Few tools are more closely associated with magick than the wand. Although it is an ancient instrument of conjuration it has, in recent years, gained almost legendary status with a generation of non-occult fans via its extensive use by all of the main characters in the Harry Potter films.
There are few today who are not aware of the wand’s ability – both literal and imaginary, to focus, direct and manipulate metaphysical forces.
The Crafter’s Craft
It is common for magickians of all kinds to buy wand’s for ritual use off the shelf – ready made and pre-charged.
This has not always been the case though – for through financial constraints, but also for reasons of magickal authenticity, most occult traditions would insist that the selection, creation and dedication of such an important occult implement is an essential element to the process of learning to be a practicing magickian.
However, for those not skilled in handicraft a viable alternative to making your own wand is to have one crafted for you by someone with expertise in the tradition.
Alferian Gwydion MacLir is, amongst many other things, a Druid Companion of the prestigious Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids. He is also classed as a master wand-maker and has supplied wands over the years to witches, sorcerers, Druids and other magickal operatives.
In his book ‘The Witch’s Wand’ he shares his many years of experience as a wand-maker with those who have obtained a wand, or are looking to do so, and are interested in finding out more about what it does.
MacLir’s book opens with a look at the basic principles behind the function and operation of the wand.
Early on he describes this most quintessential of all magickal tools as being
…associated with the will, one’s self-assertion of desire, that movement from emotion or thought into action.
In most occult traditions the wand is one of four primary occult tools – the others being the Pentacle, Goblet or Cup and the Sword or Athame.
In many regards, though, it is the wand that is the most adaptable and customizable of them all.
MacLir describes many of the different ways in which a wand can crafted in ways that are unique both to its owner and to the nature of the type of magick being employed.
Being a magickally-charged item of personal regalia your wand should be treated with care and respect.
Its correct use and storage is covered in the book with specific advice that no-one else should be permitted to handle your wand for there is a risk of them transferring their own psychic energies into it.
Advice is also offered regarding the process of charging your wand and of essentially making it a part of yourself. Sometimes, as the author explains, this process involves working with the Dryad, or spirit of the tree from which the wood is cut.
A wand formed in accordance with such a nature spirit is said to be imbued with even greater magickal energy or power.
Origins of the Wand
MacLir also traces the earliest examples of the wand as an occult symbol back to its appearance as the Staff of Hermes, or the caduceus.
According to Homer the caduceus was actually a rod of gold that
…charms the eyes of men and calls them from their slumbers.
Through its use by the God Mercury the Caduceus has and Mercury/Hermes has become emblematic of the world of magick – though the caduceus is also to be found in popular usage within the modern medical profession.
As MacLir reveals, the wand was also a common component in many biblical parables and tales – most notably, of course, being its use by the Hebrew prophet Moses.
Later on the wand appears in the Welsh cycle of myths, the Mabinogion and appears throughout the Middle Ages in the form of a plain staff.
The wand has also become a primary feature within most occult traditions that have emerged since the late nineteenth century.
Within the hallowed halls of the Golden Dawn occult society, for example, the wand grew more sophisticated in its design than had formally been the case.
MacLir refers to the different parts of the modern wand and explains their symbolic meaning and magickal associations. He also looks at the staff or ‘vertical wand’ and how it differs in design and use from its smaller counterpart.
It is impossible to create an effective wand without recourse to the material from which it is made – generally wood.
It is at the point of its construction that a Witch will need to consider the type of tree from which the wand is taken.
In his book MacLir looks at detail at the magickal properties of trees – of the different symbolic meanings attributed to certain trees that can be used to create wands as well as to folklore associated with each one of them.
Here he not only covers the more common ‘magickal’ trees – those such as the elder, oak and yew, but also some of the less common species such as walnut, cherry and apple.
Some wand crafters also add a tip to their wands. Common minerals used in this includes agate, amethyst, jade, lapis lazuli, moonstone and quartz crystals of all types.
Making a Wand
Although MacLir makes wands to order he is keen to point out that the most effective wand in your magickal toolbox us the one that you make for yourself.
Hence, he shares his many years of expertise in the art by describing the best techniques for choosing your raw ingredient, finishing and polishing it, attaching your chosen crystal or stone, anointing it with oils, enchanting it and consecrating it to your chosen magickal energy.
Wand Gestures and Geometry
The way that you use your wand is, in many ways, determined by the magickal operation and occult tradition of your chosen craft.
However, MacLir dedicates a chapter in his book to general procedures for using a wand. This includes the process involved in drawing shapes and symbols with it such as triangles, squares and spirals.
For more advanced magick work, he also includes a number of Witches’ spells that can be employed with any sort of wand along with their use in ceremonies at particular times of the year; such as at the Solstices and Equinoxes.
In the end, a wand is more than a tool for ritual. It is a constant companion, a familiar spirit, and a source if stability and tree-wisdom in the magical life.
Our Review of ‘The Witch’s Wand’ by Alferian Gwydion MacLir
There is little doubt that most practising Witches will want to create their own wand at some time as well as to dedicate it in their own specific way that fits their own personal characteristics.
‘The Witch’s Wand’ is a great manual on how to do just that. It is a lovingly crafted book that is beautifully illustrated and well-designed in its own right.
The inclusion of additional commentaries from other notable figures in the world of magick and the occult sharing their own experiences with the wand makes this a rich reading experience for anyone who wants to understand the function of the wand in practical occult work.
The book does not trivialize the wand in any way. Instead, it venerates it to its evidently important status in Witchcraft. However, those who have become fascinated by the wand and what it does through films, such as the Harry Potter series, will thoroughly enjoy this personalized foray into the world of wand magick.
‘The Witch’s Wand’ is a practical and earthy expose of one of magick’s most important working tools. It is also a book that pays homage to an ancient working craft skill and presents it in a very contemporary way. It is also a terrific read!