You are not a tool and you've read The Secret way too many times.
I think most of us had, at one point or another, this image about what spell crafting would be. It would involve tapping into arcane powers using earthen tools, colored stones, and bundles of dried herbs – that, of course, came from a witchy garden planted in a clear full moon night. I think most of us now realize that idea was bunk.
We live in a world of cars that run on electricity, technology that is obsolete within 6 months, and the ability to know absolutely anything you could possibly spell semi-correctly into Google search instantly. The Internet connects billions of people everyday to images, icons, documents, and ideas that were once limited to a small subset of a population on a different continent in a time nearly forgotten – until the advent of Wikipedia. A person hearing about paganism and spellcraft in the morning can become an expert in the subject by dinnertime, or, at least, can know enough to believe they are an expert. It is in this age of exponential knowledge growth and expansion that we have forgotten a few of the simple things: tools.
Any good bookstore pagan can tell you that there are certain tools that are considered traditional craft tools. Among these would be items like a wand, an athame, a cauldron, a cup, and a pentacle. If you’ve got a bit more money, or just have a collector’s spirit, you might also add a boline, a bell, a besom, a crystal ball, a mirror, a cord, a censer, and whatever else happens to be on sale at your local McWiccan shop. The craft is full of a nearly endless supply of fun, interesting, bizarre items to perform magic with, and it’s fun to buy them and salivate over other tools not yet purchased.
However, are these tools really necessary? With the more we learn, at this exponential rate of learning, and the more we continue marrying more traditional craft with new age or world spirituality, aren’t we being taught that all of the power comes from us, anyways? We don’t need the more traditional tools of the craft, and if you’d like them, just imagine that you have them. Don’t have an athame to direct energy? That’s ok, close your eyes and imagine that you have a gorgeous, jewel-encrusted blade that is directing bright blue flames around you in concentric circles to create your sacred space. You are your own endless source of energy and magic, and you don’t need those silly tools. Again, I say bunk!
In this ideation, our personal power – that which each person naturally has – is so great that it can perform any magical feat you set your mind to. You don’t need a traditional altar set up, because you have the power of a “witch’s thought.” (You’ve heard this one. “A witch’s thoughts have power.” That’s very true, for the most part. I don’t think that it has anything to do with the fact that witch’s thoughts are more powerful, but I think all thoughts have power, whether that person realizes it or not. But, back to tools…) With your witchy thoughts you can imagine a sacred space, imagine an altar set up, and imagine that you’re using the tools on that altar to create your spells. Hey, while you’re at it, can you imagine me a cheeseburger? Because, we could be here a while.
Mmm... That's better.
If you go back, way back, to magic from eons past, you’ll find that people were trying to connect to something greater than themselves. They were petitioning their Gods, the Earth, the mysterious Flame that shot up when the heavens struck wood, to help their hunt or their harvest or their home (or whatever). They recognized that they were so small in the grand scheme, and, if they wanted change to occur, they would have to tap in to energies beyond that which are provided by their body.
As witches, we say that we use the powers of the elements, of the Earth, to create magic. If this is true, then we need tools. No, we don’t need the jewel-encrusted dagger or the $350 crystal ball barely big enough to hold, but we do need a connection to the Earth. It is important in this world of instantaneous knowledge that we not become disconnected from the basics in our craft as well. No, you don't need the witchy garden or the bundles of sweet-smelling herbs or the full altar with the candles and oils and things with handles in different colors. You don't need a wooden wand and jeweled wand and a curved knife and a black knife......gosh I'm getting winded just writing all that.
The point: If you can carry out every page of your BOS without ever picking up an athame or throwing together some herbs, then all the power to you - literally. Because...you know...you must have a ton of power. (that joke got lost in there somewhere...) We are drawing on the energies of the world and, by extension, the very universe to enact change in our lives. If we had all the power to do so just with our thoughts, then...you know...a whole heck of a bunch of people would have won the lottery or slept with Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie if that's your thing, but, really...eww) just by thinking about it.
Love and Lyte,