I’m fed up of seeing lists of the “top 10 tools a beginner witch needs”. You might have guessed that if you read this week’s blog post B is for Bling.
But why? Why do I disagree with these recomendations? And what do I suggest instead?
Below I list the 10 Tools I commonly see listed as essentials for those new to witchcraft – and share my views on why they are not so essential. Thats not to say they are not useful or nice to have. If you want them, go ahead and buy them! But if like me you have a limited budget, limited space, and a desire for a simpler magical life with less ‘stuff’ and more ‘omph’ then hopefully this list will help you prioritise!
Let’s not get into the ethics of crystals here. Let’s just say they are all pervasive in the current new age/wiccan/craft scene and it seems some people think you need a cyrstal to ANYTHING vaguely magical. And they are really expensive. But let me put this simply – there is nothing you can do with a crystal that I cant do with a locally found pebble.
Learn to sense energy, to move energy, to manipulate it and focus it through objects. Then you will have much more powerful results than simply having a certain crystal stood on your altar. (More on altars later)
2. An Athame, a Boline AND a Kerfan.
This is not a dig at the Wiccan Tradition. These are proper and important tools in the right context. If you seeking to join a proper Wiccan coven and looking for initiation into that magical current then crack on!
But for the rest of us. Seriously – do you need 3 different blades with different coloured handles and different blade profiles? At least in the beginning?
Use a kitchen knife to chop stuff and your fingers to direct energy in ritual. Job done. £100+ saved.
3. Big, Ornate Book of Shadows.
Ok, so we’ve all seen Charmed. And yes, their book is pretty cool. But really, entirely impractical.
You don’t need to print off beautiful pinterest images of spells and grimoire pages. You need to keep a record of what you did, how you did it, and what results you got. For that, any note book is fine. I use the back of envelopes and bills when I need to. Or cheap notebooks from Poundland. It does the same job of keeping a good record and doesn’t present perfection paralysis. (You know where you never actually get round to writing anything into that £50 notebook for fear of ruining it?!)
Later down the line you might want to put your best stuff into something pretty and fancy. But right now lets concentrate on working out what your best stuff is.
4. A Chalice
Step away from the Pewter laser engraved chalice that is lining the shelves of every witchcraft online store from here to the end of the known witchiverse! A wine glass from the kitchen does the same job. Or a coffee mug. In fact anything cup like.
5. Some Randomly Decorated Pentacle
So if its just to decorate your front room then fine. But if this is intended to be a ritual tool then just make your own. One drawn on paper is much more powerful than the decorative ornaments you find. Or get fancy and use papermache. I made one out of beeswax. But even this isn’t needed. I think I’ve used the one I made a grand total of twice for an actual spell, and a few times to sit on a altar during a ritual.
6. Robes and Cloaks
This is a difficult one. I use robes myself. I have a number of them. I have my students make them. (Which isn’t exactly cheap by the time you have bought material.)
BUT you don’t need a fancy pants designer robe.
When I practice solitary (which is about 70% of the time) I just wear outdoor clothing. I want to disappear into my sourroundings and draw zero attention.
If you work in a group though they are good as a uniform – again to blend in and to keep things the same. The symbolism of being cloaked is also important. But keep it simple. And practical. Removing a flaming crushed velvet robe from the priestess in the middle of ritual isn’t easy believe me.
And you don’t NEED it. A robe won’t improve your magic, but it can be useful in group work.
A nice compromise for the solitory witch is to set aside items of clothing you only use for magic. What they are matters less than the ritual effect of putting them on to do work.
7. A Drum
A relatively recent craze, but Drum Birthing workshops are all the rage.
Drums are nice. I have 2. Drums you make yourself are even better. I also have one of those.
But the theme of this list is that you don’t NEED it.
You are highly unlikely to be drumming yourself into a trance for journeying in the early days of your practice. Again, wanting a drum is fine – but dig a little deeper into the workshop you are attending and paying a LOT of money for.
Are you going to come away with a carbon copy drum as every other participant that attends every weekend? Is everything already done for you and you are just assembling the kit? Or are you learning some of the art and craft of the process and putting yourself into the drum?
If the materials are animal based are you happy with how they were sourced? If you are buying a drum then you should still ask how was it made. It matters.
Most of all it matters how it sounds and resonates if you are going to use it magically.
But, going back to the point of this list you don’t need it! You can create the same result banging your hands on a table, a tree stump, your legs, the ground. Actually the last one is REALLY REALLY powerful. Even now I’d choose this over my drum. It will beat you alive.
8. Witch Subscription Boxes
I support local businesses and I’m delighted that pagan entrepreneurs have found a way to make a little money to support themselves.
But you absolutely do not need a fancy box with a handful of cheap items and a spell on a bit of paper to be a witch.
