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Sunday, February 06, 2011

What is a wand?

From wikipedia we have this scholarly definition of a wand:

A wand is a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, stone, ivory, or metal. Generally, in modern language, wands are ceremonial and/or have associations with magic but there have been other uses, all stemming from the original meaning as a synonym of rod and virge, both of which had a similar development.

In ecclesiastical and formal government ceremonial, special officials may carry a wand of office or staff of office representing their power. Compare in this context the function of the ceremonial mace, the sceptre, and the staff of office. This is a practice of long standing; in Ancient Egypt, priests were depicted with rods. Its age may be even greater, as Stone Age cave paintings show figures holding sticks, which may be symbolic representations of their power.

From the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.In Pharaonic Egypt, toilette articles, weapons against possible enemies, amulets against serpents, were also left in the tomb, together with magic texts and a magic wand which enabled the ka (soul) to use them.

In classical Greco-Roman mythology, the god Hermes/Mercury has a special wand called a caduceus.

Six- to eight-foot-long staves with metal tips adorning them are carried traditionally in Freemasonry during rituals of the Craft. Ceremonial uses may have several wands for different purposes, such as the Fire Wand and the Lotus Wand in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In Zoroastrianism, there is a similar ritual implement called a barsom.

In Wicca and Ceremonial magic, practitioners use several magical tools including wands for the channeling of energy—they serve a similar purpose to the athame although the two have their distinct uses. While an athame is generally used to command, a wand is seen as more gentle and is used to invite or encourage. Though traditionally made of wood, they can also consist of metal or crystal. Practitioners usually prune a branch from an Oak, Hazel, or other tree, or may even buy wood from a hardware store, and then carve it and add decorations to personalize it; however, one can also purchase ready-made wands.

In Wicca the wand usually represents the element air, or sometimes fire, although contemporary wand makers also create wands for the elements of earth and water as well. The wand is most often used by modern Pagans, witches, Shamans and others in rituals, healing and spell casting.

There is some scholarly opinion that the magic wand may have its roots as a symbol of the phallus. It may also have originated as the drumming stick of a shaman, especially in Central Asia and Siberia, as when using it to bang on his drum or point, to perform religious, healing, and magical ceremonies.
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