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Author Topic: Why does wicca seem so expensive?  (Read 2559 times)

Diana

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Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« on: October 20, 2013, 05:31:07 pm »
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

Anyone else know how I'm feeling?

I've been making do so far, I haven't performed many spells. Haven't cast a circle or anything before, yet have been reading suggestions for spells, altering them to what I have in stock so to speak, or just looking up uses of herbs and scattering dried herbs from my kitchen cupboard in my garden while praying to deities what it is I am asking for. I am lucky enough to have a tree in my garden which is where I tend to focus my outdoor prayers. Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?
« Last Edit: October 20, 2013, 05:33:16 pm by Diana »
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2013, 05:46:17 pm »
Quote from: Diana;126202
....but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

I suspect you can manage without much of what these books are telling you to buy. Also, you don't need to buy "Pagan" items. For example, an athame id a black-handled knife with some symbols on it -- fairly inexpensive if you just buy a black-handled knife and put the symbols on it yourself. You don't need candles in every color -- just the colors you need for whatever ritual you are doing. And many Wiccan traditions don't use cauldrons except in group rituals.
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2013, 06:30:08 pm »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!


First, this is a good place to point out that part of Wiccan practice does come from structured magical practices, both things that have roots in the historical magical grimoires, and in the more recent strands of ritual magic. Initiatory Wicca, in particular, tends toward using tools because tools - well, tools allow us to do things more easily than not using tools, when we're using the right tool for the right reason.

(Think of it like trying to hang a picture: it's a lot easier if you have a hammer and a nail. Or that cooking a fancy meal works better if you have a suitable kitchen knife, and a decent pan, and so on.)

Those tools don't need to be expensive, necessarily - but if we're using them for something we care about, and we're going to keep using them over and over (as we hope we will for religious purposes) then it's probably worth investing some time, effort, and some amount of money in getting the right thing, rather than just making do.

At the same time, that doesn't mean we have to invest *tons* of money in them - or that we have to do it all at once. My altar, for about the first two years of practice, didn't have any item on it that cost more than $20 (about the price of a hardcover book) except for some purely decorative and not-at-all-required items.

You might find the article on my website over here on tools to be useful, and there's a link at the bottom to another page on that site that's about inexpensive tool options.

Basically: the sword, staff, cauldron, and besom are really group tools: if you're working with a group they probably have one (and you don't need one for at least a while.) If you're not working with a group, the personal tools (athame, wand, chalice, and pentacle) will do fine.

So, what about those four? It's possible to make a nice and quite functional wand or pentacle with supplies you can get at any craft store (a bit of sandpaper and a suitable branch, a thin block of wood and some paint or wood stain, something like that, plus whatever other decorations you might like). Some people make a pentacle out of building up drips of wax, or out of clay.

As for a chalice, there are often a range of nicely designed glass ones, or inexpensive metal ones (as long as they're designed for drinking). Pottery ones are getting a lot easier to find. A number of people find them at thrift stores.

The athame, admittedly, is a bit trickier, but that's mostly about quality of work. It's relatively easy in many places to find an inexpensive dagger designed for historical recreation or reenactment - in the US, you can get them for $5-10. However, they're mass-produced, often not good quality metal, and they're fairly limited in size and shape options.

What I did was use a physical alternative - the first two fingers on my dominant hand together (the first two because you want a trigger to yourself that you're using your hand  that way: if you just use one, you might find yourself running energy when you didn't really mean to, and that's not very polite to do to other people.) And then I got one that was sort of midrange - not quite what I wanted, but enough to work with.

And then I saved up money to get the quality of athame that I wanted: if it is a representation of my will and intellect, I wanted the tool to be something I liked. I also looked at it as a long-term purchase: at the time I got it, I'd already been an initiate in my tradition for several years at that point, and it's handmade from high quality materials and on a historical model.

(I would sort of like to get one custom made at some point, but every time I've gone hunting for something that would work to my exact specifications, some part of the process has gotten tangled up.)

