The Tools Wiccans Use
Wicca is a nature-based religion that exists without any structured clergy or congregations. While there are Priests and Priestesses in leadership positions within covens, there are also many Wiccans who practice outside of these parameters. Like many Pagan religions, Wicca can be polytheistic but we tend to focus on the dual nature of the divine: female and male, the Triple Goddess (related to the three phases of the Moon, the Earth, and the Stars) and the Horned God (related to the Sun, animals, and Earth’s forests). These corresponding polarities exist throughout nature, and they exist in harmony with each other. It is this harmony that embodies the life force in all living things.
Because this life force represents the Divine and the Divine exists in all things, all life is sacred to Wiccans – human, plant, and animal. Our practices involve rituals designed to direct the energies all around us toward a single goal, to manifest our intent. Many of us use tools but we don’t always understand why we use them, so let’s look at some of the more common tools and what they symbolize.
Pentacle: A 5-pointed star within a circle, the Pentacle is a key energy-giving and protective Wiccan symbol. Its five points symbolize the five elements of air, fire, water, earth and the spirit, and the symbol is believed to represent the entire Universe with all aspects of the world coming together to represent the one Divine. The symbol points upwards to denote victory of the spirit over matter.
Cauldron: A vessel generally made from cast iron, the Cauldron is a basic Wiccan symbol that symbolizes the womb of the Mother Goddess. In the ancient Celtic mythology, the cauldron represented divine inspiration, infinite sustenance and abundance. As a Wiccan altar tool, it is used for creating witches’ magical brews, for mixing herbs or for burning incense.
Athame: A ceremonial knife, the Athame symbolizes the ability to make distinctions, separate things and make choices. It is associated with the killing of falsehood for the revelation of truth and is used in Wiccan practices to direct magical energies, intentions and attention. Athame represents the male energy, the determination to bring change and the power to take decisions and action.
Besom: Also called a Broom, the Besom plays a significant ritualistic role in a Wiccan hand-fasting marriage ceremony, where the newly-weds have to jump over it for cementing their vows. The Besom is symbolically used for cleansing or purification, and for sweeping negative influences away from any place. The symbol is also considered to represent the power to go above and beyond the earthly plane to fly in the spiritual realms.
Triquetra: Made of three interlocked petals or Vesica Pisces, which is an ancient yonic symbol representing the Goddess, the Triquetra stands for the triple aspect of the Goddess as maiden, mother and crone. It is also supposed to be representative of the three levels of existence – mind, body and soul or spirit. Another concept that the Triquetra is believed to symbolize is the three domains of sea, earth and sky.
Circle: A primary Wiccan symbol, the Circle represents the cosmos and the feminine spirit. It denotes wholeness, unity and infinity and also inspires several other Goddess symbols like the Spiral of Life, Circle of Earth and Wheel of the year that signify the cyclical nature of all existence. Witches are believed to appreciate the power and primacy of Circle and so, gather within circles for performing spells, celebrations and rituals.
Witch’s Knot: Also known as the Magic Knot or Witch’s Charm, the Witch’s Knot is a symbol of protection. This symbol can be drawn in a single continuous motion, which is considered as one of the reasons behind its efficacy. Witches were believed to use the symbol for binding things magically and creating circles of protection. The Witch’s Knot was drawn over stables and doorways to prevent negativity from entering.