There are many tools that Pagans use while performing rituals, magical workings, and other activities. Although the staff has deep historical roots in Paganism, it isn’t used as much today. Many Pagans don’t have never seen a real staff, let alone used one for any type of spiritual work.
During ancient times, trees were worshiped as deities and staves symbolized sacred trees. Oak, birch, apple, rowan, and birch trees were commonly worshiped. The staves that were made from the branches of these trees were as tall as the people who carried them, plus the distance from the tip of one’s middle finger to his or her elbow. Staves were usually carried by elders and symbolized the Gods. A staff also measured its carrier’s ability to channel energies.
Today, staves are used for a variety of purposes. A Pagan may use a staff to guide his way on a journey through the spirit would. Another Pagan may use a staff to guide the way down a spiritual path. Staves can be used as an alternative to an athame, which is used to direct energy. Some Pagans use staves for decoration purposes only.
Many staves that are used by Pagans are carved with intricate details. Other staves may be decorated with a variety of materials including; beads, feathers, leather, gemstones, ribbons, paints, pinecones, and other materials.
A staff can be purchased or handmade. The type of wood used to make a staff depends on the attributes that its owner wants it to have. Oak, ash, pine, and apple are used quite frequently for staff making. To make a handmade staff, start by taking a walk in the woods near your home, while letting the spirits lead you to the perfect branch. It may be a fallen branch or one that is still attached to a tree. If the branch happens to still be attached, remember to ask before taking it and, thank the tree for its gift after you have finished harvesting it. Also, give a “thank you” to the spirits for leading the way to the perfect branch for your staff. Take the branch home and put it in a dry spot of your home for 30 -60 days to dry the staff out. If you don’t want your staff to have bark, remove it from the branch before it is set to dry.
While the staff is drying, take time to think about what you want it to look like. Use paper and a pencil to draw out drafts on paper. Choose your favorite style and make sure you have all of the materials you will need to make the perfect staff before it is done drying. When the branch is done drying, take it out and carve and/or decorate it to your liking. Remember to cleanse and consecrate the staff before using it for spiritual work.