New to the Craft and not sure where to begin, or what you need? What to put on your altar? Special outfit to wear? What to read? Here is a handy list of tools for new witches (with budget friendly options!). You’ll be casting circles around yourself in no time 😉
What are tools for witchcraft?
Basically, witchcraft is about working with energy. Whether that energy working is:
– to celebrate a season change and internally mark the passage of time,
– using the energy of plants to assist in a physical healing,
– to ‘read the wyrd’ (divination), or
– to manifest any desired outcome, or whatever the activity might be.
It all comes down to a witch’s capability to focus their mind, visualise, and truly believe in their ability to manifest their will.
In order to do this, we make use of tools. These tools for witchcraft can help us:
– focus, and step into this role
– lend their residual or lineage energy to ours
– get closer to our Deities and Spirits that we choose to work with.
Our connection to our Higher Self, our Spirit Guides and Great Spirit all assist us in moving energy. All tools for witchcraft are designed to help us achieve this. Some tools are practical (eg a place to write things down). Others are symbolic (eg a bowl of salt to represent the Earth element). While others still are traditional and thus carry a lineage of energetic practice aligned with them (eg the ritual chalice).
Are these tools for witchcraft essential?
No. I can quite successfully do an energy working sitting here in my chair with my eyes closed. Do the tools help? Definitely! Especially when you are still learning to harness the forces of energy around you, and what different energies feel like. After many years, you may not need them, but they are still a great way to begin your energy working. The very ritual of gathering, preparing and going through the steps is part of your practice and power. And every tool lends its own intrinsic, lineage energy to your practice too, making achieving your goal that much easier.
Book of Shadows
The first thing on a new witch’s list should be a Book of Shadows (BOS) – your personal ‘spell book’. This is a highly personal collection of everything relating to your practice and craft. You may want to keep a physical book, which you spend time decorating and writing in as a part of your practice. You can also keep a digital Book of Shadows, which would be a collection of documents, images and files. The benefit of the digital BOS is that you can have it on your phone or laptop whereever you go. Its free and relatively less time consuming to add to. The benefit of the physical BOS is the personal energy imprinted into your records as you grow your knowledge.
A Dream Book is another great tool for witchcraft. Having a physical journal or notebook is super useful to make notes or jot down thoughts or images. Whenever you practice
– card readings or other types of divination,
– vision quests, or
– just for keeping next to the bed for dream records. Note you can choose to combine this with your Book of Shadows if you like (it’s up to personal preference). I prefer having a separate record in a book that I keep with my card deck.
A Mirror Book is like a witch’s diary. Again, this can absolutely be combined with your Book of Shadows. A Mirror book can be used to document:
– your experiences,
– energy working results,
– how you felt doing various rituals or ceremonies,
– calling the quarters
Basically it is a way to chart your progress and process your experiences.
SUMMARY: JOURNAL TOOLS FOR WITCHCRAFT
- Book of Shadows (can be digital). The Book of Shadows is essentially a witch’s spell book. It contains your notes and saved energy workings, correspondances, rituals, ceremonies etc – everything relative to your practice & craft.
- Dream Book (recommended physical notebook). The Dream Book is a useful notebook to keep with you during meditations, dreams, vision quests, etc. Use to jot down thoughts, images and messages as they come through.
- Mirror Book (optional). The Mirror Book is a journal of your progress and experiences related to your practice & craft.
What is the Altar?
The Altar is one of the most essential tools for witchcraft. The Altar is:
– your place of worship,
– your place of power, and
– where you conduct your rituals, ceremonies and energy workings from.
All you need is a small surface and a few symbolic items to represent the sacred energies you work with.
Your altar can be permanent, or something you set up and take down when you practice your craft. It can be indoors or outdoors according to your preference. Big and full of lots of things, or a minimalist set up that you keep in a shoebox. It really is all about you!
Basic Altar Tools & Items
Basic altar tools you can place on the altar include:
– a Chalice – a ritual item that you use to drink out of, as a symbol of the Goddess.
– An Athame is a ceremonial knife which you can use to cast the circle and cut with during energy workings. It also acts as a symbol of the God.
– A metal bowl, often called an Offering Bowl, is where you would perform various kinds of energy workings. For example, burning a piece of paper, mixing up a magickal herbal brew, or leaving small cakes to honour the Fae folk on Samhain.
