THE WITCHES' ALTAR & MAGICKAL TOOLS
For centuries, Witches have been known for having special tools or weapons, used for rituals and spell casting. The following is a basic example of the tools used by modern witches and pagans alike.
ATHAME: The athame is usually a black handled, double-edged knife and is strictly a ritual tool. It is a symbolic representation of the element of fire. It is used in casting the magickal circle and as a symbolic representation of the masculine deity. In many traditions, the athame is used to call the ancient elemental guardians, “cutting” doors in the circle, the Great Rite ritual, and to bless and consecrate water and salt.
CHALICE/CUP: The chalice represents both the womb and the female aspect of divinity. The cup is the symbolic representation of water. It is used in ritual to hold water (sometimes wine) and, along with the athame, it is also used during the Great Rite ritual. The chalice is often passed around the circle after it has been blessed as a symbolic representation of consuming the waters of the Great Mother.
ALTAR PENTACLE/ PEYTON: The altar pentacle, or peyton, is used as the center of the altar and the circle itself. It is usually made of wood or metal and, in many traditions, is used to invoke the ancient elemental energies. It is a representation of the element earth and brings both power and protection to rituals and magick.
WAND: The wand was used by early witches to call upon certain jinn or spirits. In modern times it is used like the athame, but more delicate in nature. In many traditions of Witchcraft, it is used in place of the athame for it, too, is masculine in symbolism.
BROOM: The Witches broom is used for sweeping any harmful energy from the area that is to be cleansed and is sometimes used in place of the wand.
THURIBLE/INCENSE BURNER: Any heat resistant (fireproof) container used to contain a hot coal for burning incense. The incense is the representation of the element air; its rising smoke sets the mood for ritual and fills the air with scent. It is used to cleanse and purify the air within the sacred space or used in the cleansing of a home.
CAULDRON: Probably one of the oldest tools used in witchcraft, as well as in the kitchen, the cauldron is feminine in nature and is a representation of the Mother Goddess Herself. It is used like the chalice, mainly in group rituals. The cauldron is also used to brew potions and various other brews.
CANDLES: Many witches adorn their altars with as many candles that will fit; this is not necessary but not forbidden either. Specifically, a black candle sits to the left to draw in energy, and a white candle on the right to send out energy. In our tradition, we have a gold and silver (or just two white) candle on the altar as well to represent the Goddess and God.