The Magic Wand

 

Whenever we think of the tools of magic, the first one that springs to mind is the wand. From the stage magician to the sorceress/wizard, they will always be seen with either a wand or a staff; the symbol of their office and the instrument to project the power they have the right to wield. But from where does the imagery of this potent tool come? And, in modern Magic, which element does this tool represent; Air or Fire? Two stories from Ancient Greek mythology give us the answer to both questions. Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods, would not let the newly created humans have access to fire, thinking it would give them to much power. The Titan Prometheus, the creator of mankind, felt this decision was cruelly unfair to his creation. So, while Zeus was dallying with his boyfriend Ganymede, Prometheus stole into Olympos and nicked a spark from one of the god’s thunderbolts. He hid the purloined power in a long stalk of fennel, then brought it down to earth and presented the spark to mankind. Since then, a long wooden rod representing the fennel stalk with a bit of heavenly thunder was used as the tool of wizards as a symbol of the power of the gods and a scepter held by royalty as a symbol of their divine right to rule. The second myth explains the wands connection with the element Fire and it’s use in magic. Soon after his birth, the young god Hermes did two very extraordinary things. First, he invented a musical instrument called the lyre, and second, he stole his brother Apollon’s herd of cattle. After driving the cattle backwards so that Apollon couldn’t tell which direction he took them, he decided he should offer two of the cattle as a sacrifice; a bull to Zeus and a heifer to Hera. In order to send the offerings to Olympos, Hermes needed to kindle a fire and he did so by using a wooden rod which he turned on a wooden plank to cause enough friction to created a spark. Thus…”he was the first to summon Hephaestos with the spindle”. Hephaestos was the god of fire used for skills and crafts. Apollon finally caught up with the clever little thief and after a strenuous dressing down and dire threats, Hermes knew he was in deep trouble. So he took out the newly invented lyre and used it to accompany himself as he sang hymns of praise to the gods, especially Apollon. The sound of the lyre enchanted Apollon so much that Hermes presented it to him as a gift. Apollon was so touched by the gift that he swore an oath that “from henceforth he would love no one,either divine or mortal, more than Hermes.” As a token of his love, Apollon gave Hermes a wand which could produces anything that was wished for. This wand was an upgraded version of the fire spindle Hermes had used to create the sacrificial fire earlier. This firestick, called the kerykeon or caduseus was Hermes’ special tool that gave him the authority to be the messenger of the gods, the leader of the souls of the dead to the underworld and the bringer of peace. Hermes went on to invent mathematics, astrology and the magical arts. Thus the magic wand is a symbol not only of fire, but also a symbol of magic itself. The personal magical wand should be made of wood. Since wood has the ability to burn and sustain a flame, then symbolically it carries the potential spirit of fire. Traditionally the wand should be the length of the bend of the elbow to the end of the middle finger. But personal preference can rule here as the traditional measurement can be a bit unwieldy at times. Common sense would dictate that the best wood to use for a wand would be one that was traditionally used as a fire spindle, but since the power is symbolic, one can use any wood that has a strong energy field and get the added benefit of whatever other energetic property the chosen wood may have.

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