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Posts Tagged ‘tools of the Craft’

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My favorite movie when I was younger was the 1950’s classic-  Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak and James Stewart. It was the story of a witch who loses her powers because she falls in love with a mortal.  The happy ending is that she ends up with the object of her love and they live happily ever after. I was intrigued by the movie and the workings of witchcraft and have often thought back to this first exposure to the concept of the tools and books of spell work.

These next two posts will explore the uses of the tools of the Craft (the Bell), the necessary Books that support the work and finally a brief over view of Candle Magick (next week).

Bells and other Tools

There are many and varied tools that are used in the Wiccan practice of magick. These, in and of themselves are not inherently the “source” of magickal power, but work as conduits and points of focus for the magickal practitioner.  You may often hear it said that there is really no need for any tools other than yourself in working magick; and this statement would be both true and false.

The energy and focus and intent are specifically your products, so if you did not have your tools with you and needed to perform a magickal working, improvisation on finding suitable “stand-ins” or using nothing but your own devices would be necessary.

On the other hand, we are symbol driven beings. The kinesthetic, tactile and engaging of the senses in connecting to and working with a specific tool are vital components to pulling the wholeness of the working or intent together. The tools serve to stimulate and place your consciousness in alignment with what the intent and focus of the working is.  Your personal energy which becomes a vested part of the tools you calm as your own, works in resonance with the energetic state in which you are when the ritual or working is begun. You could think of it in terms of the tools holding your energetic imprint and memory of all the workings you have done previously.

Because your tools become so much a part of your magickal being, it is not unusual to see a witch bring their athame into the ritual space and are worn on the person of the witch; even if coven or another’s tools are present that will be actively used. The athame is carried in a sheath that can be attached to the cords worn and should be at the ready should someone need to be “cut in or out” (using the athame to scribe (or cut) a doorway in the energetic fabric of the cast circle) of the circle during ritual. The wand may be placed twined within the cords worn over the ritual robes and readied to direct and focus a stream of energy towards a specific point during the ritual or working; if called upon. It is for these reasons that often an amulet in the shape of a pentacle is worn by the witch. In some group rituals, everyone is asked to bring their own chalice to be used by themselves in the ritual celebration or working. Having your own specific tools and then using them regularly strengthens their intent.

So, what are these tools and how do you go about acquiring them? The basic set of tools for the working witch align with the elements:

Air/Intellect/Mind = Athame, Swords or Daggers *

Fire/Will/Desire = Wands and Staves *

* in some traditions these tools are switched in their elemental assignment

Water/Emotion/Intuitive Nature = Cauldron and Chalice

Earth/Body/Foundation = Pentacle

Bells

Bell

I’m sure many of us remember standing on the sidelines as a parade went by and the feeling of resonance within our bodies when the band would pass with the thumping beat of the big bass drums. We responded from the core and felt completely shaken from the vibrations of this massive instrument.

Sound is all around us; albeit transparent to most as we go about our busy days. But certain levels of sound and certain vibratory frequencies within that resonance can transport us from a harried pace to a clam peaceful setting. From a place of inertia to involuntarily making us move and finally transporting us to a place of altered consciousness and ecstatic experience.

The ringing of a clear bell just prior to ritual, cuts through the energy and with intent serves to clear the space to be used of negative energy. It also gets our attention; and signals that something is about to happen. The same toning of a crystal singing bowl can, in addition to clearing space also help to raise the level of response and vibration within our own energetic fields.  We feel the energy rising within and consciousness moves in accord with that elevation. Sound creates different energetic patterns and states of consciousness. Incorporating sound into ritual and workings adds another layer of awareness and potential for opening and manifesting. I often use a singing bowl prior to workshops and at times within ritual.  The gentle crescendo of sound and the resonance of higher pitch lend themselves nicely in actively rising on the planes in an auditory sensorial experience.

 A Book is not Just a Book

b-o-s - Copy

Books are the staple of magickal practice, teaching and learning. Access to what in past years had been only shared among initiates and those who had committed to coven, lodge or grove is not only prevalent in all venues but at times difficult to sort through selecting what is bonafide and usable information.  Technology has made reading in any venue as simple as turning on a phone, tablet or computer.  Still, there is nothing like the tactile sensation of holding a book, read it slowly and digesting each new thought allowing it to nourish and feed the hunger to learn.

Books from reputable and respected authors within the community serve to enrich and enhance our learning process and inspire us to debate, question and formulate our own conclusions.  As we continue to gather more information and fill our personal libraries there comes a point when you will want to begin a Book of Shadow and Light. This is essentially a journal or guide that holds special Quarter Calls, rituals, information and results of herbs used , incense recipes, spell work, etc. It is your own personal record of your magickal workings and progress and represents you actively engaging in the creative process.  It is called a Book of Shadow and Light to correspond to the polarity of all magickal workings; that which is overt and that which is hidden from plain sight. This journal should be dedicated to holding your magickal process and not used for mundane or other purposes.

A Book of Shadows may also contain journal entries that relate to the work done and the after effects.  I prefer to keep these entries in a separate journal, since I often will go back and review them and it is more portable to carry a smaller journal.  You will also want to bring your Book of Shadows intro sacred space with you; especially if there is a specific call, invocation or order of ritual that you wish to repeat precisely as done previously.

Generally, your BOS is not something to share with others, hence the mystery that often surrounds such a record.  It is your own personal journey and committing that journey to writing gives power and intent to the works that you do. It is also a history of your beginning steps on the Path of the Wise and can be used as a treasured and valuable resource as the years progress, your skills and knowledge increase and truly living a magickal life has become a 24/7 experience.

What Should it Look Like ?

There are no set and fast rules about what form or how your BOS should look. Some prefer an actual journal type book; others prefer to use electronic files and keep everything on the computer. One is not more effective or better than the other. The important thing is to make it your own. Personalize it in your own unique style. If it is an actual book handle it frequently. You are then also imprinting your energy into it in a physical, manifest way. If it is electronic, BACK UP your files regularly. Open them regularly and as you are typing establish a flow of energy that moves with intent from your hands and fingers into the keys as you type. Remember, as with all magickal working and practice, INTENT is the basis of movement forward on your desired path. With that thought in mind, your BOS can be as simple as a spiral bound notebook or as elaborate as a finely decorated handcrafted journal.

Journaling Your Entries

If you have a space available that you routinely use for your personal rituals or daily meditation, this is an excellent space to also dedicate for the writing in your BOS. Information is freshest just after completing a ritual. So, if you are working a personal ritual, remain for whatever time is needed to record your experiences and make note of what worked what didn’t etc.  You can even incorporate this into part of the working so this act becomes part of the ritual itself. If attending a public ritual, there is usually time and space after to jot down a few notes before leaving. I have often sat in my car after a potent ritual and committed everything to my BOS before I started my journey home. And, then I always completed more the next day as other insights revealed themselves.

Be sure to record your experiences in meditation and divination practice as well. These entries form the foundation of a timeline of your progress. Looking back and marveling at how far you have come in your spiritual progress encourages you to be confident in how you process energy, ritual experience and meditative guidance.

Next week…  Candles, Spellwork and Magick

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