Many witches choose to have a staff by their side for rituals, and sometimes even during spell work. It is a companion of sorts, sharing in our experiences with us, sharing in the magick. It is our symbol of authority and an extension of our magickal reach as well as our physical reach.
Long ago, as ancient Egyptians hieroglyphs show, a staff was a sign of power, carried by the higher-ranking people within Egyptian society. In the biblical story about Moses, the staff was used to conduct the power of the Christian God through his hands.
Sometimes, as in my case, we happen upon a staff crafted by another that calls to us on a personal level. My own lovely called to me from the hands of the consignor who was adding his wares to our pagan shop. He entered with several lovely staves of various woods. I was admiring them and the minute I saw her, I knew she was special. She appealed to me on a basis of her beauty, her resilience, and strength. She has a face that shows her impish side and that drew me in immediately and as I took her in my hands she just felt right.
As witches, we still claim this power today. Witches choose the wood with care, usually based on the magick, which is already inherent within the wood, itself. Then, the witch will craft the staff and imbue it with a part of their magick through every working it takes part in.
If you wish to craft your own staff, you may walk through a wooded area and seek a tree that calls to you, or you may wish to seek out a specific type of tree that suits your primary magickal intentions. Once you find the tree, you may search for fallen branches (check for infestation and avoid any ill limbs) to use, or you may wish to get permission from the tree to take a branch. Asking permission, thanking the tree, and leaving an offering for its gift is common courtesy. This will increase the power of your staff if you receive the branch from the tree, instead of simply taking it away from the tree.
You may also choose to visit a new construction site, where trees are being “removed” for the purposes of construction. This allows you a chance to harvest and save representatives of the trees who are losing their lives. If the construction company is uprooting the trees, you may even be fortunate enough to harvest some of the large roots, which are extremely powerful, magickally. Giving thanks to their dying spirits and honoring their sacrifice for the “so-called” progress by saving a representative of their life is a sacred opportunity for any lover of trees.
The next step is allowing the staff to dry naturally. Allow 30-60 days for it to “cure” You may hang it up- right suspending it off the ground, or allow it to lie down, every day visiting it and touching it, sending strength, and specific magickal intent into it. After it has cured, it is time to make a few more choices.
Next, you will need to decide if you want to strip away the bark, or leave it. Some trees derive at least a portion of their power from their bark, so it is your choice, ultimately, and you may discover simply by handling him or her that your staff works best with or without their bark.
If you do choose to remove the bark, you may wish to oil your staff to bring out the lustrous beauty of the underlying wood, or leave it bare. I have been known to add specific essential oils to rub into the wood in order to increase certain magickal intents in the staves I have created. Some witches even choose to use an all-natural lacquer or varnish to highlight the wood’s beauty. As with all choices, you must decide what is best for your staff.
Some witching traditions keep a record of their magick via carving into their staff or they increase their staff’s power via the addition of sigils, runes, glyphs or names carved into it. If carving your staff, choose your sigils, runes, glyphs, or personal symbols with a care to increase the working relationship between your staff and yourself. You may choose to inscribe her or his name, signs of protection, etc. as you think best represents your relationship. The symbols are to give additional strength during magickal work and thought to beautify the staff itself. Additions of leather, antlers, beads, feathers, ribbons, stones, and other items used to give special meaning to the staff may be added to the staff as well.
As always, your magickal tools should be representative of your personal intent and magickal working.