The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Tools of Witchcraft
Different traditions and different practitioners require and desire different tools. It is unlikely that any one witch will own or use every tool listed here. The witch who is afraid of fire doesn’t need candles; the witch who works purely with verbal charms doesn’t require a mortar and pestle.
If a witch or practitioner uses any tool consistently in her magical work, it is, by definition, a magical tool.
Some tools, like the bolline, cauldron or mortar and pestle serve entirely functional uses, but in addition to practicality, witches’ tools are also magical tools—tools that are perceived as radiating their own magic power. Different tools radiate different energies. Individual tools express specific elemental energies that empower and enhance spells and rituals, for instance candles radiate the power of fire.
Among the ways of determining what type of power a tool radiates is to consider what kind of materials are used in its creation. Thus a wooden magic wand places the power of trees into the hands of its wielder. Sometimes this is obvious; sometimes the radiant energy is more subtle. The concept of gazing into a crystal ball derived from gazing into the moon. A crystal ball essentially brings the moon inside and enables you to access lunar magic anytime not just during the Full Moon. The moon is identified with water and women. These associations have passed on to the crystal ball, which is perceived as radiating feminine, watery energy.
Female and male energies, yin and yang, are considered the most powerful radiant energies on Earth. Unifying these male and female forces provides the spark for creation, and what is a magic spell after all but an act of creation? Instead of a new baby, ideally new possibilities, solutions, hopes, and outcomes are born from each magic spell.
A high percentage of magical tools radiate male or female powers. Many tools metaphorically represent the unification of these forces. Earth’s most ancient religions venerated the sacred nature of the human genitalia, representing male and female generative power.
Sacred spiritual emblems evolved into tools of witchcraft. Many magical tools now hide in the kitchen disguised as ordinary kitchen utensils including sieves, pots and cauldrons, cups and chalices, mortars and pestles, knives, dinner bells, and most famously, brooms. To some extent this parallels the hidden history of women: once worshipped or at least respected as goddesses, priestesses, and community leaders, for centuries (and still in some circles) women were perceived as the weaker, less intelligent, meek gender, fit for little other than preparing meals. Women’s old tools of power lurked in the kitchen with them. In recent years, however, witches and their tools have emerged from their broom-closets to reveal their long suppressed powers.
In fact many tools serve dual uses: few ancient people had the variety or quantity of possessions that many take for granted today. The average kitchen witch of not that long ago made magic with whatever was at hand. She didn’t have a catalog of wares to choose from. Rare, precious items were treasured but, by definition, these were accessible to only a very few.
Never permit the lack of a specific tool to stall a magical goal. Among the key ingredients of magical practice is inventiveness. The one and only tool that is a requirement is the spell-caster herself, her full and entire focus and commitment to a spell. According to French master mage Eliphas Levi (see HALL OF FAME) there are four requirements of successful magic: Knowledge, Daring, Will and Silence.
One cauldron served a family’s purposes: from creating nutritious soup to concocting healing brews to crafting magic potions. The mortar and pestle ground up botanical materials for whatever purpose was currently needed: healing, magic or cooking. In a holistic world, purposes may not have been considered distinct in any case. This holistic tradition still survives in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where medicinals are sometimes administered via food. Edible, medicinal ingredients are prescribed for the patient: the meal is the prescription and may contain magical protective elements as well.