Hand Crafted Tools…Necessary?
Article ID: 14058
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: August 15th. 2010
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While surfing some of my favorite pagan on-line stores recently, I have noticed that more and more of them are offering what they call “beginner kits”. The term is pretty self-explanatory. A “beginner kit” includes items that a “beginner” Pagan practitioner would need to begin this/her religious practice. Although I do not know the number of these kits that are sold, to say that no one is buying these would be false. Stores would not continue to carry an item that does not sell; that would defeat the business ideology of gaining a profit to prosper and continue to stay in business. The beginner kit does not stand alone in its mass on-line sales. Recently a local Pagan shop shut down their physical storefront and now sells their goods strictly on-line.
I surf these stores for two things:
Items that I do not have the hardware to create by myself, and
Item Designs that I like.
The items that I do not have the capability to create myself (A cauldron, for example) I will purchase. Some items, like a cauldron, are better off purchased unless you are in the business of casting steel or own a forge; neither of which is the case for me. Not only is the cost significantly less if you purchase these items rather than buying all of the equipment and materials that you would need to create them from scratch, but you will forgo the pain and humiliation of creating an unusable object due to your lack of experience.
From a design aspect, I am always looking for new images or ideas that I can incorporate into my tools and artwork. Being an artisan myself I have a great appreciation for design and an even greater appreciation for those who create the design.
Insert disclaimer here: Although it is OK to use design aspects of other’s artwork to create your own, please remember not to copy other’s work without consent and never to pass someone else’s artwork off as your own.
Most people will let you use their design if it is for your own personal use. I have been asked on several occasions if people could use my work or retranslate it and I almost always say yes. Nothing feels better to an artist than having someone crave your work and I can rarely deny people access if they genuinely love what I have created and want to use it.
This brings me back to the point of this article. Should you buy tools for ritual use or create your own?
I have done both and can tell you from experience that my most effective tools are the ones that I have created with my own blood, sweat and tears. This is not to say that tools purchased on-line or from the local Pagan shop are useless. I go back to my previous example of purchasing a cauldron rather than making one; sometimes it’s just outside of your means to make the tool that you need. In these cases it is perfectly OK to buy them.
When you do have to purchase items rather than make them keep a few things in mind:
Cleanse everything: You have no idea what kind of energy that these items are carrying before they find their way into your possession so it is in your best interest to carry out a full cleansing ceremony for each new item that you buy as soon as possible. The store clerk who sold you the item could have been carrying some negative energy that transferred onto the tool. The stock boy who stocked the item could have been upset when he stocked the item. The postal worker who delivered the item could have been having the worst day of his/her life when he/she delivered it to the shop. You get the idea. The longer you wait to cleanse the item the more time that energy has to seep into your home. So the sooner you can release the negative energy the better.
Buy Quality: If you do have to purchase something, you want it to last a long time. In theory, you never want to purchase it again, so you want one that will last a lifetime or longer. For some items, like a chalice, you may have your own requirements (solid silver or silver-plated, solid gold of a certain karat, or gold plated) . Quality items may be quite expensive but you have to determine if it is a worthy investment for your collection. Nothing says that you have to buy expensive items for them to be good but you should be educated about the craftsmanship of the items that you do decide to purchase. You also have to consider the longevity of the items. Using a chalice as an example, not many people can afford a .999 solid silver chalice so they buy a cheap $10 dollar silver-plated chalice instead. You may get several years of use out of this tool but if the craftsmanship is poor, it will fail early and need to be replaced. When you go to replace the chalice, the years of energy that you have put into it remain with the item and you will have to start over with a new one.
To be frank, I enacted this exact scenario when I began my practices. I have kept each of the original tools that I have had for one reason: I want to keep that positive energy close to me rather than throw it out. Remember, energy transfers, so I keep my old tools close to my current tools. It is a hassle to start over each time something breaks or wears out so if you have to buy, buy quality stuff!
One of my favorite pastimes is looking for antique objects that I can collect or convert into powerful ritual items. Knowing that all things harness energy, as I discussed previously, you must cleanse these items thoroughly as well. You wouldn’t want a two hundred-year-old grudge following you home! I like these items because of the craftsmanship and durability as well as the energy that they already contain. The cleansing of antiques is a little different than cleansing of new objects. Remember the older the object the more energy it contains and you must be careful regardless of whether you are dealing with positive energy or negative energy. You have heard the term “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”. This saying came about because it is true. The craftsmanship in some antique pieces is truly amazing. You can tell that the person who built it really cared about the end product that they were creating and it shows in the final product that has lasted a couple of hundred years.
I am a firm believer that the more energy that you put into an item the more effective it becomes. In my experience this has held true with each item I have created and personalized. This Family rule has also led me down paths that I might not have taken if I did not think that it was so important. Two good examples of this are sewing my own garments and creating my own books. Both sewing and bookbinding are fundamentally easy tasks to complete yet so many people shy away from them because it is easier to buy a robe or a BOS on-line than to take the time to make your own. Keep in mind that regardless of which Deities that you celebrate they reward and acknowledge a hard worker and appreciate those who put in the extra energy to spend time with them. This is why we do ritual outside whenever we can: to get closer to Deity in the natural setting.
When creating your own tools keep in mind that the closer you can get to the base material of the item that you are creating and the more energy you can infuse into that base material from the beginning the more powerful it will become. A good example of this is a ritual robe. If you buy a robe on-line and cleanse it and use it in ritual, it will be powerful and serve you well. If you buy the fabric for a robe and put the time and energy into creating it yourself, it will be more powerful in helping you achieve your means and getting closer to Deity than the store-bought robe. If you weave the fabric for your robe then cut and sew it into a garment, it will be even more powerful and so on.
The same goes for a BOS or any important book you create for your library. Imagine the energy that you could have access to if you were involved in every step of your BOS’s creation from the sprout of the seedling plant that would later create the twine binding to the creation of the ink that would grace the pages and create your own personal record of the secrets that you discovered in the time that you spent on this Earth.
The same Magick and spirit realm exists now that did thousands of years ago. One aspect that differs between how our ancestors accessed this realm and how we now attempt to achieve the things that they did is the means and materials that we use to obtain the same ends. There was no factory in ancient times where religious texts were mass-produced for sale to the populous without ever coming into contact with a human being. There were no machines that could produce a “one size fits most” garment with perfect hemlines without being tailored to the individual that would be wearing it.
In short, I do not know the sales numbers of the “beginner kits” that are being sold to the masses. I also do not criticize anyone who has been on the ordering side of these kits, or anything that can be purchased rather than made by hand for that matter as I have also been on that side of the fence.
I do hope, however, that everyone comes to the realization that anything that you make by hand and put your time and energy into will yield a greater effect, a greater end result and greater personal satisfaction than something that you bought on a whim. I encourage every beginner to speak with an elder in their tradition to learn how to make the things by hand that our “now” culture has made obtainable with a few clicks of a mouse button.
Not everyone has access to antique or Family ritual tools that have been handed down for ages, but if you make your own quality tools now, someday your beneficiaries will.
Location: Greencastle, Indiana
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