Section 1: Deals with how to use wands and staves in magical practices, and is meant to aid those who don’t know what a wand does or how to use it.
Section 2: Deals with the different qualities of various common woods, and is meant to aid those who want the correspondences of different woods.
Types of Wands
There are basically three types of wands that are of use to us as magicians. The first type, and the most important, are wooden wands, which will be dealt with in this article. There is a second type which is a piece of crystal in the shape of a wand, known as a crystal wand or energy wand. These are generally associated with the new age movement and are very useful. Lastly there’s a type of wand that is hand made by putting gemstones and herbs inside of a hollow pipe. I’ll discuss these types of wands in future articles. There are other types of wands, most notably a metal wand, which some stores are now selling. These things are next to useless and a waste of money. You’re better off with either a wooden wand or a knife.
How to Use a Wand
Wands are one of the magician’s five elemental tools and are fire associative. Wood is great at quickly absorbing and easily working with large amounts of energy, and so wands are used to manipulate large amounts of energy easily. Note the following exercises assume at least a passing understanding of how to manipulate energy. Without this understanding your results will not be as impressive.
Soak and Radiate: This is not really an exercise. Just a comment about the nature of a wand. If you watch a wand you’ll notice that, all on its own, it will very easily soak up some of the energy around it. You’ll also notice that the wood will radiate this energy from it, as if it is slowly leaking out. This is the nature of wood and how it reacts with energy and why it is so good at manipulating energy as it does.
Moving Energy: Moving energy is easy enough. If you can find it in the room you can easily wave your hand to move it, or swirl it around, or whatever (you don’t even need a hand, but these things are always easier with physical aids). Now try these same exercises with your wand. You’ll notice you’re moving a much larger amount of energy around, and you’ll be doing it a lot easier than if you just used your hand.
Pulling Energy into the Wand: Put each hand on opposite ends of the wand and hold it horizontally at chest level. Now concentrate on pulling nearby energy towards yourself and into the wand. You should notice the wand works kind of like a magnet pulling in whatever stray energy may be around.
Raising Energy (Method One): This is the same as the previous method, except this time try to pull energy from more than just the surrounding area. You can also try pulling energy from out of the ground. You’ll notice you’ll pull a lot of energy into the area very quickly.
Raising Energy (Method Two): Pretty much the same as the last method, except instead you hold the wand in one hand and move the wand in an upward motion. This is typically the preferred method for raising energy from the ground. You can also prance around the room doing this because, um, some people like that sort of stuff. Not me! But some people.
Energizing (Screw Method): Swirl the wand over an object or person in a clockwise motion to push the nearby energy into it. Swirl counterclockwise to drain.
Directing energy: This is pretty much the same as moving energy. Hold the wand vertically and move your arm down until it is at a ninety degree angle with your body. All free energy should now rush towards whatever is being pointed at. Unless the energy is specifically charged for an act, this is generally an attack. You throw enough energy at a barrier and it will break. You throw enough energy at something living and you will kill it. It helps if the energy is aggressive and malicious, but an aggressive and malicious intent is usually enough to do it.
All of these methods are more dependent on will and intent than anything else. The motions are only meant to help focus the mind and one’s intent through physical action.
Staves work much the same as wands. They’re pretty much just really big wands. Anything you can do with a wand, you can do with a staff. The advantage of having a wand is that it is easier to carry around to rituals, it’s easier to store several of them, they’re easier to charge on an alter, they are cheaper and easier to make, and some woods can not be made into staves.
Staves have several advantages. For starters, they’re more inconspicuous, if you have a small, modest staff. If you have a ten foot tall staff with feathers and bells hanging off it, no it’s not inconspicuous. If you have a cane-like walking stick, you just use a cane to walk.
Staves are also bigger. Technically this means, all things being equal in regards to wood types and enchantments, they should be able to move larger amounts of energy. It’d be very rare though, with a properly enchanted wand, to hit a point where you felt you needed more and a staff would make much of a difference.