In terms of spell components - I design the spells I can afford, at the time I want to do a spell. If I do not have magic for dozens of candles, or a safe way to use them (the latter's more likely an issue: I have a cat and not a lot of safe places to stick a candle) then I do not do magic involving a lot of candles. Instead, I tend to do cord magic (where even high quality fiber is not very expensive, in the quantity I need it for magical work) or making a simple talisman out of items from a craft store, or using music or drawing work to focus my intention, or something else that just doesn't cost a lot of money.

I do tend to buy beeswax candles, but I might go through $30 worth in the course of a year, between my basic ritual votives and a few special ones. If I want to do candle magic, I take a beeswax taper, use appropriate oils and carvings, and if necessary, wind a bit of appropriately colored embroidery floss around the base, or use an appropriate colored candle holder. (Candleholders = reusuable colour magic, and they're also good for some other ritual uses.)

I do invest money over time in some things that cost more - ritual oils, for example, from reliable makers who can add ingredients that are expensive and that I'd never use in the quantity I'd have to buy them. But I'm also scarcely buying those every month, or even every six: instead I might buy a bottle here, a bottle there, for a particular use, and then use it again later if a related kind of need comes up.

Finally, a bunch of my altar supplies were just plain gifts. Sometimes from trad mates or friends, but sometimes just from people who gave me things at other points - one of my salt containers was a gift from my first boss, for example. A lot of times, if you look around your house and are open a bit as to shape and detail, you can find some awesome things you already own. They may not be the item you want forever, but they can do while you figure out what that is.

The ones you really want to pay attention to are the ones where there's a safety concern (incense holders and cauldrons are made a certain way because they're safer that way, some materials do not make a safe drinking chalice, etc.)

Fundamentally, I think my religion deserves good quality, thoughtfully chosen items, picked with intention, and made ethically and by people in good working conditions. But I don't think it requires having them all at once to start, when someone's still trying to decide if this is what works for them.
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2013, 07:57:29 pm »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

Anyone else know how I'm feeling?

I've been making do so far, I haven't performed many spells. Haven't cast a circle or anything before, yet have been reading suggestions for spells, altering them to what I have in stock so to speak, or just looking up uses of herbs and scattering dried herbs from my kitchen cupboard in my garden while praying to deities what it is I am asking for. I am lucky enough to have a tree in my garden which is where I tend to focus my outdoor prayers. Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?

 
I started out with Wicca and I'm a poor student so I'll throw in my two cents :)

You absolutely don't need to spend that much money on tools- I didn't and yet had pretty much every tool a person would *need* gathered within a few months.
- My blade was 20 quid from a stall at a pagan event- it was a simple common bootknife with a wooden handle (it's a common one on pagan sites).
- My cauldron is a small brown ceramic one I got in a charity shop for 2 or 3 quid.
- For spells, white candles can be substituted for any colour (read this in a lot of Wicca 101 books when I started out too). They can be found cheaply everywhere. Argos do good deals on candles for example.
- My altar cloth is a remnant piece of cotton I got out of the remnant bin of the fabric shop cheaply (I think it was 50 cent or a euro!).
- My bowls are small condiment/dip bowls out of the homeware section where the cutlery and plates are (3 quid each and they're perfect).
- My pentacle was a thin-ish block of wood from an art shop I drew my pentacle on with pencil.
- My chalice was a small wine glass I got in a charity shop for 2 quid.
- I go to discount and 2 Euro shops (pound shops, dollar stores basically) for tealights, matches, candle holders, even incenses. I have an oil burner from one I picked up for 3 quid too.
- I made my own runes, have a branch as a wand and made my own figures from clay (images printed off too work).

Anything else I gathered from nature (acorns, sea shells, etc.) or were gifts!

Seriously, if you want to have tools it doesn't need to be expensive. My most expensive tool was a beautiful wooden box I use for storing my altar supplies in- it was 40 euro but it's carved and possibly rosewood!
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 08:25:56 am »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

Anyone else know how I'm feeling?

