Healing Ritual Altar and Tools
Traditional tools used by mostWiccans and other magicians include the athame, pentacle, wand, and cup orchalice, all of which symbolize the elements. Most altars also include candles,an incense burner, bowls for salt and water, and of course a Book of Shadows. Thesebasic tools, as well as some other fairly common ones, are described below:
Tools are really not a requirement,you can perform any magick without them. Their value is familiarity thatempowers the user in magical workings. Handling your tools and using them helpsdevelop consistency in rituals. Never allow others to touch your tools,including Tarot cards or other items used in divination. You want your energyto remain intact when handling personal tools. You impart spirit into them,handling and touching is a form of imprinting, meaning that in using your toolsthey will become powerful extensions of your will
Altar cloth: A linen or silkcloth can be used on your Altar or to designate your Altar space if you use asurface in your home that will return to its original purpose. Colors may beyour choice, but typically correspond to the ritual intent. Sabbat colorscorrespond to seasons, darker and richer for the 2nd half of he year beginningwith Samhain, bright clean pastela for Ostara as Spring colors come into play.Refer to color correspondences if needed.
Asperger (or aspergillum): A device used to sprinkle water for purification at thebeginning of rituals. Some are constructed of brass or silver, but a spray ofevergreen, a pine cone, or fingers will do as well.
Athame: Ablack-handled, double-edged, knife like tool used to channel energy, as incasting the circle, but not used to cut any material. It may be marked with theowner’s name in runes and or other symbols, including the Pentagram, and cansymbolize either Fire or Air elements. Traditions may vary in symbolic purpose.
Bag or pouches: Tarot cards areusually kept in a silk bag to keep them uncontaminated, only the owner shouldever handle them. Rune tiles or stones are also kept in consecrated bags tokeep them fresh for each use. Other items kept in magical bags are Crystals, Stones,Talismans and Amulets, so their magic does not disperse when not in use.
Bell: A bell, chime,or gong can be used early in the ritual to “Call the quarters,” that is, toalert spiritual influences to participate in the modes of Earth, Air, Fire andWater.
Besom or Broom: The Besom isoften a hand crafted broom with a brush of Broom or other natural bristle thstis wrapped with leather or cord to a handle. The bristle is consideredfeminine. The handle may be made of another part of the Broom plant, or awooden branch, and is considered masculine. It is used to “Sweep” an area youwill work in, removing negativity to cleanse your space.
Boline: A white-handled,(bone is traditional) knife used for cutting herbs and carving or inscribingthings in the course of a ritual—candles, talismans, cords, etc. It is usuallysingle edged, Some Bolines have a sickle-shaped blade and are best forharvesting herbs.
Book of Shadows (BOS) or Grimoire: A magical journal kept for your ritual records, in whichspells, invocations, ritual notes, herbal recipes, dreams, divination results,and material from any magical workings can be recorded. Some people write it inTheban Script or in other alphabets. It may be personal, or used by initiatesin a coven.
Boxes or Chests: Magical boxesare meant to stow tools and Talismans, or can be used as a portable Altar. Theyare carved with a variety of symbols and may be inscribed with magical words ornames. Any size or design is appropriate, although hand crafted is best suitedto magical intent They should be lined with cotton felt or other naturalfabric.
Calendars: you will wantto keep a current calendar of the Sabbats, and take note of Moon andAstrological correspondences to prepare in advance for rituals when you want tocreate the most potent magick.
Candles: These are usedfrequently in spell work. The oils they are anointed with, their colors, aswell as the shapes and inscriptions carved on them, all have symbolic purpose.When anointing or dedicating candles, spread the oils from the center out tothe ends as you cite your blessing.
Cauldron: This is a metalpot made of cast iron, and can be small to quite large. Potions are mixed in thecauldron, sometimes over an open fire. It is used to burn loose incense on acharcoal disc, to make black salt (used in banishing rituals), for mixingherbs, or to burn petitions (paper with words of power or wishes written onthem).
Chalice: A goblet or cupusually for wine or other liquids, which may be shared around a circle in aritual. It is both female and a Water-symbol, and can be used for scrying orcrystal gazing.
Charcoal or discs: Incense isusually burned on charcoal, placed in a Thurible or on a stone. Self-ignitingcharcoal discs are sold in occult supply stores and are very convenient to use.Handle these carefully by quickly placing on a bed of sand when lit. I don’trecommend briquettes in confined spaces because they typically contain chemicalsthat are unhealthy to breathe.
Cord: A “cord” can be either a heavystring used in binding and releasing magick, or it can refer to the piece ofapparel circling the magickian’s waist (also called a “girdled or “cingulum”).In many covens and magical lodges, the color of the cord indicates the wearer’sdegree of attainment.
Crystal Stones: Natural crystal points are exceptional Amulets toenhance spirituality and well being. They can be any unpolished form in a stoneof Agate Quartz to Zircon. Do not worry about imperfections, they enhance astone’s properties. Striations or inclusions are an indication of the stress astone experienced, and make it stronger because it healed itself. Crystal types correspondto the elemental spirits and have a variety of protection and healingproperties. You may find a crystal that correspond to your astrological sign,and in a color that matches your intellectual powers. Find one or more thatresonate with you when handled, any size or clarity is appropriate. Use a Sagesmudge to cleanse your crystal of impurities it had before it came to you.Carry or wear it, and use any crystal on your Altar to enhance your magick.
Crystal Ball: This is usedfor divination, and can be any size, color, or level of clarity. It is amagical item and you should take time to find the crystal that resonates withyou when you touch it. Some prefer a quartz with great clarity and beauty inlarger sizes of 100 to 200 centimeters, or 4″ to 7″ inches. There are very nice forgazing, but you may find you prefer a natural ball with inclusions of color orother imperfections. The ball will reflect your psychic visions, and does notrequire water clarity or enormous size to be effective.
