© Karen Mitchell
If you’re new to Wicca or Witchcraft, you may be wondering where to purchase all the cool stuff… spell candles, books, pentacle jewelry, robes, altar tools, etc. There’s a lot of stuff you’ll want and need, and you want it all right NOW. But the prices at the pagan shops you’ve found online are a little high for your budget. We’ve all been there. Don’t worry, though. I am a bargain-hunting queen, and in this article I’ll share my tips for being Wiccan on a budget.
First tip: You may not need to buy as much as you think you do. Take a look around your house, up in the attic, in your parents’ or grandparents’ attics… dig up those hidden treasures. An old letter opener makes a perfect athame. Vintage glassware can be a great chalice. Old caftans or dressing gowns can double as robes. Recycling old treasures helps the environment. It’s also a good way to connect with your ancestors and add some personality to your altar. Plus, it’s all free.
Second tip: Look to nature. There are lots of gifts you can find just walking around your neighborhood… branches to make wands or staffs, feathers, rocks that may be hiding crystals inside, herbs, seashells, etc. Be careful when collecting feathers, as some are illegal to possess (mainly endangered species). If you’re gathering your own herbs, be sure you know what you’re picking. If you plan to use herbs for medicinal purposes I strongly suggest purchasing them from a reputable shop… it doesn’t pay to play games with your health. The best thing about found objects? Gifts from nature will help you feel more connected to the earth, and, well, these are also free!
Third tip: Find the bargains. Scour the “non-traditional” stores. Everything doesn’t need to come from a physical or online pagan shop to be useful. Discount department stores (like Wal-Mart or Target), craft supply stores, thrift stores, hobby shops, grocery stores, interior design stores (such as Pier One), etc, are all good places for inspiration. Be patient and wait for the sales. Used bookstores (both physical and online) are also great places to look. Why pay full price when you can get something like new for less than half? Be sure to visit your favorite physical and online pagan shops often as well. Ask them if they have coupons ordiscount card programs for frequent buyers. Look around for a closeouts bin. See if they’ll offer you a discount for buying in bulk. They want your business, and small-business owners are more willing to give customer perks than the big chains.
Fourth tip: Get crafty. What can you make? What would you like to learn to make? Craft stores have several different sorts of beginning kits available for soap making and candle making, as well as tons of other stuff. You can make your own jewelry, use Sculpy clay to make god and goddess statues, and buy material and patterns to make a robe. Depending on the item, it may or may not be more expensive to make it yourself. Candles, for example, are a bit pricy when you get started since you have to buy all the molds, but if you’re planning to make a lot they’ll probably work out to be cheaper than store-bought, plus they offer a lot of areas for customization. You can add your own scents, glitter, and colored dyes.
Fifth tip: Barter! Talk to your friends and see what you can trade. Perhaps they have a robe that would fit you fine, and you can swap it for some candles and an extra wine goblet chalice. This is a great way to get books without spending a lot of money… it’s like starting your own private lending library. If you’re already making bulk crafts, this is a good way to get things you need and possibly make a little extra money on the side (if someone wants what you’ve got, but doesn’t have anything to trade).
Sixth tip: Utilize the internet and libraries to their full potential. The ‘net is one huge storehouse of information. Just be aware that a lot of pagan information on the ‘net is recycled from other sites, and some may be posted in violation of the author’s copyright. It’s ok for you to snag it for your personal home use, but don’t perpetuate the cycle and snag it for your own website or share it with friends unless you know you have the author’s permission. Libraries usually have references on herbs, holistic medicines, crystals, local history, mythology, and crafting. Before purchasing a book, check the library. If your local branch doesn’t have the book you want, perhaps another branch will be able to lend it. College libraries are a wonderful resource too, especially for the more academic subjects. Be aware, though, that you may not be able to check anything out of a college library if you aren’t a student of the school. Different colleges have different rules.
Seventh tip: Realize that you don’t need to have everything at once. Take your time to amass your tools and stores of supplies using my other six tips. If that means doing your first rituals in your pajamas using a stick and a plastic cup for altar tools, so be it. The gods don’t care what your tools look like, or what you wear. The important thing is that you’re doing the ritual. Waiting and looking for that one perfect item will make the item that much more special when you do find it. I still have, and use, most of my original set of altar tools.
These seven tips should help you get started without breaking your bank account. At the very least, I hope they’ve helped you realize that you don’t automatically have to go out and buy the “witchiest” looking thing off your nearest Pagan online store. While those things are often really cool (and yes, I have some too!), you can honor the gods as easily with a twig as you can with a $150 silver and crystal wand. Happy bargain hunting!