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 witches’ tools The magical working tools in contemporary

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Date d'inscription : 14/04/2010

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witches’ tools The magical working tools in contemporary
Witchcraft are associated with the forces of the
elements. The tools and their uses are derivative of some
Hermetic magical practices (see Hermetica ). Before they
can be used in rituals, all magical tools must be consecrated
in rites that involve exposure of the tools to the
four elements of Nature, by immersing or sprinkling
them with salted water; passing them through or over a
flame; passing them through incense smoke; and touching
them with a disk of earth or baked clay, or plunging
them into the earth. The consecration rituals are similar
to those in The Key of Solomon, a magical grimoire attributed
to the legendary King Solomon (see grimoires) and
translated into English in 1888, to which Pagan elements
have been added.
Magical tools customarily are inscribed with Runes, sigils
and symbols. Ideally, the tools are handmade, for the
act of construction helps to imbue them with the Witch’s
personal power. Or, tools can be bought and personalized
through inscription, consecration and ritual. Magical tools
serve a variety of purposes in rituals and are used in the
consecration of magic ci rcles and of other magic tools.
Athame. A Witch’s personal, magical knife, traditionally
double-bladed with a black hilt, and fashioned of steel or
iron. The blade may be magnetized. Magical knives were
said to be used by witches in the Middle Ages.
According to the Gardnerian tradition, the athame is
used only for ritual purposes, such as casting the magic
circle, and never for cutting. Other traditions call for using
the knife to cast and cut in the belief that its power
increases with use. In some rituals, the athame takes on
phallic symbolism; it is plunged into a chalice filled with
juice or wine, signifying the union of male and female
forces (see Great Rite).
The athame is associated with the element of fire (in
some traditions, with air). In some traditions, it is interchangeable
with the sword.
Among some hereditary Witches in England, metal is
never used in ritual tools because it interferes with energy
in the earth. Athame blades are therefore made of flint.
Some Witches use a white-hilted knife for cutting and
inscribing. Knives are never used for sacrifices, which are
not condoned.
Censer. A small dish or container is used to burn incense,
herbs, chemicals, wood or other substances, to
cleanse and purify the air before rituals. Censing, which
represents the element of air, exorcises and keeps unwanted
energies away from the magic site; offers sweet
air to Goddess and God; raises vibrational rates and
summons energies; relaxes the senses; and contains and
concentrates power. The formulas used depend on the
purpose of the ritual. The burning of incense as protection
and offering is an ancient religious practice found
around the world.
Cup (also chalice, goblet). The cup is associated with the
female forces in the universe: fertility, beauty, the womb,
earth, emotion, love, compassion, receptivity, instinct, intuition
and the subconscious mind. It is the receptacle of
spiritual forces. It is associated with the element of water.
Held upright, the cup is an open womb, ready to receive.
Held inverted, it symbolizes birth and realization. The
cup holds water or wine, which is consecrated and used
in rituals or shared among coveners (see coven).
Pentacle. Symbol of the earth, the pentacle is a disk or
square of metal (usually copper or silver), wax, baked
clay, earthenware or wood, and is inscribed with Craft
symbols. It is generally associated with female energy.
Among its uses are to ground energy and to serve food
shared at the end of a coven’s working session. See also
pentac le and pentagram.
Sword. Not all Witches use a sword; some covens have a
single sword for the entire group. The sword serves the
same function as the athame, used for ritual purposes
such as casting the circle but not for cutting. It is considered
more authoritative than the athame. The sword is
associated with the element fire (in some traditions, with
air). Gardner made his own swords.
Wand. The wand is the instrument of invocation of spirits.
It represents the element of fire (in some traditions, air)
and symbolizes the life-force within the Witch. The wand
dates back to prehistoric times and is mentioned in the
Bible; both Moses and Aaron use rods to bring the plague
to Egypt. The Greek god Hermes is represented with a caduceus,
a wand entwined with snakes and winged at the
top, a symbol of power, wisdom and healing.
Hazel has always been considered the best wood for
wands, followed by ash, rowan and willow; 18 inches is
considered a good length. The wood should be cut when
the moon is waxing or full. In certain Witchcraft rituals,
tipped phallic wands are used. Some Witches use wands
made of crystal, silver, carved ivory or ebony, and gold. In
some cases, a wand may be used to cast magic circles.
Cauldron. Some traditions use a cauldron to represent
the fifth element of Spirit and the Mystic Center.
Other Tools
Some traditions also employ the following tools:
witches’ tools 393
Cords. Cords of silk, other natural materials or nylon are
used primarily in the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions.
A single, nine-foot red cord is used in a Witch’s
initiation into the Craft (see initia tion). In magic work,
cords are knotted by Witches either individually or in a
group, while they chant a spell (see knots; spells). The
knots are tied in certain patterns or orders and are left
tied until the right moment for untying, which releases
the magic energy and effects the spell. A system of colors
is used for different spells. Cords also are used in binding
parts of the body to reduce blood circulation, as a means
of achieving an altered state of consciousness in the raising
of psychic power.
Divination items. Runes, Tarot cards, crystals, the I Ching
and other systems of divi nation are important working
Prayer beads. Pagan prayer beads are strands or necklaces
of colored beads, each of which represents a different
prayer. They are used like meditation beads or a rosary.
Scourge. Light beating with a scourge made of knotted
strands of silk or other light materials is done primarily
in the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions. It was
favored by Gardner in initia tions, to symbolize the need
to learn through suffering and as a way to raise psychic
power and gain “the Sight” (clairvoyance). For the latter
purpose, Gardner said scourging excites both body
and soul but allows one to retain control over the power
raised. The scourging should not be strong enough to
break the skin but should be strong enough to draw blood
to that part of the body and away from the brain. If done
long enough, it induces drowsiness.
Scourging has fallen out of favor with many Witches
and some covens have abandoned the practice. Others
scourge very lightly.
Further reading:
Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Revised ed. New
York: Viking, 1986.
Crowley, Vivianne. Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium.
Revised ed. London: Thorsons/Harper Collins,
Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do: A Modern Coven Revealed.
Custer, Wash.: Phoenix Publishing Co., 1983.
Starhawk, M. Macha NightMare and the Reclaiming Collective.
The Pagan Book of Living and Dying. San Francisco:
HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.
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