When looking for the right type of wood to craft a magical stave/staff, it’s important to choose a wood with the type of energetic that you’re wanting to flow through the piece. Your base needs to be solid – both physically and energetically, as it will be the foundation of the instrument you’re crafting.
IE – if you’re wanting to do straight up Necromancy, you’d want to look at Willow, Alder, Ash or Yew. For protection, Alder, Oak and Birch are good. For transformation/regeneration – Elder.
I won’t go into the properties of all the types of trees here, as there are many different sites online, as well as various books that can help you get started with your own staff.
Whether this is for an art project or for full on ritual witchery, it can only help you to have the energy of the things you use be in accordance with the feel of the piece you’re going for. It’s also important that all the items added are in harmony with each other, so that you can get the feel or emotional/magical tone that you want.
Think of it like a recipe. If you’re making a cake, there are certain things you add to the mix – and certain things you usually don’t – otherwise the entire flavor of the dessert is either just a little off, or entirely awful.
It’s the same with art – same with magical items.
Critical thinking is essential in the process – which means that you should do a little research on the elements you’re wanting to add before you even consider them. One misplaced item and the usefulness or tone of your entire piece will be thrown off.
Figure out what you’re wanting to accomplish – what end result you’re wanting. Sketch it out – in your head, online, on paper – doesn’t matter, just go through the motions of ‘what should this look/feel like’?
Keep in mind that the first few tries will likely be crappy. Most people’s first foray into this sort of thing aren’t always stellar. Stay with it. And, by all means – if you feel as though you’ve gone off into the weeds with it – tear it apart and start again. Or, tear it back to the basic elements and rework it.
If you want to go above and beyond, then there are the aspects of the planetary days and hours that you can track to ensure you get that much more of an energetic help or kick to the collection process. Calculating the planetary hours is an ancient astrological method to determine what activities are favorable for a given planetary time, and what are not. There are plenty of Apps that will help to calculate this for you, and there are also a great many sites online that provide details about planetary aspects for the days and hours available.
Once you’ve figured out your base material, it’s time to start searching for a suitable branch to harvest.
Keep in mind that green or live wood is going to be really difficult to work with. However, you also don’t want a limb that is going to snap easily because of weather or insect damage. You may have to search a while for the piece that feels right.
Once you’ve found the right piece of wood, then you’ll want to figure out how you want to finish it. Do you want to keep all the bark on it? Strip all the bark off and sand it down? Stain it a certain color? Shellack it? Are you going to store the staff at an outside shrine? An indoor shrine?
With those questions answered, now it’s time to start adding things to the staff that give the energy a general direction.
I’m currently crafting a staff out of a large Oak tree that was felled on our property last year. Considered highly sacred to the Druids, Oak is considered to have masculine qualities, and it’s a good, strong wood for a staff. The Oak represents longevity, strength, protection – as well as promoting both clarity of mind and intuition.
This staff is for a spirit I work with – that of an ancient Heathen Volva – she calls herself a ‘Bone Talker’. I started seeing images of the staff in my dreams, in much the same way I saw images of the totem that I’ve constructed for my Heathen ancestry out in the firepit out in the backyard.
I tend to take a rather ‘seat of the pants’ approach to constructing things. I’ve heard the voices of the dead since I was five years old, and when I craft anything, I get suggestions from sources that I know aren’t me. When I do research into what I’ve been told to add, everything checks out, so I just go with it.
A friend of mine gifted me with a literal pile of deer skulls she had stacked on her property for years, so I’ve been using them in various projects – mounting one on the staff, because it feels right. Although, as a rule, I’m currently angry at deer because they’re eating all the leafy greens off my hostas, it feels right to have this creature on the staff.
The energy of the deer is that of both foraging and evasion. Whitetail deer can jump over eight feet – usually over fences to graze in areas that are usually closed off to other animals – so they can also be seen as having the energy of easily overcoming obstacles. Although I’ve seen some pretty clumsy, and kinda stupid, deer – they can be quite graceful – which is another good energetic addition, as I’m only getting older and hopefully this will keep me from spraining or breaking anything.
At some point, I’ll be adding certain metals to the staff. I’ll likely drill a small hole, fill it with both herbs and metals that will add to the work that I’m wanting to do with the staff, then I’ll seal it with beeswax.
As with wood, metals have their own metaphysical properties – IE, if you’re wanting endurance beyond all reason, Osmium is a good choice. Silver would be good for conducting energy throughout the piece.
So far, I consider the work I’ve done on the staff a pretty solid foundation for a working magical piece.
Because I’m a necromancer – working mostly with materials of the dead and spirits, I’ve added coyote jawbones that I’ve drawn directive designs on, as well as a few other bones and some ragged blue silk ribbons.
What I have at this point, is a workable staff that I will likely add to throughout the course of my life. The more I interact with and use it, the more the item and I will ‘get to know’ each other, therefore being better able to work together.
There is a relationship that one needs to have with the spiritual tools that you engage during the course of your work. This isn’t just a simple fork or knife that you’re using to insert food into your face hole. This is a force that you’re stepping up to – working within, to affect a certain result within your life, or within the lives of others.
There needs to be respect. There needs to be diligence.