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Tuesday, 30 August 2005

The Staff

The Staff Cover
The Staff is generally known as a male mystery. This means that females were not taught the skills necessary to make or consecrate a Staff. However, even the most closely guarded secrets often get out, and today females can make and use a Staff during ritual. Sometimes it is frowned upon, but it is generally accepted as any other working tool of a Witch.

In yesteryears, the Staff was used spear-fashion, to hunt animals and fish. Because it was such a powerful tool it became shrouded in mystery. The priestess females tended to the homefires and the cooking, but food provision and the tools used therein were male mysteries. Women had much to do, and silently let it fall to their men.

By the time more efficient weapons had been devised, such as bows and arrows, the Staff became of use as a walking stick. Canes are generally used by older, wiser people, and perhaps the story of the "magic walking stick" came about because some old apothecary
had a cane to help him in his old age.

By the time the Middle Ages came along, the Staff had been adopted by the Christian church. They believed in magical staffs, as seen in the Story of Moses' magickal stick turning into snakes. And the Christian church decided that if they had staffs, none other could, and the posession of anything looking like a "tool of the devil" resulted in land, money, and status being taken away, as well as the threat of death by hanging or fire. Witches and magicians of the times would make their magickal staffs into brooms, by tying twigs onto the bottom, and using it as a broom. This is how the theory of the witch's broom came about.

Nowadays, when times are a little less threatening, we can carry staffs like the original shamans and villiage priests did. We can gussy them up and hang doodads on them, polish and varnish them, carve runes and mystical symbols on them, and no one really cares. Many Pagans, Witches, and people of other religions carry fancy staffs with them to gatherings.

My Staff

I made my staff fairly simply. I found a branch that seemed to me to be perfect for the task , and I stripped off all of the bark. Because I was using Chinese Cherrywood, underneath the bark was a lovely pale cream colour of wood. I eagerly tore off the remainder of the bark , but was soon dismayed to see that the wood at the top of the staff, where I had started peeling, was turning a dull reddish colour. As the wood dried, it's colour deepened. At first I was none to happy, but I eventually grew, through working on the staff, to like it much better than that creamy colour.

After all of the bark was off, I gathered it all up and put it in a bag. I later burned it in a small cauldron to represent the elements of air and fire in my staff's consecration ritual. I then proceeded to carve the runes upon my staff. I carved the Egyptian
Symbol of Life on one side, and several words along the other side. Using Ogham runes I carved the words, "To Heal, To Love, To Learn" and my
name rune , and farther down, "Summer Solstice, 1991", being the date upon which I finished my staff!

After all the carvings were finished I proceeded to sand it down, using the heaviest grade of fine sandpaper. I sanded until my bloody arms were going to fall off. Don't do this one at home kids, leave it to the professionals . When all of the staff was smooth, I then began to resand the whole thing again, this time with really fine sandpaper. It turned out to be really smooth.

After I re-etched the runes to make sure they would stand out okay, I varnished the staff with a spray-on varnish . I did this 4 times, letting it dry overnight before reapplying. Then I hung my doodads on it, stuck it in the altar room, and off I went on the night of the full moon to consecrate it.

Consecration Ritual

Consecrate the staff the way you would consecrate any magickal tool. I sort of "edited" the usual version of the ritual because I had the bark to burn as incense.

Pass the Staff through the smoke of the fire, saying:

O Creature of Wood and Spirit!
With incense made from thy own bark,
Representing the Element of Air,
I cense thee!

Pass the Staff through the flames of the fire, saying:

With Fire bright, also of thy own bark,
I burn away all impurities!

Sprinkle the Staff with the consecrated water, saying:

With Water, clear and cool, that once fed thy roots,
I wash thee clean and free!

Sprinkle the Staff with the consecrated salt, saying:

With the Salt of the Earth,
I ground thee firmly to thy purpose!

Thou shalt be an aide in the Directing of my Will.
Thou shalt be a physical symbol of the Masculine within me.
As the Egyptian symbol of Life is etched on your side, so shall the
Feminine and Masculine meet and join,
And be stronger and wiser because of the union!

Books in PDF format to read:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Street
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - The Saffron Robe
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Festival

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