Author: Michael Erwin
When we first start working with magickal processes it is often easiest to start with what others have had success with. From there, we start to make adjustments to these systems that fit our personal philosophy and lifestyle. There is no RIGHT or WRONG way, no solid TRUTH- only what may be right or wrong for the individual.
Experiment, explore and create alone or with other like minded friends and you will find that which works best for your personal magickal practice.
This is but one of many interpretations of magickal tool correspondences:
North (Earth): Pentacle, Salt “To Know”
East (Air): Wand, Incense “To Will”
South (Fire): Blade, Candle “To Dare”
West (Water): Chalice, Cauldron “To Keep Silent”
“In order to DARE we must KNOW; in order to WILL, we must DARE;
we must WILL to possess empire and to reign we must BE SILENT.”
-Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic
Your Altar is simply the place you do your magickal, ritual or devotional workings. This can be any material that you desire and can range from small to large depending on your living space and personal needs. Many practitioners include a beautiful altar cloth of their choice and items important to them or that are needed within their specific spiritual tradition.
Some common items found on an altar would include representations of the 4 classical elements (salt, crystal, or pentacle for Earth- wand, incense, bell for Air- candle, athame, or oil lamp for Fire- chalice, cauldron or bowl of water for Water) and representations of important deities or spiritual beings. Other common items may include pictures of ancestors, a censor for burning incense, symbols, amulets, crystals, candle snuffer, offering bowl, sage or smudging tools, matches, sacred herbs, spiritual beverages and divinatory tools. Find items that are meaningful to you and your practice so that you enjoy the look and functionality of your magickal working space.
Pentacle or Pentagram:
The five-pointed star or pentagram is one of the most potent, powerful, and persistent symbols in human history. It has been important to almost every ancient culture, from the Mayans of Latin America, to India, China, Greece, and Egypt. It has been found scratched on the walls of Neolithic caves, and in Babylonian drawings, where it marks the pattern the planet Venus makes on its travels. Scriptures, especially Hebrew, are abundant with references to pentagrams.
The words pentacle and pentagram (a five-point unicursal star) are essentially synonymous, according to the Online Oxford English Dictionary (2007 revision), which traces the etymology through both French and Italian back to Latin, but notes that in Middle French the word "pentacle" was used to refer to any talisman. Pentacles often had no representation of "five" in the older magical texts, instead they were any magickal talisman inscribed with various symbols.
A Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy (c. 1565) spuriously attributed to Agrippa gives detailed instructions as to how pentacles should be formulated: “But we now come to speak of the holy and sacred Pentacles and Sigils. Now these pentacles, are as it were certain holy signes preserving us from evil chances and events, and helping and assisting us to binde, exterminate, and drive away evil spirits, and alluring the good spirits, and reconciling them unto us. And these pentacles do consist either of Characters of the good spirits of the superiour order, or of sacred pictures of holy letters or revelations, with apt and fit versicles, which are composed either of Geometrical figures and holy names of God, according to the course and maner of many of them; or they are compounded of all of them, or very many of them mixt.”
In modern Pagan traditions the pentagram (or pentacle) is used for protection and in some traditions represents the five classical elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. It is often used with one point skyward, for some representing the shape of a person surrounded with a circle of protection, and also to show that a persons spirit had mastered the four elements.
An athame is a ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle. It is the main ritual implement or magical tool used in neo-pagan traditionss. A black-handled knife called an athame appears in certain versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire originating in the Middle Ages. The athame is also mentioned in the writings of Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. The athame's primary use is to channel and direct more forceful energies, generally conceived as etheric fire. An unsharpened blade is often used, one with some iron content to stave off any ill-natured spiritual entities. The use of the heat of forge leads some to connect it to the element of fire. Some traditions may reverse the elemental associations and use the athame to represent air and the wand to represent fire. An athame is often considered a potent tool to command the elements or spirits being worked with as it carries a certain threat by welding it within a ritual setting.
The tradition white handled boline is a traditional witches tool and is a practical gardening tool as the inner serrated blade is useful for taking wood for wand making and the outer sharp edge perfect for dicing and cutting plants for some good old fashioned kitchen witchery.
A wand is a thin, hand-held stick or rod made of wood, stone, ivory, crystal, or metals like gold or silver. In magickal traditions, practitioners use wands for the channeling of energy. While an athame is generally used to command, a wand is seen as more gentle and is used to peacefully invite or encourage energies within the spiritual realms. In Wicca the wand usually represents the element air, or for some specific traditions, fire. The wand is essentially a pointer- a tool that directs someone’s attention to that which you desire them to see, to that which communicates the bearer’s will. Use your wand to direct healing energy into yourself or others, to imbue a specific purpose into a candle, crystal, talisman or other magickal object with your desired will, to coax spiritual energies for ritual use, to clear energy blockages, to open Chakras, to create portals to other realms, and to send your will to your spiritual guides.
The staff can be a useful tool where bladed weapons aren’t legal- such as a public park. It represents our connection to the earth and is often used by Shamans and Cunning Folk that are deeply connected to earth energies. In some spring ceremonies, the staff is used to gently beat on the earth, helping to wake the great mother from her winter slumber. Many decorate and charge their staff with crystals, magick symbols, herbs, oils and amulets. A staff can be used for anything a wands used for.
