Wand Wood - Empirical Hermetics

The Wood

The hazel wand or blasting rod is the traditional choice of witches and wizards, followed closely in popularity by the ebony wood wand of Trithemius.

I cannot in good conscience recommend any of the ebony woods because they are endangered and certainly not local to my area. I prefer to get to know the genius loci, the locals.

If you are in North America, the Corylus Americana or American Hazel would be an excellent choice, and I'm going to add a conditional statement here:

Hazel would be the perfect wood for your wand, if your natal Mercury is in Cancer.

We are not creating the traditional hazel wand, nor the elder staff—just yet…

With this wand in hand, tailored astrologically to you, we will first follow Trithemius in his trek across the stars to meet the 7 Powers, or the 7 Planets, or spheres, also called gates.

These 7 are archetypal and can be found everywhere you look, from astrology to qabalah to the names of the days of the week. Meeting them is a pretty big deal and I am really excited for you. They are too large to put in a box, to constrain to conceptual knowledge forced down into chicken-scratch symbolizing the experiences of consciousness.

Meet them first, then read all you want to about them from an a priori perspective.

In Empirical Hermetics our modus operandi is the collection of empirical evidence, experienced by the senses, observed. We don’t want the presuppositions of the print-created world contaminating our experiments.

Just as my former mentor had his take on the Trithemian system, so too have I strayed from fundamentalist literalism in the spirit of scientific experimentation, that yet retains a certain respect for certain time-tested methodologies. I strive for an ever more practical Hermetica. A no nonsense approach to spirit conjuration. The magician / witch only need their tools, their wits, and their innate Will. We here are about bare-bones Hermetic tech.

I should say too that in the Empirical Hermeticism Launch blog post, I stated that we use sidereal astrology for elections. However, when looking at the individual's natal chart, we use tropical astrology.

My observation is that tropical timing is comparable to local time, and sidereal can be thought of as universal time - it's not an either or. Tropical kicks a cycle off terrestrially and in about a month, sidereal is the power of those rays come into fullness.

It is currently Monday, 2 PM Eastern Standard Time. However, if we base the time on the Earth’s rotation in relation to the actual location of celestial bodies it is 6 PM Universal Time. In tropical astrology the Sun is currently in the sign of Cancer, the crab. In sidereal astrology, the Sun is in the sign of Gemini.

Sooner or later you are going to discover the tremendous significance of your natal chart in your quest, and of the planets, the zodiac, the decans and the fixed stars, not to mention the mansions of the Moon. We'll start with this though, direct and simple:

Find the sign that your natal Mercury is in by using tropical astrology. If you are clueless as to how to do that, Google, "natal chart" and type your birth date, time and place in. The symbol for Mercury is ☿.

Now look below for the zodiacal house in which the planet resides and you will see next to it the tree or woody plant that is most aligned with the Mercurial daimons of that zodiacal house. For instance, my Mercury is in Capricorn, and so my wand is made of Pine.

Mercury in Capricorn - Pine Tree

Mercury in Aquarius - Ramthorn (aka Common Bucksthorn)

Mercury in Pisces - Elm Tree

Mercury in Aries - Olive Tree

Mercury in Taurus - Myrtle Tree

Mercury in Gemini - Laurel Tree

Mercury in Cancer - Hazel Tree

Mercury in Leo - Chestnut Tree

Mercury in Virgo - Pear or Apple Tree

Mercury in Libra - Box Tree

Mercury in Scorpio - Dogwood Tree

Mercury in Sagittarius - Palm Tree

(Correspondences from The Complete Magician’s Tables by Stephen Skinner, Llewellyn; 2nd ed. 2006, pg 226)

Here is your homework:

Research your tree. See if it is local to you, or if it will grow in your area's climate. Learn everything that you can about it - it's history, uses and lore in as many different cultures as you can find. How does the language of botany classify and describe your tree? Have modern phytologists published any recent scientific discoveries about your tree? Do you have any past experiences with your tree? What is your tree's role within its ecosystem? What other flora, fauna, fungi and other microbial life have relationships with your tree? What gods or daimons are associated with your tree?

In the next part of our Wand series I will be on YouTube with a Google Slides presentation looking at the appropriate astrological timing to cut your wand from your tree, down to the day and hour; as well as what to cut it with, and what magical figures to inscribe on your wand, and even what to inscribe with.

In between then and now, look as well for a soon-to-come and long-overdue CtW podcast in relation to the launch of Empirical Hermetics in which we will as well cover some of my own Tales from the Wand. I will link both back here as soon as they are posted.