I've been making do so far, I haven't performed many spells. Haven't cast a circle or anything before, yet have been reading suggestions for spells, altering them to what I have in stock so to speak, or just looking up uses of herbs and scattering dried herbs from my kitchen cupboard in my garden while praying to deities what it is I am asking for. I am lucky enough to have a tree in my garden which is where I tend to focus my outdoor prayers. Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?

 
I definitely know what you are talking about.  When I first started, I wanted to have all the tools, but was in high school, so had pretty much no money.  I found ways to work around some of the suggestions, and I think that there are lots of ways to practice on a budget.  

What I did personally was find things that I could work with until I was able to find something better.  Sometimes I ended up using things that didn't quite fit the book descriptions.  My athame hasn't always been two edged or black handled.  But I do like having something I can hold in my hand that helps me focus.  I have had several different blades over the years, before I found the one I am using now (and have had for over a decade).  Some of them definitely felt like they were just a stand-in.  

I think that consumables are definitely sometimes a bit overboard in books.  I was thumbing through one in a book store that was supposed to be a suggested course of practice for your first year of practice, and read some reviews on it.  It had supplies listed for each month, all the herbs, candles, tools, incense etc you would need for the rituals/spells it was suggesting.  And many people said that if you bought everything the book wanted you to buy it would be several hundred dollars.

Personally I don't have that kind of money to spend (even though some of the things would have lasted beyond the year).  I look at it as a balance between what you can afford right now, and what you feel you need for your practice.  I am always on the look out for things that I can get my hands on today, incense or candles on clearance (especially around the holidays I find a lot) or supplies from the dollar store.  But I also have things that I save up for, things that aren't in my regular budget but that I feel particularly drawn to.

I rarely put off doing something because I don't have the tools or supplies.  Rather, I try to look at what the spell or ritual is aimed at, what the suggested supplies are doing within that particular working, and what I have in my house (or can get) that would serve a similar purpose.  I substitute herbs and incense all the time.  Also, when it comes to candles, you can definitely use a white candle and incorporate the color in other ways (place the candle on a piece of colored paper or wrap it with a ribbon)
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Medulla

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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 10:56:04 am »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?

I feel like there's definitely a problem within the community and especially some paths, where you're made to feel that if you don't buy expensive cool items then you're clearly not taking it enough. That mindset is just a money-making scheme because, clearly, someone does make money off selling candles that were mass produced in China.

You're not being a frugal. You should do what works for you. If you don't want to buy a gold plated athame or whatever then you don't have to. Everyone has different needs regarding their practice and different needs regarding their personal life. Not everyone can afford some expensive nifty ritual tools because they have more pressing concerns like paying to have a roof above their heads or food on the table. IMO what matters isn't the tools themselves but why you're getting them and how. An athame you made yourself for the grand total of $1 and putting some of your skills to use? IMO, much better than just walking into the nearest store and buying some cool plastic-y thing made by underpaid workers somewhere. An offering you made that isn't necessarily a person-size statue of a deity but which actually represented some kind of devotion and even sacrifice when you offered it without putting you homeless forever? Yeah, that's great.

My point is, you're not being too frugal. There are ways around it that don't require pretty much handing over your credit card forever at your local esoteric shop or ebay. You can go to thrift stores, make things yourself, use common objects with some adaptations that retain the same symbolism. Do what works for you. If what works for you is to buy a ton of stuff, then sure, go for it I guess. Buying a lifetime supply of cool candles, especially when you're just starting out, is not and should not be a requirement for you to be able to practice. Do what you feel is right within the very real constraints of your own budget and how into things you are. Going bankrupt isn't necessarily a healthy way to show enthusiasm and commitment.

There's a book called something like Witchcraft on a Shoestring. I flipped through it once and it has some ideas on how to craft and improvise tools from objects you can buy cheaply or which you may even already have. From what I saw it takes on a more Wiccan worldview so you might be into that. And if you're looking into other paths then that's ok too, I had a similar issue when I was just starting out and that's what I did, and to this day I don't regret it, and like you I also liked the more ritual aspect of my Catholic background but I found it in other paths... that's my personal experience, so it's cool if you remain a Wiccan too.

