When you start in the Craft you get all excited and want run out and buy every tool but you don’t need to do that. The best way is to take your time and find the right tools. Where? In the places you sometimes least expect them. Keep your eyes and ears open and pray to Zelda the goddess of shopping and you will be surprised at the places you can find things.
Yes, going to an occult store is fun and sometimes necessary and by all means support your local community store but if you are on a limited budget there are other ways to obtain them. And yes, the Pyramid Collection catalog and Ancient Ways website are addicting to look at but so can shopping at thrift stores and swap meets. And some pagan stores cultivate an atmosphere that is down right scary, if it scares you than that isn’t where you need to buy your magickal goods. Unless you are really into having to cleanse your tools in a real big way then go right ahead. There are some pagan stores Miss Kat has walked into and walked right back out again because they have oppressive auras and nasty things for sale. Find a store that doesn’t cater to the Necromicron crowd.
The best pagan stores feel bright and open. They have friendly people who don’t ignore you and make you feel like you walked into a secret meeting of a terrorist cell. They don’t try to impress you with how much they know and you don’t, especially if they have no clue who you are and what your experience level. If you local metaphysical shop is reputable and feels good please use them and support them but sometimes you need more than they can carry and then its time to explore.
I’ve met some shopkeepers who would ignore Starhawk because she didn’t impress them. More fool them! My personal favorite places to look are my local Scottish Highland Games and the various Renaissance Faires in my area. In your area there are probably lots of different cultural events go and cruise the booths. Even in the most isolated areas there will be some type of Craft Faire. You may have to drive a ways to get there but day trips are always adventures. Sometimes you can even find thing by the side of the road. One of my first coven sisters got the urge to drive out in the rural parts of our area when we were supposed to be getting the materials for our coven cords and when she felt something tell her to stop, she did. There by the side of the road under the oaks was a ball of yarn in the right color. One never knows, does one?
You can also make many of your tools. Take a ceramics class and make your chalice. Take some silver-smithing classes and you can make your whole coven jewelry just for them. Investigate the Extension and Adult Education classes at your local college or university. They are usually inexpensive and fun. It gives you the opportunity to try something and see if you good at it without a huge investment or embarrassment. Who knows you may find something to do that takes you the next step on your path.
In the search you may find your personal tools are not what you expected them to be. Your athame and wand may be far different from the so-called “norm”. If gardening is your passion then your tools may be a shovel, a trowel, garden shears and pots. Buy the best quality tools for this and they will last you forever. Who knew Home Depot and Loews carried ritual tools? There is nothing wrong with a potting bench as an altar.
If you become a smith of any sort your tools may be pliers, hammers, cutters, a torch for fire ( well duh?) and your pentacle is an anvil. If you love sewing your machine, your needle and thread, scissors and pincushion are your tools.
There is nothing wrong with having your tools suit you. You are your own Priest or Priestess and your tools should reflect that passion because where your passion is there will be your magic. Who knows? Miss Gulch may really have been using that bicycle in the Wizard of Oz for a ritual tool?
Look for the supplies you need in your daily practice of the Craft in the Yellow pages. There is nothing wrong with finding a factory outlet to buy your candles for instance, in the Los Angeles area there is General Wax and Candle. A lot of the candles you find in stores are made in their factory and they have a store attached. You can buy a case for very reasonable amounts. They also are on the web and have a catalog.
You can hit your local Ikea for bags of a hundred tealights if you are planning a large ritual and want everyone to light a candle. Cost Plus World Markets, Pier One Imports, Joanne’s Fabrics and Target are wonderful sources of magickal tools. Check out the seasonal departments around Halloween; the garden departments for gazing globes and garden gnomes.
We all need baskets and fun ritual foods for Cakes and Ale. Michael’s Craft stores are very dangerous places. Miss Kat can never go in there for just one thing. You can get concrete and molds with glass mosaic pieces and make corner stones for elements to place in your garden. Your local Nurseries may carry all kinds of fairies to come bless your garden along with all the basic herbs and plants a hedge-witch would ever need.
Need ritual jewelry? I have yet to meet a witch who wasn’t a magpie with a weakness for sparkly things. Your local bead store is a very fun place. They may even teach classes in thing like beading, glass work, gourd crafts, silver or tin-smithing, wirework and metal casting. Your local rock hounds may put on a Gem and jewelry show. Every large city has bigger Gem and Jewelry shows, sometimes several times a year.
And then there are the catalogues. If you start ordering from one you will soon get lots of others. Try Fire Mountain Gems or Rio Grande for jewelry supplies. They have reasonably priced goddesses, totem animals, and wonderful assortments or different kinds of beads and semi-precious stones.
Toscano is a fun catalogue for Egyptian and some goddess things. Sacred Source is a catalogue with more deities than any pagan could ever dream of. And those are just a few.
Herbs can be found in the spice aisle or at a health foods store or from places like Red Rose Farm or Herb Products if you can’t grow you own.
Half the fun is the hunt, you can even get fun things besides books on Amazon.com. Miss Kat who never liked Barbies while growing up has to admit to having a bunch of Barbie goddess dolls on an altar. What’s not to like about having Brighid, Kwan Yin, Freya, Isis and the Faerie Queen for $19.99?Tools can be found everywhere all you need to do is be open and look for them.