There is a lot of lore and ‘rules’ that go into choosing wood from which to make a wand. These are some of the more important ‘traditional’ ones:
- The wand should come from a living tree, so as to retain the tree’s spiritual essence.
- The most ideal time to collect one’s wand wood is at midnight on Midsummer, the most mercurial time (for the wand is the most mercurial of tools).
- The branch should be no more than one inch in diameter (or no thicker than your thumb).
- The branch should be completely straight.
- The branch should be equal to the measurement from the tip of your middle finger to the crook of your elbow, or slightly longer to accommodate for length lost in further shaping of the wand. (Interesting note: your foot is as long as the crux of your elbow to the base of your palm, so this length of wand is also the length of your hand plus the length of your foot.)
- The branch should be cut with a single stroke of a blade to assure its magical vitality. (Best to bring the pruning shears with you, as it’s a little hard to do this with a knife.)
However, I think just about every single one of these rules has been broken at least once by almost every witch. Loads of people don’t want to cause harm to a tree by snipping off a branch, it’s more than a little difficult to collect a wand at that precise time, thicker branches offer more wiggle room in shaping the final wand, slightly shorter wands are easier to manage in circle, lots of people like more natural-looking ‘bendy’ wands, and it is a little hard to remove a branch in one stroke. I really wouldn’t worry overmuch if one or more of these ‘traditional’ rules can’t be met.
It’s probably far more important that your own wand harvesting keep in mind some of the symbols this list tries to help promote. Harvest your wand in a spiritual frame of mind that is “between the worlds,” which is what Roderick suggests in today’s exercise.
Practice: ‘Twixt the Earth and Sky
Today’s practice involves centering yourself between the contrasting forces of earth and sky. This technique aligns you to the wand’s Mercurial nature. It is preferable to practice this technique when you can feel the warming energies of the sun directly on your skin.
To begin, turn to face the north. Raise your right arm, making sure that the palm of your right hand faces the sky–toward the sun. Close your eyes. Imagine that the energy of the sun begins to concentrate and focus into a beam that enters your raised palm. Breathe deeply. With each inhalation, imagine that the power of the sun draws down into your body, filling it. Continue to draw the sun’s energy until you feel completely flooded with solar light.
Hold your left arm at your side and flex your left hand at the wrist so that your left palm is parallel with the surface of the earth. Continue to keep your eyes closed. Imagine that a cool green energy radiates from the earth and focuses into a beam that merges with the palm of your left hand. With each inhalation, the power of the earth enters your body and fills it. Continue to draw the energies of the earth into your body in this way until you feel it blend with the energies of the sun.
When you are finished, open your eyes and place both palms flat against each other, in “prayer hands”. Hold them in this way, pressing them together until you sense that the intensity of these two energies subsides. When you are finished with this practice, place both of your hands under cold running water or flat on the ground for a few minutes to restore your own natural energy patterns.
I performed this exercise almost exactly as written, with the exception that the sun was setting at the time, so I turned towards it and the west. All in all, it moved energies in a similar way to the ritual grounding that we do in Hartwood Grove. There, we first ground down into the earth and feel its energies and pull them up into ourselves, then we push those energies through our crowns into sky branches and we pull that energy down into ourselves, then let them swirl and circulate through our bodies. It was very interesting to basically do the practice in reverse and through my palm chakras. I felt the warm solar energy much more profoundly than I do when I tap to the earth first, and the circulation did seem more pronounced in my pressed palms than it did in the rest of my body. But, in the end, I felt the same sort of “in betweenness” I feel in a good ritual grounding.