and become majestic, so you become witchestic!


I for one love a hat! I do not own a typical witches hat, but own every other type from fez to pith helmet. Neither do I wear a particular hat for engaging in my craft, but I do have one hat, a very battered Stetson with a feather in the band I wear for rambling over the country and when I put it on I feel a familiar flutter that I am about to have an adventure. It is a part of me now and has a power to itself to alter who I am.



The Wand or Staff



These also are of uncertain origin. The possible purposes being many and varied. I have always leaned toward a staff over a wand being that it can help you on a long walk, and many witches were a migratory people. They are also handy for gesticulating and if up against something or someone of a threatening nature; giving a good whack.


The wand has fewer mundane uses, it may be derived from the distaff for spinning wool, though this is heavily disputed.


What both have in common is the stereotypical image of witch or wizardry, so bearing one is a clear indicator of your role in society, if the robes weren't enough.


A staff banged on the floor gains attention. A wand pointed at at object draws the focus of observers. They are somewhat theatrical roles and rather mundane but are long recorded uses of the wand and staff.


The Wand/Staff is first and foremost, a stick. Take any child through a wooded area and soon sticks will be waved about, thrashed and jabbed. If such magic can transform a stick in a child's mind to a wand, a sword, a lance, a horse, then what more do YOU need in your craft?


The stick directs. The wand points. It is your 'focus' as a witch, a channel for your power, which readily flows out from you in all directions, to be directed at a specific aim or object.


it can also be used as a command. To point at something, an object and then direct that things energy to somewhere else.


There are dozens of wands on the market. If you feel you need one for your craft, try to buy one which you feel an innate connection to, as this will boost your confidence in using it.


I personally make them to sell (shameless advertising plug) but try to imbue something of myself in their creation, to ensure it is crafted in spirit as well as from wood and bone and clay.


What else can you use as a Substitute?


  • As said above, any stick.

  • A bone

  • A feather

  • A finger (think crooked finger of a crone)

Lastly, we cannot overlook the obvious phallic imagery. The wand is often deemed masculine because of it's shape, however the constant use of primitive imagery is somewhat naive. But some male magic users do use their wand as a wand. Just ensure a safe environment before you start waving it about.


The Cauldron/Vessel


The feminine aspect of the tools. Think Da Vinci Code, if it's pointy it's a phallus if it's V shaped its vaginal. This can be a cast iron cauldron, a cup, a chalice, goblet anything of that nature.


It is the pot where all the herbs, crystals, ash, egg shells and other ingredients are cast to make the soup of the spell. It is a mixing pot for cooking up magic but also a libation vessel for eating or drinking from, or devotional to spirits or deities.


I have a copper cauldron, only small, I tend to use it for devotional offering, those this is a rare thing in my personal practice. For making potions etc I use a saucepan, preferably non stick, taking again the point of view that witches make do with what they have. In place of a goblet I use a mug, preferably without any Disney characters on it.


The Athame & Boline


Two knives or daggers, one to cut the ethereal the other, the mundane. A staple of Wicca craft, the athame being, not even necessarily a knife but something knife shaped used in sacred ritual, the boline used to cut anything else physically.


Again representative of the masculine form because they are pointy.


In earlier times only one knife would ever be used, due to iron being expensive and was most likely the same knife that was used to cut anything else about the home or work. Having two knifes specifically devoted to magic work, one of which used for gesticulating about, would have been deemed wasteful.


There is something to be said about having a knife used in cutting in the ethereal realm, I would not journey there without some form of protection and they do hate iron! Further, for prep work with herbs a knife is great, or scissors. For blood letting a fresh and clean lancet is a better idea, than an old rusty blade.


Crystals & The Ball


Crystals

For years I didn't understand the practice of using crystals. I love how pretty they are but couldn't see how a rock could help me in my practice. The attributes given to them seem to be complete ly vicarious or based on a childish colour system; red means passion, blue means calm, green means nature etc. It all felt very 1980's.


It took a lot of work to see how the energies so obvious in animate objects, plants, trees, also resounded in rocks, crystals and the very under used fossils. But how that energy relates to a spell has little to do with the crystal and more to do with the practitioner.


If you feel a Tigers Eye will aid your confidence, it probably will from the placebo effect alone. if we judge by a things colour then relate it to yourself and how that colour makes YOU feel. Green and Blue are the most calming colours to our senses, Red means danger and also passion, so has a very ecstatic affect on our emotions. Find the connection, apply it to what you are trying to achieve. It doesn't have to be an attributed meaning from a crystal book. YOU make the connection, then apply it to your craft. Then the crystal will work.


The Crystal Ball


I was very lucky in my youth to get hold of a decent quality crystal ball. They are used primarily for scrying; gazing somewhat misty eyed at the orb and hoping to see something. The precursors to the crystal ball being silver bowls, mirror or pools of water.