Also, being bigger, staves can hold larger charge for longer. This is actually the biggest advantage the staff has. Wood radiates energy, and so the charge is always disappearing. The more energy that enters a piece of wood, the quicker it will radiate out. A staff can hold a lot more energy though, so a staff will keep its charge much longer.
Because of this, and the ease of carrying it around as a walking stick, many people like to take staves to places with large amounts or unique energy in order to charge them. Properly done, this can result in a very powerful and highly charged tool when used in ritual.
Adding Gemstones to Your Wand
A lot of people like to attach gemstones to a wooden wand. Whether or not to do this is up to the practitioner and largely a matter of preference. A gemstone will hold a charge much better than wood, and so it can be used as a battery for the wand. Gemstones also amplify energy (meaning the energy coming off the wand will be increased). A gemstone may make it easier to manipulate and shape energy in a finer, less broad, way. And finally a gemstone will taint the wands energy to that of the gemstone. The exact taint is dependent on the type of gemstone used, and is beyond the scope of this article.
On the downside the gemstone will have its own personality (which you much be compatible with, in addition to that of the wood), and a gemstone will have a particular taint on the wand’s energy (which the wand ideally should be compatible with).
The Personality of Wood
Remember that wood was once a living thing, and as such each plant had its own personality, and that personality is going to carry on to the wood itself. That’s why it’s important to be sure that you are compatible with a particular wand or staff.
The Qualities of Wood
Broadly speaking, different types of wood have certain inherent qualities, and these will effect how any wooden magical tools made from them operate. Listed below are some of the most common, and also some of the most useful, types of wood you’ll find in magical tools and their general qualities:
Apple – Apple is associated with love and fertility, and is good for utilizing love and sexual energies. It works well with all sorts of love spells, lust spells, marriage spells, and fertility spells. Apple is compatible with deities of love, sex, desire, and courtship.
Ash – Ash is fire associative. All wands are fire associative, but ash is doubly so. Ash makes a very good battle wand. Its best use is for direct attacks against people and entities. It also does pretty well with death curses and with destroying crops (not really that useful in this day and age though). Because of its combative nature, it’s also good at most kinds of protection magick, like casting wards and barriers. Properly enchanted, ash can also do well in aiding all kinds of creativity. Ash is compatible to deities who are fire associative and deities of warriors and battle (Mars, Aries, Athena, Tyr).
Bay Laurel – The bay laurel is sacred to Apollo and is generally associated with immortality, eternal youth, the regeneration of youth, and healing.
Elder - Elder wood is very good at finding and absorbing negative energies. For this reason most people will find Elder, at best, difficult to work with in any kind of magick that doesn’t involve harm, vengeance, or cursing. Elder is also a very alive and vengeful type of tree, and Elder wood should never be taken off of a tree without permission from the tree, otherwise you may have to deal with the wrath of the tree. Elder wood will often work as a ward by itself, either because entities fear the elder wood, or because they fear that which is powerful enough to control the elder wood.
Elm – Earth associative, Elm is the opposite of Ash.
Hawthorn – A fae associative wood (and surprise, you can make alcohol from it). Like oak, this is an otherworldly wood, which makes it somewhat useful for evocations, but keep in mind that it comes from fae realms and generally connects to fae realms. Hawthorn is best for magick dealing directly with fae. Fae-kin may also find the wand very compatible. The wood’s nature may also make it a good choice for fae-like endeavours. Cutting down or otherwise destroying a Hawthorn tree that fae have laid claim to will often times make them angry and vengeful.
Hazel – Air associative. Hazel is a wood of wisdom and intelligence. Because of this, in spiritual work, many see hazel wands as a general good all-purpose wand.
