There are four traditional ceremonial tools associated with ritual magick, Wicca,and related traditions. They are believed to derive from the Four Hallows (four holies) of the Arthurian Romances, in which the items are used as symbols of metaphysical ideas. In turn, these are derived from early esoteric and Gnostic Christian ideas.
|Water chalice from the tarot|
These tools represent in magick the four classical elements, the four directions, and the four archangels. They comprise the four suits in a pack of Tarot cards (and their descendants, playing cards), and the four worlds of creation outlined in the Kabbalah. They correspond to the four syllables of the Tetragrammaton, the sacred four four letter name of God.
In some traditions, there are complex and exacting methods by which the tools are acquired and consecrated for ritual use.
The sword and the spear are weapons of destruction. They symbolize archetypal male passion, power and dominance- aggression, which properly channeled, propels human endeavor. They are a compulsive, ever moving force. The dark, primitive expression of this force is destruction, violence, frustration, and ill will.
The feminine suits, the cup and the pentacle or paten, are symbols of ‘feminine’ traits- receptive, nurturing, and welcoming when correctly used; cruel, lazy, and cold when abused.
The masculine power seeks knowledge and progress, the feminine provides restraining wisdom, guidance, and grounding. Where the masculine moves and expands, the feminine forms, shapes, and channels.
The four tools:
The Cup or Chalice, a watery, female symbol:
the sword (athame) or ritual dagger (sometimes a sword), a male, airy symbol:*
The Coin, Dish, or Paten, also known as a Pentacle in most Wiccan and Ritual magick traditions, a female, earthy symbol:
The baton/wand, a masculine, fiery symbol:
*In some systems, the sword and the wand/club are reversed