These days, when people think of witches, many of them will think of Hermione Granger swishing and flicking her wand to float a feather, or Professor Minerva McGonagall flourishing her wand to turn a toucan into a water goblet. Others might think of Cinderella’s fairy godmother jauntily jabbing her wand to bibbidi-bobbidi-boo a pumpkin into a coach, mice into horses, and tatters into a beautiful ball gown. For most people witches and wands go together like abra and cadabra.
Real life witches and other magick workers also use wands, though not quite in the way their cinematic counterparts do. Magick practitioners typically use them to focus, manipulate, and direct energy. Some also use them to cast magick circles for protection and/or energy containment. Some magick practitioners view the wand as a tool that represents the Element of Air, while others see it as representing Element of Fire. As an Air tool, it is associated with the East. As a Fire tool, it is associated with the South. Magickal practitioners who attach importance to traditional gender associations consider the wand’s shape to be phallic, and thus they view it as representative of the Masculine principle.
Wands are usually made of wood, but practitioners of the Craft also use wands made from clay, crystals, various metals, etc. – and there are quite a few wands that incorporate many, or all, of these materials. Some traditionalists insist that a wooden wand should be cut by the future user of the wand from a living fruit, nut, dogwood, or willow tree (after the tree’s permission is asked, of course), at sunset, on a Wednesday (the day of Mercury) when the Moon is waxing. Others have no preference for the type of wood, but do prefer that the wand be cut from a dead or felled tree. It is even possible to create a perfectly good wand from a dowel purchased at a hardware store.
For those who can’t make their own wands, for whatever reason, or don’t trust their whittling skills, there are many options. Given the worldwide phenomenon of the books and films featuring a certain boy wizard, lovely wooden wands are available online or in person, from occult bookstores to Renaissance fairs. Gorgeous wands of other materials are also available from artisans everywhere, in person as well as online.
No matter how you acquire a wand, the most important thing is that you put something of yourself into it. If you’ve made the wand yourself, you’ve already done so, but if you haven’t, there are many ways to make it truly yours. The first thing to do is to get rid of any physical and psychic residue that might lingering on it. After all, in addition to whatever your wand’s maker may have inadvertently left behind, there’s whatever was hanging around the shop it was in, the place from which it was mailed, and wherever it journeyed before reaching you. Thus, a physical cleaning is a must, followed by a psychic cleansing. Washing with water and a gentle cleanser appropriate to the material of the wand will take care of the physical cleaning. As for the psychic cleansing, depending on what your wand is made of, you can bathe it in the sea (or a tub of water that you’ve purified with sea salt), or bury it in the earth or a container of salt or sand for a few days.
Once you’ve physically and psychically cleansed your wand, you’ll need to imbue it with your own energy. One way to do this is to carve your magickal name (if you have one) into it. Some people use a magickal alphabet to personalize their wands; Theban is popular, but there are others. If carving isn’t your thing, carrying the wand on your person, polishing it, and speaking to it will certainly do the trick.
The final step is to consecrate your wand for your magickal use. One simple way to do this is to sprinkle water that has been purified with sea salt (Water and Air), and pass it through burning incense (Fire and Air), saying something like “I consecrate you to my magickal use”. Another approach (courtesy of Oberon Zell in Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, New Page, 2004) is to pass your wand through the smoke of burning cinnamon (an herb of Mercury), and say,
I consecrate thee, Rod of Skill
To focalize my Truest Will.
May my power flow through thee,
As I do Will, so mote it be!
After you have consecrated your wand, wrap it in a suitably cleansed natural fiber cloth for safekeeping.