Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Tools of Magick

The Tools of Magick

In memory of Raven Moonshadow, teacher, priest, and witch!

Introduction
Tools of Magick was both the name of a magical shop in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district run by Uma as well as a Reclaiming class taught by Raven Moonshadow.  I learned much from each of them, in completely different ways.  But the name, Tools of Magick, has much power and mystery in it; it excited me as a fledgling witch much like a little kid opening a present that becomes their favorite toy.  And still today it conjures power, magical images, symbols, and practices for me. 

In some ways, I think that Reclaiming has lost some of our connection with the witch’s sacred tools.  Sure we use our athames to cast our circles and we teach and run the iron and pearl pentacles.  But it seems that for many Reclaiming witches our tools are an afterthought, things on a list that we should check off at some point.  Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly many Reclaiming witches who are very serious about their tools!  But I get a sense from many Reclaiming practitioners of, ‘I have one but what do I do with it?’ 

Someone at California Witchcamp this year said to me, ‘but I have all of my tools within my body.’ Yes, we absolutely do!  I am a strong believer of this concept, so much so that I use the tools within me all the time.  And I believe that our external tools act as magical extensions, condensers, and amplifiers of our own power.   As a result, I thought it would be good to meditate and work on trying to answer the question of ‘how do I use my tools?’

First and foremost, I believe that a witch’s tools should be handy and able to be used often.  I also believe in putting ‘the craft back into the Craft,’ to borrow a phrase.  For me, this means either making my tools or being able to care for them.  I’m not a blacksmith or a glassblower, but I have spent many hours on a potters wheel as well as hand-building with clay.  I’m also the son of a carpenter and the grandson of farmers, so I grew up learning to work with wood and watching my grandfather sharpen the garden hoe on the grinder in his workshop.   And while I learned a great deal from my father and grandparents growing up, I’ve also learned a great deal from watching YouTube videos!  And so, I will attempt to provide ideas on how to care for and, in some cases, options for making your own tools. 

I also believe that tools should be used often (preferably daily) and not be props that sit on our altars, getting used only at the high holidays.  I say this mindful that I have definitely been guilty of this!  I believe that using my athame to cut apples and cheese at a picnic or plants in the garden teaches my hand, mind, and spirit how to use it.  I believe that using my cup or chalice daily to drink water, tea and/or wine infuses this tool with my energy, my intentions, and my power.  I believe that our tools of magick should be practical and able to be used for multiple purposes.  And so I will attempt to weave in ideas for daily use. 

The standard or common witches tools of magick are the athame, wand, cup, and pentacle.  In Reclaiming, we add the cauldron and we traditionally work with them with the following associations:

Tool
Element
Challenge
Athame and/or sword
Air
to know
Wand and/or staff
Fire
to will
Cup
Water
to dare
Pentacle
Earth
to keep silent
Cauldron
Center/Spirit
to be

I also believe that every witch also needs at least one necklace, ring, and bracelet.  Hey, I’m a gay man and I know the importance of accessories!  These objects hold power and are things that we can wear in public that still allow us to connect with our practice and with our own power.  Cords, rocks/crystals, and brooms are also important tools.  Other traditions have other tools important to their rites and lore. For this series, I will the five common tools of magick listed in the table above.

Lastly, I believe that our tools need ‘charging.’  A wise witch (who’s identity I am unfortunately blanking on) once told me that charging our tools is feeding them.  What resonates for me in this concept of feeding them is that it is something we need to do often. There are many ways to do this, to feed or charge our tools.   One way is to do a consecration of the tool, a ritual bonding of the tool to you and your work.  It usually consists of a cleansing, anointing, and dedicating the tool for magical purposes. This is followed by raising energy and grounding it into the tool. These activities can be done individually or together and can be repeated at any time.  Charging can also be accomplished through chanting or breathing into your tool or simply through touch and use.


In the next several weeks, I will be posting an article on each of the tools.  I will attempt to cover how the tool is traditionally used, how to care and maintain the tool (and in some cases options for making them), and ways to use them.  At the end of the series, I will post an article on charging, feeding, and consecrating our tools. 

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