The wood is English Oak and the feathers are Little Owl. Both were collected at a place where we were camping, near Fareham. (The owl paid many early morning visits to the oak tree we were parked under.)
For a while, I just held onto them with no clear idea in mind. Then at Spring Equinox 2004 it came to me to make a wand with them, as the stick has a lovely curve at the end that makes it comfortable to hold. At first I just made a rough point and tied the feathers on with red thread and that was it.
Frequently, the stick-wand was neglected and ignored but I kept coming back to it and felt I could make something very personal with it. For a long time I toyed with how I could attach a small crystal to the point but it never felt right. Then, after I'd used it during the Spear Ceremony (see my Hallowquest blog at http://myhallowquestjournal.blogspot.com/), at Solstice, I decided to sand the point until it was sharp and the other end until it was smooth enough for me to draw a rune on it.
I decided I would burn the rune Algiz (for spiritual protection) on the end. This was the first time I'd tried pyrography and, after a little practice, found it not too difficult, albeit a little dangerous! I then burnt a small hole where I hold it and sealed a tiny piece of quartz crystal with some beeswax candle. This got around the crystal thing rather neatly I thought, as I have the energy of the crystal, without a cumbersome attachment problem. The beeswax was from the remains of the candle I burnt at the Solstice ceremony, which fits my current efforts at recycling wherever possible.
I thought I might have finished then and sanded the wand lightly and rubbed it with a lump of beeswax Snr Antonio had given me. As I was doing this, I discovered that a raised area near the tip was beginning to look like the head of a snake. I was suddenly fired with passion about how I finally wanted the wand to look. I used my penknife to cut out a snake's body, coiled around the wand with it's tail near the hidden crystal. Then I sanded again and finally set to work highlighting and decorating my snake with pyrography.
I felt an adder design was appropriate for several reasons:
- Snake is one of my totem animals. I have snake medicine "within" and have felt it's power increasingly in recent years.
- Snake's power is "transmutation", the ability to transform one thing into another. Very appropriate for a witch's wand, although I have no intention changing anyone into a frog!!
- Caitlin and John Matthews, in their Hallowquest book, explain that adder is one of the totem animals of Celtic tradition. It represents the "Goddess of Sovereignty in her dark phase". It is depicted in the Arthurian Tarot on The Cauldron (trad. Temperance) and Sword 2.
So, after another light sanding and oiling, the wand was ready for the feathers again. I had to renovate the feathers a bit using steam. I tied them together with the thread that had been placed around my wrist at the Kali Temple in Kolkata. The priest had made it clear that I shouldn't just throw the cord away, so I was glad to find a use for it. I used the power of 3; 3 knots around the feathers, 3 times around the wand and 3 knots to secure it. The melted remains of the beeswax candle was used to bind the ends.
Now I have just to create a consecration ceremony, which I plan to do tomorrow at new moon.
One final aside: there was a tiny bit of cord and wax left, so I thought it best to destroy these by fire. As they burned I visualised a nest, with a flaming heart in it's centre. The ashes looked like a distorted sheep or goat. I took the ashes outside and offered them to Kali. Now the next bit sounds like an exaggeration but I assure you it's true. At that very instant, a massive whirlwind blew across our land - enough to slam doors and blow debris into the house!