Update: I’ve added some additional entries to this list, so I bumped it back up on top.
A short overview of the different types of matter and how they effect energy.
Wood – Wood naturally absorbs nearby energy and tends to charge itself rather effectively. Wooden altars for spellwork are preferable in some traditions because the wood of the altar will absorb some of the energy from every working turning it into an enchanted object and energy battery that can aid in spellwork. For much the same reason, seance tables and spirit boards are most effective when they’re made out of wood. Wooden objects that are frequently present during spell and ritual work or are left on altars may end up enchanted and even sentient with no effort or even want on the part of the practitioner. Some practitioners and traditions prefer not to do ritual and spellwork over a hardwood floor because of the tendency of the wood to absorb the energy and become enchanted (many times it doesn’t take much effort to throw away a working altar because it’s becoming a problem, but tearing apart your living room floor…). In the form of a magickal tool wood is best used to broadly manipulate energy in general ways, such as absorbing it, raising it, and moving it around. Different types of wood each have their own small nuances and abilities, and may also taint the energy or be more effective when working with specific types of energy. Additionally the nature of the tree or vine the wood originates from may have some effect on the metaphysical qualities of the wood.
Metal – Metal is man made, and it’s very good at both sealing energy and manipulating it in finer more specific ways. Metal is very good at holding energy, even better than wood because much less energy dissipates from a metal object than a wooden one. However metal objects don’t naturally absorb energy nearly as well as wooden objects do, and so it is often up to the practitioner to personally charge the item or create a method in which the item can be charged. This isn’t to say that metal objects won’t absorb energy on their own, they will, just not to the degree wood will. As a magickal tool metal makes a good battery holding an available charge for the practitioner (as previously discussed). Also it may be used in general energy manipulation, however metal is considerably weaker than wood in terms of broad applications of energy manipulation, such as pushing energy and raising it, so much so that metal is nearly useless in this regard so long as a wooden alternative is available. However metal excels at the finer acts of energy manipulation such as opening portals and pinpoint attacks. As an example, if a practitioner were faced with an energy wall, they could use a wooden staff to raise a large amount of energy and then direct it towards the wall hitting it hard enough to knock it down by sheer force, or they could use a metal knife and, utilizing a much smaller amount of energy, slice a hole in the wall the practitioner could act through. Also because of its ability to be sealed, metal is good as an enchanted magickal object, and also as an object into which an entity is sealed. Much like wood, the various types of metal each have their own nuances and abilities, however unlike wood individual pieces of metal tend not to have specific personalities, at least not before they’ve been charged or enchanted, so a practitioner is able to simply take a specific piece of metal off the shelf rather than looking for the particular one that calls out to them.
Stone – Stones are energy manipulators. They’re almost as good as metal as far as sealing energy in goes, and they too are very effective as a battery, as an enchanted object, or for sealing an entity inside of it. They also act as energy amplifiers making energy stronger as it passes through. They can self-absorb energy, although not to the degree wood can, and they also tend to produce a lot of energy on their own. Different types of stones have different qualities to them, however, and how effective a particular stone is at any of the above abilities varies based on its type. Also stones have a taint to their energy based on the type they are with different types of stones tainting energy in different ways. For example turquoise stones tend to be tainted with dream energy, which makes turquoise very effective when it is being used as an aid for such tasks as lucid dreaming, dreamwalking, or keeping nightmares away. Stones tend to have very distinct personalities which can effect their overall compatibility with a particular practitioner, and so some care should be taken in choosing the right stone.
Quartz Crystal – Technically quartz crystal is classified as a type of stone, and it fits the above description of stone, but it has some unique qualities that make it preferable to any other stone in many situations. To start, quartz crystal is very good at amplifying energy, probably the very best stone at this particular task, and it’s also very good at effecting energy and moving it, once again probably the very best stone for this task. They’re also very good at absorbing energy and okay for sealing purposes (which in combination with their amplification abilities makes them a very good battery). And quartz crystal does not taint energy, an ability which is unique to it. They’re the blank page of stones. If a crystal has a significant taint to it, it’s because someone put something into it that made it like that. A crystal is only going to be what you make it. However, like other stones, crystals do have distinct personalities, and this can result in a small, although not very significant, taint, and so a practitioner should, as in other instances, take care in picking out the right quartz crystal.