Sacred Bowls and Drinking Vessels:
Many of our ancestors used these types of cast iron pots for cooking, which some of us still do today. For others this is the most important tools for working magick in. For ritual fire scrying, for transformative burning rituals and working our will through printed statements of intent, the cauldron is seen as representing all elements- the shape for earth as embodiment of the mother nature, the three legs for water as maiden, mother crone (or the moon phases), fire for its transformative properties and the rising smoke or steam representing air.
The chalice is the vessel of spiritual energy, and often contains wine. Drinking from the chalice by the gathered guest is a means to share the blessings of the occasion. In Wiccan tradition, the masculine athame is placed into the feminine chalice as an enactment of the ‘Great Rite’ or symbolic sexual intercourse, representing balanced energy and procreation.
An offering bowl can be made of any desired material and simply functions as a place to leave symbolic offerings to spiritual beings you are working with.
Scrying bowls are used for seeing visions and gaining spiritual insight. This can be done with fire, water, smoke or other substance.
The image of the witch flying on a magickal broom is both inspiring for some and terrifying for others. The Witches of old were fond of creating ‘flying potions’ often with dangerous and psychotropic ingredients. Their flight represented the witches spiritual travels while under the influences of these potent potions. The broom was also a tool for physical cleansing, but also for purification of ritual space. Placed above the door of a new home is said to guard the home from negative spirits and bad luck, but a new one should be made or purchased with each move. A newly hand-fasted couple will enjoy jumping a besom for luck and fertility.
Crystals can be very potent tools for making desired changes in our life. Serving as magickal reminders, when we wear them or carry them, we are constantly reminded of what we are trying to create for ourselves. Their subtle energies can merge with ours and help with almost any process we go through in life. Crystals can make easy to acquire representations of the elements as well: Agate for Earth, Lepidolite for Air, Citrine for Fire, and Aquamarine for Water. These can be useful for travel altars or an inexpensive way to have elemental representations in our home.
Candles are a perfect tool for charging with your intention for magickal workings. The flame is a small spark of ‘source energy’, representing divine communication and vibrates with Fire element for physical and spiritual transformation. The candle becomes an extension of your mental power and life energy- a means to put our will for change out into the universe and to our guides.
A bell, or for that matter any musical instrument, is an excellent tool for clearing negative energy from a space, person or object, as well as for creating a spiritual mindset for ritual and magickal workings. A ringing bell or pleasant note from your favorite musical instrument is said to call the attention of divine beings to help in our working.
The smoke rising from burning incense is said to carry our spiritual messages to any divine beings that we are working with. Many varieties of incense will contain ingredients helpful to particular magickal workings, so some research is needed with herbs and oils to find the best one suited to your ritual or magickal working. A censor is simply a safe place to burn burn your incense, rather it’s charcoal based, cones, sticks or dhoop. The Thurible is specifically a censor that hangs from chains that can be carried or swung back and forth for cleansing and blessing sacred space.
Ritual clothing is very important for many magickal practitioners. The witches of old wore black cloaks at night to keep them hidden from the public and to avoid persecution for practicing magick. Later, when these items of clothing were only used during these rites and workings, they could help someone build a magickal mindset quickly as they were never used in a mundane setting. Find an article of clothing such as a cloak, a tunic, a special shirt, hat, skirt or even a pair of special pants, but keep its use for ritual and magickal practices only. Over time you will find as soon as you put that article of clothing on, you are immediately put into a magickal mindset. This can save you from extra time meditating, breathing and finding that sweet magickal mental space we work so hard to find.
Book of Shadows:
A Book of Shadows is a book, usually hand made, that contains rituals, spells, recipes and other mystical information from a solitary practitioner or more traditionally a coven.
Divination (from Latin divinare "to foresee, to be inspired by a god", related to divinus, divine) is a way to gain insight into a question using supernatural means. There are many ways to gain insight through divination including reading animal omens, tarot, runes, ogham, oracle cards, aeromancy (weather), alomancy (spilled salt), melted wax, ashes, dowsing, spirit boards, I Ching, crystals, coins, numerology, astrology, pyromania, scrying, bibliomancy (books) and many more.
Magickal Oils can add potency to your magickal process and ritual work and can serve as a reminder of the changes you are looking to achieve. They can be used for meditation, candle magick, spiritual cleansing, for charging amulets and magickal tools, for anointing, making potions, healing work and so much more. The vibration of the plant found in the oils is a very important component, so it’s best to use all natural oils in place of the cheap chemical creations that flood the magickal markets today. Essential Oil based magickal oils are by far the best.
Magickal and ritual tools certainly carry their own vibration, particularly after years of use, but without your ‘spirit’ working through them, they are not much more than lifeless objects. Intent and practice is very important in almost all magickal traditions. Let your desires come from a place of love and compassion for others and no harm should come to anyone or yourself. Develop techniques that work for you, even if they are different from what others do. Even when things don’t work, or your intent doesn’t manifest in the ways you want (or when you want) continue to make adjustments until your practice becomes habit - something you are easily able to do anywhere you are. Always remember the True Magick is within YOU!
For more in-depth information, check out Fantasia Crsytal's 'School of Magickal Arts' Class on Ritual and Magickal Tools. Class schedule at: www.fantasiacrystals.com/classes
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