The Sword is not essential; the knife can always substitute for it. But while every individual Witch has an athame, many covens like to have a coven sword— one for the whole group. The sword is usually used for marking the Circle at the start of the meeting; being used by the Priest/ess or whoever casts the Circle. It can be made in the same way that the knife is, or you can purchase one. There are certainly many companies that offer replicas of ancient swords, these days. If you decide to get a ready-made one, again do some work on it yourself. In fact, since it is a coven tool, it is nice if the whole coven either get together to make one or join in engraving and decorating it.


Other ritual tools are the WAND, STAFF, BELL, ABURIN or WHITE-HANDLED KNIFE, CORD(S). Which of these you use—none, some, all—will depend on the path you decide to follow. If you follow one of the established traditions then it will have been decided for you. If you are starting from scratch, then it may take you a while (weeks, months, perhaps even years) to discover which you really need and which you don't.

If you want a WAND there are several options available. Some say that it must be of rowan wood, others say of ash, or willow, hazel... you can take your pick. The trouble here is that a lot of Ceremonial Magick has got mixed up with Witchcraft (not just in the case of the wand, but with other tools and other aspects of the Craft also). For example, some people swear that "the wand must be exactly twenty-one inches long, cut from a virgin hazel tree (one that has never borne fruit), in the hour of Mercury on the day of Mercury (Wednesday), etc., etc., etc." Others simply go out and buy a length of wood dowel from their local hardware store and paint it gold! The fact that both wands can work equally well should show that the real magick comes not from the tool but from within the Magician—or, in this case, the Witch. The wand, then, is merely an extension of the operator. As such, make your wand whichever way feels right for you. If you feel you need to inscribe it with mystical signs and symbols, do so. Don't worry about what others may say of what you do. As I said in the Introduction, there is no one-and-only-one-right-way. If it works for you, then it is right. As a suggestion (only) for a wand, twenty-one inches is certainly a



Figure 3.5


Figure 3.5

convenient length. Another suggestion is a length equal to the length from your elbow to your fingertips. Whichever wood you use, taper it slightly from the base to the tip. You can mark it, if you wish, by engraving or even by wood-burning. Paint it, stain it, or leave it plain. Decorative bands of silver or copper can look attractive. Some traditions (e.g. Frost's) drill the length of the wand and insert a metal rod.

What I said for the wand applies equally to the STAFF. The staff can, in effect, be a large wand and is used as such in such traditions as the Scottish (Pecti-Wita). I have seen some wonderful staffs, decorated with leather, feathers, gems; carved and engraved. All were right for their particular owners. A good length for a staff is equal to the height of its owner. Hardwood seems preferable to softwood, and it should be well seasoned and as straight as possible.

The BELL is used by some and I have, in fact, included it in the rituals in this book. For centuries it has been thought to have certain magickal qualities. In my book Practical Color Magick (Llewellyn Publications, 1983) I talk about vibrations of sound. The clear, high pitch of a small bell, used in ritual, can cause vibrations that can, in many ways, supplement the power raised and also create harmony among those present. Choose a small hand-bell with a note that is pleasant. Some bells—especially cheaply produced ones—can have a harsh note to them; avoid these. If you wish to engrave the bell, do so. Or, if it has a wooden handle, you might want to work on that.

The BURIN is simply an engraving tool used to mark the name or sigil (symbol), ritually, on your magickal topis. Some traditions (e.g. Gardnerian) borrow from Ceremonial Magick and use a WHTTE-HILTED KNIFE in the same way. I personally do not see the need to regard this instrument as a ritual tool, in the Craft, any more than I would a file or hacksaw. However, if you feel you want this as part of your complement, by all means include it. A burin is simply an engraving tool with a handle, and can be made by fitting a sharpened nail, or similar, to a wooden handle in the same way as you fitted the athame blade to a wooden handle using the two pieces of wood.

Some traditions (e.g. Alexandrian) use CORDS of different colors to denote the degree of the wearer. But the more important use of cords is in the working of magick. I will therefore leave details of cords till a later lesson, when I discuss magick and, specifically, Cord Magick.

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