Every Pagan Needs These
When beginning your practice as a Pagan you will quickly realize how expensive many of the supplies you want are. There is an entire industry formed around this path of spirituality because people are ridiculously spending money on things that could just as easily be made or bought for much cheaper.
Here are some tips the help you save money as you begin on your spiritual path of paganism.
First off, most pagans have altars. It's not a necessity to be a pagan, but it is nice to have. A huge part of the marketing industry for pagan supplies revolves around altar accessories.
When you are deciding what your altar should be made of you will no doubt run across those several hundred dollar, custom made altars. Sure you could invest in something so lavish, but when it will be completely covered with an altar cloth and not to mention your ritual tools you are likely to never see the fine craftsmanship put into it. Instead, I suggest using a dresser or even a homemade wooden box. The plus of using something with drawers is that you can keep all of your supplies that you don't keep on top of your altar close at hand in case you need them. Also, most people already own a dresser and won't have that extra expense. I've seen altars put on empty shelves of bookshelves, large, flat stones, coffee tables, and even on top of cardboard boxes.
You'll soon be in the market for ritual tools if you are of the witchcraft or wiccan path. Personally, I don't see the use of many of these tools so don't go wasting money on something you feel you "need" to have to be a proper pagan. There's no such thing. If you feel so inclined however, here are some cheaper alternatives to the ridiculously expensive ritual tools you'll find in the occult stores. Altar clothes are often used to protect the surface of the altar and to add some design to your altar table. These typically sell from ten to forty dollars depending on the material and the quality. Instead, you can get clearance fabric from your local fabric store and cut it to fit your altar. This will cost more around one or two dollars.
Wiccans seem particularly fond of wands. Wands start at a few dozen dollars and never seem to have an end. However, the ones you find in the store are typically uncomfortable to hold and made in molds out of metal. A better, and more cost efficient alternative, is to make your own. You can find a fallen branch and strip off the bark or use a wooden rod purchased at a craft store. Then, you can glue on a leather handle, crystals, feathers, or paint on runes or words. The creativity and time you will spend creating your own wand will only increase the effectiveness of it in your ritual practice.
Cauldrons are another popular and expensive buy. I've never owned my own because, quite honestly I've never seen a reason to. They are usually used to burn petitions and heat liquids for magic. With the modern technology we have, they are really just for aesthetic value. That value comes at a hefty price. Cauldrons that fit in the palm of your hand (not very useful I think) typically run about fifteen dollars. From there, they only get more expensive.
Instead of buying your candles, herbs, and oils from an occult store that will hike the prices, buy them from your local farmer's market, health food stores, or even grocery store. There's no reason to spend extra money just to buy them from a specific store. They should just be free of chemicals or organically grown. Other than that, there are no special requirements.
For the longest time I debated about having an athame (a short, dull dagger used to move energy) since I never practiced ritual. Not to mention they were very expensive. Instead of spending the money, or giving up my hopes of getting one, I came across a letter-opener shaped like a dagger one day. I've used it as my athame ever since. An athame can be made of any knife. Typically they have a dark handle, but who's keeping track. As long as it is comfortable to you, it shouldn't matter.
Other ritual tools can be found cheaper or homemade. You can make your own smudge sticks by wrapping fresh sage with twine and hanging it to dry (see my article on making your own smudge sticks). Try buying an incense burner from Wal-Mart instead of spending twenty dollars for an identical one at a high-end occult shop. The possibilities are literally endless, even if your budget isn't.