Monday, September 17, 2007

The Hows and Whys of Altar Tools

So there you are, a beginner to Wicca, and you ask yourself, "Gee, what are all these Wicca supplies for anyway? What am I going to do with Altar Tools?" Those are good questions, since we are in a religion where there aren't many seminaries to teach Priests and Priestesses what's what, and what special church supply store they need to go to so they can purchase the right chalice or vestment.

What Altar Tools do you need, anyway? What Wiccan supplies do you need to be a "real Witch?" And how do you remain "non fluffy" while doing this?

Here is a quick primer on Altar Tools and Wicca Supply. Just the basics, of course.

Athame: Beginner Witches always have trouble pronouncing this word. It is pronounced ah' thuh may. Or, you can just call it that big ole Wicca knife. Nobody will be upset with you. You can buy many different types of athames, and since it will be your own personal Wiccan tool, you can tell those who might not like a nice wooden athame and say that the only "real athame" is a metal one with a blade that looks like it came out of Mad Max, that they can eat your Wiccan shorts. The athame is generally used to assist with casting a circle. Since you don't use it to cut anyone, and you only brandish it to look cool (unless some naughty Wicca haters are hanging around your circle making threats), you can buy any type you desire.

Athames are also used to signify the God in the Great Rite.

Bell: Now why would any Wiccan need a bell? Is it the "dinner bell?" No! It's the Altar Bell. And why does a Wiccan need an Altar Bell? As you should know, sound is very important during ritual. One learns to "vibrate" and "intone" with your voice, which helps the Gods to hear you. Same thing with an Altar Bell. The nice tones of a quality Altar Bell will let the Gods know that you would like an audience, please. The Bell is also used to cleanse energies at the end of a ritual.

Cauldron: You will find that most Wiccans LOVE cauldrons, especially cast iron ones and use them for many different things, some ritual, some not. They are most often used as vessels to hold lighted charcoal to burn incense, but they can also be used to make herbal remedies, or simply to cook chili.

Chalice: The Chalice signifies the Mother Goddess and is used to hold water on your Altar during ritual. The Chalice can be anything from a paper cup to a gaudy ornate jewel encrusted one. The Goddess doesn't get upset with you for not buying the solid gold chalice. A beautiful silver or stoneware one will do just fine :-)

Offering Bowls: Having a nice set of offering bowls on the Altar is a "good thing." How else will you hold the element of Earth? Offering bowls can be any type at all, from beautiful hand made jeweled ones, to little black scrying altar bowls, to the proverbial paper cup. As with all things Wiccan, it's your choice.

Altar Cloths: An Altar cloth is essential to a "well dressed Altar." It also protects the Altar from candle drips or other stains. Even experienced Wiccan practitioners find MANY candle drips after a ritual. Know that your Altar cloth WILL get drips. It is good if it is machine washable. You CAN buy that beautiful gold wrapped Altar cloth, but the first time the chalice full of wine falls, or the Mother Goddess candle drips red wax, you won't be a "happy fun Witch."

Wands: A wand is another item that you can use in circle casting, or in any other ritual where you wish to direct and focus your energy. Magickal wands are wands that you choose (either purchased or made....since Kestra must stay away from sharp objects, her wands are purchased), and charge with your own personal energies. Magickal wands can be metal, wood, plastic, or any kind of material you desire, but Kestra prefers wood. Wicca, the Earth, wood, you know.... that sort of thing. Different woods have different magickal uses.

Altar tools and Wicca supplies are very personal choices. If you know WHY you are making the choices you make, such as, "I want to use only white candles for this particular ritual because I feel that they will be appropriate" or "I must have a black offering bowl because I feel that only black should hold the Earth element" then that choice is a good one. Do not purchase tools or supplies because others tell you those are the things you "must have." Look sideways at any who tell you that there is only one "correct" chalice, one "correct" cauldron, or one "correct" athame. They are all choices, and personal choices at that.


Kestra is a Wiccan Priestess, Master Herbalist, and Reiki Master, offering the best in practical information, unique and useful altar tools and ritual supplies. Please check out her offerings at Guaranteed to not be your "same ole" Wiccan shop.

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