Pagan and Magical Symbols & Tools.
(Article by Mani Navasothy).
Pagans and Magicians work with symbols and tools in rituals. These are numerous (hundreds!) to mention here. But some highly significant symbols in Wicca are explained here. All photos/ graphics come from our own rituals and magical works, so may `look’ slightly different to what others have. This is to be expected, as each Pagan, Witch or a magical group will create or procure their own. It is magically advisable to create your own ritual tools, as the process of making them imbues them with your own energies, which then help in a ritual.
Pentagram is a common symbol, equated with the occult and magic in many mystery traditions. It symbolises the Earth, al things earthy an practical. As such, in Wiccan rituals, Salt / incense is placed on the Pentacle (the physical Earth symbol made of clay, stone, metal or wood) when performing consecrations.
Cup & Athame – are 2 very important tools in Wicca (Witchcraft). The Chalice represents (as with a Cauldron) the feminine, emotions and love. The Athame (name given to a Witch’s ritual knife) is a masculine symbol connected to inspirations, and used to channel or focus the energy raised in a magical ritual. In Wicca, at the end of a ritual or magic, 2 people (male & female usually) hold the Cup & athame and conjoin them to symbolise the uniting energies of the God and Goddess (or masculine & feminine). The Cauldron has additional significance – and represents the Womb of the Creatrix Goddess, and as such is used for magic of rebirth, or transformation spells.
Stag, Antlers, Skulls– are all associated with Horned Gods. The Stag is the largest land animal in UK and seen as master of woodlands, and a supreme symbol of fertility (One stag holds and mates with a herd 20-30 female deer during the `rutting’ seasons!) The horns represent powers of the divine force descending from above.
Shamans & magicians wear ritual masks or work with animal skulls to connect to those primal powers. In Wicca, the Horned God forms Pan, Herne, Cernunnos are such examples. Horned or animal-faced gods are common in tribal and indeed eastern pagan religions. It is only in Christianity that this is fearfully and misleadingly attributed to evil or the devil. (Note- Paganism has no concept of devil or Satan. It is entirely a product found in the and creation of Christianity!).
Moon is a powerful symbol in paganism, and indeed in many religions and cultures. It is associated strongly with the faces of the Triple Goddess in Wicca & Witchcraft. The moon goes through a cycle of Dark /new moon, waxing phase to full moon, then waning to dark moon again. This cycle taking 28 days is often in synch with the menstruation cycle of women. These associations have given rise to the 3 Maiden, Mother, Crone aspects of the Goddess
Cailliach is a Crone Goddess found in ancient Scottish myths. Ellen is a name given to an antlered Deer Goddess, and worshiped by many pagans. Coming from Greek origins, Gaia is a well known name for the Earth Goddess. Pagans have a high reverence for nature and earth and worship it as a deity. Diana the Huntress is a virgin Goddess with connections to deers and dogs; It must be understood that Maiden in ancient times did not necessarily equate to Virgin. Maiden simply meant an unmarried young woman. Other Goddess figures include Sakhmet (lion headed egyptian goddess of war), Isis (Egyptian, mother goddess), Demeter (mother goddess, also linked to earth), Persephone (daughter of Demeter, and one who was abducted by Hades Lord of the underworld to his realms).
Altars are places of magical power- or rather, a place where magical powers are brought together for the purpose of worship or ritual. An Altar can be as simple as just a table with a ritual tool and a candle, or as elaborate as ones shown here (A samhain altar) with many tools. Altars are created each time for specific rituals. Outdoor altars often are assembled on tree stumps, or by the base of a tree, and natural objects as well as created tools can be placed upon it.
Candles are a standard items in almost any altar, and rightly so, for their simple but significant use of bringing light (rituals do take place in semi-dark rooms or outdoors at night). In wicca and spell craft, Candles are used for magic as well (the act of making a wish and blowing candles on a birthday cake is none other than a form of candle-magic. The everyday use of candles as a magical tool is when people `hold a vigil’ ! People of the world do these a hundred thousand times and most don’t realise the magical significance of it. In Wicca of course, its common to make a `wish’ (spell) and light a candle..and let it slowly burn for long duration, while the practitioner stays in a magical state and keeps focus or meditation.