Whilst searching for general info on all things pagan it is impossible not to bump into the growing phenomenon that is Wicca. The true origin of modern Wicca and who founded what is sometimes debated and what actually existed pre-Gerald Gardner is hard to pin down I guess. All I know is that Gardner and Co laid down some modern foundations and standardised some practices. At the same time they developed rituals and tools. Some of these must have had origins in the far past. Nobody could deny that the broomstick has been associated with witchcraft for many hundreds of years. The use of a sword or similar blade probably came from high magickal or hermetic practices. Again, the purification and use of water and the sanctity of salt has ancient roots. Although all the tools and paraphernalia seem valid I do wonder if they are all needed. When I think about the average wise woman or cunning man in a village in the middle ages I can't imagine that they would have been able to afford many of these tools, especially a sword! Wills made in the past testify to this - most people were lucky to leave behind the clothes they died in and perhaps a pewter spoon, knife and bowl. So I have been wondering about getting back to basics.
Reading Pennick's East Anglian Magic, I was struck by the simplicity of the ritual tools. Many were taken from everyday life, like the broom. A knife is needed for cutting and perhaps some string and hazel sticks for marking out ritual areas. A bottle of water is needed and this can be purified with salt. Other than this, an ash staff seems to be the only other essential, for drawing a magical boundary, directing power and will. The ash staff is a very magical thing, being associated with the world-ash Yggdrasil and as a conduit between heaven and earth. Ash was thought to attract lightening, drawing and directing power. So the ash staff is an axis mundi, a world pillar or centre. It is interesting to imagine that for a moment in magical time the whole world spins around a humble staff. The magical associations of the ash tree are too numerous to list here, but it has been a holy tree for millenia, long before the norse and Yggdrasil.
All this rambling brings me to my intention to make an ash staff for magical work and this will be my first and principle magical tool.
I will need to cut some wood. Before I do this I will find out how this can be most respectfully done, what I should cut with and if it should be consecrated. Can anyone offer advice in this regard?