You find in nearly every basic book for beginners in Wicca and witchcraft a chapter on tools. This often includes things like a ritual knife called an athame (ATH-ay-me), wands, crystals, candles, cauldron, chalice, bowls, twine or cord, incense, salt, and many other tools.
You don’t need em… not a one. Shocked? They’re nothing more than props for your prayers, and given that religion stems from your soul and your relationship with the ‘powers that be’, the Divine, or the goddess, you don’t need anything to find that connection. These tools do nothing more than to help place you in a certain frame of mind to commune with the Divine.
So why do so many books suggest otherwise? Some reasons say you’re building an atmosphere, to stir up a mood when you cast circle. You use items to get to a state of mind and candles and the whiff of incense can help you with that. Some books tell you that these tools hold power or magic. The most powerful tool is you- plain and simple.
The symbolism of these tools also touch upon your personal viewpoint. For instance, you might find a wand better than a ritual knife, or a bowl of earth over a crystal. Do what feels right.
Athame– a ritual knife, never used to cut or draw blood. Its a directional tool. A phallic symbol, this represent the God aspect of diety. Sizes vary, and some argue it must be of iron. I’ve seen wooden and even crystal athames that worked fine.
A Boline is another ritual blade, but this one is used to cut herbs or cord for magic. The handle is often white, with the blade curved.
Cauldron– varies in size and function. For some circles, you might use the cauldron to lit a fire, while other times you might want a cauldron filled with water. Other times, you can use a cauldron to serve potion or food. Its a symbol of hearth, home, and of the Goddess for it symbolizes the womb.
Chalice– This also represent the goddess as a symbol of her womb. Its used for the ‘cakes and ale’ ceremony, and the symbollic ‘Great Rite” when you insert the athame into the chalice as a symbol of sexual union.
Wands represent a phallic symbol, the god aspect, but also that of air. Used to draw the circle or direction energy.
Candles represent fire and enlightenment. Some groups advice natural only candles such as beeswax, and to never blow them out, but I’m more liberal with using any candles and blowing the light out with respect. Colors and sometimes shape offers meaning to ritual and spells. You can carve into them, infuse them with oils and herbs, and anoint according to need.
Bell– Although I don’t bother with this tool, the characteristics for sound signifies the element of air and vision. Bells are rung to ward off bad energies or invite positive energies into the sacred space. A bell also can be used to start and finish meditations.
Incense can be the stick incense, cone incense, or herbs burned on charcoal.
Book of Shadows– I believe is the most important tool because it focuses on your personal, spiritual journey. Each Book is different, and only you can decide what pages will be included. It take take the form of a binder with inserted pages, or you can maintain a journal that includes dreams, rituals, recipes, and anything else you deem important.