Modern Witches hold rituals according to the turning of the seasons, the tides of the moon, and personal needs. Most rituals are performed in a ritual space marked by a circle. We do not build church buildings to create this sacred, ritual space -- all Earth is sacred and in touch with the Goddess and so any place, indoors or out, may be consecrated for ritual use. Outdoor spaces tend to be used from Ostara to Lammas, indoor spaces from Samhain to Imbolc.
Magic is more often performed at smaller gatherings, called Esbats, which coincide with the phases of the moon. Types of magic practiced include psychic healing sessions, the focus and direction of energy to achieve positive results, and work toward the individual spiritual development of the coven members. Magic is an art which requires adherence to certain principles, and a conscious direction of will toward the desired end. We believe it to be an attribute of magic that results toward which the will is directed return to the sender threefold. Therefore, Witches are very conscientious in their use of magic.
When the celebration, teaching, or magical work is finished, the blessing of the Goddess (and God) is called into food and drink which are shared by all. The circle is opened, and the space is no longer consecrated.
A primary tool, which is owned by most Witches, is an athame or ritual knife. The athame is charged with the energy of the owner and is used as a pointer to define space (such as casting a sacred circle) and as a conductor of the owner's will and energy.
Other important tools are the symbols on the altar which denote the "Aristotelian" Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water (some "maps" include Spirit). A pentagram or pentacle (a five-pointed star sometimes surrounded by a circle) is often used to symbolize Earth and its properties -- stability, material wealth, the body, and practical affairs. Alternatively, a small dish of salt or soil can be used to symbolize the Earth Element. A thurible (or censer) or a bell can be used to symbolize Air and its properties -- communications, vitality, intellect and understanding. (A sword or wand may be used to symbolize Air or Fire, and many "maps" disagree on with which element the sword or wand should be associated.) A candle or small pot of fire may symbolize the element of Fire and its properties -- will, transmutation, life-force, and power. A chalice of water is used to symbolize the element of Water and its properties -- cleansing, regeneration, and emotion. In the traditions which include the element of Spirit, an ankh, keppen rod or quartz crystal is used to symbolize Spirit and its properties -- perfection, summation, balance, illumination and eternity.
There are many other minor tools which are used for some specific purposes within magical workings, but the tools described above are the basic ones used in the practice of Witchcraft, and many of the minor tools are extrapolations of the basic ones (e.g. the broom of the wand, the sword of the athame, the cauldron of the cup, etc.)
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