In Modern Magick, I tried to stress that although there are traditional tools of the magician (and that you should use them all or none of them to keep the energy balanced), you don’t have to use the traditional tools. For example, I point out that the traditional tool for water, a glass chalice, can be very fragile, and it might be better to use one made out of metal or some other materialâ€”ceramic, stone, even a paper cup. Unfortunately, I didn’t mention a tin cup and I once received a question asking if that was acceptable because I didn’t mention it specifically.
(And if you’re wondering, yes, use it!)
It’s nice to be linked to out magickal past by using traditional tools, but if you don’t have them, use something else. This was recently brought to mind because of a blog I read where a college student wrote in complaining that s/he couldn’t use a candle in the dorm room and didn’t know what to do to use as a center of focus. The blogger replied that the student “could use a bowl of water, or perhaps a stone held in your hand.”
Well, yes, you could…but somehow I just think that moving from a candle (fire) and switching to water (water) or stone (earth) may not be the optimal solution.
I think the perfect answer for this problem would be getting one of the “flameless candles” that have been available for a few years. Some of them have exteriors made of candle wax and use LED bulbs. This first picture is actually a set of flameless candles:
Unfortunately, large candles like this may take up too much room. For people with this problem there is another solution: flameless tea lights:
Think outside of the box! Don’t accept what “they” tell you to do when it comes to magick.
As a side note, lots of people use colored taper candles for doing candle magick. I describe this in my book, Tarot & Magic. You can find more information about using colored candles in magick in the books Practical Candleburning Rituals and Advanced Candle Magick by Ray Buckland or Candle Magic for Beginners by Richard Webster. You can also do a web search and find lots of information about candle magick.
One of the things that’s problematic with this style of magick, however, is that it can take many hours for tapers to burn down. So what do you do? Wait for hours just to work some magick?
I have a different idea. Use Hanukkah candles. You can get a box of them for only a few dollars (less if you wait until after Hanukkah), and they include a wide variety of colors. They fully burn in just a short time. I always have a box or two at home.
Back to the main topic. What about incense? If you can’t have a real candle burning in your room, you probably can’t burn incense. Again, be creative. Many stores now have “light bulb rings” made of metal, ceramic, terra cotta, etc. As the name implies, to use them you put the ring on top of a light bulb.
You simply turn on the light and put a few drops of your favorite high-quality, natural oil or perfume in the ring. Soon, your room will be filled with the desired scent. Be careful not to use artificially-scented oils. They can end up smelling quite bad. Experiment before using any oil during a particular ritual.
No matter the challenges, there are solutions. There are always alternatives and things you can do.
If you can’t use the Air Dagger, how about using a simple fan, perhaps painted yellow?
What if you don’ t want to (or aren’t allowed to) use even flameless candles, fans, and light bulb rings? You still have options. In the book Portable Magic, Donald Tyson explains how to use certain cards from the Tarot as your magickal tools and keys to rituals. So all you’d need is a Tarot deck. Can’t use a Tarot deck? Draw some pictures, to the best of your ability, of the tools or in some way have them represent the elements.
But if you can’t use real or flameless candles, incense or light bulb rings, or even a Tarot deck or hand-drawn pictures, you still have your greatest and most powerful magickal tools:
Your mind and your imagination.
What have you used to stand in for traditional magickal tools?