I sometimes have ambiguous feelings about magickal tools. On the one hand, I believe that I should be able to do work without the assistance of crystals or herbs or amulets or any other external gadgets. Sometimes I see all those things as just another expression of my modern materialism. On the other hand, I realize the power of "headology" and the fact that the tools I use help me immensely to do work that would otherwise require much more time and discipline than I have available. I am, after all, a modern working mother with a million and one responsibilities and don't have four or five hours a day to just meditate and be holy, you know?
So, I want to take inventory of what tools I find most useful and hear from others about the tools that they find most useful. I'm talking about physical things, not the internal tools that are really the most necessary. What makes a material tool "invaluable"? What makes a tool "useful"? How do the tools affect the magick that we do?
Here are my most useful tools:
Crystals and Stones - I use worry stones to release pent up energy which I tend to store in my body if I don't take the time to do something about it. Rubbing a hematite or small crystal ball in my hand does wonders for my sense of calm, and in turn for my general health. I also use a medium sized obsidian ball for meditational focus and scrying purposes. Whether it's the actual properties of the stone, or the shape or the color, I don't know for sure, but this is the one tool that taught me how to scry after years of attempting. I can hold it in my hands for just a few seconds and my eyes just blur out and I start seeing things.
Wands, Staves and Knives - I don't have one right now, actually, which is a little sad, but I love working with a wand. It's very useful for directing energy. I can tell the difference in the energy when I, say, draw a circle using just my fingers or using a wand or staff.
I've never had a wand or staff that was bought. Instead I had one wand that I made myself and another that was given to me. I also had a staff that was given to me by a forest. The wands remained behind me in the US and the staff remained in the UK long ago. The fact that each of these came through non-store bought pathways made them feel more "real" to me, too.
However, I had a store-bought knife that I used similarly to an athame that was just awesome. I say similarly, but not precisely. I used the knife as a knife for all sorts of practical purposes, from cutting roses for rose petal lemonade to cutting meat for dinner, and I used it as a magickal tool as well. It gave me the sense that it was an extension of me in the same way as my ice skates are an extension of me -- they extend my capabilities beyond what my flesh and blood give me, but they function as if they were part of my own body.
Tarot or Playing Cards - My tool of choice for divination is cards. I have a family tradition that goes back many generations of reading playing cards. I also taught myself how to read tarot about 8 years ago. Both tools work for me like reading a book. I can't really explain "how" they work, though I have my pat answers that seem to satisfy skeptics so that we can get past that block and get down to the actual reading part. Thing is, they just work in a very predictable way. Someone has a question, I read the cards, and we have an answer. Occasionally I mess up a reading entirely, but that is odd and I usually figure out why a little later.
Amulets (home made) - VERY useful for helping friends and family members. These are part headology, part portable energy holder. It's like charging a battery so that you can move electric energy from your wall socket and put it into a toy car. Amulets are charged batteries that serve a specific purpose. I can pour my intentions into something that can be worn, held, or placed in a special location and those intentions sort of have a place to congregate, as it were.
(cross posted to jewitchery)