The art of ritaul crafting is that of ancients. Practised since the time of our prehistoric ancestors, and now still today in the 21st century. The place of the crafter has always been that of privilege, allowing a special place in simple and complex societies the world over.
This path has mainly been passed on from master to apprentice, in a long succession line, each one learning the secrets of previous master craftsmen before them.
So why take up the challenge to become a ritual craftsman?
Well, if you are reasonably artistic and are sometimes inspired to "create" a work of beauty, just so you can express your inner thoughts and feelings, then your probably the kind of person that would make a reasonable, if not great Ritual Crafter.
Life is a ritual. Everything that you will ever do in your waking life is based upon ritual. You could try to say no, if it were not for the fact that every human function is in fact a ritual. Eating is highly ritualised, from preparation to eating a family meal, there are set ways of procedure. Going to bathe, getting ready to go to work, driving, a trip to town, the list is huge, but does illustrate my point.
Since this point is established we must then take a look at the crafting aspect. Art is usually formed from inspirations and whims of that of an artist who creates the work. Whilst being freeform and left to his own devices, a seasoned artist will develop styles and a "ritualised" way of working, that will set his work apart from all others.
This individuality is how he may work his web of magick, while not knowing that his every brush stroke, or every fingermark on his clay, shapes the piece and transfers emotion and feeling from his mind and into reality, forcing the work into birth, giving an artist a somewhat "God-like" ability to transmute materials into other forms.
Have you ever wondered why art can make you feel? Why it can evoke moods held deep inside?
The art holds the creators personality and emotional energy held inside it from the time of its inspiration and creation. All that energy holds the work together in the form how you see it and using the media it is created in, and transmits that held emote to the beholder. Art is to feel.
Its a widely known theory that when creating a magickal ritual for any purpose, it is the sole intent of the one performing the rite, to bind together all things that will interconnect with the specific purpose, in order to tie the loose ends together to affect to situation and allow it to directly correspond to what you want to happen.
This is method uses a series of invisible links, drawing upon esoteric, mythic, litery and pseudo-religious material, as well as obsevations upon all things. This is called Sympathetic correspondence and is the ultimate key to successful ritual craft. It is the basis of creating any ritual item, fetish or talisman. Its all about binding all the right influences, at the right times and become conductive to harmonise all the loose ends and produce the end product (This being the said item created for the specifed purpose you require)
Many books nowadays are a good source of correspondences for anyone interested in this type of magickal working, encycopaedias, herb books, myth & legend tomes, can all be utilised in the creation of items. Probably the best set of correspondences are that of 777 by Aleister Crowley. It contains a great many useful lists that are invaluable to crafters, as well as any occultist. Other modern magick books have lists and tables that are also useful, so it is a good bet to seek out as many different ones as possible so that you can cover lots of ground before you start any ritual working.
It is also important to observe planetary hours when working towards successful crafting, every little influence will count toward any eventual success you will make, so its always better to be safe than sorry, and all your hours not be in vain!
Before you embark upon crafting, you must be aware of the preparation involved in creating an item. As I said before, the crafter must put themselves in a highly ritualised state of mind to "create" any piece, and the initial preparation is no exception to the rule!
You must envision the piece first in your mind, what is it for? What should it look like?
How should it be used? What should it be made from?
All these and more questions should be answered before you start, as it is near on impossible to "Wing" making such items with little or no experience, as this can lead to the items you create to be "Jinxed" or holding the wrong energies to suit the task.
Whatever you make for your item, staff, wand, athame pentacle or talisman there are a lot of things to consider before you create it. Everything can be imbued with significance and hold symbolic meaning. Here are a few things to consider.
If you are working with any item made from this organic material, the hidden symbolism of plants is extremely useful. Hazel is a great all rounder for the occultist, best taken fresh on a moonday and hour. Willow is useful for divination tools, Ash is a great rune material, Yew is another good witches wood, again useful for spirit work. There are many others such as Apple, Laurel, Holly, Sycamore, Chestnut etc. all have some sphere of influence and whenever possible, it is good to use a variety of different wood types. However some can be difficult to obtain, so the apprentice is urged to use a stock wood type that is relatively easy to obtain such as Willow, Hazel, Sycamore or Ash, as these can be found most times of the year.
Doing a bit of research on the subject of crystals would benefit any would be ritual crafter. Reams of pages can be found in books and the net. Gems are manifold in their uses and different realms of significance. Zodiac, Chakra, magickal properties are among the varied uses and spheres. Do browse around to find the right ones for you.
Metals are similar with Zodiac (Western & Eastern and other) Magickal properties as well as planetary correspondences. It will do you well to do as much learning in any relevant symbolism.
Research of not just western zodiacs, eastern zodiacs will throw up loads of new influences to help shape and power your item. Amerindian, Celtic and other cultures do have their own systems that could aid your crafting.
Animal symbolism in its many forms, zodiac, animal totems, mythic beasts all have their advantages in construction of ritual tools as the correspondence to them sometimes help to bind the varied themes and energies that you seek to bind inside your item. This also helps to make for a more attractive item and tie up all your various correspondences into a sleek package. Again loads of material is available on these subjects, just look for them.
Herbal correspondences can be useful when wishing to imbue the item with prepared powders and herbal inserts. It is not essential to include these in the construction and this will be dealt with in a future article in full. Still do your homework though, it always pays to have some idea for later projects.
There are a hell of a lot more sources you can draw upon to base your ideas around. Rule of thumb here; use your imagination and don't overcomplicate your overall plan. Keep it simple and the rest will flow.
So, lets say you have imagined and started to put some basic ideas, correspondences and maybe a few sketches down on paper. It is now time to gather together all your materials you will need to create your said item. Providing you haven't chosen materials that are difficult to obtain, you will find that a lot of the stuff you need can be found quite easily, if not free from natural sources and cheap suppliers. Maybe a friend or family member has one of the parts you may need to create your tool. For personal items it is all the better to obtain these things from these sources. They say that once you have decided on what you want, the parts will find you! I can attest to this as many of my personal items have been constructed from stuff that suddenly came to me someway or another, and almost said "here you are, mould me!". It is a good indication of your attunement to your path when this happens. Do not worry if it doesn't though, it will manefest in time.
You will have to wait till the next part of this series for my guidance on your next steps. Next time we will deal with subjects such as tools of the crafting craft, How to create your item, timing and other matters.
Why not have a go at researching some charts and tables, and try designing on paper your ideal tools. Not only will you learn something, but it can be great fun designing!
Don't forget to put your stuff in your ritual workbook or book of shadows, so that you can refer to them in the future or when you next need them.
© Will Grundy
Published: September 26, 2005