How to Make a Magic Staff

Man with Staff

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Many Pagans use a magical staff in rituals and ceremonies. While it's not a required magical tool, it can come in handy. The staff is typically associated with power and authority, and in some traditions only the High Priestess or High Priest carries one. In other traditions, anyone may have one. Much like the wand, the staff is considered symbolic of male energy, and usually is used to represent the element of Air (although in some traditions, it symbolizes Fire). Like other magical tools, the staff is something you can make yourself, with a little bit of effort. Here's how.

Choose Your Wood

Man Holding Staff

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If you get a chance to go on a hike, while you're out there roaming around you should take the opportunity to look for a good piece of wood for a magical staff. Ideally, you'll want to find a piece of wood that has already fallen from a tree—do NOT cut a piece of wood from a live tree just because you think it would make a nice staff.

A magical staff is typically long enough that you can hold it comfortably in your hand, vertically, and have it touch the ground. Your best bet is to find one that is between shoulder height and the top of your head. Hold the stick to see how it feels in your hand—if it's too long, you can always trim it down. When it comes to diameter, you should be able to comfortably wrap your fingers around it. A one- to two-inch diameter is best for most people, but again, hold it and see how it feels.

In some magical traditions, rather than a straight stick, a forked one is used to create a staff called a stang. Kelden from Patheos says that although the word itself is fairly new, it's a derivative of the old English distaff. In other traditions, particularly those with which Doreen Valiente was involved, the long, forked stick is called a bune wand, and is described as a branch that witches historically used to fly. Whatever you're using it for, you can call your staff anything you like.

Some people choose a specific type of wood based upon its magical properties. For example, if you wished to have a staff connected to power and strength, you might select oak. Another person might choose to use Ash instead, as it is strongly tied to magical workings and prophecy. There's no hard and fast rule, however, that you have to use a certain type of wood—many people make a staff out of the stick that "felt right" to them. In some magical systems, it is believed that a tree limb felled by a storm is imbued with a great deal of magical power.

Finishing Your Staff

Man with lantern and staff in woods

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To remove the bark from your stick, you can use a knife (not your athame, but a regular knife) to strip the bark. This will also help you to shape the staff, if there are small irregularities on it, or to remove excess bits of branches. With some varieties of wood, you may want to soak the staff so that the bark is wet, making it easier to strip off. Some types of wood, such as pine, are easy enough to strip the bark off by hand if you choose.

Use a piece of light-grained sandpaper, or steel wool, to sand the wood down until it is smooth.

Once you've got your wood shaped and sanded, you have a couple of options. You may want to drill a small hole at the top so you can insert a leather thong—this comes in handy when you're waving the staff around in ritual, because you can put the thong around your wrist and reduce the chances of accidentally flinging your staff across a room. If you like, you can also decorate it by carving or burning symbols of your tradition into it, adding crystals or beads, feathers, or other charms into the wood.

It's generally not considered necessary to use a polyurethane finish on the staff, and in many traditions it's believed that to use a synthetic finish will block the magical energies. However, some people choose to oil their staff to give it a light shine—if you do this, use an oil that is plant-based, rather than petroleum-based.

After your staff is complete, consecrate it as you would any other magical tool.