Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...



Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]


Views: 16,509,748


April 20th. 2014 ...

Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide

Safety: Let's Shift Our Focus

A Pagan Perspective on Easter

Morality and Controversy in the Craft

The Oak King's Domain (A Story)

The Star Child


April 13th. 2014 ...

Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils

Being a Worrisome Witch

Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!

What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops


April 6th. 2014 ...

The Elements and the Quarters

Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014

How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”

13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah


March 30th. 2014 ...

Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order

True Meaning of Community

Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis

My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective


March 23rd. 2014 ...

Spirituality and Social Change

The First Step to Anywhere!


March 16th. 2014 ...

From Christian to Pagan (Part I)

Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar

The Teeth in the Darkness


March 9th. 2014 ...

Healing the Witch Within

Incarcerated Witches

Discovering Wicca as a Young Child

March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright


March 2nd. 2014 ...

Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward

The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role

Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?

The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects


February 23rd. 2014 ...

Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences

Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community

What Makes Us What We Are


February 16th. 2014 ...

The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief

Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing

Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence

Alternative Medicine – What Is It?


February 9th. 2014 ...

Words of Power!

The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse

Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings


February 2nd. 2014 ...

The Magick of Jewelry and Metals

Building a Magick Mirror

The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)


January 26th. 2014 ...

Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do

The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)

13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed

Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected


January 19th. 2014 ...

Open Letter to the Goddess

A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality

Social Conventions and the Pagan World

Reclaiming Independence


January 12th. 2014 ...

Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing

One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression


January 5th. 2014 ...

Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age

Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey

2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!

Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild


December 29th. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)

13 Keys: The Might of Geburah

Beyond The Season of Greed


December 22nd. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)


December 15th. 2013 ...

The Hex Murder of 1928

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)

Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)

Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots


December 8th. 2013 ...

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Using Your Wand in Reverse

The Cry of the Soul

Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward


December 1st. 2013 ...

The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness

A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism

Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?


November 24th. 2013 ...

The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective

The Pagan and the Papacy


November 17th. 2013 ...

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

For Love of the God

A Threat to Religious Liberties?


November 10th. 2013 ...

Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?


NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.












Article Specs

Article ID: 14379

VoxAcct: 371355

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,181

Times Read: 2,486

RSS Views: 15,365
The Spiritual Disposition of Tools

Author: Verda Smedley
Posted: January 30th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,486

Some of you know by now that ethno botany is the love of my life. I am convinced that without a working knowledge of plants and the ecosystems in which they flourish our ritual practices that include everything shamanic lack the power and vitality to truly transcend our everyday reality. The spirits that inhabit every single species are uniquely qualified liaisons for very specific purposes. And you have heard me say, perhaps ad nauseum to some, selection of a plant was never and should never be random. This is true of everything from the fibers chosen for baskets to the species used for mordant, dye and tanning agents. It is true with our medicine bundles and bags, our prayer sticks, our staffs and wands; the herbs used as smudge, steam and washes. It was true of bows, arrows and quivers and true of handles for stone, bone and antler tools, and the focus of this essay.

We know a great deal about stone. And before I launch myself into the botanical component of tools I thought it would be recalcitrant of me to not speak briefly about stone itself. All of us know about stone circles and megaliths. Great stones were known by many to have the ability to speak and prophesy. Some shriek, cure sickness, and find lost souls; others have volition, move at will, float or fly about; those that rock are used for divination.

We wear stones as charms and good luck medicine for every imaginable reason. And we innately know that how we configure them is seriously relevant even if we are no longer certain why. We can feel when the arrangement is off. Whether inordinate in size or insignificantly small the configuration of stone open pathways to other worlds and to those worlds we have made libations and sacrifice throughout, I would guess, our entire history. Stone is ancestral medicine. I wonder how long we have called on stone for not only hunting tools and farm implements but for beads, figurines, talismans, grave goods, and all things magical.

Please note that the spiritual properties of many of the species that are mentioned in this piece can be found in other essays and the appendix on my website so I won’t repeat them here. The fibers used to bind stone heads to handles can be found in the appendix as well. A surprising number of species went to handles for axes, knives, and scrapers including the intrepid oak (Quercus) . In the same group we can find alder (Alnus) , juniper (Juniperus) , bearberry (Arctostaphylos) , and box (Buxus) with durability equal to that of brass. Dogwood (Cornus) doesn’t split and was an excellent choice for handles and also for mauls, awls, and clubs.

Poplar (Populus) was not only used for shields and spears its propensity to empower self-expression with strength and gentleness made into a superb, purifying wash for tools. Blackthorn (Prunus) was often used for staffs and wands. We know of blackthorn’s propensity for fortifying inner strength and patience along with its ability to lend support when destructive forces are at work or we are coping with unexpected things. The bark of blackthorn was used to bind a stone head to a shaft. Its pitch was applied as glue and painted on a constructed tool to add strength and waterproofing. The pitch or resin of birch (Betula) , pine (Pinus) , and yew (Taxus) was used similarly.

Yew is exceedingly versatile and also rendered into adz handles, harpoon shafts, scrapers, clubs, and staffs. We know that it brings the propensities of longevity, wisdom, continuity, and ancestral memory to anything rendered from it. Yew insures safety in unfamiliar territory. It provides inner strength and the courage to change our attitude or direction. Yew helps us release anguish. Wands of yew were used to cast spells of knowledge and judgment. Hazelnut (Corylus) wands are thought to burst into flames once a spell has been cast provided that spell concerns wisdom, arbitration and resetting harmony. The formidable shavegrass (Equisetum) , used to polish wood and bone tools, brings its exorcismal, reconciliatory power to the mix. So lets look at a few other choice selections.