The technique is to look into the ball or reflective surface and gaze past the reflections. Think of them as windows which haven't been cleaned in a long time, over looking other places or times. I have had some success with them and often incorporate it in a Tarot reading. It takes a lot of time and practice but eventually you can learn to see, images, events playing out in a reel. In my experience they are almost always unintelligible or preemptive of future events which you don't recognise until they are actually happening.


They can be used to contact the other side. Remember it is a window, windows look both ways, so something may gaze back at you. If this is part of your practice then crystal balls do have some useful applications, but other than that they are a pretty novelty.


The Broomstick


Properly called a besom. Why? because that is the correct word for it. Besoms are made from Broom the plant, we tend to call all brooms brooms now, even though they are not made of broom. So a broom is a broom if it contains broom, all brooms are besoms, but not all besoms are brooms. Clear? Good!


They don't fly. Pity I know. At least I've not managed to make one levitate. The flying thing might come from the practice of using 'Flying Ointment' on it, a hallucinogenic compound containing Henbane and then inserting said broom into an orifice hence 'riding' it. Maybe. There are documented cases of this. So, yay for more phallic imagery!


They are useful for sweeping. Keeps the house and hearth clean and has been used to sweep out negativity, demons, spirits etc in various cultural practices.


In ritual practice they are often jumped over in ceremonies. A bit like jumping over a fire but a little more safe.


I have made my own. It hangs above my front door as a clear sign of what you are getting yourself into if you come inside.


Candles


The original purpose of candles in the craft was to be able to see what you are doing so you don't cut anything off when doing a sky clad ritual with a sharp new boline.


Now it is a major industry for the witch community who use them in a multitude of spells.


Spells call for all sorts of candles in all sorts of colours, they should be lit and not extinguished, or blown out with intent, or used to drip everywhere and make a right mess.


Strip all that back and candles have TWO primary purposes.


  1. To stand in for fire. You cannot always light up a big bonfire for sacrifices, so the candle represents the sacred flame. Fire is not an element in itself, but is an element to our existence and has an all consuming power, worthy of respect.

  2. As a 'Focus' for the witches practice. A flame is really useful in meditation, to help slip the mind into an altered state of consciousness. The whole of a witches intent can be manifested within the flame and a spell built up in power by the focus as the candle burns away. It is not a matter of light it and leave it. You have to engage with it.

I personally would use a candle of any colour or shape in my practice. It is a great focus to bring out the power in you, not by power in the candle. It is how I learnt to see auras and is useful for power cuts.


Tarot


I will do a whole separate Blog post; probably more than one, on Tarot. I use it all the time. Is it vital to witch craft? No. Can anyone learn it? Probably. Does it work? Hell yes, too well sometimes.



It is a great guide and can be a lifelong friend. Find a deck. Learn it. Use it often. I'll not say more for now, Tarot has a magic unto itself. Why everyone doesn't do Tarot I don't know.


Sacred Spaces


Aside from your own body, and maybe candles, your sacred space is the most important thing in your arsenal as a witch. It can be a building devoted to magic by your coven with lots of black silk and statues of gods, or a circle drawn in the dirt.


Personal Space


As said already we all have an energy which flows through and around us. This is visible if you learn to read auras. Even if you can't, just think when a stranger is standing too close to you and you feel that prickle of discomfort. Energies conflict. You can learn to expand and contract your personal energies.


Altar


The Altar is a devotional space. They can be small or large. Often used if you worship a particular deity as a witch. There will be a statue, an offering pot, a knife, a cup for libations, and a candle or flame. This can be the only space a witch creates magic. Some witches don't have one at all. I have a small space which I use for offerings for the spirits as I don't get involved with deities.


Casting the Circle


Very much a Wiccan practice which involves facing directions, chanting words in order to bring up a psychic barrier for protection, often with staff waving. A rope put round you in a circle or drawn in the dirt works just as well.


The point of all this is to separate the sacred from the profane or mundane. Creating a setting makes it clear in your mind your intentions and that you are moving between worldly states. Having a separate area to practice your craft will also offer some protection less something from another form of existence tries to follow you or do you harm. By acknowledging a sacred space, you expand your energies to touch the energies around you and magnify your own power to dissuade anything that may have bad intentions.


Once protected that energy is used to create your spell.


I at most will draw a circle, visible or not or with a line of salt, if i feel I may need protection. But in time you'll learn that you carry your sacred space with you wherever you go.



Conclusion and the Thing Witches Need Most


Have I missed things?


Of course. My intention was to go over the commonplace items a witch would need most and some misconceptions.


I did not talk about Astrological Charts, Black Mirrors, Witch Bells, Witch Rosaries, Drums, Occult Jewelry, Hag Stones, Labyrinths, Deity Statues, Mead, etc. If you want info on any of this message me or they may pop up in future blogs.


Now for the most important thing all witches need.


The Number 1 thing all witches require above all else.


JARS!


Jars, Jars and more Jars.


Keep every jar you use. Scrub off the label. Clean the inside. Store away. You'll thank me.




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