The wand is a tool that is long associated with magic and Witchcraft. It is primarily used in rituals and spells to channel and direct energy. It can be used much in the way an athame (ritual knife) is used. However, a wand may be safer in houses where there are small children, and can be brought and waved anywhere without fear that local authorities will confiscate it or arrest you. While you can spend a great deal of money at your local occult shop on a delicate crystal wand etched with obscure, unknown symbols, it is not necessary. In fact, some Witches would say it is not recommended. There is a strong belief that creating your altar tools yourself imbues them with your own personal energies, making them more powerful for your use than any store-bought item.
Wands have been made of many materials. I have seen some amazing wands crafted of various metals, crystals, and even of bone. But this article will focus on wood, by far the most common material for wand crafting, past and present. This is partly for practical reasons, as wood is sturdy, inexpensive, widely available, easy to work with and beautiful. But there are magical reasons for using wood as well. Wood is an excellent conductor of energy, and, coming from nature, holds power all on its own.
Different trees are associated with different magical uses. When choosing the type of wood for your wand, you may wish to take into consideration the following correspondences between magical intent and type of wood:
ALL PURPOSE: oak, hazel, rowan.
BANISHING: birch, elder, juniper.
DIVINATION: cherry, fig, orange, pomegranate, willow.
FERTILITY: hawthorn, olive.
HEALING: apple, blackberry, cedar, eucalyptus, sandalwood, willow.
LOVE: apple, cherry, elm, willow.
PROSPERITY: blackberry, maple, pine.
PROTECTION: poplar, ash, elder, elm.
If you feel you will be using your wand for more than one type of spell or ritual, try using an all-purpose wood, or choosing a wood that falls into more than one category. Many Witches have several wands, each used for a different purpose, crafted from different kinds of wood. If there is a particular tree you feel a connection with, such as one that you spent much of your childhood sitting in, consider using a branch from that tree. The special bond you have forged with the tree will only lend to the wood’s power for any use.
There are several different beliefs floating around on the right way to obtain wood for a wand. Some people believe that a wand is only good if it is cut from a live tree rather than taken from “dead wood.” The thought is that the energy from a living tree will add to the wand’s power. If you are going to do this, it is best to ask the tree’s permission (a simple meditation under the tree should instill you with a strong feeling of the tree’s willingness). Leave an offering at the base of the tree, such as a coin or crystal. Another practical consideration you should make is to find out when the best time of year is to prune the particular tree you are cutting from so you will not damage the tree.
Some argue that once you take wood, it is physically dead anyway, so there is no need to impose upon a living tree for its wood. These people feel that the wood retains the tree’s power whether taken directly from the tree, or from the ground. In fact, it might even be considered better energy to take from the ground because the wood will lack any trauma that cutting may inflict. If this way of thinking makes more sense to you, obtain a wand by looking for a fallen branch. You can also, through meditation, ask a specific tree or group of trees to drop a branch for you to use, and then keep checking back in the area for the tree’s gift to you. Be sure to leave an offering in return.
Another way to obtain wood for a wand is to simply go to a hardware or craft store and purchase a dowel. The wood still comes from a tree and retains its energies, and is ready for you to begin working with it. While some purists may shun this idea, others of a more practical mind set see nothing wrong with it.
Since there is no rule or consensus on the best way to obtain the wood for your wand, you will need to trust your own instincts. However you obtain your wood, you will want to take a few things into consideration. First, make sure the wood you are using is healthy, and not rotted, soggy, or soft in any areas. Also ensure that it is not infested with insects. Second, you will want to find wood that is relatively straight. Make sure the wood section you are choosing feels good in your grip, well balanced, and that the length is satisfactory. A wand that is too long can be awkward and may cause you to knock things over as you are waving it around. A good length is from the crook of your elbow to the tip of your middle finger. Another option is to cut it to measure 13 inches; the number 13 is sacred to the Goddess as it represents the 13 lunar cycles in the year.
Once you have chosen your wood and cut it down to size, you are ready to begin your handy work. If the wood was from nature you should strip it of its bark and any leaves or twigs coming from it. You may wish to get some sand paper to smooth the wood. If it is very rough, start with a heavy grade sandpaper until you have all of the nubs and edges smooth, then go over it with a fine grade.
How you decorate your wand will be entirely up to you. Some people choose to leave the wand completely in its natural state. Or, you can leave it partially natural, but add a few embellishments. One option is simply carving magical symbols or runes into the wand. Another option is to do the same using a wood-burning tool. You can also use leather or silk cords to tie feathers to a wand, wrap animal skins around the handle, or affix it with small gems and crystals using a hot glue gun. Another addition you can make to your wand is wrapping it with copper wiring, easily obtained at a hardware store. Copper is a highly conductive metal that will give the wand that extra “zap.”
If leaving your wand in a natural state, or partially natural state, you should oil it from time to time. This practice will keep the wood from getting too dry or brittle, and protect it from humidity. The best oil to use is mineral oil. You can give it a kick and empower the mineral oil with a few drops of essential oils before rubbing it onto the wand with a soft cloth or paper towel. When it comes to how often you should oil your wand, a good rule of thumb to follow is: once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, and once or twice a year after that.
Another option for decorating a wand is to paint it with craft paints. If you are handy with paint you can create a beautifully decorative, colorful wand. However, if painting the wand, don’t rub the mineral oil on it. The paint itself will seal the wood, and the rubbing could damage your handiwork.
While it is not necessary, it is common for people to add a special tip to a wand. This can be something such as a pinecone, acorn, or, more commonly, a crystal. Whatever you choose, you might want to take into what purposes the wand will be for. If you are creating a wand out of pine to use specifically for empowering prosperity charms, you may want to choose a pinecone. If your wand is made of willow and will be used to draw loving energies into your life, you may want to consider a dried rose or rose quartz crystal. I find that for all-purpose wands the best tip is a clear, terminated quartz crystal. These easy to obtain stones can be used for any intent, and are like energy amplifiers. They are both projective (project energy) and receptive (receive energy), and the terminated (pointed) tip really helps to focus the energy.
To affix any item to your wand tip, you have several options. The first is to simply use masking tape, though most people are not satisfied with the appearance, or of using such an unnatural material. Another option (my personal favorite) is to wrap a piece of fabric or animal skin smeared with some glue so that it is half on the item and half on the wand. I have not had good results using glue alone without the skin or fabric, as it doesn’t hold well and repeated leave you with a clumped-up tip full of glue. The final option is to use the copper wiring and simply wrap and loop it around the tip and then around the wand until it holds.
One thing to keep in mind at all times when you are crafting your wand is the positive magic and rituals for which it will be used. As you work on in, feel the energies of the wood mingling with your own power that you are pouring into it, and it will serve you well for years to come. You will find that your hand-crafted wand is more personal and more powerful for your own use than anything money could buy.