Throughout my practice I have been going through a debate – both internally and with other fellow witches – with regards to the power of tools in one’s practice. Where I find that psychodrama can be a very important factor that can boost your practice, in parallel, there is a nagging feeling of annoyance towards the commercialised esoteric market urging the modern witch to buy tools and tools to fill their home with various artefacts. And from that annoyance, I started asking myself if an athame or a wand is really necessary to purchase, regardless if they are part of my practice or not.
To answer these questions that kept popping into my head every time I picked up a book about witchcraft and there was a thick section on tools and their importance to the practice. Instead, I took myself back to the practice of the cunning witch back in the 19th or early 20th century (if not even earlier than that). And in particular with the one tool that particularly pushes my buttons – the cauldron.
Thinking of an old lady living in a village back in the 19th century – who needless to say, is apt in the cunning practices and knowledge – she lives in a small cottage and a cauldron suspended on the fireplace boiling stew. That was her cooking pot – and that’s what triggered it all for me. Back then it was just that, the witch’s cooking pot. And during witch trials where witches would be tested and force their secrets out through long painful tortures, wouldn’t it be easier to enter in one’s hearth and look for a cauldron if the cauldron is, then, a witch’s tool? No, and most likely, because that was a necessity to every household back then as a pan is for a modern home.
And therefore, just like the old cunning lady used her cauldron to cook and also cast her spells, why shouldn’t we apply the same principles to modern witchcraft? Why is it then that the businessman has the need to commercialise the cauldron as a witch’s tool and feed us with the idea that in order to be able to practice the craft, we need to purchase this tool? And why wouldn’t I use my cast iron pressure cooker that I have at home?
Yes, I am focusing my thought process to the cauldron in particular, but the same thought process can just as easily be applied to every other tool – the athame, the wand, the staff and so on. These are tools I never had the need to use in my practices, however, many witches out there don’t earn enough money to spend them on expensive tools such as these, should that then stop someone from practising?
Just as the old cunning witch living in small rural villages wasn’t stopped by what she was lacking, but built her practice around what she DOES have available in her vicinity, then having the need to own elaborate and expensive tools should also not be able to stop us now. The ages change, but the witch remains as cunning as ever.
So the next time you cause a raised eyebrow within the pagan community for not owning a wand or a cauldron, remember, that the power of the witch relies on what nature has available for us. And as the wise supreme once said: When everyone sees a wall, we see a window. (I know! Another AHS reference…). Conversely, if you do own tools and you want to buy more, that again is in your right as a practising witch. But not everyone practices in the same way. It’s what makes each of us special.
Note: Picture was taken from https://serpentandstang.tumblr.com