I’m definitely one of those Druids who believes that tools gather power from being used on a regular basis. One of the big things I try to cultivate in my spiritual practice is eliminating the separation between sacred and mundane. This goes hand in hand with my very firm belief that humans are a part of, not separate from, Nature. Inevitably, I find myself questioning the necessity of spiritual purification. Many Polytheists and Reconstructionists become superstitiously fixated upon the dangers of miasma. It’s too easy to become caught up in the Purity Olympics, and to blame any sort of misfortune upon inappropriate cleansing of self and home.
The same thing happens with some folks in regard to their tools. In the most extreme cases, a practitioner will have a complete meltdown if a person touches something on the altar. Now, of course it’s good etiquette to ask before handling someone else’s tools, weapons, kitchen implements, what have you. But sometimes, shit happens, and when it does, you need to be able to take care of your own psychic hygiene with a minimal degree of fuss.
I tend to view spiritual/psychic hygiene in the same light on view physical hygiene: wash your hands with regular soap and warm water for 30 seconds, and nine times out of ten you will have taken care of any gunk or nasties that you’ve accumulated since you last perform this little ritual. You don’t need the nuclear option of antibacterial soap, wipes, disinfectant sprays, or the magical equivalent thereof for your day-to-day needs. Soap and water works just fine.
In fact, I’d like to carry the hygiene analogy a bit further. The immune system, psychic or otherwise, needs a degree of exercise. Several studies have now been published about children who grow up in more sterile environment having many more allergies and an inability to deal with illness. The theory goes that without some agitation, our body’s defenses turn on themselves because there’s no enemy to attack, leading to increased allergies and immune disorders. To extend this into the use and sharing of ritual tools, I view other people respectfully handling my sacred implements as strengthening my defensive capabilities. I don’t consider myself worth my own magical salt if I can’t do an instantaneous cleansing on a tool I just lent to a friend or neighbor.
To be clear, I don’t go loaning out my ritual sword to the average Joe (pointy objects are pointy, after all). However, the two tools that I use most often for both mundane and sacred work are a utility knife/multi tool and a pair of pruning shears. If I’m out in the garden and somebody needs to cut a piece of twine to stake their tomatoes I have no issue handing them my working knife to do the job. A couple of quick gestures, a breath, and a prayer, and it’s all set to cast circle in the woods if need be.
Now, I don’t recommend this approach if you get twitchy about other people handling your magical equipment. Some folks are just that way, and that’s ok. There’s something to be said for keeping a piece secreted away, but it really depends on the type of work you’re doing. If I were in the cursing and hexing business, I probably wouldn’t be so cavalier about letting folks use my stuff! It is true that the tools I keep for spirit work or other occult (in the sense of hidden) practices I don’t leave lying about for anyone to put their paws on. However, the tools that I use in tending the land, or for casting a circle for group ritual, tools which serve to build and strengthen my community, only increase in power from being used by others.