Witchcraft 101 – How Much Stuff Do You Really Need?

If you’ve picked up a beginner’s witchcraft book, especially an older book, you’ll often find these long lists of items for you to acquire as you start your magical or pagan practice. But how much of it all do you really need?

First, let’s cover the basics –

  • You can absolutely use stuff you already have for magic, just make sure you’re not mixing the bowl you eat your cereal in with the bowl you worked non-edible herbs in, for safety’s sake.
  • You don’t need the super expensive or specialty stuff right away. Yes, they’re pretty, support artisans, and may be made a certain way that helps increase your practice, but you don’t need them to start. Wait a bit and see if you’re even going to use that item at all. Instead, swap in with a more common items for now – like a $10 hardware store broom rather than the $300 hand-made besom. You can always upgrade later.
  • Used goods store and discount dollar stores can be extremely useful. Cups, glasses, jars, candles, incense, craft supplies, paper, bowls, and more can be purchased cheaply here and that allows you a bit more freedom to play with items that you think you might need but aren’t sure of.

Still, the lists are often useful because they’re a combination of commonly used items and items the authors probably use themselves. It’s a good thing to look at them because you can see how different people use different things to reach similar results.

When you get lists like this (or you’ve written down lists of stuff you’d like), break down those lists of things you want into five categories: necessities, ritual items, spell items, aesthetics, and miscellaneous.

Necessities are things like lighters, a fire proof bowl, a jar, a candle holder… You get it. It’s stuff that, for most people, you’ll just need. If you don’t work with fire, you won’t need that fire-related stuff, but by and large, 95% of us  use the same kind of necessities.

Ritual items are objects used for rituals or worship. This could be an idol statue of your goddess or it could be a veil to use during ritual ceremonies. You may have nothing in this category, depending on your practice, or you may have a lot of stuff. Try and keep this list short when you’re starting out. Sure, you’d love to have a beautiful altar for your deity, but do you really need that expensive hand-carved ritual bowl right now? Probably not.

Spell items are objects used for spell casting. This could be rosemary and bay leaves. It might be a mortar and pestle or herb grinder. It could be materials for a poppet. It could be a box of candles. It depends on your spell casting style.

Aesthetics are just that  – things you have because they are beautiful. Typically these are items that are expensive or something that’s just pretty.  This isn’t to say they don’t have a use! You may have some beautiful objects that are just pretty but are also useful in your practice. I like to think of this as a “if I never had this, would I miss it?”

Miscellaneous is a category for things that don’t fit anywhere else. Your miscellaneous category might not match anyone else’s. Maybe you want a besom for cleansing, but that’s not a spell or ritual task for you. It’s not a necessity – you could do without it – but you want it. It takes some thinking. It may also be things that aren’t “necessary”, but are just plain useful.

My practice consists of a lot of things so my personal list of things is going to be wildly different from other people’s. This is my list below and a little later in this post I’ll give a recommended list.

Necessities – Lighter or matches, stoneware bowl, bells, paper and ink, knife, water, thread and ribbon (all colors), sea salt

Ritual items – Incense, idols, nature offerings, baked offerings, fresh offerings, offering bowl, cleansing supplies, brass, candles, cleaning supplies

Spell items – bones or hair, blood, sharp scissors, jars, candles (all colors), iron or metal, herbs and similar, sewing needles and fabric, honey

Aesthetics – Most besoms, scarf or veil, cauldron, baskets, ritual clothing

Miscellaneous – Most crystals, beeswax, sand, brooms (not besom), wands, stirring spoons, mortar and pestle, divination tools including tarot decks

My items are a bit odd for some. For example, I heavily use bells in my daily magical practices. I use a specific set of scissors for my practice and a few different kind of knives. A regular stoneware cereal bowl often doubles as a candle holder during spells – I rarely use traditional candle holders in spell work because of this.

You’ll see the usual accompaniments of a besom and cauldron are in the aesthetics category. I don’t use them much. My cauldron is actually really handy when I need a fireproof bowl or a bonfire, but I also have a firepit and metal trashcan. I’d never miss it, if I didn’t have it. I use a veil for divination purposes, but I don’t need it. Same thing with most rocks and crystals. They are in my life and I love them, but I don’t use them as others do. Divination tools aren’t spells for me but they aren’t rituals either. They exist in some weird third space for me.

Whereas my ritual category is pretty basic, but I including cleaning supplies in addition to cleansing supplies. I keep a tiny broom, dusting clothes, sacred waters, and dustpan for cleaning the shrine areas exclusively. Usually it’s just for dust and incense ash, but I like the feeling of even ordinary actions like sweeping can be made sacred this way. It’s all about honoring those there, even the mundane cleaning bits. But, that’s just me and it’s part of my private spiritual beliefs.

Of course, I can define my practice’s items easily because I’ve been at it for over quarter a century. And it does fluctuate over some years as I get into certain hobbies or try new ways of using old tools. If you’re new to practicing, it may be difficult to define these categories or know exactly what you’ll use. It’s still a handy technique, especially if your budget is a concern or you’re trying to keep your materialism to a minimum.

And, since this question you probably want to know, this is my recommended list for beginners of most practices:

  • Stoneware bowls or baking dishes
  • Tealight candles and matches or a lighter or LED candles
  • Glass jars or bottles with lids (or cork that fits the jars / bottles)
  • Embroidery thread, twine, or ribbon
  • Quartz crystals

Most of these items can be purchased at a used goods store or discount dollar stores. The rest should, ideally, be acquired from independent small businesses. Check your kitchen cabinets for herbs or spices and neighborhood sidewalks for rouge flowers. Books can often be borrowed from the library, some even accessible online through your your library.

Take your time gathering things. It’s part of the journey to your witchcraft practice.


Advertisements

One thought on “Witchcraft 101 – How Much Stuff Do You Really Need?

Comments are closed.