Apparently, That’s Not Mine…
My tradition, when you begin to study, is rather tool-heavy. That is, we use a wide variety of ritual tools during our Esbats and Sabbats–besoms, swords, candles, anointing oil, etc. If you read my article awhile ago about ritual tools, you’ll remember that we learn to work without them almost before we get really proficient with them. I love the tools. Finding and collecting them is a very good time. I love going into a shop and finding just the right thing that is “totally me”.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that just because you buy something does not mean it belongs to you…
Call them Fairies, Fey, Kami-sama, the Lares, goblins, gnomes, elves, brownies…whatever cultural name they go by, it is hard to deny their existence once you know they are there (and a little rude to deny it too!). They are small, often invisible beings that live in our homes, in the garden, and generally out in nature. They help our plants grow, change the weather, put dew drops on spiderwebs and, I suspect, mock us humans. Plus, they move your car keys, steal your left socks from the dryer, and will totally take shiny things that appeal to them (that one necklace, for example). They can also take your ritual tools. If you find yourself distinctly remembering where you put something, and finding it not there or anywhere near there, it is possible you have been visited by the Fey!
How To Deal
They Fey can’t be reasoned with, but they can totally be bribed. You can leave them something appropriate and shiny, like a amethyst crystal or a cool sea shell. Leaving out a bowl of honey and milk is traditional, but I’ve found that a bottle of whiskey goes a lot further. Offer half up front, and the rest, plus more, when the object is returned to you. You’ll likely find it in plain sight within a week.
Pagans are notoriously flaky, but they do love their books and often read widely. When you lose something to a friend it often happens when you loan something out and then completely forget about it. For me, this mostly happens with books, particularly Cunningham’s Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. I’ve owned at least three different copies. Sometimes people will give one to me in a box of books I “might like”. I have no idea where the original copy that first guided me went to. The truth is that I don’t need it anymore, and have a dozen other books on the same topic. If I had another copy, I’d just give it away again. So whenever I do come across one, I recognize that, really, I’m holding it for a friend!
How to Deal
You could write your name in the book, and keep a list of what is coming and going. I find that trusting them to remember to return it doesn’t work out best for me in the long run. I usually limit the number of books I loan out, and try not to loan something I use regularly.
A Complete Stranger
This is an odd category, but I have lost items to complete strangers. I make it a habit to pay attention to that little voice in my head. Sometimes it speaks more clearly than others. Once I purchased a candle holder at a shop, and then later that week made candles. As I admired my new altar decoration, I was struck with that little voice, “that’s not yours”. Fine, well if it’s not mine, then whose was it? I had to wait four months to find out. I went to a festival, and happened to bring along the candle stuff, thinking I might have a chance to use it. Instead, I gave it to a complete stranger in the dining hall. She was as surprised as I was! Later I found out that she was really questioning her path, and had been looking for a sign as to what to do. I had unwittingly delivered a message that gave her some real clarity. It was truly magical!
How to Deal
You can always choose not to listen to that wee voice. The energy will find a way of getting itself done. If I hadn’t given her the candle, the woman at the festival would have found her sign somewhere else. Perhaps it is easier to simply be gracious, and work the will of the Gods when you are called to do so.
These things go the other way around, sometimes. You might find something that doesn’t belong to you, come to realize it does. Can’t tell you how many times neighborhood cats have adopted a Witch for themselves! Or if someone leaves something at your home and it never gets returned, or you find something in a box you didn’t know you had… Tools belong to the element of Earth, and although it is the most solid form of energy, there are ways that it can move too.
I wonder if sometimes things don’t have our energy imprint on them. I think it is especially important to consecrate ritual tools before we use them, so the tool knows it is attached to us. Sometimes the signs are just too clear, and are there to teach us a lesson. These last few years, I’ve had a problem keeping an Athame around. I had been shopping for the perfect one, found one that made me smile (although it didn’t have that “totally me” vibe I was going for), and started using it. Well, I used it once or twice and never saw it again. I’m afraid it might mean that I have a problem delineating boundaries (for that is what the tool is for), or that my ability to perform leadership roles is compromised (for the tool is used to begin and end the ritual). Perhaps if I work on my inner self, the tool will return.
If you want to know what losing your tool means, consider what the tool is used for in circle, and then replace yourself with the circle. A missing wand could show that you aren’t directing your action well. A lost candle may mean missing passion in your life. A broken mirror may mean your perceptions about your identity are off. Try it and let me know what you come up with.
Our tools can become a large part of us, and changing tools can be difficult when we become attached to them. But we know that She Changes Everything She Touches, so next time you lose a tool or altar item consider the fact that, apparently, it doesn’t belong to you.