A wand consists of a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, ivory or metal, approximately a foot long and up to an inch in circumference. Generally, wands have associations with magic, but the term sometimes applies to a conductor's baton.
In ecclesiatical and formal government ceremonial, special officials may carry wands or staves of office representing their power. Compare in this context the function of the ceremonial mace, the sceptre and the staff of office.
Freudians would suggest that wands may express phallic symbolism of domination.
Wicca and Witchcraft
In Wicca and modern-day witchcraft, practitioners use wands for the channeling of energy: they serve a similar purpose to the athame. Though traditionally made of wood, they can also consist of metal or crystal. Practitioners usually get a stick from a tree, or even buy wood from a hardware store, and then carve it and add decorations to personalise it; however, one can also purchase ready-made wands.
Wands in fiction
Magic wands commonly feature in works of fantasy fiction as spell-casting tools. Few other common denominators exist, so the capabilities of wands vary wildly. Note that wands fill basically the same role as wizards' staffs, though staffs generally convey a more 'serious' image; a fairy godmother would definitely use a wand, possibly with a star on the end, while Gandalf as surely would not. In dramatic fiction, wands can serve as weapons in magical duels.
The world of Harry Potter
In the fictional world of Harry Potter, as described by J. K. Rowling, wands serve as a focusing tool that enhance a person's capabilities to use magic. Most spells require a wand. The wand shop in Diagon Alley, Ollivander's, sells wands.
Wands have four main characteristics:
- the type of wood used in their manufacture
- the magical substance that gives them their magical properties
- the specific quality of motion when waved
- the length
No two wands have identical characteristics, and Mr. Ollivander says he remembers every wand he has ever sold.
Some Potterworld wands:
- Harry Potter: holly wood, 11", single phoenix feather
- Lord Voldemort:yew wood, 13 1/2", single phoenix feather
- Ron Weasley (new wand): willow wood, 14", unicorn tail hair
- Cedric Diggory: 12 1/4", single unicorn hair
- Fleur Delacour: rosewood, 9 1/2 ", inflexible, Veela hair
- Viktor Krum: hornbeam, 10 1/4", dragon's heartstring
Only humans (or part-humans -- as in the cases of Fleur Delacour and Hagrid) may use wands.
Role-playing and video games
In role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and D&D-derived computer role-playing games such as NetHack, wands function as storage devices for specific magical spells, which a wielder can only use a certain number of times before running out of "charges". Wands allow non-wizard player characters to use spells, and also enable wizards to use spells they couldn't ordinarily cast.
Wands also feature in a number of other fantasy video games, such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, in which they usually serve as one of many weapons available to the player's character.
Wands sometimes don't have any meaningful purpose or effect on gameplay, but are just parts of the story, like in Puyo Pop Fever, where Miss Accord, a character of the game, has lost her wand that she calls her "flying cane."