Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

Ritual Tools I Find Useful

Ritual tools are physical objects with which one performs symbolic ritual acts. In more formal “occult” systems there are prescribed sets of these tools, but in Atheopaganism, we’re strictly practical about them; we use what is useful to us.

The items below are things I use in rituals, in combination with objects symbolizing the qualities and attributes I wish to include in a given ritual:

Focus cloths: I like to have cloths I can put down on a table or other surface, upon which I build my Focus. They vary in color by the season (bright pastels for High Spring, e.g., or spider web-patterned black fabric for Hallows).

Asperger: Asperging is the act of sprinkling water or other liquids as a “blessing” of an area, object or person. An asperging setup can be as simple as a bowl of liquid with a sprig of rosemary or other herb to dip in the liquid and then scatter upon the subject, or as ornate as actual asperging bottles (as shown) used in Catholic and Orthodox ceremonies.

Ritual Knife (known in Wicca as an “athame” (uh-THAH-may)): This is a knife which is used to symbolically “cut” things one from another, as in “cutting” a circle in space to define sacred space or to separate something unwanted from the body. You might be surprised how psychologically effective the use of this “knife” can be.

“Moon” knife: This is what I use when actual physical cutting is needed: it is a decorated grape-harvesting knife, which makes it particularly special to the region where I live, and to Pagans generally as it is shaped like the Moon.

Wands: Sometimes it feels more right to use a wand than a knife for invoking a “magic circle”, or for “releasing the magic” into an object, chalice full of liquid, etc. I have several: one of dried kelp, one of oak, one of redwood, as well as a human femur I have used as a wand in Hallows and Underworld rituals. Mine are simple and natural but some people like wands that have symbols or crystals mounted on them.

Chalice: A chalice typically contains water or wine. It can simply stand in to serve as a symbol of the life-giving nature of water, the ocean, etc., or it can also be passed around the circle to share a sip of wine with each participant (if you do that, ask participants who aren’t feeling well to opt out–it’s no fun to spread cold or flu germs)

Censer: A censer is an incense burner. It can be as simple as an oyster or abalone shell, or as ornate as a Roman Catholic censer hanging from chains. You will also want charcoal pellets or discs so you can burn powder and resin incense.

Acheulian handaxe: I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone go out and get one, but this is my favorite ritual tool due to its antiquity and amazing history.

Tingsha, clear-toned bell, chime, tuning fork or singing bowl: A clear, ringing tone can “clear the air”, rendering a sense of purity and stillness. This is useful for establishing a sense of sacred space or “dispelling” something you wish to be rid of.

Ritual mask: Used to create an “otherworldly” quality or to enable you to portray a persona of someone/something other than yourself in a ritual.

Ritual rattle: Useful as a passed “talking tool” or used as an instrument in a group ritual to accompany singing or drumming. Mine has colorful ribbons attached to it, which flare out behind it when it is shaken and create a pleasing effect.

Jewelry (not shown): I have a ritual earring I wear most of the time when I attend public or group rituals: it is a brass snake eating its own tail (an Ouroboros) and coiled into a figure-8, thus forming two symbols for Infinity. I also have a few pieces of ritual jewelry for Hallows, specifically: two rings (an old-fashioned coffin and a ring of skulls) and a skull earring.

Cauldron (not shown): Some rituals involve mixing potions or dissolving/burning unwanted qualities in a cauldron over a fire or filled with water. An iron cauldron is a useful ritual tool.

Sun broom (not shown): a ritual tool created each year at Midsummer “filled with sunlight” and useful for cleansing, purifying and illuminating with virtual “light”.

Colorful and/or cool piece of stone (not shown): a weighty stone (ten pounds or so) is useful for grounding. Just sit cross-legged and heft it into your lap, feel the weight of gravity. A stone can also be useful as a symbol of the Earth.

Cat: Optional, but recommended. Otherwise, what will walk through your Focus, or sit in the middle of it, in the midst of your ritual?


What are some of your favorite ritual tools?



  1. Cat: Optional, but recommended. Otherwise, what will walk through your Focus, or sit in the middle of it, in the midst of your ritual? This was by far the funniest part of this post.  : )

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