Incenses: These come insticks, cones, powders, resinous chunks and herbal or floral mixtures, or oilsfor simmering. Incense can be purchased or made. The incense burned depends onthe purpose of the ritual and on the energies being invoked, but frankincenseand sandalwood are two all-purpose favorites which can be used for almost anyritual. You should try make your own and create it specifically for yourrituals or magical workings. It is fun and interesting to create a magicalincense. You may find it rewarding to try it yourself.
Lamps of Art: These are thetwo candles on the altar which provide illumination, made preferably ofbeeswax, although paraffin will do. Choose white, or use colors based on theseason or on the nature of the magick being done. Carve symbols or names intoyour candles for greater magick. When you anoint them with fragrant oils, startfrom the middle and work to oil to the ends, this is traditional in spell work.
Music and Instruments: Any drum or Djembe, stringed instrument like a Karimba,flute, rain sticks or rattles can be used in ritual preparation. Music thatsets a mood of magick is a wonderful tool for rituals. There are recordingsthat start with meditation sounds which will help to build a positive aura forperforming magick. It should be soft and kept as a background to promote thepsyche, although there is no reason not to raise the level of sound if it helpsyou expand on your ritual goal.
Pen or Quill: A special penwhich is reserved only for entries into the Book of Shadows, or for otherritual use. This can be an old-fashioned dip pen or quill pen, but any writingimplement may be used.
Pendulum: A naturalcrystal point, carved crystal or stone. It is attached to a chain or string sothat it may dangle from the palm of your hand. Used in divination, thedirection the pendulum swings can decide a yes or no answer. It is used withtalking boards for spirit communication and worn or carried as a talisman. Itcan be used to waft the smoke of your incense in a ritual.
Pentacle Patten: This is a discof metal, ceramic, glass, or wood with a Pentagram or other symbols inscribedon it to symbolize the element of Earth. Salt & water, or cakes are placedupon it, though it can also be used in rituals of protection as a magical shield.
Robe or Cloak: This is apersonal item and may be any design or color you like. You can adorn it in anymanner to add symbols in the design, or a “cord” around the waist if you like.Robes can be colors that correspond to Sabbats or to ritual magick youperform. As noted you should choose your preference in color and style.
Rune Set: Runes are anancient Germanic alphabet, used for writing, divination, and magick. Rune setsof inscribed tiles, sticks, or stones are used as an Oracle to seek advice whentossed on any surface for a “Rune Casting”.
Salt Bowl: Rock saltsymbolizes Earth, and is mixed with water and sprinkled over things to purifythem. Salt is often sprinkled just outside a circle perimeter as it is cast, torepel negative influence or spirits.
Scrying Mirror: A reflectivesurface. Traditionally this is a black or concave mirror, a surface of water,or polished rock face, and is used for obtaining spiritual visions in thepractices of divination or fortune-telling.
Sceptre: Used as a rodor staff to represent authority. In magical societies or covens, elders maycarry a highly ornamental sceptre of carved wood or metals as a symbol of theirelevated status. Some sceptres are crowned with shrines, orbs or stonesto identify a sect or other affiliation.
Smudge: This is mostoften a bundle of dried Sage or other cleansing herbs that is lit and then theflame is extinguished to allow it to slowly smolder. Sometimes used in ritualsas a clarifying agent, the smoldering bundle is wafted over the Altar andaround the circle. It is also used extensively to clear spaces in homes orother buildings, and rid them of negative spirit activity. A blessing is spokenwhile smudging an area, with words to banish the unwonted spirits. Veryeffective in use.
Staff: Magical woodenrod, typically the length is the height of the wielder. A magick staff is usedfor pointing in ceremonies, and to signify status and strength. Some magicalsocieties use metal shod staves in a variety of woods. Also known as aceremonial mace when carved with various symbols that may signify the ownersstatus among peers. In ancient times staves were used to ward off enemies, andpounded on the ground similarly to a drum in ceremonial use.
Stang: A staff with afork at the top, typically planted in the ground, and used as a vertical altar.It is a common tool in traditional Hedge With practices, it represents theHorned God and is used at the northern gate.
Statues: A statue oraltar figure for your ritual space. Any representation of your favored deitiesenhance magick. Hand crafted statuary is always significant as you infuse magicinto the finished item with your will.
Sword or Dirk: A sword can beused to cast the circle for a group, and is considered a symbol of either Airor Fire.
Tarot Cards: A complete deckcontains 78 cards, each having a standard value (specific meaning). Twenty-twocards make up the Major Arcana, each describe a significant circumstanceor influence. The remaining fifty-six cards are the Minor Arcana, with individualdescriptions of activities, attitudes, relationships, social or personalevents, and environmental influence. Used as a tool for Fortune Telling byinterpreting correspondences between cards that the reader draws in a specificsuccession.
Thurible: A metal censer,dish or burner to hold charcoal and incense. Its better to use a charcoal diskover an inch of sand in your burner to insulate it. The burner can either standon the altar or swing from a chain, and is often considered to be an Air symbol.
Wand or Baculum: A wooden stickabout 18″ long, or “from elbow to fingertip,” carved from anytraditional sacred wood. It is used to channel power and represent Air or Fire,according to various traditions. Your wand may be carved and decorated, with aphallic shape (acorn or crystal) on one end and a yoni, (counterpart of thephallic) on the other.
Traditional Wand Wood:
Water Bowl: Water mixed withsalt may be used to purify, in a bowl (or large shell) kept on your altar.
Other tools or symbolic items includeunique hand made tools, Sigils which are magical symbols with complicatedmeanings, and a variety of Talismans and Amulets.