One of the things that bother me about the magical path is how expensive and difficult a lot of people try to make it. So many books out there insist that you have to have a an athamé with a black handle and a two-sided blade, that your wand has to be made of hazel, or oak, or (fill in the wood here), that your chalice has to be made of silver, or ceramic, or wood, that your pentagram has to be made of clay, or wood, and must be inscribed with one kind of ink. They say that you must be in the nude, or only in ritual robes of a certain pattern and color. Then they insist that your altar has to be of a certain size, laid out a certain way, and facing a certain direction. Even the books that don’t advise a lot of these trappings tell you that to really do the thing properly, you must make yourself a shelter, and learn to skin a rabbit – incidentally with a whopping big extremely pricey dagger.
What if all you have is one room in a shared house or apartment? What if the door to that room and the closet door both take up the east wall? What if you don’t have enough space to walk around your altar without bumping into the bed?
Then there are the spells. I recently came across a money-attracting spell with something like seven different essential oils as key ingredients. Essential oils typically come in 10 ml bottles that run from $4.95 to 19.95, depending on the type of oil. So that money spell would cost around $35, in addition to its other ingredients. Now, it seems to me that someone who has gotten to the point that they need to perform a money-attracting spell is not going to have $35 to spare for seven little bottles of essential oil. I don’t know, maybe that spell was designed for people who are trying to attract really large amounts of funds to buy their dream home quickly, but there certainly wasn’t any sort of caveat written anywhere.
I think that this emphasis on fancy tools and expensive ingredients – when it’s not coming from today’s sheer hucksterism – stems from the fact that those practicing and disseminating Western Esotericism, as well as those responsible for the birth of Wicca in the early to middle twentieth century, were comparatively wealthy individuals. They were able to study, create, and write their seminal works because they did not have to worry about where their next meal was coming from, so they were free to fashion their ideals in an atmosphere of affluence. Their subsequent disciples, eager to keep the flames burning – and reasonably comfortable themselves – transmitted the teachings whole cloth, and largely without question. Part of our journey now, in this century, is to ask the questions, and make the magical path accessible to everyone.