Tools of a Witch in the Coven Of the Catta
© 2012 Coven of the Catta / GL Hoke
Listed here are the tools required of a Probationer witch before Initiation into the 1st degree of the Lineage of the Coven of the Catta. I am listing the basics and not giving any specific initiatory information on the sigils or consecration of these tools, though much of it can be found in the standard Witchcraft and Solomonic grimoires. I have already published this outline of the tools in my Coven of the Catta – Elders and History, Unique Ritual Practices and Spells which for a limited time is a Free PDF download (click on the title above for the link).
Unless you have the skills of a blacksmith all the tools of the craft were hand made as best you could within your skills and means, except the metal athame, bolline, cup and sword which can be handed down or purchased. The length and height of tools are based on measurements of one’s own body dimensions.
Book of Shadows
Purchase or make a blank book. I just bought large blank artist books with black covers at an arts and crafts store. Later I took silver paint and made my own sigils and names on the front outside cover. I was instructed to buy fountain ink pens to copy with and when the ink cylinder was done I was told to bury it in the ground. If a pen became unusable I did the same. On the first inside page of the book I would draw the witches pentagram and then put my witch name in the middle of it and prick my finger to put a drop of my blood on it. Copy the Tenets into this BOS, then all rituals and spells as they are given to you. Record all the dates of your Probationership and Degrees. You can also record when and how you made each of your witch tools and any psychic or visionary experienced you had during this process and during any rituals. It is a book in which you can copy your teacher’s and your spells into, plus any artwork you wish to decorate it with.
The first instrument for a witch to find or make is their working knife or bolline with the handle painted white. This is a sharp edged knife with which many of your later tools can be manufactured. There are specific sigils to be engraved on the blade. I found an old butcher’s knife at a flea market which had been ground down over the years to a useful size of about a foot long which I could use to chop and cut and engrave wood with. Of course the bolline is also traditionally used to cut herbs with. If I needed a blade that was more specific to some task, like my Boy Scout knife or a saw, then I would transfer the energy of the bolline to it by rubbing the edge of one onto the other.
Buy or make an athame, which must be a double sided symmetrical blade, and it is best if it isn’t sharp because it isn’t used for cutting anything and could take an eye out during rituals! Paint the handle black if practical. There are specific sigils to engrave or paint onto it. Sigils can either be made permanent or drawn with oil if that is impractical. You can purchase an electric hand engraver or a titanium tipped one like jewelers use. After marking your athame then three days before the full moon, in a place most secret, plunge it into the ground to the hilt with one plunge, leaving out a yell from your soul. If it hits a rock and doesn’t go in the whole way, take it out, wipe it off, and try again next full moon. Leave it there three days and three nights before the full moon. Concentrate on the Universal Force and see it entering the blade. Charge the athame to bring a piece of Life Force whenever there is need. On the full moon night pull the athame from the ground. Cleanse it with a cloth and be careful to not touch the blade with your hand as the blade is never touched except for initiations. Too bad about those rust stains and scratches on that nice shiny new blade bought at the New Age store! Put a drop of blood on the athame. Put the athame away into a special bag or box. The athame can be recharged by putting it outside or on a windowsill in the light of the full moon.
Cut your wand in the spring or summer between Spring Equinox and Lammas when the sap is up in the tree. Use your bolline if possible, or transfer the energy of it to a saw. Oak or rowan is best, but any tree which produces a fruit or nut is fine. The length of the wand is the distance between your fingertips and the inside of your elbow. Carve all the bark off of it. Drill a small hole in the positive end. During the consecration put a drop of blood into this hole on a piece of cotton and seal with green wax. There are specific sigils to carve or paint on it and then the wand is oiled or stained to your liking. I wrote the sigils on mine in red paint and then used redwood stain on the whole length. Note that the sigils we were given I have never seen in any books and they seem to be a combination of runes. I was able to cut my besom and wand from the same piece of a high oak tree branch right before a thunderstorm. That way no tree was killed in the process. I still encourage witches that if they are cutting a young tree to cut it above one of the lower branches so it can continue to heal and grow. Always make some kind of offering to the plant when you cut it. I use a coin or tobacco or a drop of my blood.
Like the wand, the besom is also cut in the spring or summer between Spring Equinox and Lammas when the sap is up in the tree. Use your bolline if possible, or transfer the energy of it to a saw. Oak or rowan is best, but any tree which produces a fruit or nut is fine. Leave the wood outside for at least a month or so for it to cure, depending on the type of wood and your environment. The length of the besom is the distance from the ground up to your shoulder, though some like one head height. Carve the bottom into a blunt point. Remove the bark from the top and carve it into a simple phallic shape. You could also remove all the bark and use the entire length for your carvings as I have seen in some of the older coven besoms. I used the ogum alphabet to carve my magickal name on the top because it is easy to carve straight lines. The besom can be decorated as you will with bells and symbols and whatever you want but I kept mine fairly plain. You can also consecrate it with oil. Many covens nowadays buy or make a broom for their besom but ours was more of a tall walking stick. Lady Phoebe told me the phallic end of the besom could be hidden inside broom material and hidden that way in the house. She also said it was used for protection from dogs and such on the walk at night to the Sabbat. The besom also represented the witch when they were not present. In the Coven of the Catta temple behind the altar were besoms of those who had passed on.
