Oh boy, this is one of those topics that can easily start a flame war, but I’m going to tackle it anyway. Everyone has their own beliefs, and I’m going to share mine.
As far as I’m concerned, what tools you need to perform a spell are exactly the ones you think you need. If you think that all you need for a spell is yourself and the open sky, then that’s all you need. If you feel that you just have to have a certain herb or an athame, you probably do.
I know that a lot of people have posted must-have lists of things no witch can practice without. Maybe those things are must-haves for them, but they don’t have to be for everyone. All you really need is yourself and a strong intention. Everything else is just icing. It’s that little extra bit that adds to what you’re doing. Any ritual tool is completely take-it-or-leave-it as far as I’m concerned. Just because someone says that you can’t practice magic without a besom, athame, pendulum, altar or anything else, doesn’t make it true.
My personal belief is that every magical practitioner should learn about a variety of tools and additions, and keep some of them on hand. I learned about a ton of things when I started off as a Wiccan. At that time I had so many tools and baubles that it wasn’t even funny, and I really believed that I had to have and use every last one of them. Over time, I realized that I just didn’t like some of them.
I used to have a besom, and used it for every ritual, until I didn’t. I just didn’t feel that I needed it anymore. I always used my athame to open and close the ritual circle. I still have one that I love, but it only gets used when the feeling strikes me, and I think it’s the right tool for the job. I still keep herbs and gemstones on hand, but I don’t always use them.
If you know what all the various tools are, you can decide for yourself if you need or want them. It’s always good to educate yourself and have options. However, if there’s a tool that you just don’t like or don’t care about, you shouldn’t feel obligated to have it or use it. For instance, I know that runes are often considered a must, but I’ve never been good with them, so I don’t own a set of my own anymore. It’s cool if other people like and use them, but they’re not actually a necessity.
I think that the best thing you can do is learn about what’s out there and how it’s used, and then make your own ritual kit. Have tools, herbs, stones and whatnot on hand that you feel good interacting with so that if you need them, they’re there for you. Don’t bother with anything that doesn’t really speak to you. When it comes right down to it, unless you’re practicing with others, the only one whose opinion matters is your own. Do what feels right for you.