Now that Roderick’s moved on to the acquisition of magical tools, he’s found it necessary to discuss their proper storage. Since I’ve taken pleasure on leaving my tools permanently displayed on my altar, I initially scoffed when I read through today’s information. However, I do have to admit there’s a strong advantage for proper storage.
I’ve taken to leaving my tools on my altar because I was unable to have anything Pagan displayed in my space for most of my practicing years. After I moved out of my parents’ house, I took a lot of pleasure in finally being able to have a permanent altar that didn’t have to “pass” as anything else. It helped that I am very fond of all my tools and enjoy being able to see them even if I am not working magic. I also found it very convenient for performing “magic on the fly”: since everything was already out, I was just a quick handwash away from beginning my grounding and centering and starting a ritual. I never really noticed my tools having any less power because I openly displayed them. Indeed, since I hold that the Witch is the power source, any difference in tool power was only subtle at best.
However, I’ve recently been forced back into storage again, since there just isn’t enough room in my current living situation to maintain a large altar like I had back in Eugene. Now that I’m forced to unpack items when I seek to do magic, I realize I am getting a strong psychological trigger for “magic time” when I do this mundane action. When the items were around me all the time, I took them for granted and started seeing them as mere items rather than powerful symbols. Limiting my mundane exposure to these tools has definitely helped me see more of their great symbolism and to briefly meditate on it before magic. Subsequently, I feel like I’m going deeper in my rites than I have been for awhile.
There is also a decided practical benefit to tool storage: physical preservation. It is really easy for tools to be accidentally knocked off of surfaces. In my case, my beloved pentacle would shatter, my beautiful (but very thin) silver chalice could be crushed, and my athame and wand could impact-crack. It is also easier to keep the woods of my wand and athame conditioned when they’re not constantly exposed to air, and the metals of my athame and chalice don’t oxidize or tarnish as quickly.
Traditionally, occultists would wrap their magical tools in lengths of silk and place them in some sort of special case, drawer, closet, or what not. From what I’ve gleaned from ceremonial magical texts, silk is held to be a psychically insulative fabric: It keeps the energies you want concentrated close to your magical item and serves as a sort of barrier for external energies that might influence the tool. Some practitioners also bring color into the works. Traditionally, black silk was often used since black is a color of concentration (it being the concentrated form of all colors) and repellence and would therefore reinforce silk’s properties. However, many practitioners also choose to wrap their tool in its appropriate elemental color (yellow for air, red for fire, blue for water, and green for earth) to facilitate the concentration of elemental energies in the tools. Many practitioners, however, use whatever fabric and colors they like, especially if their main focus is keeping the tools clean and protected. In general, preference is largely given to natural fabrics over synthetics.
For what it’s worth, I’m kind of a fan of wrapping my major magical and divinatory tools in raw silk. Raw silk isn’t as refined, so it’s a little knobby and has low luster. If you’re used to shiny, soft, slippery silk, you might not even think it is silk at all. Nevertheless, it’s a substantial, durable fabric with a good drape, and enough frictional coefficient that it won’t constantly be sliding off your tools. You can’t readily find it in fabric stores, but it’s easy enough to order a decent amount of white raw silk online and dye it as you need it, which is nice if you’d like more colors but don’t want to store a number of bolts or scraps.
Wrapping and storing tools can be a ritual unto itself. Because silk easily slips off tools, many practitioners use lengths of appropriately colored cords to bind the silk around the the tool. As you wrap each tool in cloth, say this simple incantation, either aloud or to yourself.
Power be bound,
Truth be found!
Now I wrap thee
Take the length of cord, if you are using it, and wrap it three times around the cloth-bound tool.
In a perfect world, I would commission an artisan to construct me a beautiful wooden box in which to store my primary tools. I would probably insert some foam cut to accommodate each piece (kind of like a musical instrument case), and cover the foam with black silk. After I’d nestle my pieces into their case, I’d cover them with a black silk scarf and the box lid.
But the world is not perfect. Right now, my wrapped pieces get stored in a Rubbermaid drawer. And my poor chalice is tucked in a cardboard box within all that to give it some extra protection. My athame has its own black and purple silk bag, and my boline has a white silk bag…but I’m lacking dedicated wrapping for my other tools. I have, however, begun saying this little incantation as I pack away my tools, and I kind of like it. It transports a painfully mundane act into a mini ritual. I feel I’m giving my tools the respect they deserve.