Cup, Blade, Cord, Stang, Wand and Cauldron are but some of the essentials of the Witch’s tool kit according to many authors and Magical Traditions. However there is the ‘kit’ less often spoken of, one which I consider to be absolutely essential to any Witch who works and walks the land (as if there should be any other kind!!)
I go out for walks at least twice a week. There is often no intent behind these jaunts…just to get outdoors and soak up the land, breath in the shifting seasons and so on. However on many occasions I have come unstuck. I have stumbled upon a place of power that demanded a simple working or I have found bones, herbs, stones, feather and such like and found myself missing a suitable container!
I recently bit the bullet and invested in a decent rucksack. Up till now I have used satchels or messenger bags which generally have one large compartment, not unlike Mary Poppins’ carpet bag…everything gets in but I’ll be damned if I can find it again without tipping the whole contents on the ground…ergo losing all sorts in the dark of night! My new kit bag is much better and always packed and ready to go!
So what goes in my survival kit? First and foremost a wind up torch. I may leave in daylight but I don’t always return before it gets dark. Wind up torches don’t need batteries and are usually led nowadays which makes them incredibly bright. I also carry two disposable lighters. Mainly because I am a smoker and being out without a lighter would drive me insane. Secondly because I also have a small drawstring bag with general purpose incense (loose, cones, sticks) and charcoal disks. There may also be need to light a fire, should the mood take me! I carry two so I always have a backup. Assorted bags are also a personal must. Mainly for collecting treasure but also for rubbish. I have been caught short many a time, especially if I see litter. Whether it be my own rubbish or someone else’s at least with a couple of supermarket carrier bags I can always clean up!
On a similar note I also carry a couple of plastic tubs, the sort you by humus or mixed olives in at the deli. These are ideal for soil, wild crafted resins and bark and so on. These stay snug and secure in a little side pouch along with a few metres of garden twine. Garden twine can be used to mark out a circle perimeter if necessary or bind bunches of herbs when out collecting ready to hang for drying as soon as I get home. In the same little pocket I keep a fold away 2” pen knife always sharp and within legal length limits.
As the soil here on the Kent and North downs is clay, chalk and flint the soil bakes incredibly hard in the hot summer months. Trying to elegantly slide a Stang into the ground is nigh on impossible so a small trowel is absolutely essential to save frustration and a lot of effin and jeffin…yelling profanities across the Medway Valley is not the most conducive way to start any ritual! A trowel is also useful if I need to harvest roots or if I take some plants home to replant in my garden (Just a note on this: Use common sense, I have been known to take a small clump of primroses home for my garden but only ever a small piece off a larger clump. Occasionally I will rescue a sapling growing on a path of heavy foot traffic to grow as a Bonsai tree back home but it is not considered the done thing, in my opinion, to go turfing up huge masses of plants from the wild just because they look pretty!)
Very rarely I might wish to cut a wand or something much more heavy duty and only a hacksaw will do. Just a small junior hacksaw is ideal although I use this seldom, if ever, as generally once one has a wand or Stang the need to cut others rarely presents itself so to be honest I probably wouldn’t consider this ‘essential’ and probably not wise to keep with you all the time but good to keep close to hand none the less.
With all this harvesting and chopping its only right that something should be given back in return for what you take so I carry a small jar filled with ‘fish, blood and bone’ (available from all good garden centres) mixed with oatmeal. This makes a perfectly good offering for plants as does your own urine (this of course you don’t need to pack in your bag!). Liquids are occasionally necessary however, for that reason I carry a small 500ml bottle (the plastic mineral water bottles are great but I have a few glass bottles of the same volume which last longer and are easier to recycle). A small bottle of this size is perfect for collecting water from wells or streams and also a good size to contain enough wine or mead for one simple sacrament. A small bottle of tap water the same size is good to carry just in case you find yourself out longer than you anticipated and get thirsty, it’s also ideal for ensuring a fire and incense are completely extinguished.
A small rabbit pelt and a square of hessian from an old potato sack are good make shift altar cloths or a seat especially if combined with a plastic supermarket bag for when the ground is soaked (I don’t care what anyone says, sitting on sodden Kent clay soil for any length of time is not fun or comfortable!)
In the picture you can also see 4 pieces of dowel of different colours. I have occasionally used them to mark the 4 directions. I am likely to do away with these…they are completely unnecessary when out in the wilds as there is an abundance of gleaming white limestone, flint and sticks lying about which easily delineate a circle boundary or compass point…I don’t hang on to stuff I have no use for!
And finally I never leave home without my mobile phone (not photographed). The mobile may be the death of human interaction (ironically) but when I’m out alone it could be a life line. Not only that, my iPhone has a very reliable compass app which is bloody handy as well as a camera which takes reasonable photos…I can snap away at plants for identification when I get home or images for the blog and so on.
So there ya have it…the whole Kit ’n’ caboodle rarely mentioned but highly essential!