Water – Water (and many water based liquids) have two very distinct and opposing qualities, it both absorbs and dissipates energy. As for its absorption quality, water will drain energy out of anything it comes into contact with, or even anything it’s near. Water is typically used in cleansings because of its ability to draw out energy, which may be negative energy or may simply be unwanted energy. Vampires typically have issues crossing bodies of water because of their hypersensitivity to vampiric like attacks and its strong draining ability. At the same time though water tends to shoot out the energy it collects on a constant. So even though water is used to cleanse, it can also be used for the exact opposite effect, to charge. One good way to do this is to have a container of water out during a ritual. The water will absorb the energy of the ritual, and afterwards an object can be put into the water in order for it to be charged with the ritual’s energy. Water’s dissipation effect also means that large stagnant bodies of water can develop into paranormal hotspots because they are constantly absorbing and spitting out large amounts of energy (an example being the Devil’s Hole in Nevada). Water is also very good at pulling in emotional energy although it will lose the charge very quickly. Because of its ability to both give and take water is also seen as a unifier and bonding agent that can bring two things together.
Synthetics – Various synthetic material such as cement, plastic, and man-made bricks do not hold a charge at all, and because of this can not really be used for any effect. Some practitioners and traditions prefer to do their rituals on a cement floor because the floor will not absorb the energy or become enchanted by the ritual. Although synthetics don’t hold energy they don’t block it either, and energy can pass through them as easily as it passes through air, and without acquiring any kind of taint. Synthetic tools are useless and offer the practitioner no benefit beyond their own natural ability. Some entities, given permission to do so, may be able to enter into and manipulate synthetic objects, although it isn’t possible (at least not without great difficulty) to seal them into the object to prevent their escape, or to aid them in staying inside of it.
Glass – For most purposes, glass is a poor man’s quartz crystal. Glass is very similar in its makeup to quartz crystal, and so it also shares a lot of the same qualities. Glass tends to be blank and without taint. It also tends to lack the distinct personalities of quartz crystals (which may be a benefit). It can hold some energy, thought not as well as quartz crystal, and it isn’t really that great of an amplifier. With magickal work the major drawback of glass tools is that they are fragile, and they tend to break if you put too much energy through them. Glass is usually used to make crystal balls, mirrors, and candle-holders, and the last one tends to break quite a bit with stronger candle magick spells (which is why I’d suggest using a metal holder). The one great, and somewhat unique, quality of glass is its reflective ability. To begin with, this obviously makes it good for scrying. The reflectiveness also makes it good for opening portals, banishing things from this world, and sealing entities into pocket dimensions.
Bone or Ivory – Bone and ivory are similar enough that they are almost exactly alike. Bone is unique because it is a piece of a dead animal, or even better a dead human if you can get one. It’s usually the bone of a dead whatever, and so a lot of people tend to use bone magickaly in order to access and manipulate death energy. This works, but there are better ways of going about getting death energy, and bone has a much better use, it tends to generate life energy. This in turn makes bone very effective in holding, sealing, and manipulating the souls of the dead. Sometimes the soul of the dead person or animal will still be bound to the bones, making it instantly enchanted with a dead soul. A lot of the times even if the original soul isn’t attached to the bones, there are ways to call it back into the bones. Bones also allow the dead greater power in performing actions on this plane.
Cloth – Cloth will absorb and hold energy. It’s not great at doing this, but it’s unique in the way that it is typically used. We wear are clothes all day. We shed skin and hair and fluids into our clothes. Because of this our clothes are very connected to us. Wearing someone’s dirty clothes gives a very strong connection to them, especially to an empath. Washing helps, but it usually doesn’t do enough. Cloth is also good at absorbing perfumes and incense and other smells, which in turn means cloth usually keeps a good memory of where it’s been. It’s a good idea to throw clothes away rather than giving them away or selling them, and it’s usually a good idea to buy all clothes new rather than used. The materials used in clothes are varied, and each is actually unique in its abilities, but most materials will also follow the general rules listed above. In my experiences I’ve found that leather (real leather) in particular is very good at absorbing energy, holding it, amplifying it, and projecting it outward. Leather things make great enchanted objects.