– A candle snuffer is a useful investment to extinguish your candles. Candles representing the Deities and Elementals or any candles related to magickal workings. Using your breath to extinguish the candles is considered bad form by the spirit world.
SUMMARY: ALTAR TOOLS FOR WITCHCRAFT
- Tablecloth (black is a good staple, and you can expand to have different colours for each sabbat if you want to)
- Representations of God & Goddess (pillar candles work well, can also include statues, framed pictures, crystals, or anything that symbolises each of Them to you)
- Elemental representations (e.g. Fire – red candle or a red crystal, Earth – small bowl of salt or an earthy colour crystal, Water – small bowl of water, a seashell, or a blue crystal, Air – incense burning, a feather, or a yellow or clear crystal) – see our ELEMENTALS CRYSTALS KIT as an option!
- Chalice (a cup or wine glass you can drink out of)
- Athame (optional – a big kitchen knife works as well, you can always wrap the handle in ribbon or leather offcuts if you want to magick it up)
- Bowl (a metal bowl you can burn things in, give offerings or mix up brews for anointing etc)
- Candle snuffer (optional – you can use your fingers or a drinks lid, blowing the candles out should be avoided)
What is a Circle?
When we do any kind of energy working, ritual, ceremony or practice, we always cast a Circle around us. We would usually create an Altar inside the circle. The Circle is our:
– sacred space,
– safe space,
– place where we contain and build up our energy for whatever purpose, before releasing or transmuting it to that purpose.
Making a visual boundary
To begin with, make a visual boundary. You can use:
– a simple piece of string,
– items collected in nature (branches, fallen leaves, wild flowers, pinecones, stones etc),
– ribbons, or
– whatever you have available to you.
You can keep it minimalist and simple, or spend time as part of your practice to decorate it and make it look beautiful and special.
Representing the Elementals
Once you have your boundary, you can set out Elemental representations at each of the four Quarters. Again, this can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. From a crystal, to a colour candle, to bowls of each element, or combinations of these.
Lastly, a smudge stick or incense stick to smudge yourself and any others before entering, and smudging the space.
SUMMARY: CIRCLE TOOLS FOR WITCHCRAFT
- A ball of string to form a visual circle boundary (or ribbon, rope, flowers, sticks, greenery, stones etc)
- Elemental representations at each of the four Quarters (e.g. Fire – red candle or a red crystal, Earth – small bowl of salt or an earthy colour crystal, Water – small bowl of water, a seashell, or a blue crystal, Air – incense burning, a feather, or a yellow or clear crystal, note you can have as many representations as you want so feel free to combine various items). ) – See our ELEMENTALS CRYSTALS KIT as an option
- Smudge stick (ideally) or incense stick (works just as well) to smudge before entering the Circle
What to wear when you practice can be anything you feel confident, powerful and magickal in. It’s best to choose something that you dedicate to this purpose and this purpose only.
Wearing a loose fitting outfit is preferable, as tight clothes are not condusive to flowing energy. Traditionally witches wear a cloak or robe over this. The cloak or robe is seen as a symbol of ritual and power.
Consider Colour Correspondances
While deciding what you will wear for your magickal practice, take the power of colour into consideration. This means looking into colour correspondances i.e. different colours resonate with different energies. For example:
– Black is considered protective,
– purple is considered spiritual and psychic,
– white is considered pure and cleansing,
– yellow or gold is considered powerful and aligned with the sun, etc.
SUMMARY: CLOTHING TOOLS FOR WITCHCRAFT
A robe, shawl, blanket, dress or any outfit that you designate for ritual use only, that you always put on or wrap around yourself when you do rituals.
5. USEFUL *OPTIONAL* TOOLS
As your progress on your magickal journey, you can invest in items to contribute to your practice of the Craft. Before rushing out and buying ALL THE THINGS! (I’m so guilty of this)… consider reading up on different practices to see where your mind really gets pulled. What REALLY interests and excites you, beyond just your image of it? What resonates? Read up on its history and try to think how it can add to and enrich your practice.
For example, a traditional witch’s besom can be used:
– to sweep your sacred space before casting the circle,
– when doing a house cleansing,
– or for general energy ‘movings’.
