Monday, January 6, 2014

The Wand & The Chalice

 The Wand

One of the four elemental tools, the wand is traditionally made of wood cut from one of a number of trees, depending upon the use to which it will be put. Willow, elder, oak, apple, hawthorn, peach, hazel, ash, blackthorn, cherry or nut bearing trees are all possibilities. A wand is made from a branch the length of the distance from the elbow to the extended middle finger. It is cut from wood of the current year, preferable with one stoke. It may be carved, painted or written on in any of a number of ways depending upon the tradition. The bark may be removed and the surface smoothed and polished or the wand may be left in it's natural state. The wand represents air in most traditions, however in those who assign the athame to air the wand is consequently assigned to fire. Hazel or ash is good for an all around wand with perhaps a venusian wood for magic regarding love, fertility, prosperity and such. Apple, cherry, peach or any of the fruit bearing trees is good for this second wand. You could theoretically have a wand of an appropriate wood, with appropriate crystals and markings for each planet. Suit your own needs, but one wand is enough for most.

There are a number of styles of wands, with crystals at one or both ends, with painted or carved designs, or with written or engraved symbols or runes. A wide variation in materials and decoration or lack of it exists. In ceremonial magic there are designs painted in the planetary colors and tipped with silver or lead caps at each end. These may be made from dowels or from straight tree branches
about the thickness of your index finger. For certain Sabbats a more male wand is used, a nut wood wand tipped with a pinecone or acorn and wrapped with black and white ribbons interwoven like the snakes on a caduceus. A traditionally designed Ceremonial magicians oak wand which has been painted black and tipped at both ends with silver caps was the inspiration for the stage magicians magic wand that we are familiar with today.

It has become popular to use silver, copper or pewter wands with crystal tips. Some have natural quartz points or other semiprecious stones, others have cut glass crystals. They are attractive, but somewhat expensive. Many of these come with velvet or silk wand cases, drawstring bags which may be decorated with pentagrams or other symbols and which protect the wand from scratches. Silver
and pewter are both subject to scratching, and copper and silver tarnish so some care in handling is appropriate. Some are lacquered to prevent tarnishing so read the information that comes with the wand before you go at it with silver polish or you will remove the laquer in patches and have a real mess. The lacquered ones may be cleaned with a soft, damp cloth. Store your wand in it's
pouch for protection from dust and marring.

The Chalice

Pronounced as chal-ess and also known as the cup. The last of the four elemental tools, the cup or chalice is used to hold water, wine or juice during the ritual. It represents water and is the primary feminine symbol on the altar. It is symbolic of the Goddess in several rituals of the calendar. The chalice may be made of silver, brass, copper, glass, alabaster, soap stone, wood, porcelain,
earthenware; any material you like. It is unmarked in most traditions where it is used. The cup is used to hold water, either plain or salted, when consecrating tools, amulets, etc.

This is one of the easiest tools to find at thrift stores, and antique shops. Many of them started out as wedding goblets. If you plan to put wine in the chalice be sure that the material is safe to drink out of. Wine is acidic and will leach contaminates from the container easily. Not all earthenware has food
safe glazes and unlined metal chalices should be re-tinned by a silversmith to make them safe. If you will only be using it for water and salt to cast the circle this will not be a concern.

In Ceremonial Magic the cup is used as well, in which case it is engraved with the Archangelic and Godname of the element water and is made of silver or copper, with glass as an acceptable substitute. The cup may be jeweled or decorated using correspondences to it's symbolic water and feminine
connotations. It is symbolic of rebirth, reincarnation, wisdom and immortality. Venus is the appropriate planetary correspondence. Valiente states that the cup is symbolic of the Cauldron of Cerridwen, and she places the emphasis on it as opposed to the cauldron. Cunningham reverses this and places much more emphasis on the cauldron referring to the chalice as a small cauldron on a stem. Valiente includes the cup in her list of coven tools rather than an individual tool.
Buckland does not mention the chalice at all.

Traditionalists whether Norse or British may use a drinking horn or two handled cup instead of the wine glass style chalice of Wicca. On the left is an Anglo Saxon style drinking horn with stand, on the right a reproduction of a Viking style drinking horn.

*author unknown

-The Crafty Witch

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