Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Tools of the Craft

The tools of the craft are easier to find than you think!  You may already have everything you need right in your own home or in your yard.  What I'd like to do today is elaborate on my tools and where I found them.  This post was inspired by my previous post on scavenging for my Midwinter altar.

Before I begin, I want to address a common mindset I see in the Pagan, Wiccan and general witch communities.  Too often, newer members get wrapped up in needing all the items.  They either think they can't practice because they don't have the proper tools or end up spending hundreds of dollars in the blink of an eye without really knowing what to do with it all.  I call it Material Mania.

You do not need anything to practice your religion.  Religion is not a material venture anyway.  No tangible item you own in this world will travel to the next or return with you, nor do they up your spiritual goodie points.  All the physical pieces do is help channel a spiritual energy that you already have inside you.  You don't need these things for any means - you can do everything you can think of without having a single thing.

This journal is not to brag of the number of things I own but to hopefully give you an idea of what I use and how I obtained everything.  I've been a practicing pagan for over a decade; my tools of the craft have been collected over time and through many means that often didn't involve much, if any, money. You'll also notice that, despite my lengthy practice, I still do not own an athame, wand, altar tile or various other "magickal stuff" that you might think you need to practice.  Either they aren't important to my beliefs or I simply haven't run across one that speaks to me or is in the right price range.  Be choosy.  Look everywhere.  Find stuff.  Make stuff.  Thrift stuff.

That being said, if you have the ability, support your local metaphysical store.  Oftentimes, these are family-run local businesses.  I stop in at our local one just a few blocks from my house every now and then.  I can't ever spend much, but I try to make some purchases when I have spare money.

In the picture above, most of the items were either from Walmart, a thrift store or gifted to me.  The candles that I use at my corners were found at our local Walmart in a single pack.  They just happened to be the perfect colors and they've lasted for many, many hours of circle time.  My chalice was just 50 cents at the thrift store closest to my house and it really spoke to me before I bought.  I found the ear cuff at a local Renaissance festival - typically $10, it was on sale for $5 if I bought two.  My other one belongs to my Ren Fest outfit.  They may be the only two pentacle items I own.

Here's a broader view of my space.  From left to right I have: a Tupperware drawer, my altar, and a set of wooden drawers for extra storage.  Typically the only thing that moves around is the altar when I pull it out for a circle.  Sometimes, I may move the wooden storage as well for extra table space.  Otherwise, everything stays in its place.

Let's start with the Tupperware drawer.  I bought this thing for $10 at Walmart some time ago and used it for file storage back when I was in college.  Once out of college, I boxed my papers and found it open for use.  At the time, I didn't have my wooden storage and my altar was getting pretty small for everything I had.  I migrated this over for the circle and started storing various stuff in it.  The bottom drawer is storage for large candles.  These are typically the heaviest items, which is way I store them low.  The top drawer is for miscellaneous items like small paint brushes or inks, or paper I've cleansed for spell use.  It tends to be the lightest drawer and thus gets top placement.

The middle drawer is divination storage.  All of my tarot and oracle cards, runes and various other items like mirrors are here.  Most of my tarot and oracle decks have been gifted - I've only bought two over ten years.  I also made my own runes from a branch of wood in my own yard.  My first set was actually a wax set I made using wax paper and a bottle cap.  Proof that just about anything works!

On the top are two jewelry boxes.  The large one in back is storage for smaller trinkets of the craft.  In there, you'll find sachets for spell bags, small corked tubes that go on necklaces and some various stones that I store for enchanting later.  I bought this at a local thrift store for a couple bucks.  My paternal grandmother gifted me the second jewelry box.    It used to hold a lot of costume jewelry, but as I grew up and grew into the craft, it began holding my gemstones.

I've either found, been gifted or slowly collected these from various stores throughout the years.  If I do shop for stones, I look online (I know, for shame!).  They tend to be much cheaper there.  I've never paid more than a buck for one, with most averaging at 40 cents.  The only exceptions are the points, where the most I paid was $5 for the key chain quartz at Ren Fest several years ago.  I use it as my pendulum.  Some are missing for my Yule altar and a few are in various protection sachets in the house.

This has been my altar since I was 13 years old.  I found it set out on the curb of a neighborhood house just waiting for the trash.  It seemed to be in good shape so I took it home.  I claimed it was a nightstand, because that's what it actually is, but I picked it up with the intention of making it my altar.  The larger stones are all from the rock garden of the home I grew up in.  The vase, which I found, is full of black stones I've collected over the years.  I use these stones to outline my circle when it's set up.  The bowl is one of a set of three we bought for eating in, but I occasionally steal one for my work.

The bottom drawer of this altar stores all the items I use to form a circle: matches, salt, the candles for my corners along with glass plates for those, center candles, chalice, candle snuffer and so forth.

Click to enlarge.
Here's probably where most of my money lies.  These are books I've collected over the years while trying to learn my craft.  Some books I've been given.  Most, however, I've bought through Amazon.  A lot of Christian thrift stores won't shelve the items in their store and prefer instead to sell them online - and they sell them for ridiculously cheap.  That's probably the source of most of my books right there.  Again, this is also a collection over 10 years, so don't feel you have to throw all of your money into your library right away.  Many books, like Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft or The Witches' Craft, can last you years on its own before you start needing something more advanced.

This is a nightstand that I found left in the house my husband and I moved into a year ago.  I cleaned it up and immediately added it to my circle.  It's easy to carry, so if I need extra table space beyond my altar, I can use this.  To top it off, it stores all of my incense, herbs and essential oils in the top drawer, and all of my tealight candles in the bottom.  You can find all colors of tealight candles at Walmart - $2 for 16.

On top, you'll see a bunch of jars.  I'm a huge collector of what I call cork stuff.  I've found most of these in thrift stores for $1 or less.  Sometimes they come with potpourri in it, which is pretty easy to clean out but also tends to make the jar even cheaper.  The bamboo mat they're on I found out by the garbage area of our last apartment complex.  I cleaned it up and have used it for various circle-related things ever since.

And what's a witch's space without a little humor?  I found this at Target for 50 cents because it was dented. It's now a permanent part of my work space.

When it comes down to it, most of my stuff was either found, made, bought at a thrift store or found on discount.  It's taken me a long time to collect the amount of items I have and, honestly, I don't need any of it. It helps me get into the right mindset, but I clearly remember a time where it was just me and my "nightstand."  Nothing was different about those circles and the circles I build now spiritually.  Keep that in mind as you collect your repertoire of tools.

What tool of the craft is your favorite and why?  How did you find it?


  1. My favorite tool is my tarot deck. I have had to purge things out of my life many times, even to the point having to fit everything I own into a couple of duffels. But there has always been room for my deck. I find that it gives me invaluable insight into myself and guidance as to how to open my eyes to the world around me. Magick is will, and will comes from within :). I tend to keep a pendulum and a small alter cloth within the protective sachet with my cards.

    Lavender Rain

    1. I actually find it rejuvenating that you can keep your craft tool load light. My altar has always been relatively heavy, so I can't even count the days before I had this set up as being light. And this area is the result of hosting rituals and esbats at my house, which has added to my load. So bravo to you for staying natural and true!