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The Magic Wand

The Magic Wand

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Published by Occult Librarian
Magic wand lore
Magic wand lore

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Published by: Occult Librarian on Feb 09, 2010
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The magic wand
Copyright 2005 Joseph H. Peterson (http://www.esotericarchives.com/wands/index.html)The use of the magic wand can be traced back to proto-Indo-European times, as shown by its appearancein both Zoroastrianism as well the early Hinduism.
Zoroastrianism and the Magi
The magi of the ancient world were the priesthood of theZoroastrian religion. As Plato noted,
) refers to "theMagian lore of Zoroaster" (
1.122). The baresman (Phl.
), or sacred bundle of twigs (or "slender wands"), is a ritualimplement which has played an important part in Zoroastrian religious practices since prehistoric times. According to Kotwal and Boyd, the baresman is an "ancient Indo-Iranian emblem of seeking the Holy", andit "establishes a connecting link between this
[material] world andthe
[spiritual] realm. The barsom is, as it were, the conduitthrough which the archetypal principles and powers manifest their  presence and receive the offerings." (
 A Persian offering, 1991
, p. 6, 10;words in square brackets are mine). It is also an instrument throughwhich one acquires the sacred power (op. cit. p. 23). Perhaps then it isalso a conduit for channeling the power outwards, and thus is a prototypical 'magic wand'. The baresman is traditionally made of tamarisk trigs, although in modern times metal rods have beensubstituted.Dino, a contemporary of Philip refers to the use of the barsom for divination, which is also supported by the Denkard. (Modi 1922, RCC, p. 280.)A stick with nine knots is used during the nine-nights' purification (barashnom). The knots are barriers against pollution andevil influences. (Vd9.14, compare
 Key of Solomon
Book 2, chapters 4,5, and 13.)In Zoroastrianism we also find the mace used. This is nowreferred to as
(from Avestan
, Sanskrit
.) It is used as aspiritual weapon to drive off evil.
5th-4th century B.C. gold plaqueshowing a magus holding thebaresman
Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sources
The use of the
by the magi was well known to Greek writers and is mentioned by Strabo andPhoenix of Colophon (280 B.C.), cited in Athenaeus. The magic wand was also known among the ancientGreeks and Romans.Like the Zoroasrian magi, the ancient Roman Flamines or fire-priests, also carried such bundles of twigsin their hands. (Modi RCC, 1922, p. 280).
Pliny and Apuleius both attest to their use. Homer (in the
11.14ff) and Virgil both describe thearchetypical sorceress, Circe, as using a magical wand. The relevant passage in Virgil was noted by Agrippa inhis
Occult Philosophy
Book 1, chapter 41. It is also cited by Eliphas Levi
 Key of the Mysteries
, part 4, chap 1.Betz' collection of Greek and Demotic magical papyri has examples of spells which include the use of awand or staff. The spell PGM I.42-195, for example has the magician "hold a branch of myrtle ... shaking it,[and salute] the goddess." (Betz, p. 5) Similarly PGM II.22, II.65 (Betz p. 13, 14)
Iamblichus (c. A.D. 250-325), one of the more important Neoplatonic philosophers, discussed magic ingeneral in his
On the Mysteries
. In it he mentions the prophetess holding a staff or wand, invoking the divinity.(
Mysteries of the Egyptians
, chapter 7.) Agrippa also cites this passage in OP3.48.
The Grimoires
Early manuscripts of magic (grimoires) have many references to the use and importance of the wand inwestern magic. There are two similar ritual implements commonly described in magical literature: The staff (Latin
; Italian bastone; French
 Le baton, bâton
) and the wand (Latin
; German
; French:
 La verge
; In French manuscripts this is sometimes called
viere,baguette, baguette magique, baguete
, or 
, also translated as rod). The staff is more the size of a walkingstick; the wand is smaller and tapered:
The staff and the wand from Ad. 10862 (the "Zecorbeni" manuscript), fol. 164v
According to the
 Key of Solomon
(Book 2 chapter 8): "The staff should be of elderwood or cane, and thewand of hazel or nut tree, in all cases the wood being virgin, that is of one year's growth only. They shouldeach be cut from the tree at a single stroke, on the day of Mercury (i.e. Wednesday), at sunrise. The charactersshown should be written or engraved thereon in the day and hour of Mercury." (Mathers tr. revised by JHP)
The magical symbols for the staff and wand according to Ad. mss. 10862, fol. 122v
According to the
Sworn Book of Honorius
(Chap CXXXII), the magician's wand or staff is made of laurel or hazel, likewise of one year's growth ("magister tenens baculum lauri vel coruli illius anni..."). Moredetails are provided in chapter CXXXIX: "But the wand should have four sides. On one side should be written'
'; on the second side '
'; on the third, '
'; on the fourth '
.' On the middle of thewand, make the pentagon figure of Solomon, and where the wand is held, a cross, and thus it will be preparedfor sacred and wonderful works." (My translation, not in Royal ms).
specifies two types of 
are needed for magical operations: one for operations of Venus(made of elder), and another for all other operations calling for a bâton.
Bâton pour toutes les Opérations.Bâton pour les Opérations de Venus.
Clavicules du Roi Salomon par Armadel, Livre III 
(Lansdowne MS. 1202), the "key to the work" is atriangular wand made of hazel.
The Lesser Key of Solomon
(Book 1: Goetia) recommends holding a hazel stick in the hand during theoperation of Bileth, for upholding one's courage. This is based on Weyer "baculum corili" (hazel staff). The passage in Reginald Scot translates
as "bat", but it could mean rod, staff, or stick.In
 Le Grand Grimoire
the main ritual implement is called
la baguette mystérieuse, ou la Verge Foudroyante
(the mysterious wand, or blasting rod) "which causes the spirits to tremble; which God also usedto arm his angel when Adam and Eve were driven out of the earthly paradise; wherewith, finally, he smote therebellious angels, precipitating their ambitions into the most appalling gulfs by the power of this very rod -- of this rod which collects the clouds, disperses tempests, averts lightning, or precipitates each and all upon any portion of the earth at the pleasure of its director." (tr. Waite, BCM) It is made of "wild hazel which has never  borne fruit; its length should be nineteen and a half inches" with a forked end and magnetized steel caps on the pointed ends.According to Franz Bardon (1909-1958), one of the most important occultists and magicians of thetwentieth century, "the most important aid in ritual magic is, and always will be, the magic wand."Grillot de Givry (
Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy
, p. 308) shows a magical operation which features a"wand of poplar-wood, 'half without bark'."
Summary of woods used for magical wands

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