Its always exciting to receive a new ritual tool or item. For many, these things represent Deity and our connection to them. It is common practice to make your own tools, but in this day and in this day and age many people use the convenience of online shopping to purchase from the wide array of items online. I highly recommend making what ever you can as this created a personal bond and feel to your tools. However a purchased item can work just as well! Here is a comprehensive list of the most common ritual tools used.
The athame is a ritual knife with an ancient history. It is used to direct energy during rights and spells by many in the magical community, especially when calling the corners or casting a circle. The knife blade is usually dull and double edged with a black or dark handle. The two edges symbolize the god and goddess, which meet at the point. The athame is never used to cut through anything other than air and energy, which is why most people choose a dull blade. Many inscribe magical symbols into the handle which is optional and to your preference. You can also use a sword for the same purpose and many people interchange the two! The Athame is most commonly associated with the element air and the east.
Like the athame, the wand is used to focus energy. It is most commonly used to invoke the gods, but can also be used instead of the athame for casting your circle and calling the corners. A wand can be as plane as a simple stick and as elaborate as a crystal wand. The important thing is that the wand speaks to you and feels ‘right’ in your hand. Common woods to use are oak, ash, and willow, however you may use any type of wood you like. I personally have an apple wood wand that I find to work best for me. The wand is most commonly associated with the element fire and the south.
The chalice is a symbol of the goddess and her fertility. It is commonly used in rituals where female symbolism is important and the goddess is a focus. It is also used to drink from in ritual and has many other uses. The chalice can be made form almost anything including metal, wood, clay, ceramic, or glass. The chalice is associated with water and the west.
The cauldron is a cast iron pot on three feet and it also used to represent female energy. It can be used to burn things, build bonfires, spell work, ect. They range in sizes from enormous enough to sit in to small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Many pagans enjoy having statues representing the god and goddess. They can be general statues of a male and female Deity or specific to a specific Deity. It is not essential by any means but can add to the beauty and meaning of your altar!
The broom is used to ‘sweep’ negative energy out of a space. Many use the broom to cleanse their ritual area before circle casting or their homes and work areas. It represents both the male and female and the joining of the two. A ritual broom can be an ordinary broom, a hand made broom, or a decorative broom. The broom represents the earth and the north or air in the east.
The ringing of a bell releases vibrations that can have powerful affects. The intent can depend on the tone, volume, and material of the bell. Hanging a bell on your door is used to guard your home. The ringing of bells has been a part of many religions for hundreds of years and is still used today. The bell represents the female nature and can be rung to invoke the goddess, calm storms, ward off evil spells and spirits, or to invoke positive energies.
Censer and incense
It is very common to burn incense during a ritual to set the mood, cleanse the ritual space, and attract certain kinds of energy. It is also used to consecrate ritual items by passing them through the smoke. There are three different types of incense: Cone, stick, and loose. Both the sticks and cone type only need something to burn them in. Loose incense need a charcoal brick which is a bit more complicated, however you can also mix and make your own incense this way. There are many different aromas to choose from, and you can pick your sent based on the intent it is associated with or just because you like the smell! The incense and censer represent Fire and air, the south and the east.
Salt and Water
Many people keep both salt and water on their altar. Salt water is used to purify and consecrate both ritual space and ritual items. I prefer to keep small decorative bottles of each and mix them as needed in a dish. This helps you keep representatives of two elements on your alter. Salt represents earth and the north. Water represents water and the west!
Many people keep a pentacle on their alter as both an aid in magic and a protective symbol. The Pentagram. or five pointed star, had been used in magic for a millennia. The pentacle is a tool used for protection and invoking spirits and gods. Tradition says that hanging one over your doors and windows will provide your home with protection. It can be made of a flat piece of wood, metal, brass, gold, silver, or clay. The pentacle represents the element of earth and is a great tool in which to place items such as ritual tools, amulets, charms, and candles to be consecrated during a ritual.
One sure sign of a pagan or someone who follows witchcraft is candles, lots and lots of them. They are placed on the alter to represent both the god and goddess, the moon in full moon rituals, spirit when working with the elements. They are also used around the circle to represent each element. Additionally candle magic is a huge practice and has to do with choosing the color of a candle based on your spell intentions. Many people inscribe their candles to give them more power and meaning during burning or spell work. Any type of candle from tapers to tea lights will work, just choose what you like. Candles represent fire and the south.
Because your Athame is never used to cut anything,m it is very handy to keep a utility knife in your ritual kit for cutting cord, inscribing candles, cutting herbs, etc. You will consecrate your ritual knife and only use it for ritual work. You can use any kind of knife you wish just remember to be safe!
Book of Shadows
Your book of shadows is the most important tool you can have. It is your personal journey on your path and contains thoughts, spells, rituals, observations, meditations, recipes, etc. Basically it is your magical spell book and journal used to record everything! You can see why a book of shadows is so important and personal to the person that wrote it! Your book of shadows can be any kind of book to a simple spiral notebook, a bound blank book, or an elaborate leather bound journal. Some people keep an online book of shadows but I personally like the feel of writing things down on real paper and being able to easily take it outside and on trips.
Pagans love their altars. They are an outlet for self expression, expressing your faith, doing spiritual work, devotion to your gods, and a great collection of awesome magic stuff! An altar can be a simple shelf with a candle and incense burner or as elaborate as a master piece complete with candles, statues, altar cloth, and ritual tools. It is up to you to express yourself however you feel comfortable! You can make an altar out of almost anything and I personally have a travel altar, an outdoor altar, and a permanent altar in my home! My regular altar is a beautiful old desk, my travel altar is a great little trunk, and my outdoor altar is a tree stump. Be creative and express yourself!
By no means it this a complete list, nor are you required to have everything on it! Start out small and build your collection over time! Keep creating beautiful spiritual places and remember to Blessed Be!