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Basic Information

The wand is a ritual tool, often associated with the element of air and which is generally used to conduct and direct flows of mystical energy or the movement of spirits as part of a ritual working. It is particularly useful for those powers which would be antithetical to the iron of the athame. A wand can also be used to trace wards, draw symbols and suchlike or merely as an extension of the user's arm.

As part of the whole "pointing and directing" thing, a wand may also be used to focus or aim sendings conducted within line of site (and maybe even to aim them on a map or other representative image … possibly even on a poppet). Harry Dresden's "blasting rod" would seem to be a wand by many people's estimation, and certainly serves this function for him - as a focus and aiming device for his evocations.

Many fantasy sources treat the wand as a sort of "magical gun" from which specific magical effects can be fired. From this point of view, something like a pointing bone is basically a single-use single-function wand.

Other fantasy sources fetishise it (in the non-magical sense) as an integral part of a wizard's magic (a role which, in mythology at least, would be claimed by the staff if it is to be had at all. Although some traditions suggest that the wand is merely a smaller aspect of the staff…).

Stage magicians tend to use their wand to control the eyeline of their audience and provide a distraction from sleight of hand elsewhere … this can lead to rather more promiscuous waving about than would be expected from a genuine worker.

Where not associated with magic, a wand (also called a rod in context), can also be a symbol of authority … possibly as a symbolic instrument of justice through corporal punishment (as in the Roman fasces) or possibly just as a phallic symbol. The rod of vine-wood was, for example, the Roman Centurion's badge of office (and probably the ancestor of the modern swagger-stick).

Wands are traditionally made of wood (vine, rowan or hazel are traditional, although by no means exclusive), but bone or ivory are also common and metal is not unheard of. In some extreme cases dried animal penises (or the baculum from an animal's penis) have appeared in use as wands1. Decoration will depend on the user. The choice of material may depend on the type of magic the user specialises in, or the tradition he belongs to or some aspect of his personal magery - some materials may emphatically not work for some people or some purposes and some may convey bonuses. There may be whole branches of thaumatology specialising in this. Or it may be an entirely aesthetic choice (which still may tell you something about the owner).



Game and Story Use

  • The "wand as integral part of magic" (as per Ms. Rowling's various works) is still perfectly workable - the wand is still a focusing device, it just happens to be one that is overly relied upon.
    • Pinch this idea for your campaign - what the PCs believe to be a crucial piece of kit is actually somewhat optional, but the style of magic with which they are familiar places excessive reliance on it. Workers from other traditions can get by just fine (but may have their own varieties of crutch)
  • Players of "certain RPGs" may be disappointed with a wand that doesn't appear to do anything specific.
  • Even better: "the good news is, the orc wizard has a wand of fireballs … the bad news is that it's made from a dried bull's penis".
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