Your Craft practice preferences
Most witches like to work with crystals, since they are all about energy. Some witches go into herbalism, others into oils. When it comes to casting spells, you might want to focus on candle magick, talismans, poppets, or medicine bags. You might like to dabble lightly in a few different practices to see what resonates most with you, and then go deeper into that, becoming adept. Or you might like to be a ‘jack of all trades’ with a light knowledge of many things, picking and choosing what you want to work with for each circumstance.
Finally, once you have your basic altar tools, you can consider collecting items to represent the Esbats and Sabbats. For example, a silver tablecloth and moon ornament for the Esbats, or seasonal items for Sabbats (pinecones, gourds, a Yule tree & decorations, etc).
SUMMARY: OPTIONAL TOOLS FOR WITCHCRAFT
- Traditional ritual items e.g. Besom (ideally a wood handled broom, this can be used to symbolically sweep away old energy or clear areas before ritual), Pentacle, etc.
- Divination tool of your choice (pendulum / cards / dowsing rods / runes etc)
- Crystals (see our WITCH STARTER CRYSTAL KIT!)
- Spell ingredients basics e.g. felt and string to make medicine or mojo bags, colour candles for candle magick, a few essential oils, a few herbs, small empty jars for bottle spells
- Items to represent the esbats – new moon & full moon – and the sabbats – the 8 holidays of the pagan calendar (these can be ornaments, or seasonal items you pick up in nature like pinecones, or any objects relating to the theme of the holiday)
6. GOOD BOOKS
You do not really need more than one book in each segment, if that segment interests you. Book collections can grow over a lifetime 😉 I’d recommend one or two books on witchcraft as “must haves” to begin. This list is formed from my personal collection of books I’ve gained a lot of value from over the years. Based on my personal experience, I can recommend them as great reads. There are tons of new authors out there who I haven’t read – so this is by no means a ‘be-all-end-all’ definitive list.
WICCA & WITCHCRAFT
- Scott Cunningham – especially “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” and “Earth Power”, but really anything by him is fab
- “Earthtime, Moontime” by Annette Hinshaw. (I quote her book in my article “The Calendar of Moons” on the Info Hub)
- “Dancing Under An African Moon” by Donna Darkwolf
- Silver Ravenwolf – “Solitary Witch” or “To Ride A Silver Broomstick”or “To Stir A Magick Cauldron”
- “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Ramond Buckland
- “A Witches Bible” by Steward Farrar
- “Green Spirituality” – Rosa Romani
- “Wicca” – Vivianne Crowley
- “God/Goddess” – A.J. Drew / Patricia Telesco
- “The Book of Stones” – Robert Simmons
- Judy Hall, especially “The Crystal Bible”
- Philip Permutt, especially “The Crystal Healer”
- “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic” – Scott Cunningham
- “Crystal Grids – How & Why They Work” – Hibiscus Moon. Hibiscus Moon offers great crystal courses on her website hibiscusmooncrystalacademy.com.
- “Field Guide to Rocks & Minerals of Southern Africa” – Bruce Cairncross
I recommend anything by Linda Goodman – “Sun Signs” is a good place to start, as well as Yasmin Boland. “Moonology” is a good start with her. Yasmin has a TON of free information available on her website moonology.com.
FOR HERBAL MAGICK
- “The Green Witch” – Arin Murphy-Hiscock
- “The Charmed Garden” – Diane Morgan
- Anything by Margaret Roberts, especially “Indigenous Plants of South Africa” and “100 Edible & Healing Flowers”
- “Medicinal Plants of South Africa” – B Van Wyk, B Van Oudtshoorn, N Gericke
- “A Witch’s Guide To Psychic Healing” – Gavin & Yvonne Frost
- “Everyday Rituals & Ceremonies” – Lorna St Aubyn
- “Spells, Charms, Talismans & Amulets” – Pamela Ball
- “Talismans & Amulets” – Felicitas H. Nelson
- “How to See & Read The Human Aura” – Judith Collins
- “Elemental Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams” – Theresa Cheung
- “Elemental Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells” – Judika Illes
- “Animal Speak” – Ted Andrews
- “The Druid Animal Oracle” – Philip Carr-Gomm
- “Initiation Into Numerology” – Johann Heyss
- “A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk” – Edain McCoy
- “The Chakra Experience” – Patricia Mercier
Have fun! (With harm to none) xxx
Take a look at our Beginner Witch series in the Info Hub!