The Wand of Divination

The wand, or staff, is the magical instrument which is par excellence emblematic of the powers of divination or prophecy. The staff of the prophet, the divining rod of the water witch, or dowser (as opposed to the pendulum), and the wand of the necromancer are all variations on the same theme. In the witch processes that I enumerate here, a wand or wands in the plural all play a primary part. The rod is obviously a phallic emblem and has always been associated with divine wisdom whether it is presented in the Tibetan pantheon as a Dorji or thunderbolt sceptre or as the classical Mercury's winged rod, the Caduceus. All the legendary wizards from Biblical times on have carried rods wherein their powers were often vested. Jannes and Jambres of the Egyptians, Moses, Aaron and Elijah, Merlin, Virgilius, Roger Bacon: the list is extensive. Apart from its phallic connotations, the wand is also a pointer, or indicator, a flying arrow in the case of the Greek Abaris, again connected with occult methods of "finding things out."

Witches employ two different types of wands in their rituals: the riding staff—in the past often disguised as the legendary broomstick—used in fertility rites and the smaller Goetic rod, sometimes referred to as the verendum or baculum, which is used in the questioning of intelligences during divination. Often the riding staff will be carved with a phallic tip to it. The baculum usually is of a more Cabalistic composition, often engraved with Hebraic divine names.

However, as often as not, the two rods are combined as one by many witches, and the burning need to disguise the phallic tip as a besom has surely well passed now. The rod of divination can range from one to anything up to six feet in length; from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger of the hand is often considered the ideal length. It should be made from ebony or a fruitwood of some sort, preferably hazel or almond, straight and of one year's growth if possible, but this latter requirement is not absolutely necessary If you cut the branch yourself, try to do it on a Wednesday when the moon is waxing, at or around midnight, sunrise, midday, or sunset, for these are the times when the occult tides are at their most powerful. Use your Athame to sever the branch, mentally affirming your intention as you do so, that is, "to compose a wand of divination." If you are unable to sever the wood yourself but have to purchase it, never mind; the real value is imparted with the consecration which follows. This has to be performed on a Wednesday, again when the moon is waxing, at one of the four quarters of the day—midnight, sunrise, noon, or sunset.

First you must cast and purify your circle, kindling a suitable Mercurial incense in your thurible; perform the square of Mercury rite as an introduction. Then trim the wood of all twigs and excrescences with your Athame and peel the bark off, keeping your intention firmly in mind, repeating a jingle to concentrate your attention on the task in hand, such as, "Blessed be thou rod of power, rod of wisdom," and keeping in mind the Mercurial images of speed and air and flight as you did in your square of Mercury.

When you have made the wand as smooth as you can, you may shape the end in a phallic manner (which is traditional), or leave it plain and unadorned, with the sexual symbolism implicit rather than explicit; the choice is yours.

Then, with the point of your Athame, engrave the following runes upon the wand, working from right to left, and continuing to repeat your charm with each figure. When you have finished, ink or paint in the etched figures with your materials of art, always repeating the jingle either audibly or mentally. Should you wish to mix in any dried and powdered Mercurial herbs with the ink or paint before applying, this can be a very effective way of reinforcing the potency of the rod. Finally, fumigate the wand again in the incense smoke (do not asperge it; this would only demagnetize it and nullify all your previous effort!) and seal it with the triple cross and the injunction "So mote it be," as in the square of Mercury consecration. Either keep your completed wand in a new box of its own or wrap it in linen or silk. In all the following rituals of intelligence you will have cause to use it, whether they be those of seeing stone or mirror, necromancy, or triangle of manifestation. (See page 52 for the Wand Runes.)

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