My Simple Altar
Altar Cloth (over a chest of drawers)
Candles & Sticks (brass)
Tarot Deck (not normally)
Two Mortar and Pestle (not normally)
What's not there but usually is Book of Shadows
Salt & Water (Consecrated)
Censer & Charcoal Common Items I do not useGod/Goddess Icons or figures
(I do not worship a specific deity "borrowed" from a long dead civilization) I use Lord and Lady
Athame (Magickal knife)
The Athame (pronounced at-ah-may) is used for cutting, not of the physical plane, but of the astral. It is used to direct energy and as a power manipulation device. Also used as the symbol of the Masculine in conjunction with the chalice.
The bell is a feminine symbol used to invoke the Goddess, evoke good energies or to ward off evil spirits and spells.
A besom is a hand-made broom of ash staff and birch twigs, these can often be found in garden centers at (usually) a reasonable price. The besom is used primarily as a purifier, and many Wiccan rituals begin by sweeping the area where the sacred circle is to be cast in order to remove any negative energies. The besom can also be used as a protective implement by laying it under the bed, across a windowsill or across the threshold of your property.
Book of Shadows
The most important "tool" of all. Your Book of Shadows is where you keep all your information relating to spells, rituals, invocations... Traditionally this was hand written, but some people now have a computerised version. Do remember however that it is not much good in having it on your PC when you are in the middle of a clearing performing a ritual - you will need printed copy.
The archetypal tool of the Witch! The cauldron is used for scrying and as a container in which magickal transformations occur.
You will need a good stock of candles, mainly you will need white, but other colors will be required for candle magick. Alter candles are green to represent the Goddess and red to represent the God.
Cup or Chalice
Usually made of silver, brass or gold, and is used to contain ritual beverages. Used to symbolize the feminine in conjunction with the Athame.
Used to ground and celebrate the Goddess bounty following your Ritual before releasing the Circle. May be cakes, cookies, breads or even fruits.
Used to burn powdered incense and herbs. Get small charcoal discs, not the briquettes used on a barbecue!
Some find it difficult to divine the four directions, especially when working away from home, so a compass may be a useful tool to take with you when you travel!
Of Varying thickness and colors are used to mark the boundaries of the Circle by some, and by others to perform Bindings. Some will not perform Bindings at any cost, as they feel that it breaks the Rede ('An it harm none, Do as Ye Will!'), but others do feel that in exceptional circumstances (such as when someone is acting in a self harming manner) they can be justified. Whatever your own personal views, you have to remember that the Three Fold Law says you'll get back times three what you do to others, so proceed with care!
Red or White wine, blessed for use during the Ritual, though you can just as easily use Ale, Juice or Water.
Used for Healing and Magick, can include fresh, dried and frozen herbs and spices. They can be used to burn, to make tinctures and potions or as compresses.
Used upon the Altar to represent the Water Element, and also to cleanse and consecrate Magickal and Ritual tools and areas. It's basically consecrated water that has had some consecrated salt added to it and been blessed. We like to get the water from a local spring ourselves (that's located in a powerful local area), just to be sure that its 100% natural. Water is considered Female in its symbolism, so goes to the left of the Altar.
Available in stick, cone and powder form and is used upon the Altar to represent the Air Element during Rituals. Certain types of incense have various Magickal uses.
Incense burner (Censer)
This is usually a bowl or cup half filled with sand upon which incense is burned during rituals. There are lots of expensive ready made burners available on the market, but chose what you feel happy with and what your budget can withstand. Cone, stick or block incense can be used, but raw or granulated incense is preferred (and doesn't contain glue to hold it together and smell when burned!).
For lighting candles and Incense. Can be a good idea to tape a spare box underneath the Altar for emergencies, and don't put spent matches into the Censer, keep a separate bowl for them underneath the Altar itself.
For use in Scented Oil Burners and in Ritual use (such as Dedicating Tools and Self) and also for the Ritual Bath.
Parchment / Paper
Used for writing special spells and notes.
Used either for burning with Herbs, or for marking the boundaries of your Circle
Sea Salt / Rock Salt
Used upon the Altar for representing the Earth Element, and for cleansing the Circle during it's casting. Salt is considered Male in it's symbolism, so goes to the right side of the Altar.
Can be used in Magickal and Ritual workings, especially at the Imbolc Sabbat and for symbolizing new beginnings, such as at a Handfasting, Wiccaning or Dedication Ritual.
A stick of Herbs that is burnt at a slow smolder, used to smudge (or cleanse) during and before a Ritual.
Used for Binding and Cord Magick, and to keep poppets and other Magickal Packages sealed together.
The wand is an implement of invocation. It may be used to draw magickal symbols on the ground, direct energy, and is often used when calling upon the Goddess and God.