Holly – Holly is associated with order and is sacred to Saturn. Generally holly won’t make a very good wand or staff. It tends to work against most magick since it is geared for balancing things, setting things right, and putting things in the boundaries that they are meant to be in. People who have strong ties to Saturn and are used to utilizing order magick might be able to find some value in a holly wand, but most people won’t get much use out of it. It would do very well for binding spells, closing portals, de-enchanting an area, and cleaning up magical messes. Items made out of holly can be very useful, especially when properly enchanted. They can help with achieving balance and order. If you find your life is in disarray, if you’re emotionally unhinged, or if you have major metaphysical issues in your home, holly can help to fix this. It can also help protect against certain kinds of spells and supernatural threats. Fae also don’t like holly and sometimes they can be driven away by it. Generally holly will try to push things out of an atypical, metaphysical, imbalanced or chaotic situation and move it towards a typical, mundane, balanced, and ordered situation. It promotes calm and peace.
Maple - Generally a wood of protection.
Oak - Oak is an ancient tree, the species is older than this world. Oak does not originate here, it originates in other worlds, and as such it acts as a sort of anchor to these worlds and their magicks. Because of this oak is a very powerful magical wood. Groves of oak trees are a preferred place for ritual because the area is anchored into other worlds. Oak also works very well when used to move through worlds (either going out via astral projection, shadowwalking, or dreaming) or bringing things in through evocation. Oak is also associated with lightning and is sacred to all lightning associated gods (Zeus, Thor).
Pine - A good wood for spells involving youth, the slowing of age and decay, immortality, and strength (when defined as resistance). Also a good all purpose wand for spells involving practical matters.
Poplar - Some confusingly think that poplar is good for protection spells, when in fact it’s that items made from the wood make excellent guardians. Your poplar wand isn’t so much going to be good at casting protection spells as it is going to be good at protecting you from attacks while you carry it.
Rowan - Rowan is an excellent absorber of energy. This makes the wood superior in all kinds of protection spells. In fact just having Rowan wood on your person may be enough to completely absorb all of the energy from a hostile spell. Likewise Rowan can absorb the radiant energy from the area and from dead spirits and stray entities, rendering them harmless and invisible. Properly enchanting and using Rowan wood will magnify (and if done right filter) its absorption abilities making it more effective in these endeavors. Also due to its very high sensitivity in regards to absorbing energy they make superior dowsing rods.
Sandalwood – Sandalwood is a divine wood. It is associated with divinity, the gods, and all matters of a higher spiritual nature. Sandalwood is also an endangered and protected species, and there is a much greater demand for the wood than supply. Because of this most sandalwood is not true sandalwood, but of a related species.
Walnut – Walnut is another fire associative wood. It’s a strong wood and it’s associated with destruction. Because of this it makes a good battle wand. It differs a bit from ash though. Ash is actually associated with the battle and is good for fighting, preferable to walnut in that regard. Walnut just destroys things really well, which is always good in a fight. If you just want to destroy your enemies and leave a path of massive destruction in your wake, go with walnut. It would also work well with spells of mass destruction and death. I believe walnut may also be useful with glamour spells, and a wand used for that would be very interesting.
Willow – Willow is water associative. It’s good for both healing spells and cleansing spells. It’s also good for exorcising spirits (which is technically a cleansing spell). This makes Willow an excellent choice for besoms and brooms. In actuality what Willow is good at is washing away that which is bad, improper, or old and bringing forth that which is new or a renewal. It is because of this that willow is sometimes associated with bringing the dead to their final resting place, however willow’s association is with exercising the dead and the resulting renewal, not with the land of the dead or with death energy. Willow can also work well with death spells under very limited circumstances. Due to willow’s nature of getting rid of that which is bad, improper, or old there are some legends that the tree will uproot itself and seek out and kill travelers.
(European) Yew – First off, make sure you get European Yew and not Pacific Yew (which is more common in North America). Yew is associated with the dead and the land of the dead. Yew is very good at utilizing death energy (this is the energy of the dead, not energy that kills). It’s also good for bringing forth and controlling the dead. Yew is compatible with most Chthonic deities.