Category Archives: tools

Use What You Need

That small statement bothers me.  It bothers me to no end!

When I really started getting serious about my spirituality I was told by the majority to “only use what is needed.”  But what’s really needed?

I get insulted when someone’s idea of what’s needed is forced upon me.  To be totally honest, nothing physical is ‘needed’ for spell work – or anything regarding religion as a whole.

Some mentors have people disassemble their altars, and some get really upset when asked to do this.  I think its a good exercise in order for individuals to decide exactly what it is they feel they need.  Its a good way to (pardon my language) clear the bullshit and get down to the real deal.  Some, over time, accumulate a lot of things that do not serve them.  Magical Hoarders, if you will.

Personally, I feel my spiritual path is beyond just need.  It is a representation of my spirit.  Do I need incense?  No.  I like it!

Many items on my altar are there because I feel I need them.  There are even some items not present that others say are ‘needed’.  I have a censer which is about to be replaced by just a cauldron.  I have a chalice which was replaced by a bowl.

I prefer to tell people:

You need whatever you feel you need.

How do you know what you need until you’ve had it?  For example:  I have absolutely no use for a chalice.  I have one on my altar, but its very small and it doesn’t get used.  I have a small crystal bowl which I keep charged salt, Goddess (rain) water, and a stone of some kind which represents what it is I hope to ‘evaporate’ into my space.  Though the stone, of course, never evaporates – I like to visualize that the stone is also charging its properties into the water which I use to bless myself, the area – and by the act of evaporation – blesses my whole house.

My advice:

Obtain any tool your spirit thinks you need.  If it turns out you have no use for it – hang on to that tool!  A young Pagan’s spirit may be calling out for that tool and you may cross paths!  I try to pass my unused or replaced tools down to someone else.

Witch-cycling.  Its like recycling, but for witches!

Starting A Book of Shadows

Most Pagan traditions have a personal book with things you have learned written into that book.  Some paths have strict guidelines as to what goes into the book, who can read the entries, yadda yadda.

This is what I think.

It does not have to be called a Book of Shadows.  However, it may be easier to relate what the item is to someone else if you use the same terminology.  Call it “My Magical Book of Sparkling Unicorns”.  Call it “The Fonz”.  It doesn’t matter!

I don’t feel that every single thing you’ve learned/read/heard should be put in your personal book.  Things you feel are important that you may forget should certainly be put into your book.  You don’t need a big 4 chapters to explain (essentially to yourself) what your path is and what you believe.

I feel that a 3 ring binder with printed pages is just fine.  Its easy to replace pages – and it is sometimes easier to read than your own handwriting!  Some people are not very artistically gifted and would therefore prefer to print out pretty pages to make their personal book feel more elegant.  Should they feel bad for this?  No!

My first book was a leather-bound journal.  The 200 or so pages in it could not be replaced.  I could not add to the book.  I decided that I wanted to decorate some pages – but was then unhappy with the outcome.  Then came the gut wrenching activity of tearing pages out.  That was so painful!  I had probably 5 of these journals in a book shelf and thought “Wow what a waste.”  All that time I could have combined everything into one big binder and have been able to add or subtract as time went on.

When actually doing spells I feel those should be hand written.  But your book?  I don’t feel that is necessary.  Mostly because it is only meant to be used for reference and possibly teaching someone else.  However – if they only learned from a book what would they need you for?

Where should you begin?

Begin by having an idea what you want your book to look like.  Craft stores have come a long way – so get creative!  And if in a couple years’ time you don’t like how it looks don’t worry!  You can get a new binder and start all over!  That is the great thing about using a binder as your personal book rather than a bound journal.  As people we grow all the time.  Our tastes in all thins change.  My first book looked more like a weird interpretation of a Necronomicon than anything else!  Why?  Because I was about 15 and I thought that was how it should look.

Here is a video done by a British Lady with quite a posh accent.  She shows her Book of Shadows done in a binder form.  Maybe it will give you ideas.

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