Within the framework of our little pagan group I've come to the realization that I prefer ritual tools of a more natural or rustic form. Don't get me wrong, I admire beautiful sterling silver chalices and jeweled wands just as much has the next witch. But being a perpetually poor person has led me to use what I have around already and only on rare occasions have I actually purchased a ritual item. I've also learned to be crafty in my shopping as you can find amazing things in garage sales and flea markets. I love occult and pagan-themed shops and I support them as best I can, but let's get real, they can be very, very pricey. Some of the once-mundane but now magical items I've found include the glass tube of a large thermometer that I've used as a wand. I found it in the ancient, rusty truck in the back of our acreage. I've also got an old railroad tie that, after a quick spray with black rust-proof paint, serves as a great athame. It came from the bottom of a box from an auction. And you know all those amazing crystals and big chunks of semi-precious stones you see in the occult shop? I never had the money for them so I just used what I had around me. And it's amazing the rocks one can find in their own backyard.
My most favorite rock in the whole world has the fossil imprint of an ancient snail, that's right, a perfect spiral. It's a permanent altar item and I found it in my garden. Also, every year in Springfield there's a big gem and rock show that benefits mentally challenged kids and they always have these great $1 grab bags full of discarded rocks and semi-precious stones. It's so awesome as the bags are chock full of over a pound of rocks; once I even got a bit of a low grade ruby! That's where my spell work stones have all come from as I just couldn't afford the big fancy stuff. I've also been lucky enough to have many ritual items given to me as gifts. My athame, a beautiful blue Depression glass knife, was a Christmas gift from my mom. My wand is a plain, clear glass towel rod that my dad found in the trash (he's a trash truck driver). My altar incense burner was a birthday gift from my friend V., one member of our little pagan group. I've been given countless candles and incense from friends and family as well, as has many an out pagan I suppose. So, even though I've never had as much money to spend on witchy items as I would like I've been lucky enough to receive and discover some great magical items. What I'm getting at with all this is my weird little theory that goes something like this: magical items are best when they come to you, as opposed to when you go into debt to buy them. Now just bear with me here, I'll try to explain it.
Now, as pagan we don't proselytize, that is, we don't preach. We don't seek converts. And the reason for this, as I understand it, is that if someone is meant to walk a pagan path, they will find it when they are ready for it. Well, that's how I feel about items used in ritual. Now, I'm not saying that it's wrong to go out and buy that beautiful cauldron you've been lusting after; I've bought a few things myself from time to time. What I am saying is: before you spend a chunk of change on something shiny go outside, dig in your backyard, dig through your garage or attic, dig through a neighbors garage sale boxes. You never know what treasures may be hiding just waiting to be found and cherished.