The wand is the elemental weapon of fire in many ceremonial occult traditions, though some neopagan traditions associate the wand with air. It’s one of the four suits of the Tarot and represents will, the active male principle, and struggle. Symbolically, the fire wand represents a phallus and is the symbol of the magician, regardless of gender or sex. It is the lightest and brightest of the four elements, and is held to be holy or sacred in many cultures and places across the world. I already have another wand I use for conjuration rituals, but I needed something to use as a general ritual implement: a fire wand.
Unlike my earth pentacle project, I didn’t want to use the Golden Dawn design for my fire wand. Wood is often the material of choice when it comes to wands, but I’m more attracted to metal for this kind of thing. Being a Hermetic magician, working with metals, especially blended metals, are favored by Mercury. The cool copper and crystal wands you see as homemade goods in some occult bookstores always caught my eye, but instead of buying one, I thought I should go ahead and make one on my own. So, after drawing up a plan (in this post) based on the simpler wand I started out with (in this post), I went ahead and got a bunch of supplies from hardware stores and Amazon. I wanted something firm, something solid, and something awesome. Based on Frater Acher’s Sacred Wand and this absolutely spectacular wand from A Magician’s Workings, I wanted to have a lightweight core that would give the wand a heart and associate it with things ascribed with fiery virtues.
The design I was working on looks something like this:
The plan was to use a copper tube with a brass end cap on one end and a brass connector bit on the other, all from the plumbing and tubing section of a hardware store. Gold and iron wires would be soldered into the bottom of the brass end cap, strung through the hollow of the copper tube, and tied onto the base of a quartz crystal. The quartz crystal, of an appropriate size from a rock shop or new age bookstore (mine used to be part of a keychain, and had a tiny metal ring screwed into its base) would be fixed onto the brass connector using a bit of solder. Around the wires, in the inside of the copper tube, would be a cloth wrap containing a “fire powder”, a mixture of substances and herbs associated with fire, the Sun, and Mars (sulfur, volcanic ash, quartz dust from a heat-shattered crystal, rosemary, basil, cayenne, garlic, and cinnamon). The wires and fire powder would form a core for the wand, which would help give it a solid fiery kick to its working. The brass pieces would be screwed on tightly onto the copper tube. The brass pieces, being hexagons, would be inscribed with planetary or holy symbols (the brass end cap would have the seven planets in the order of the Planetary Hexagram, and the brass connector would have ADONAI, one letter for each side), and voilà! the wand would be finished.
Problems came up, though, as I tried putting the wand together from the original design (of course they would). I made the following changes:
- I decided against inscribing the brass bits; the fewer symbols, the better. I can inscribe stuff on it later if need be. Besides, in the future I should have a dremel tool to use instead of an electric engraver or burin, which makes for neater inscriptions.
- I first tried wrapping the fire powder in some cheesecloth, but the dust and finely powdered herbs kept leaking through the gaps in the cloth. Anything thicker or heavier would have made it too hard to fit into the wand. I tried boiling the fire powder with some holy water and purified water, then soaking the cloth in that to let it dry out in the sun, but it turned out slimy and revolting. I decided to forego the fire powder entirely.
- I learned on a spare piece of quartz that crystal shatters under the heat of a blow torch, incidentally yielding the quartz dust for the fire powder. Because I didn’t want the crystal point of the wand to shatter, I had a hard time figuring out how to apply the solder to the area. It wouldn’t stick and I couldn’t make a workable wire harness for it to hold it into the wand, so I ended up just supergluing the crystal into the connector (quelle horreur!).
- The metal ring on the crystal bent out of shape and fell out when I was testing a knot with spare wire. It was poorly glued on, but left a small hole the same size as some copper wire I have on hand. I “plugged in” a short straight piece of copper wire into the crystal, which I inserted into a loop made from the gold/iron wire instead of having the gold/iron wires make a direct connection to the crystal. This solves the problem of having to deal with too much wire bending or warping inside the tube, and made assembly much easier.
- I originally gave up hope trying to solder the wires into the brass end cap at the base of the wand, since the solder didn’t want to stick. I tried superglue, but that didn’t work either, but after it dried, I tried the solder again. This time, I used enough solder to cover a few of the threads at the base of the cap, which would lock in the solder and keep the wires stuck to the cap. It worked, but it turns out superglue combusts before solder will melt, and yields a pretty sea-green flame and a nasty smell. (I’ve inhaled so many bad fumes from this project, I’ll probably be high for a week.)
- Due to how far the crystal is set inside the brass connector and the amount of solder at the bottom of the brass end bit, and because I would have a hard time anyway screwing on the brass pieces to the copper tube, I decided to solder them on in the end. Takes away from the look slightly, I think, but so it goes. At least now I have a tight seal that won’t be coming off.
After everything arrived in the mail and after some last-minute changes to the plan were made, the supplies I needed were:
- copper tubing and male adapters
- brass end cap and connector pieces
- quartz crystal (sized so that it would fit halfway into one end of the brass connector)
- gold wire
- iron wire
- copper wire
- superglue or household cement (in lieu of anything more natural or simpler to hold the crystal in place)
- sandpaper (emory cloth and 320 grit sandpaper)
- solder (lead-free) and flux
- lacquer (spray polyurethane finish)
Not including the tools (propane torch, acid brush, etc.), the price for all this comes to around $100. All in all, assembling the wand would take an afternoon if all the supplies are all on hand. Just for the sake of detail, I assembled this on a day and hour of a planet relating to the element of fire; for me, this was on a Sunday in the early afternoon (hours of Mars and the Sun). The final steps that I went through to assemble the wand were:
- Solder the copper adapters onto the ends of the copper wand.
- Twist the gold and iron wires together. Leave a loop at the top part of the wires.
- Solder one end of the gold and iron wires to the bottom of the inside of the brass end connector.
- Push the wires through the center of the copper tube. Screw on the brass end piece tightly.
- Connect the crystal to the copper wire. Superglue the crystal into the brass connector.
- Feed the wire from the crystal into the gap in the top of the wired wrap, then screw the connector on tightly.
- Sand off the gunk and grime with emory cloth, then sand down with fine-grit sandpaper to achieve a pleasant sheen and “grain” to the wand,
- Clean, polish, and lacquer.
I’m pleased with how the wand turned out, though there are a few things that irk me about it. Though the brass pieces are solidly and permanently sealed on, the wand itself has a slight opening between the crystal and the brass connector. This can be remedied by using a small amount of clear superglue or fine clay; I used superglue to seal this. The wires inside are somewhat loose, and rattle oh-so-softly when the wand is jerked about (I imagine that it’s the wand “crackling” in a way, just to make me happier). Drizzling superglue into the wand might fix this, but I hate relying on superglue for this sort of stuff; redoing the project, I might wrap a small amount of cheesecloth around the wires just to cushion them. Using the spray lacquer was easy, but it wasn’t entirely even, and some spots of the wand feel slightly rough, and apparently I didn’t completely polish the wand since there are a few fingerprints near the top of the wand under the lacquer. None of these are dealbreaking this-project-is-a-failure problems, though, and given that this is the most complex crafting project I’ve undertaken yet, I’m still very happy with the result.
As for the feel of the wand, it’s amazing. It’s light enough to swish and flick, but weighty enough to feel real. It just feels like a real magical instrument to me, and it kinda already has a slight buzz to it even before consecration.