Did you see the latest installment of the Harry Potter movies? Poor Harry’s wand is crushed, and he needs to have a wand to do magic. Such a tool is great for moving a plot, but it has no basis in the history of wands used by people claiming to do real magic.
People who claimed to be real magicians often had a bevy of tools, but four were of primary importance. The four are symbols that represent what the ancients, dating at least back to Aristotle, referred to as the four elements. These aren’t the elements found on the chart that hangs on the wall in high school science classes! Rather, they represent different qualities or principles, and were identified as Fire (hot and dry), Water (cold and wet), Earth (cold and dry) and Air (hot and wet).
The wand is the archetypal tool of the magician. In fact, if you look at the Magician card of the Tarot, it is the only tool the magician in the image is holding. It is a tool of the element of Fire and was said to represent the magician’s fiery and strong will. Through regular use, it supposedly becomes like a magnet, absorbing the Fire element and storing it for future use. But that is only a small part of it.
In the martial arts, it is said that weapons are an extension of the fighter’s body. They are nothing without the fighter. For people who called themselves magicians, the wand was an extension of his or her willpower. Magicians could direct their wills without a wand, but the wand was supposed to make it easier and more precise. Unlike Harry Potter, it is not the magician who is powerless without a wand, it is the wand that is powerless without the magician.
Is there any logic behind such claims? Let’s try a simple experiment. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine sending your breath to a small spot on the wall. For most people, the area covered by the breath and focused mind is much larger than the spot. Now repeat this, but as you inhale, bring your hands to the side of your head, and as you exhale, thrust your hands toward the spot and imagine your breath and focused mind going down your arms and out your hands toward the spot. Most people find that this energy beam is much more concentrated. It follows that doing the same thing with a wand would be like focusing your energy with a laser beam.
The wands used in the Harry Potter movies are rather gnarled and bent. Some people today like to focus their wills and make such gnarled wands, often adorning them with ribbons and crystals. While that can be decorative, for the purpose of focusing intention or willpower I don’t think it would be as effective as a straight piece of wood. Historically, some people have used the wood of a traditionally sacred tree such as an oak or ash. Some people only used wood from a branch that had fallen from a tree after being hit by lightning, making such a wand quite rare. The traditional length of a wand is from your elbow to your first knuckle.
The wand, straight and strong, can be used to direct fiery energy. This energy is often considered masculine. Hmmm, a straight and strong rod projecting masculine energy. Yes, the Fire wand of traditional magicians is symbolic of male genital force (its counterpart for women is the Water chalice)!
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy, and has become a certified hypnotherapist and Master NLP practitioner. After years of personal work and study, Don began teaching workshops on the Kabalah, Tarot, Magick, past lives, Tantra, meditation, the chakras and numerous other subjects throughout the U.S. and in Europe. His book, Modern Magick, is the most popular step-by-step course in real magick ever published.