As a semi off-topic aside, I find it ironic that from what I've seen so many Wiccan books and websites that will give you a lecture on ethics and not harming others also tell you to go out and buy expensive tools in the same breath but never mention shopping ethics, because feeding into a system that is extremely messed up in regards to labour and environmental issues is totally not harmful to anyone.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2013, 10:58:33 am by Medulla »

Aniera

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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 01:44:49 pm »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?

 
No, darling! I am the same way! This is just the way I do things and the things that I have available... not necessary the "right way" but it works for me.

My athame came from a pawn shop for little of nothing.
My besom is actually one I just purchased (they are kinda everywhere right now because of Halloween)
My candles are the ones I have on hand (using found on clearance) or If I don't have the color I need I'll use white and either wrap some embrodery thread around it --> it's what I have at home.
I have a spiral goddess plaque i found from Romancing the Stone for under $10 because it was clearanced out!
I will admit I have had to use shot glasses as offering bowls- once again that was all I had.. now I actually use the "salsa" bowls you can get from Wal-Mart for super cheap!
I don't have a lot of the stuff but it works for me.

It's always been my opinion that the Gods just want you to try your best and are happy as long as you are trying your best! Like my grandma (who btw was a devout Christian) used to say "If all you have for Sunday church is a pair of shoes with the toe sticking out, and jeans with stains... if they are as clean as you can get them and that's your absolute best- God will be just as happy as those in suits because you are trying."

Just my advice :D
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 02:41:33 pm »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

Anyone else know how I'm feeling?

I've been making do so far, I haven't performed many spells. Haven't cast a circle or anything before, yet have been reading suggestions for spells, altering them to what I have in stock so to speak, or just looking up uses of herbs and scattering dried herbs from my kitchen cupboard in my garden while praying to deities what it is I am asking for. I am lucky enough to have a tree in my garden which is where I tend to focus my outdoor prayers. Anyone else do something similar? Am I being too frugal?

Traditionally Wicca is quite inexpensive as training is free and you don't start aquiring tools until afterwards. Many covens even encourage and teach how to make your own,  but like any other business, pagan&magical suppliers specialise in these things ranging in items that can get quite fancy and expensive.

If money is an issue, as well as things being hard to make, charity shops and markets can be a gold mine! Honestly when not specific, basic insense and tea lights get me by day to day.
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Re: Why does wicca seem so expensive?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2013, 04:39:44 am »
Quote from: Diana;126202
Now I know that you don't have to go and buy purpose-made pagan supplies, but I feel awkward that I don't have anything yet. Coming from a catholic background I'm not keen on the prescriptive side of some wiccan paths anyway (it just feels like what I'm trying to get away from) but most books seem to be telling me to go out and spend £££s on equipment, this in itself is leading me more towards hedgewitchery and folk magic. Candles in every colour? Cauldron? Athame? Ahhhh!

Anyone else know how I'm feeling?


It'd be extremely easy to spend a lot of money and not get much back for it. Try to find or make as much as you can, its cheaper and we have a natural connection to things we've found or created.
Consider that the bronze age only started 5000 years ago, so humanity and its gods had to be making do without metal knives and cauldrons. So you'd probably be OK with a flint knife as an athame and an animal skin to heat water in as your cauldron.

I'm not wiccan myself so don't take anything I say too seriously. I do have my own tools that may or may not be similar and had to be acquired somehow.

I don't have an athame but i have a railroad spike i collected when i was hiking through the mountains. Its heavy thick iron painted black with a couple small bits of rust, its weight feels substantial in my hand and pleasantly cold.

I don't have a wand but i work with a lot of driftwood. Its connected to the earth and the sea, smoothed by sand and bleached by the sun. There's a lot to be said for it. I wouldn't recommend it for a staff tho, its not terribly strong.

Most all candles have yellow flames regardless of whatever color the wax may be so I'm guessing the color is for your benefit. Maybe you can put tea candles in colored candle holders or in glass candle holders with pieces of colored paper you can swap out.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 04:41:21 am by Khaln »

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