Article 3 in my 'How to become a Witch' series:
Once you have commited yourself to becoming a Witch, and especially after you have taken the step of undergoing any form of Initiation ritual, the next question is always: What do I do next?
One of those questions I get asked regularly is: what equipment do I need to be a Witch? This is another of those deceptively simple questions which is devilishly difficult to answer. It will depend on what sort of a Witch you are going to be, and there are a whole load of things you will need if you are going to follow a particular branch of Witchcraft.
However what you are learning from me is Folk Witchery and that is rather different. Folk Witchery is the Witch Craft done by people in their own home, in their own town or village and usually makes use of whatever you have to hand. However to make your life easier I will go over some of the basic things which you are going to use regularly:
Candles: you can always use white candles for most workings, but if you have a stock of coloured ones they can help to 'tune' your spells
Salt: you will need this for blessing, cleansing and protection spells. You can also use it to create the boundary of your magic circle.
Incense and an incense burner: this can be anything from a church style thurible on chains to swing it, using natural resins burnt on a charcoal disc, to a simple wooden incense sled and joss sticks. I use both loose incense and incense sticks and cones, depending on the ritual or spell, where I am and what I feel is best at the time.
Pen and paper: it is always best if you can keep your magical supplies exclusively for your magical practises rather than just using any old pen and scrap of paper - but there are times when 'needs must' so never get yourself hung up on not working your magic just because you don't have the ideal tool or ingredient to hand. I prefer to use an old fashioned dip pen and ink for my magical writings, just because it feels more 'special' and that I am making more of an effort. Also ink can be flavoured with a couple of drops of magical oil, or have special herbs added, which can also help tune your magic in and thus encourage a more potent outcome to your working.
We are lucky these days to be able to find many different thicknesses and colours of paper, so you can incorporate the colours into your magic.
You will find that you accumulate equipment as you need it, but one thing which every Witch will need is an Athame or magical knife. This is the chief instrument you use to direct magical energy, but what it looks like can be very different.
As you can imagine, I do own several Athames and use them for different purposes. One is a paper knife make out of black bone shaped into a goats hoof, with a scimitar shaped horn blade. Another is hand carved by me from a yew wood branch, it has a distinct handle and triangular shaped blade, rather like a phurbah and is decorated with pokerwork incorporating various magical symbols. Some people would call it a magic wand, since it is entirely made of wood, but I know what it is and that is all that matters.
The classic Athame has a black handle and a metal blade, but I have seen all sorts of knives used from hand knapped flint, to glass and even plastic. An Athame is used to cut things in the magical realms, not the physical world, so the blade does not need to be sharp. There are times when you will need to cut things though, so you might need another knife for this - the second knife traditionally has a white handle - or even a pair of small scissors.
The Athame is the personal tool of the Witch, and at one time everyone had a personal knife, it was used for everything from cutting up your dinner to sharpening your quill pen. So there is no reason why your Athame can't be used in a similar way. Some people say that the more you use your Athame, the more powerful it becomes, so I feel this is down to your own personal choice.
However if you can't find a knife that suits you, the index finger of your strongest hand can be used to direct power in just the same way.
Notice I have not mentioned a pentacle, cup or wand, cords, broom or cauldron. These are all things you may well end up buying, but are not essential to getting started.
Next time we shall look at how to cast a magic circle.