This is a first post in a new series I started originally on my Tumblr blog, where I examine Wiccan and Pagan themes that crop up in some of my favorite books, films, and television shows. There’s a surprising amount out there that I’ve discovered, and while many of the writers may not have known where these ideas and concepts originated from, I enjoy seeing how they use it in their work.
Disclaimer: Any posts in this series are based on my own opinions, experiences, and interpretations of the works I discuss. I am in no way speaking for the entire Pagan and Wiccan community. We are a community of very diverse beliefs and experiences, and not everyone will interpret what I’m seeing the same way.
When I was new to studying the Craft, I was intrigued by all the tools available and was overwhelmed by the variety. I walked through several stores on a visit to Salem, Massachusetts (which is one of the few places I’ve found where there are many shops to choose from), and admired all the different wands, athames, cauldrons, and candles. A new friend (at the time) cautioned me against buying everything I saw and not just because it would have burned a whole in my wallet.
“Remember,” she said. “The magic is in the witch, not the tool. You should wait for a tool that speaks to you.”
I thought I understood what she meant, and I only bought one tool that day-a small athame that I really liked. It was very beautiful and seemed to serve me well. My rituals went well in the sense that they never went wrong. I was so new to my practice that I didn’t know that they could have been much better.
Whenever I look back on that experience, I’m often reminded of how J.K. Rowling actually brings this concept into the witchcraft of her fantasy novels, although probably not on purpose. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, young Harry goes to buy his first wand from Ollivander’s wand shop. The wand maker imparts to Harry some wisdom that not only ultimately leads to the resolution of the entire series, but is actually very important to Witches with Wiccan and Pagan beliefs.
“The wand chooses the wizard.”
In this scene, Harry tries dozens and dozens of wands. He feels foolish waving them around, unsure what the sign is that will tell him that he has found a wand that will “choose him.” He continues to go through boxes of wands until he finds one that connects with him (in the words of my friend, it would have spoken to him). He feels warmth in his fingers when he handles the wand and when he waves it sparks come out. Harry understands a little better what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for, although the true implications of what the wand choosing the wizard means becomes clearer in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as it did for me after my first introduction into the world of tools for Witchcraft.
One day, a year or so later, I was in a completely different shop, in a different city. My friends and I were attending an event that night and since we had arrived early, we explored what the store had to offer. As I perused the bookshelves to see if there were any titles I wanted, a wand caught the corner of my eye. I had never used a wand in my practice, and had been content with the athame I had. But I felt compelled to take a closer look anyway.
My wand is pictured below. It’s beautiful, although not a look I’m usually attracted to. But when I held it, I knew it was meant for me somehow. No sparks came out and I didn’t feel a difference in my body temperature like Harry does in the books, but the wand felt right in my hands and I could feel it had the potential to enhance my rituals. We had connected immediately. As I began to use it, I noticed my circles were a lot stronger, and that it really enhanced my own abilities to connect with nature and spirits in a way my athame hadn’t.
I bought the wand that day and soon it was a big part of my spiritual practices.
In particular, I noticed my circles were a lot stronger than they had been when I used the athame. I felt a similar connection during a trip to King Richard’s Faire, where I found this chalice.
I had been making do with a wine glass, and had learned by this point not to get a tool based purely on aesthetics. This one called to me the same way the wand did, and has really aided my practice as well. Having tools that connected with me made my practices stronger than if I had ones that just looked pretty.
Rowling illustrates the idea of wands having a connection to their owners throughout the Harry Potter series, particularly in the last novel when the characters have to use wands that are not their own. After losing or damaging wands at both Bathilda Bagshot’s house and Malfoy Manor, several of the characters end up with different wands. Hermione is unable to wield Bellatrix Lestrange’s wand the way she wants to and finds using it frustrating. Harry has Draco Malfoy’s wand, which works for them slightly better than Bellatrix’s, but still not as well as their own wands.
Rowling takes the idea a step further when she reveals that in her mythology, wands can change their allegiance when won by another wizard, which ultimately leads to the series’ resolution. I don’t think that part necessarily applies in the Craft that I practice, but I’ve also never been in a magical war. Like all fantasy writers, she pulled from different mythologies and magical concepts that many think are strictly fantasy, but in this case (and others which I’ll blog about at a later date) she used a concept that has a basis outside of the fantasy genre and in real peoples’ spiritual practices, and that is something I really enjoy looking at in comparison with my own life.