Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Wand

One of the first magical tools I ever purchased was a wand. I bought it at the Renaissance Festival all the way back in 1989 and have used it ever since. It is primarily made from glass and pewter with a large quartz crystal on the tip and has served me very well over the years. The one problem with it is that it is relatively fragile and I have had to repair it a number of times. Even though it is a very beautiful piece of work, I realized within a couple of years that it was mostly constructed as a decorative piece rather than as a magical tool that would hold up well to regular use.

I have been in the market for a new wand for the last couple years, but good wands are surprisingly hard to find. The most prominent local company here in the Twin Cities, Oliver's Wands (http://www.oliverswands.com/), managed to turn me off big time at a Pagan festival a few years back despite the quality of their workmanship. Their display transparently catered to the Harry Potter fan crowd by advertising wands with "core enchantments" of various mythological items and substances. These wands had obviously not been cored in any way which struck me as fundamentally dishonest, and furthermore their website confirms their attitude toward using their wands as ritual tools (http://www.oliverswands.com/about.htm). To their way of thinking, their wands are simply Harry Potter toys.

I was looking for a magical tool, not a toy for my kid, and even if I were I'm not about to tell my daughter that her wand has a "phoenix feather" at the core when it obviously does not. I think lying to kids is really lame, and "feeding their imagination" is not a good enough reason to do it. Incidentally, there is such a thing as a phoenix. It's a bird from South America, and while it doesn't burst into flames or anything like that I still think a wand cored with a genuine phoenix tail feather would be pretty cool, especially if I were a Wiccan who associated the wand with the element of Air. But I digress.

In addition to my distaste for the cheesy marketing, one of the things I was specifically looking for was a wand with a crystal in the tip and Oliver's doesn't make those - after all, wands in the Harry Potter universe are all just made of wood. I imagined what I would ideally want and came up with a basic design. The wood should in some way be associated with the will (since I associate the wand with Fire according to Aleister Crowley's attributions), a crystal point should be at the tip, and a tumbled crystal should be at the base. According to the various theories regarding chi, orgone, or whatever you want to call spiritual energy, a round stone is receptive while a pointed stone projects energy in the direction of the point.

During the course of my research I identified the wood that I wanted - purpleheart, also called amaranth, a rare wood from South America. In Liber 777 amaranth is attributed to the sphere of Chockmah and by extension the degree of Magus, and while Crowley was almost certainly thinking of the European amaranth flower when he wrote up his correspondences, amaranth wood is so-called because its leaves look nearly identical to those of the European plant. Morphology is very important in magick, since similar things are connected. Also, the wood is very hard and dense with a deep reddish-purple hue resembling the deep red of a star ruby, one of the stones associated with Chockmah. Based on these characteristics I think a good case can be made that purpleheart is in fact associated with this sphere despite it coming from a different botanical family than European amaranth.

I then turned my attention to the crystals. One of the realizations that I had while meditating upon this was that the crystals should be related to the True Will of the magician and will be different for each person. Crowley writes that when the grade of Magister Templi is reached a "star is cast forth" into one of the spheres on the Tree of Life below the Abyss and it is in this sphere that the True Will of the magician resides. While I'm not about to claim the grade of Magister Templi, I'm of the opinion that the basic nature of one's True Will is not that difficult to figure out. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the things you naturally do well. It was revealed to me during one of my magical workings that mine lies in the sphere of Mercury, which should have been obvious to me long before. I write, I design rituals, I program computers, and I do magick. What could be more Mercurial than that?

Consulting Liber 777 I found that the stone associated with the sphere of Mercury, Hod, is opal, and the stones associated with the path of Mercury, Beth, are the opal and agate. It further occurred to me that a stone associated with the path should be placed at the tip (projective) and a stone associated with the sphere should be placed at the base (receptive). I could have used opal for both, but opal tips are pretty difficult to find so I decided to go with a carnelian (red agate) point for the tip. I had my design, but I needed to figure out where to get it.

Around the same time I decided to try and find a wand as a gift for a friend. We had determined that her True Will was in the sphere of Jupiter, which meant that the best stone for both the tip and the base was amethyst. What I needed was a purpleheart wand with an amethyst point and the tip and a tumbled amethyst at the base, but I was unable to find anyone who could make such a wand. I headed off to the National OTO convention thinking in the back of my mind that maybe I could find a wandmaker there who could do some sort of a custom job. What I found in the vendor room there was the exact wand that I had envisioned - purpleheart, tumbled amethyst base, amethyst point tip. I purchased it and it made a wonderful gift.

I recently wrote to the wandmaker and commissioned my own wand with the opal base and carnelian tip, and received it this last weekend. It is a lovely piece of work and I highly recommend the maker - Haunted Woodcrafts in Rochester, New Hampshire (http://www.hauntedwoodcrafts.com/). I look forward to many years of ritual use with this wonderful implement, and I know where to go if I ever need another wand as a gift or as a tool for some specific working.
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List with Laszlo said...

Good wand site. Most ren fest and other vendors do seem to cater to the fantasy or Harry Potter genre. They did have some good stuff at NOTOCON. I have two wands, one I made myself made from an oak branch I cut myself years ago. The other I also made for my wedding. I used an oak dowel rod, placed a wooden knod at the base with my Magickal name on it and a brass serpent at the head then wrapped it in black leather. Not a lot of material but it appeals to me as each magicians weapons should be an extension of themselves.

P.S. Great blog, tons of useful info. I didn't even know you blogged!

Scott Stenwick said...

In addition to the four elemental tools, I also use an "invoking wand" and a "banishing dagger." The invoking wand is what I was describing in the post. For the banishing dagger I use a Tibetan phurba, which truly is the best banishing implement I have ever come across.

I did make my own fire wand based on Crowley's suggestions in Liber a vel Armorum. It's a copper pipe about 8 inches long with brass flanges at the tip. It also has a magnetized steel core - a steel bolt with neodynium magnets at each end. It's a nice tool, though I use the invoking wand quite a bit more in my ritual work.

Thanks! I'm glad you like the blog. I've actually had Augoeides up since 2006 on a dedicated Scoop server, but the ISP that I was a partner in closed down last summer and I wasn't able to find a good place to host the old machine. I gave up and started blogging here in November.

Oliver's Wands said...

When you present your opinion as fact rather than just your opinion, that is called lying and while it is far more grievous to do it to child, doing it at all is “lame”. Making such bold statements as “lying to kids” and “fundamentally dishonest” about a company or person when you haven’t ever spoken to them seems a little sever to me. Let me know if you are not so set in your opinion that you would be open to talking about some of the comments you have made about me and my business.

Unknown said...

Just wanted to say thank you for the link and positive reference, and let you know that 2 years later we're still vending and taking custom orders.

I agree that far too many vendors are unfamiliar with what these tools are meant for- I've been following one Pagan/Magickal path or another for over 20 years now, and have come across my fair share of pretty toys, but precious few power tools, if you know what I mean. It's one of the reasons I started crafting.

Anyway thanks again, and please keep me in mind for your future magickal weapons.

-Mike Dolan
Haunted Wood Crafts