Do you know how to work that spell? I don’t mean how to rub the candle with oi, light it and say a few words. I mean do you know how to tap into the RIGHT energy, how to focus it, how to move it through the spell, how to send it up through the levels and how to ground it back down so it manifests on the physical plane?
This is the same issue I have with the big books of spells. It not actually the spells in them. Its just the words and actions. But not the magic.
When you REALLY know how to do all these things Im willing to bet you won’t buy a subscription box. Unless you are the type of person who likes to get little trinket surprises in the mail. If thats you – All power to you!
If not, just buy a bunch of candles in Ikea and get your bum into gear to make your self a magical candle blessing oil with herbs picked from the garden.
9. An apothecary sized selection of herbs.
Speaking of Herbs…… The most powerful herbs you will ever use as a witch are ones which come from a plant you have built a relationship with, worked with the spirits and energies of, and the harvested and prepared yourself.
You might not feel like you have time for this – but there is a harsh response here about needing to make time for your magic if you want it to work.
Of course there will be times when you will want to buy herbs, but only buy the amount you need as you need it as they do not last long. You cannot expect herbs bought 3 years ago to still pack the same magical punch. And I promise you no matter how good your intentions if you go ahead and order a whole host of herb sachets that you MIGHT need, you will still have at least half of them this time next year!
So buy a couple of things at a time if you really can’t get outside and harvest a few home grown herbs or foraged plants.
10. Special Altar Table
Personally I don’t recommend you even have an altar when you first start out. Especially until you understand the purpose of an altar, and the difference between an altar and a shrine.
But if you REALLY REALLY want one a simple cloth on a coffee table, a shelf, or a tree stump in your garden is all you need.A pinic blanket is perfect.
And then please resist the urge to fill it full of bling!
So What Should I Buy?
To be honest, nothing really!
When you first start out then you really don’t need very much at all. In fact I’m willing to bet you could do a whole host of magical damage with just the items you can find in your house or forage in your local area.
But, there are a few things which are worth the investment and are actually useful. As you grow in your magical path you will develop your own ‘essentials’ list.
1. A decent knife.
To chop things on the physical. Chop herbs. Chop apples. Chop Cake. Chop wood.
My first witch knife was a penknife with a wood saw blade. AWESOME
My knife is a ‘bushcraft’ style knife and I wouldn’t be without it. It was relatively expensive – about £75, but I didn’t buy it until I found myself using a knife almost daily, and finding the kitchen knife I was using wasn’t quite working for cutting harder plants and carving wood. I look after it and expect it to last a lifetime.
I highly recomend buying in person and not on the internet. The weight and how it fits in your hand is REALLY important.
2. Field guides/Apps.
Something like the Woodland Trust Tree App. Its free! Or get yourself one of the many books in the library or second hand shops. I got an excellent field guide to mushrooms in a charity shop for a few pence.
A decent guide will allow you to forage for almost all your herby/plant needs. That you can then use for herbal teas, herbal charms, incenses, healing oils etc etc etc
I thought you would like this one. What feels more witchy than a whole house full of candles?
And you can get away with this right under the nose of the least sympathetic family member!
But resist overcomplicating. You don’t need to spend a fortune on pre-made spell candles! You want simple. White. is fine.
Ikea will do the job! Beeswax are nicer.
Birthday candles are really practical for quick spells.
But the point is you can buy them from ANYWHERE. They don’t have to be special magic candles.
Candles are VERY useful. Still not essential.
4. Random natural items
These might be my favourite tools. They are collected occasionally and can be used as charms, wards, grounding stones etc (I have a little dish of pinecones, pebbles, shells, acorn caps, twigs, thorns and so on in my front room). When doing a spell in a hurry I can always find something in this bowl that will work.
Don’t take too much though. Removing items like stones changes the environment you found them in. Consider it carefully. Take what you need and will use. Don’t take a bag full.
5. A form of Divination Tool
Divination is one of the cornerstones of witchcraft, and I inisist my students become preficient in at least one form of divination.
This is not about prediciting the future – its about analysing the truth of a situation before trying to change it magically.
You don’t need much in the way of tools to do it. I have a hag stone on a woolen cord which I use as a pendulum for example.
But I also have tarot cards – and I find these incredibly insightful.
Other people prefer a set of runes, or maybe a scrying mirror or bowl. If you are digging the traditional witchcraft thing you might be tempted by ‘throwing the bones’ but step away from that. Its going to take you 5-10 years of practice to even collect the bones you need. You do NOT buy bones for this.
As with the knife – try and buy these in person. The internet just doens’t give you a feel for the items, and you need to really connect with them.
So thats it! 10 Tools I personally don’t think the beginner witch needs. And 5 tools I’m really glad I invested in.
You will have a different list to me – and thats fine. Witches need to question everything and make their own decisions!
I’d love to hear what tools you can’t live without – and what you regret spening your hard earned money on! Comment below or drop me an email. But importantly – keep on doing the witchcraft!