There are eight ritual tools in Gardnerian Wicca. Those ritual tools, listed in their designated order, are: 1. the sword, or 'magic sword', 2. the athame, 3. the white-handled knife (later called the boline), 4. the wand, 5. the pentacle, 6. the censer, 7. the scourge, 8. the cords. Alexandrian Wicca modifies that list by adding the cup or chalice, and then eliminating the censer to maintain the number of tools at eight, though Alexandrian Wicca makes no less use of a censer. The Alexandrian ritual tools, listed in their designated order, are: 1. the sword, or 'magic sword', 2. the athame, 3. the white-handled knife (later called the boline), 4. the wand, 5. the cup or chalice, 6. the pentacle, 7. the scourge, 8. the cords. The practice of having eight tools that are in a particular order was taken from early english Freemasonry, in which the eight tools were the ruler, the line, the trowel, the plumb, the square, the compass, the chisel, and the mallet. Gardner's use of the word 'tools', to describe the various wiccan ritual objects that are not actual tools, is a misnomer that is the result of his imitation of Freemasonry. There is also significance to the number eight, which also occurs in other parts of wiccan practice, and is based upon the Templars' use of the numbers three, five, and eight, as is mentioned in Witchcraft Today. The exclusion of the cup from the list of ritual tools in Gardnerian Wicca is explained by Gerald Gardner, in his book Witchcraft Today, as having been to avoid accusations of blaspheming the christian sacrament of the eucharist.
The majority of the ritual tools are associated with one of the four greek classical elements.
Fire is associated with the sword, the athame, the scourge, and the candles.
Water is associated with the cup, the cauldron, and the bowl of water.
Air is associated with the wand, the censer, and the bell.
Earth is associated with the pentacle, the altar stone, and the bowl of salt.
The white-handled knife, the cords, and the broom are not associated with any element.
Other items such as candles and bells are used in Gardnerian Wicca, that are not considered tools, even though they would be by the normal meaning of the word, and are not introduced as such to a new initiate. Other wiccan sects utilize other ritual tools that are not part of the Gardnerian tools.
The wiccan sect called Seax Wicca has three main ritual tools rather than eight. Those tools are the seax knife, the sword, and the spear.
The Wikipedia article on wiccan ritual tools states that four of the tools (the athame, wand, chalice, and pentacle, which correspond to the four "elemental weapons" of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) are primary tools that are considered more important than the others. That is false. It was apparently made-up by the Wikipedia edittor Midnightblueowl in december of 2008.