These are the tools of the Craft most commonly used by a Coven and solitary Witches alike. There are plenty of websites available from which you can purchase specially made equipment, and there are some beautifully crafted items out there, however, if like me, you are on a budget, and as Witchcraft is all about intent, cheaper alternatives will certainly not render your magic any less effective!
This can be a special table, sometimes engraved with symbols of the Craft, on which you would place your working tools and items symbolic of the Goddess and the God. You can purchase purpose made altar tables or you can simply use a small side table which you already have in the house. Car boot sales and charity shops are great places to check if you don't already have something available.
This is not a necessary item. Again there cloths specifically designed for use on altars, usually emblazoned with symbology and beautiful designs, however, any type of cloth you have, e.g. your favourite headscarf, your old baby blanket, can be just as effective.
A special drinking vessel kept to one side to be used only in ritual. Again there are plenty of options available on the market, but using a cup, mug or glass you already have in your kitchen cupboard is just as effective. Just as long as you remember to keep it separate from the rest of the crockery in the house, and use it only for yourself when you are at the altar.
An Athame is a knife which is viewed as 'elemental', as it is usually used for cutting through air, rather than actual physical cutting. The blade is used to cast and close a circle, for carving symbols into the air, as a symbol for the element of air. Tradition states that the Athame should be a black handled knife with a blade of nine inches in length. If you feel the need to seek out exactly this, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding one, however, any knife you find that appeals to you can be used. I always use my folding camping knife (technically it is a skinning knife, but it never gets used for this purpose!). I usually take it camping with me to cut food up but I also use it almost every day in ritual. As I also usually view the preparation and eating of food as a ritual, I have no problem with using this knife for both purposes, although your altar tools are usually kept solely for the purpose of ritual as a rule.
REPRESENTING THE ELEMENTS
Salt is usually used on the altar to represent the Earth element, usually rock salt, and not something processed. You can also use a pebble, rock or gemstone of your choice.
Incense is usually used to symbolise air, but as some people are often sensitive to the smoke and dust, a feather or a flower make great alternatives.
A candle is the obvious choice for the fire element, bearing in mind the safety aspects concerned with burning them, not to mention the need to constantly replenish your candle stock, which can become expensive over time. Use a quartz crystal instead, or another crystal associated with the fire element such as Sunstone or Tiger's Eye.
The obvious choice would be a bowl of water. A seashell with or without a little water in it would also work well here. Crystals to represent the water element are Blue Lace Agate, Aquamarine and Blue Aventurine.
The five pointed star is used to represent the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit, and is usually used as a centrepiece for the working altar. The pentacle is known as a sigil or symbol of The Craft, just as a Crucifix represents Christianity. This can be created by doing something as simple as painting a pentacle on one side of a flat pebble. Using a symbol like this can help to put you in the mindset of magical working, although it is certainly not necessary. There are many other items that symbolise the Craft such as a crescent moon, a hare and a frog, to name a few.
This list is almost inexhaustable and you can certainly adapt it to suit you. As discussed, you don't need to spend a lot of money on any of the aforementioned items, and you can indeed make a lot yourself or search in thrift shops for unusual trinkets. Ensure to cleanse any item found in a shop before using it.