Pronounced sen-ser this is also referred to as an incense burner or thurible
(thur-a-bel). Censers come in a wide variety of styles, material and colors.
There are fewer conventions surrounding the censer than any other ritual tool.
Some are metal suspended from chains, some are bowls filled with sand or salt,
and every possibility in-between. The censer represents air and may be made of
wood, ceramic, soapstone, earthenware, glass, stone, brass, copper, iron;
literally any material. The censer is often placed before the image of the
Deity(s) in the middle of the altar. All authors who mention the censer agree
that the design and material are unimportant, each practitioner should go with
what they like. The incense represents air like the censer.
If you will primarily be using stick or cone incense you may use any sort of
incense burner you like. At some point you may decide to branch out into loose
incense, compounding your own incense, or chosing herbs for magical
correspondences. then you will need a censer capable of smoldering incense on a
burning charcoal. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to obtain a bowl you like,
fill it with sand, and voila, you have a censer. The sand is necessary to
dissipate the heat from the burning charcoal and incense. It will prevent the
surface under the censer from being damaged by high temperatures and will
protect the bowl itself so that it won't crack or explode. Despite the sand
however, do not use a combustible container for such a censer. Glass, metal,
ceramic or stone are all good choices.
The Bell or Gong
A feminine symbol used to invoke the Goddess, ward off evil spirits, evoke
positive energies; to mark the beginning, end, or sections of the ritual. It is
used for the vibrations the sound produces so it is important to find a bell
with a pleasant sound, clear and sweet. The bell may be engraved or decorated if
desired. Not all traditions use the bell, only Buckland and Cunningham mention
it. It is often used to punctuate various high points in the rituals of
Ceremonial Magic as well. The bell represents either spirit or air if it can be
considered to represent any of the elements. It is a fairly commonly used tool
by Traditional witches as well as Wiccans.
The gong may be substituted for a bell if you like, it is often used in
Ceremonial Magic. The sound of the gong or bell is used in Buddhist, Hindu and
Shamanic rituals to attract the attention fo the Gods and as the physical
representation of the spiritual force. Bells are easier to find and less
expensive, but a coven or group may want to go to the extra effort to find a
gong as a communal tool. I was able to find a triangle and it makes the most
wonderful sound. You may also choose to use windchimes in ritual which may be
struck with a mallet or brushed with the hand. Some choose to incorporate
Buddhist singing bowls into their practice.
-The Crafty Witch