Buy a silver, pewter or ceramic cup of your liking. Catholic supply shops actually have simple classic cups better than those at New Age stores. The cup can be engraved with your name and the name of the coven since it can also be a coven owned item like the sword. Fill it with pure spring water and the herbs like hyssop, lily of the valley, woodruff, sage, artemisia, wormwood, and yarrow. It is consecrated if possible at a stream during the full moon.
We were not taught much about this item and in fact there was not a pentacle per se at the Coven of the Catta temple though there was a wooden bowl used for the sacrament of bread. It can be a wooden, clay, or metal circle with a pentagram engraved upon it. You can engrave or paint this yourself.
The bell is used during ritual at the evocation of the Watchtowers at all Sabbats and at All Hallows to call the dead. You can engrave it with your magickal name and the name of your Coven. Old school bells or newer Tibetan bells have a nice tone.
You can have as many robes as you want, but may want to have a heavier dark one for winter and a lighter green one for warmer weather as we often do the rituals outside weather permitting. This is to be made from natural fiber like cotton or wool or silk. It has to be handmade but a sewing machine can be used. It is ankle length and has a hood. To be honest my Priestess made me make my first robe by hand using her sewing machine, but the rest of them were made by other ladies or ordered online.
I am not going to give any details of this object since it is for initiates and unique to our coven. But it is made from a piece of white cloth that is the length from your fingertips to your armpit. It is sewn using red yarn with a certain numbers of stitches around each side and two intersecting geometric designs in the middle. Your witch name is also sewn into it. With this altar cloth you can set up an altar everywhere since it is portable.
I am told some of the uses of cingulums in the Coven of the Catta are unique to our lineage. Other covens call these cords of rank. We only have three, a red one for the first degree, silver for the second degree and black for the third degree. We were required to hand make our first red cingulum and mine was woven from 4 skeins of red cotton yard using a knitting knobby which I bought at a craft store. The four strands got woven into a tube shape into which you could insert your hair, fingernails, blood, herbs etc as it was woven. It was to be about a foot longer than your height to account for the knots to be tied and so it ended up being the same length as your height. Knots were tied on one end measuring your height, then the circumference of head, chest, waist and hips, then a final female loop at the other end. They were tied around the waist with the male end to your right and the female end to your left with a specific knot which made the form of an ankh. The red cingulum was also considered one’s umbilical cord to the Goddess and could be used to connect to the earth or moon. In one’s initiation ritual it was connected to the altar. For the silver and black cord we were allowed to buy them ready made at either a drapery store or Catholic supply store. The cingulum can be secretly worn underneath your clothes even when not in ritual. It could be wrapped around one’s head to meditate. Power could be “blown” into an object through this cord. Stand facing East and twirl your cingulum deosil several times, forming a cone of power which will form a white circle of protection around you. Sit with cingulum laid in a circle around you, visualizing the pentagram or your initiation degree on your forehead. It could also be used in binding spells and as a cable tow in initiations.
This is a silver piece of jewelry which makes an unbroken circle like a ring, bracelet or necklace. Engrave your magickal name inside it. This was used to contact the energies of your lineage and of your Coven. It is considered it to be a sign of one’s marriage to the Goddess or God.
This is a necklace or rosary of 40 beads of stone or wood of your astral sign or choice. The number 40 is considered a perfect number in Kabala and in Witchcraft. According to what I have read in other books it is 5 X 8 for the pentagram and the eight fold Wheel of the Year which equals 40, and when added together makes 13 for the number of lunar cycles in a year. Another meaning of those numbers is because of the 8 fold kiss where you kiss 5 areas on the body. In other traditions a witches ladder is a cord with 9 knots but we were never taught that, though we were taught knot and cord spell making.
You can make a swinging censor from a brass or copper cup from a flea market and some brass or copper chain from the hardware store. Or you can spend some money on a fancy Catholic looking one. In our rituals the censor is swung to the four quarters and around the head thus making a sphere of protection.
It can be bought or made from leather and wood and can have the sigil of scourging upon it, which is like a $ dollar sign with the cross piece at an angle. Or you can purchase one from a fetish shop. The scourge was used only in degree initiations and was used lightly over the robe, seldom directly on the skin. This is also unique because in Gardnerian rituals, the scourge is used at the beginning of each ritual via the women scourging the men and then men scourging the women. And it was also used in raising the cone of power where a witch would act as the conduit of the energy in the center, her/his working partner would perform the scourging while the other participants would funnel the energy to the person acting as the conduit to channel the energy. But like I said in the Coven of the Catta it was only used in initiations. It is my understanding that in some politically correct covens now they do not use the scourge because people complained that it hurt. Boo hoo, cry me a river.
Lady Phoebe had a woad blue tattoo on her upper thigh of a crescent moon with three stars above to represent her three degrees. I copied that tattoo on my left groin when I reached my third. We were never told to get this tattoo, but it has become a tradition amongst the third degrees.
The sword is of metal and used to make the circles before ritual. This is often owned by the coven due to the price but an individual witch can have one also. We were not given sigils or consecration for it, but I used one from a Book of Solomon. I use the metal sword for inside circles and the besom for outside circles as I think the metal scares away the fey.
All these ritual items can be recharged by putting them on a windowsill or out in nature in the light of the waxing to full moon.
If you want more information you can email me at the addy below.