Herbalism, Tools, & Treasures: Wands (Pt. 3)

In my previous two posts, I discussed the general history of wands and gave some examples of what you could use as a wand. It is, however, not something that you need to go out and purchase. It can be as simple as picking up a twig or something that strikes you as a good sized pointing tool.

To the right, you will see that I am holding a twig and a feather. These are two items that can be used to fashion a simple wand. There is no standard as to what length your wand should be or what is the best items to use when creating your own. In some witchcraft traditions[1], it is said that your wand should be the length of your forearm from elbow to finger tips. This somehow got turned into the average length of a commercial wand you can buy ready made is around 1 ft in length, with or without adornments. I, personally, choose something that feels comfortable in the hand and not long enough to be likely to poke my own eye out, usually. (I am clumsy, so safety considerations must be made. LOL)

I usually pick up wood that has been seasoned by laying out in the weather for at least a year. I do this for two reasons. First, wood that has been thus exposed to the elements has less bark attached to it and is usually fairly smooth to the touch. Since I live near a lake, I prefer to get twigs and such that are driftwood (though this lake is small enough, I honestly don’t know if it technically qualifies as driftwood). The second reason why I use seasoned wood that I find laying about is because it is stronger than green (fresh cut) wood and is pretty much done drying out, so it won’t change or warp on me over time, or at least be less likely to do so.

Often, I just will use the wand plain and then add it to a compost pile. I have, however, made a few that were kept as long term items. The ones that are intended for long term use will have adornments put on them. The one that I shared in my last post (with the pink string binding things together) is relatively typical. I tend towards a minimalist design. I may choose to inscribe glyphs or other symbols on them. The inscription is usually done with something like permanent ink (I love my Sharpies!). Sometimes, I may carve them into the wood with a pocket knife and then fill in the carvings with appropriately colored pen.

When inscribing things, I will choose the inscription to be focused on where it is most useful. Sometimes, I put it at the head of the wand (which is the end that I would point at where I am directing my magic). Sometimes, I put it at the butt of the wand, which serves to help draw in the specific magical energies I am using it to control. And, then there is the inscriptions that I place where I hold the wand, which act to focus my personal energy transfer from myself into the wand and then into the spell.

Some people choose to use metal or wire in their wand creation on the basis that metal is a good conductor of  electricity and is considered reasonably to be a good conductor of magical energy. Crystals are often added to include a measure of geomancy into the spell work, using the magical attributes ascribed to the stones in the spell crafting. Feathers are added because they are associated with the element of Air and spirits. Or because the person that the wand is being made for has a strong tie or alliance with a particular bird. (My quartz tipped wand that I made has a blue jay feather on it because I have a deep affection for the raucous birds and they represent, to me, spontaneous happiness. I also have something of an alliance with corvids, which blue jays are part of that family.)

Wands can also be made to look attractive just because the person owning it would like a charming and delightful (or spooky and ‘otherworldly’) looking tool. Honestly, I think that there are two things that must be considered with respect to wands. If you are purchasing them, consider how well they feel in your hand and if it is comfortable. Also, consider how well made they are and if they will last as long as you intend to use them. Ask yourself if this is a tool that you will be comfortable using and will it be durable enough for what you intend to do with it? If the answer to both questions is yes and you can afford it, I would probably buy it.

If you are making one, the same questions must be answered. Here, however, you also have the option of customizing the tool as many ways as you can think of. I have seen wands made with furred spots for holding, elaborate wirework that essentially formed a cage around a highly polished wooden core, and a surprising amount of jewels/gemstones affixed to it. I have also seen them made with actual bits of bone and vials to hold dried herbs (and other things). The only limits to how you customize your wand is what you are comfortable with.

The storage of wands has a little less ‘controversy’ surrounding them than the storage of tarot decks. And by a little, I mean to say that I think the pages of flame-wars surrounding this topic is a score or so less than the other. My position is focused upon pragmatics. Thus, when I store my wands, I do so in a manner that is more focused upon preserving their physical condition than some nebulous magical state. I place them on a high shelf not because of ‘not wanting lower vibrational energy’ but because I have children who will use just about anything as a drumstick. I lay them down flat so that they don’t warp over time due to humidity changes in the weather (which is why it is important to store things like violin bows laying flat as well, and spindles). I have a soft cloth that I cover them with to keep them clean and free from dust.

I know some people who keep them in a special box that has magical wards inscribed on it to keep out unwanted magical energy. I know others who keep them in a drawer in their desk alongside their other stuff, because they don’t have anywhere fancy to put them. And I know a few folks who keep them in a vase. So, your storage options are varied. Possibly almost as varied as your options for how to make your wands. One thing that I do try to strongly encourage people to do with their wands is to make a point of handling them on a regular basis.

This does two things. First, it serves to help you make sure they are still in good condition and not in need of repairs. Second, it helps keep it ‘attuned’ to you. That is, it helps it remain an effective magical tool because the association between the wand and magic remains strong. As well as it regularly imparts your spiritual energy into the tool, which will build up over time to a very strong association. (People who engage in psychometry are picking up on this sort of thing when they handle stuff.)

Next week, I will share with you some of the more … interesting things I have known people to have used as wands. (This list will be equal parts ingenious, hilarity, and cringe, I assure you.)

~*~*~*~*~*

  1. The term ‘traditions’ is used here to denote separate sects of witchcraft as a religion.

Originally Published: 6/7/17

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