Tips For Buying and Creating Frugal Pagan Tools and other Items
Some frugal and free ideas for where to buy or how to create pagan tools and items that are personal to you.
When learning about paganism and magic each book or website you read will have details of books and other tools used and their symbolism, reasons and functions within paganism. In some cases these items can be very expensive and sometimes it isn't possible or practical to buy or own everything you may like too.
Your spirituality and how effective any workings you do will not be effected by how expensive or shiny your tools are, where you bought them or even that you have them at all. The natural energy of magic and spirituality comes from within you and from the earth. You can perform magic or honour the god and goddess anywhere and without the need for special items designed for the purpose. All that is important is your beliefs and intent at the time of performing a ritual, spell, meditation etc.
That said, tools can be very useful. They can carry a lot of symbolism and can help us focus on what we are hoping to achieve. Of course, tool use and the views of them vary from tradition to tradition and even person to person. Some people are most happy incorporating their magic and spiritual work into everyday life with no specific items to do so, whereas others prefer a more structured and focused approach, casting circles, wearing specific clothes only used for rituals and even having a set room at home where they perform all their magic, mediate or carry out anything associated with their spiritual and religious beliefs. Nether approach is 'right' or 'better' than the other. It is important that you allow yourself to be guided by and do what feels best for you and your individual path.
If you do wish to or need to use tools, many of these can be bought cheaply or even made at home. Another beneficial aspect of making your own tools is that it enables you to create something unique and just the way you would like it to be. Items you create yourself will also be highly charged with your personal energy and intent for the item during the creation process. Many people believe that this makes tools and other physical items more effective when being used.
Making your own frugal pagan tools may take more time than buying but there is no need to try to make everything at once. As you progress in your learning and practice you may also feel that you don't need or want an item after all. Start out with those items that you really feel you would like to work with and go from there. Add to your collection as you need items and you can avoid any unnecessary work or expense and are more likely to buy or make a truly suitable item as your experience grows.
If you do decide to buy your tools whether they are specifically designed for the purpose or other items chose those that draw you to them. A knife that attracts you will be more effective regardless of where you purchase it than a specifically named athame that you feel no connection or draw too.
Note about Buying Pagan Items
Many items such as candles incense and oils may be cheaper to buy in places other than pagan specific stores. When it comes to oils make sure that you are buying essential oils rather than fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are fine to use for purely fragrant purposes but do not have the medicinal or magical properties associated with essential oils. Some people find that fragrance oils are also more likely to irritate allergies.
Another thought to consider is that many pagan related items that you see in shops or at festivals are hand crafted by pagan artists and although at first they may seem very expensive, it is important to consider the work, care and skill that has gone into creating them. Though materials may not cost much or may even be free in some cases, crafting the actual item can take a lot of time and skill. Some people craft as a hobby but for others it can be an only source of income. In either case it is only fair that they charge for the time and care they put into producing each of their products. Many people prefer hand crafted items for their uniqueness and little quirks and in buying from an individual crafts person you are supporting small businesses and self-representing artists rather than large corporations. Also by buying direct from an artist you know where your items have come from and how they have been produced and so do not have to worry that they may have been made unethically.
Altars can vary enormously based on personal preference. An altar does not have to be large and elaborate to be effective and can be indoors or outdoors and can even be made portable.
Some ideas for space saving, low cost altars are to use an empty shelf in an existing bookcase, an unused mantle place or an empty drawer. Perhaps that draw you keep full of bits and bobs 'you might use one day' but never do could be transformed? The draw can be removed and placed on top of the cabinet or on the floor for use and then it and your altar pieces can be safely stored away when you are finished. The draw method also has the advantage of being hidden so for people who are unable to be open about their beliefs it could be ideal.
If you have a fireplace in your house, most have a shelf or top that could be a perfect altar. Again as many people display items on top of a fireplace, depending on what you use they may not arouse any suspicions with people around you. The surface of any already in use piece of furniture such as a chest of drawers, desk or cupboard can also be used.
There is no need to buy an expensive specific 'altar cloth' to cover your altar. Any piece of fabric that you like or feel drawn to is suitable. This could be bought from a fabric shop or be another item such as a square scarf or tablecloth. If you can sew or chose a non-fraying material such as fleece you could re-purpose a piece of clothing or other item - maybe use something that has some personal significance to you. Choosing a washable fabric is always a good choice in case of spills. You can have one cloth or several and change it based on the seasons or for certain celebrations.
A wand is used to conduct energy and be made from a huge variety of materials. A wand can be a simple as a stick you've collected in the woods or can be decorated with paint, carvings, wire gemstones or feathers. You could also chose a wood for its magical or healing properties.
Take a walk through woodland or a park and see if you can find a stick that attracts you. If the wood is fresh and moist it will need to be left until it has dried before it can be used. Drier branches that have been on the ground for some time can be used straight away. You can leave the stick as you find it or strip off the bark. Generally this can be done with a knife but some can be peeled off by hand. In either case you can decorate the wand if you chose in many ways.
If you leave the bark on you could carve symbols into it and have the lighter colour of the wood show through, for example. You can shape the wand by carving, add wire to decorate or attach gemstones, beads, fabric, cords or crystals. A common design is to add a gemstone point (often quartz) to the pointing end of the wand. Decorate your wand however you chose and feel right, there is no right or wrong way. If you chose not to use a wand at all and prefer to simple point your finger to direct energy, then do not feel pressured to use a wand at all. This has the added advantage that your 'wand' is always with you.
Incense is generally fairly easy and cheap to buy. Sticks are easier to use than cones whch can be difficult to light and put out. Sticks can also be put out part way through burning and relit at a later time preventing waste.
Another option is too buy herbs, resins and other ingredients and make your own loose incense. Some ingredients can be hard to find or expensive but this is a nice option if you use a lot of incense and means you can create blends that suit your needs and personal tastes. It also enables you to avoid ingredients you may be allergic or sensitive too. You can build your collection of ingredients as you go, buying only what you need for each blend as you make it or by purchasing a few items a week or month. Some items such as nettles, elderberries and flowers, hawthorn and rowan are often very easy to find growing wild and can be collected and dried at home to use. Loose incense needs to be burnt on lit charcoal disks in a heatproof container or on an incense stove.
Any wine glass can be used as a chalice and some shaped or decorated ones can be bought fairly cheaply. You could buy a plain glass and decorate it yourself with glass paints or pens, mosaic tiles or engrave it using a glass engraving tool.
Air drying clay can also be bought cheaply, try the children's section in craft shops or WHSmiths or similar. Create your chalice and then leave to dry as specified on the pack before painting, sealing and decorating.
Real cast iron cauldrons tend to be expensive as well as heavy. You can buy cauldrons made from other materials but any container that can be used to burn items such as paper, candles or incense in and hold water to represent the goddess or element of water is perfectly fine to use.
A bolline is a knife (often white handled) that is used for cutting herbs, cords, carving symbols into candles and for any other cutting or carving that may be required. A plain kitchen knife is a good substitute and if the handle is wood you could carve symbols or a pattern into it to personalise it. The handle could also be decorated with coloured cord, cloth, leather or painted or drawn on symbols.
An athame is the second type of knife used by many pagans. It is used in the same way as a wand, to point with and direct energy. Traditionally it is double edged and blunt which can make it hard to substitute. If you prefer not to work with knives or cannot find one you can use a wand or simply use your finger for the same purpose.
© 2012 Claire
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