Wikipedia gives the following definition of a wand. “A wand is a thin, straight, hand-held stick or rod made of wood, stone, ivory, or metals like gold or silver. Generally, in modern language, wands are ceremonial and/or have associations with magic but there have been other uses.” Wands however, are not so easily defined. They are the symbol of witches, wizards, druids, and mages of all varieties. In Irish myth, walking over a wand tested the virginity of the Lady Arianrod. The wizard Merlin is depicted as carrying a staff which is itself a form of wand. Wands and snakes have been linked since the Greek caduceus, a short staff entwined by two serpents carried by the god Hermes (Roman Mercury).
Today’s witches and druids use wands in ritual work for healing and meditation. Many modern ceremonial mages employ several types of wands in their lodges. The past 300 odd years has seen a resurfacing of old traditions. Druidry, witchcraft (modern day Wicca), and hermeticism have all become growing spiritual traditions. Each path has its own symbolism and meaning surrounding its use of wands, yet each has embraced the mystical tool.In modern ritual magick, a wand is used either as a means of directing energy (as in a healing ritual or when casting a circle) or as means of focusing the users will. A wand directs the intention of the mage (witch, druid, whatever) into the word of manifestation. A staff might draw power from the earth and sky, while the smaller hand held wand draws from the mage herself. For the practitioner of magick, the wand is often a prime tool. For myself, a pagan whose path is a blend of modern Wicca and Druidry, the wand is a symbol of elemental air, and is sacred to the God. The chalice and the wand play a significant role in many Wiccan rituals, representing the Goddess and God respectively.
There are many different types of wands and they vary a great deal in length and shape, from short crystal healing wands to the elaborate staffs. A commonly accepted measurement for traditional wands is from elbow or wrist, or elbow to forefinger, although I maintain that any length that feels right should be found acceptable. A wand can be made elaborate with crystals and precious metals worked into the wood. This does not increase the ‘power’ of the wand. A wand alone does not hold any magickal energy, it is the will of the user which works through the wand. However, certain types of woods and stones can aid in workings where their individual properties hold magickal influence. For instance, a witch might use an alder wand for banishing or protection spells or a wand with a hematite crystalwhen ruling over a dispute or judgement. Symbols such as runes or Irish oghams are common, and these too play apart in the spiritual significance of the wand. Some wand-makers even include an element of imagination by adding ethereal or magickal cores to their wands. Ultimately, a wand can be as ornate or as simple as one likes. Many people will simply use an unaltered tree branch, and are quite happy to do so. I prefer to keep the two in balance. I try to craft each of my wands in keeping with the look and feel of the branch, bringing out the qualities of the wand already existing within it. The decision to purchase a wand or to make your own is another personal preference. Creating your own wand allows for the wand to be created in attune to your own energies and vibrations. This does not mean that a purchased wand is less attuned to its wielder, it is simply a matter of preference. When searching for a wand, careful consideration should be paid to the choice of wands. Remember, these are very personal tools and a poor match between user and wand can greatly weaken a magickal working. Most importantly, you should feel confident with whichever wand you use. Pick the tool which is right for you and it will serve you well.