A wand is a basic tool that can make your magic more fun and effective. Sure, it won't levitate your enemies like Harry Potter's, or illuminate the entire room like Gandalf's. But it can help you to visualize and send energy more precisely--a strong advantage in spellwork, healing, and many other magickal pursuits.
This article addresses some common beginner's questions about choosing a wand. Your wand may be purchased, handmade by you, or adapted from some other, non-magickal item. No matter where your wand comes from, here's some options to consider:
The material of the wand is probably the most important factor when choosing your wand. Wands can be made out of wood, metal, glass, carved stone, crystal, bone, resin, polymer clay, earthen clay, paper (or a combination of these materials).
Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, and will contribute something different to your magic. Woods generally have a natural, organic feel that melds well with human energy. (There are many types of woods available, each with slightly different properties.) Metals, especially copper, conduct energy well and are good for producing a strong, precise stream. Crystals are excellent for amplifying subtle energy, but often absorb it more readily than transfer it to the target.
Replica prop and collector's wands are often made from polyresin--not a very magickal material on its own. But even resin has a superpower: It can be sculpted and cast into an infinite variety of fanciful shapes.
If possible, it's best to handle a bunch of materials and see what feels most natural for you. A wand should feel like a sleeker, more powerful extension of your hand.
A wand is composed of three basic parts: A reservoir, a shaft, and a tip. Understanding these parts and their functions can help you choose the right wand for your purposes.
The reservoir is at the base of the wand. It may be rounded or bulb-shaped, or simply be incorporated into the wand's grip or handle. Its purpose is to collect and store subtle energy from the body, especially the energy centers in the palms, wrists, and/or fingertips.
The body of the wand is called the shaft. It refines and concentrates the energy as it travels the length of the wand.
The tip of the wand transfers energy from the wand to its target. The material and shape of the tip influence how the energy is dispensed. Crystal tips are popular for providing a final boost to the energy as it flies on its way!
Thoughtful designers take the structure of the wand into account when choosing materials. The wand in the photo has a Quartz crystal reservoir to collect energy, a conducive metal wire to direct the energy up the wooden shaft, and a six-sided crystal tip for general awesomeness. Some wands also have a hollow compartment that will hold small items, allowing you to incorporate other materials. (A phoenix feather, if you can find one, or your favorite crystal, herbs or oils.)
As wise folks have often said, "It's not the size of the wand, but the magic in the stick." Still, you don't want a wand so small it feels ridiculous, or so large it's going to whack something if you wave it around your ritual space. Try a few different lengths and widths to figure out what you like. If there's no Diagon Alley in your area, your kitchen drawers likely have plenty of stand-ins to help you find the perfect wand size.
This is also a matter of preference. Some people like a simple wooden wand with only a natural wax finish. Others delight in crystal-crusted creations, or shaman-style juju sticks dangling with charms, ribbons and feathers.
Rare materials and fine workmanship can inspire great magic. But in the end, tools are just tools, and I never advocate spending more than you can actually afford. Abby Willowroot (of Willowroot Wands) writes, "No Wand will give you powers that you don't already have, but a good wand can help you to amplify and grow your own powers. [...] It is not the cost, but the quality and content that determines the value of a Magic Wand." We couldn't agree more!
More than one wand?
If you're indecisive, reading about all these different wands may cause some anxiety. Well, don't worry, because it's perfectly fine to have more than one wand. (And I'm not just saying that because I work for a magic store.) You can have a wand for your home altar, a travel wand, a healing wand, a wand for high magick, a wand for nature magick, a big silly wand, a wand you made, a wand your friend made--and maybe a few hobby wands, just for for the heck of it.
Have fun, and don't poke any eyes out with that thing!
In Part Two, we'll discuss some simple activities you can do with a wand. In the meantime, you can browse the archive here.