Holly (Ilex) was once used to make spear shafts, an excellent selection when one realizes that holly is associated with balancing direct action with sound judgment. It is linked to accepting reality while affording energy and direction for problems hovering on the horizon, creating power in the moment. Holly promotes the concepts of freedom and equality based on patient teaching and not authoritarian intimidation. It is long wed to winter solstice, the medicine of sacrificial sons, and an agent of divination. Holly directly pertains to the difficult challenges we face in life that require courage and vigor to achieve success. When such profound properties are considered there is no way the selection of holly for spears, shafts, and wands could have been haphazard.

Mistletoe (viscum album) has an alluring connection to winter solstice, worn by ritual lovers. It was believed that only sexual bliss brought the blessings of winter solstice through the gate and had the power to stop anything malevolent from entering at the same moment. This is perhaps the reason why mistletoe in general is regarded as empowerment medicine in matters of the heart. Mistletoe is a parasitic creature that prefers crabapple (Malus) and linden (Tilia) as hosts. It is only rarely found on oak (Quercus) making it auspicious when it is. The wood of these oaks is valued for handles of tools used to doctor severe mental aberration, nervous debility, and weakness.

Hawthorn (Crataegus) was another candidate for both ax handles and digging sticks. It is well known as an agent of exorcism and a mender of broken hearts. Hawthorn is one of the species connected to fertility rituals believed to invigorate our Earth. These ceremonies were most often sexual by nature as well. Hawthorn affords inordinate protection, is a symbol of hope, engaged in casting spells, and guards sacred springs where the devout tied strips of rare and treasured cloth to its branches as an offering. As a gateway marker hawthorn opens and closes entries into other realms and is a favored place under which Earth spirits dance. It is the hottest burning wood known and was the premier choice for perpetual fires. We can readily see why hawthorn might be chosen for a tool handle and just how empowered that tool actually was.

Crabapple (malus) was also a good choice for tool handles. It directly relates to nurturing predisposition and gifts that require persistent care. Crabapple is supportive in decision making when one is faced with a myriad of choices. It is a gatekeeper linked to the concept that immortality is attained through inspiration and wisdom. As longevity medicine crabapple renews vigor and youth. This property could be attributed to the belief that groves of crabapple are sacred gateways into other worlds where time is elongated and knowledge older and more complete. Handling crabapple requires attunement to cyclical nature and profound awareness to the subtleties that affect the flow of energy to achieve perfect harmony within nature. It is interesting to consider that an exceedingly average individual who had chosen crabapple for everyday, utilitarian tools lived his or her life with a finger on something extremely powerful.

Hornbeam (Carpinus) was another consideration for a tool handle as well as support posts for lodges. It is an agent of fertility, inner strength, resilience, and relinquishing children into their own lives. The significance of this rests in the fact that children were given over to hereditary clans and societies, spirit handlers, etc. at puberty (this often meant 10 or 12 years old for boys) for the training needed to become productive adult members of their community. You can see that hornbeam used for their mothers’ tools might well have brought comfort to them during these rights of passage.

Maple (Acer) had extraordinary and diverse applications including ax and knife handles. It teaches that adversity creates opportunity for change. Maple is exorcismal by nature and especially appropriate to doctoring the spirits of grief and tragedy. An everyday tool rendered from maple could well have helped to appease these spirits for an individual who had lost a loved one. Maple is also an agent of clarity. It is believed to be superb love medicine that runs the gamut from romantic love to the love of family and community. This property makes maple an obvious good choice when tied up into lodges and bound to wands.

Ash (Fraxinus) is another excellent species for ax, knife, spear, and tool handles. It is rendered into staffs, prayer sticks, and wands, into which were carved spirals: the symbol of inner strength, knowledge, immortality, and self-expression. Ash is an agent of manifestation, calming the mind in order to heighten awareness. It is guarantor of harmony, resilience and endurance. Practitioners handle ash in order to grasp the holistic nature of the universe and peer into the future. By doing so, he or she is capable of escaping the bonds of life and embracing inevitability with peace. Ash has the unique ability to prevent inept or unprepared individuals from disrupting or impairing ceremonial magic. These and other properties hold huge implications for choosing ash for many different types of tools regardless of how those tools were to be used.

As a final thought we must always keep in mind that seemingly utilitarian tools were often superbly crafted from treasured woods and rare jewels of stone. These wonderful pieces were left as offerings on altars, at shrines and groves, and dropped into springs and holy wells. The significance of tools must never be underestimated as spiritually rendered objects of both necessity and sacrifice.





Footnotes:
Ancestral Airs
The Compendium for Spirit Handling
A full bibliography can be found on my website.


Copyright: I hold the copyright on all of my work.



ABOUT...

Verda Smedley


Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Website: http://www.verdasmedley.com

Author's Profile: To learn more about Verda Smedley - Click HERE




Other Articles: Verda Smedley has posted 16 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE




Email Verda Smedley... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)

To send a private message to Verda Smedley ...



Pagan Essays
1996-2014





Pagan Web
8,000 Links





Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.





Pagan/Witch
80,000 Profiles














Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops



Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World




Search Articles
1996-2014










 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide


NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).