Yup, I’ve walked that path: discovered Wicca (then the other new agey/occult paths shortly after), and wanting MORE. But, I was a mere teenager at the time, and earning diddly-squat from a dead-end weekend job. And no doubt, there are probably several teenagers reading this and nodding their heads, saying “yup! That’s me right now!”
In my 25+ years as a practising Wiccan, as I was first starting out, a lot of stuff was out of reach, mostly because of cost. When shopping for magickal items, it’s generally not good practice to haggle over price. If, however, the merchant makes an offer to discount the total price for X number of items you’ve been expressing interest in, chances are those items have probably been hanging around in the merchant’s store for an extended period of time and s/he wants to be rid of it to make way for fresh stock. I have acquired god/goddess statuettes and books in this fashion that I otherwise would not have. These days, many Australian merchants have AfterPay as an option. Back in my teenage years, the lay-by system was widely used, wherein you present the items you want to buy, pay a deposit (which was usually around 25% of the total) and you received your goods upon payment of the balance. How times have changed, huh?
For the teenage Wiccans who have just discovered their path, they’re probably aghast at the prices of some ritual items that tickled their fancy. First things first, ritual tools are not necessary for ritual working, but if they help your focus, then by all means use them. Do what works for YOU. So having said that, let’s look at the different tools and how to obtain them on a budget:
Athame – an athame is a ceremonial blade with a black handle. It is used for casting circle and can also be used when performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
A letter opener works just as well as any athame you’d find in a New Age store. You can find them in gift shops, discount variety stores or stationery supplies stores, garage sales, op shops and online. It doesn’t matter if the handle isn’t black, grab some black paint or black ribbon and paint or wind the ribbon around the handle. I recommend the ribbon, as it will make the handle softer to the touch and provide a more comfortable grip.
Chalice – Not necessarily a tool, but a symbol of the Goddess and symbolic for the element of water.
In my experience, the best place to find a fancy chalice is in op shops and at garage sales.
I found this chalice at an op shop in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield in the late 1990s and it still serves me well.
Wand – We don’t use them for waving about and chanting Wingardium Leviosa! like the students of Hogwarts did in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but I don’t think that’s ever stopped anyone from uttering those words in jest for some pre-ritual shenanigans (The word “muggle” has even entered our lexicon to describe non-pagan/magickal folk, away from the more formal word “cowan”, which Gardner yoinked from the Freemasons).
Wands can be used in the same fashion as an athame, and the choice of wood used in a wand has a specific magickal purpose. This link here has more information. In ceremonial magick, the double wand of power is a basic wand, with one end painted white and the other end black. The white end is for invoking, the black end for banishing.
Wands are relatively easy to make. Next time you go for a wander in the park, identify which trees are situated in that park (in Melbourne, for instance, there are many public parks with oak trees). Look for a stick that has fallen on the ground – the right one will catch your eye. Then you can use it to make your wand, and decorate it if you so desire.
Censer – used to hold charcoal for burning incense. A proper brass censer like this one can be well out of reach of a teen pagan’s budget…
A small ceramic bowl with sand or river pebbles will work. The sand/river pebbles help insulate the bowl against the heat of the charcoal. You can also use a censer to burn incense cones. The Heritage range of Chris’ Dips are sold in little terra cotta pots, so if you or your parents are shopping for party snacks, get one (or convince your parents to buy one) and you’ll have a yummy dip and once it’s all been devoured, a censer to burn incense!
Magickal incense can be pricey, as are the charcoal discs that you burn it on. Middle Eastern grocery stores are excellent for charcoal discs (they are designed for hookahs so they will burn well).
Incense – the best magickal incenses are the ones made by your own hand. You can obtain a mortar and pestle from Kmart or Target in their homewares section. Magickal herbs etc you can find in your own kitchen. If you want your own stash, you can obtain most herbs for magickal purposes from a supermarket or specialty grocery stores. Health food shops will stock herbs used in herbal tea, remedies etc.
Mojo bags – A mojo bag is a little pouch containing items for a specific magickal purpose. Cloth and string are readily available at craft stores and fabric shops such as Lincraft and Spotlight. Search through the remnants bucket for fabric for your mojo bag, and embroidery/tapestry thread to bind.
Candles and candle holders – Candelabra and single candle holders are available from gift shops, discount variety stores and op shops. Dinner candles can be found anywhere and are just as effective. Hell, you can even use birthday candles if that’s all there is at hand!
Storage – If you live with parents who are antagonistic towards your path, make sure you have somewhere to stash your tools, hidden away from prying, disapproving eyes.
I was one such teenager whose path was met with parental disapproval, so I practised in secret, and after I moved out of home I didn’t have to be so secretive. I had my tools wrapped in cloth and stashed in a bedside drawer underneath my underwear, nowadays they are stored on a shelf under my altar, which is currently situated in my living room. And my parents have since stopped giving a shit about my path and just let me be.