Crafting a Stang
So you want to make your own stang? Duh! Why else would you be reading this article? If, on the off chance you dont know what a stang is, lets start with discussing that: A stang is much like a staff. It is used in Northern Tradition as a means of (mainly) channeling energies for various purposes. There are many different types of stangs, each with different purposes. Some examples:
- World Tree/Yggdrasil Stangs mainly used for connecting to the energy of Yggdrasil, pathwalking, and often used in volva workings like Seidhr.
- Rhythmic Stang- a stang that is used mostly for creating rhythmic beats to help a person enter an altered state of consciousness, like a trance.
- Nidstangs- mainly used for curses and hexes.
- Other Stangs- stangs can be used for protecting, projecting energy towards ritual and spell work, serve as an embodiment of the shaman and their spirit, be devoted to healing, cursing, and everything inbetween.
The first part of making a stang is determining what kind of stang you want. Think about the uses you will have for it. Stangs can come in all shapes and sizes. However, if youre wanting a more practical one for frequent use, you might want a smaller size. If youre going to place it in your yard to serve as a nidstang or godpole type of thing, its going to be a lot bigger. Determine what size of stang you are wanting. Once this is done, you need to seek out the material to use for the stang. The wood should be a wood that has some meaning to you, your practice, etc. You might commune with nature spirits, like the landvattir, to ask permission to cut down part of a tree branch you use for your stang. Always be respectful to the land and be appreciative for what you take. Making an offering as a way of evening out what you took is suggested. (As a note, you dont HAVE to make it from wood. You can make it from bone, you can make it from iron and metal, it is up to you- but for simplicity, I am only discussing wood ones).
Once you have the wood, you need to determine what shape the stang needs to be in. This goes back to what kind of stang it is. If it is a frequently used stang, you want it to be smaller. Anywhere from the size of a wand to the size of a full staff. You can determine how many rungs it should have. Many stangs are shaped like a Y with two protruding branches at the top. However, you can have as many as you like. If the stang is for pathwalking, as an example, you would want nine rungs on it to represent the nine different realms. If the stang is for cursing, you only want one rung at the top, none others, because this is the rung you will set the horse head/skull on. Shape your stang into the form you want it. You can whittle away the bark, and use sandpaper to smooth it out. There are some natural oils you can douse the wood in to give it a polished appearance and a nice scent.
When the stangs shape has been determined, you will want to decorate it. For my pathwalking stang, I have hung something off each of the nine rungs to represent the nine different realms: charcoal for my Muspellheim rung, a white jewel for Niflheim, a ravens feather for Asgard, etc. These serve as a means for you to focus your attention and energy to when you desire to pathwalk to a specific place. Pathwalkers describe their stang as being different in appearance when pathwalking, as it can appear as something as small as a coin. It serves the purposes of being a reminder of where you are, and how to go back where you started. They help to ground you when you wish to return. You can add strips of cloth that are colored to represent a variety of things, and then ribbons and leather are tied as well with an assortment of items attached to that (feathers, shells, bones, etc). If you are making the stang for a specific purpose other than that, you can carve runes into it to imbue it with the qualities you want for your workings. If you make your own bindrunes or sigils, its good to add them to it.
One of the main uses of a stang is in the creation of the Nidstang. While the nid is technically the verbal curse, the purpose of the stang is specifically for cursing and channeling energy. Since the stang is a tool great for working as an intermediary tool with energy, the energy is raised by the practicioner and channeled through the stang in order to affect or disturb the wights- which is how the curse works. These stangs are decorated differently, without the rungs (typically), carved with runes specific to the person who carved it and the name (of the person you intend to curse if you use it for that reason), as well as the head of a horse or a horse skin (though typically now a horse skull is used in place- and even then, a lot of people use either a different type of skull or just carve the skull out of wood). When using the stang in this way, Hel tends to be the deity that is called to charge the stang with energy. After its been charged with energy- it is pointed in the general direction of the person/peoples whom you are trying to affect through this, and the energy is released.
World Tree/Yggdrasil Stangs are sometimes called a Volvas Stav. (What is a volva: http://karitauring.com/what-is-a-volva/). A volva was typically a female worker in the northern tradition who served as an intermediate between this world and the world of the wights, doing divination between the two. The stav/stang was her most important tool. She used it as a means of entering an altered state of consciousness, like a trance. The stav/stang was beat against the ground to create a rhythm that the volva could ride into the altered state. Once there, the stang was made to be symbolic of the World Tree- the bottom of the stang touched the roots of Yggdrasil and gave the volva the access she needed in order to divine and use the energy of Yggdrasil to accomplish this. My volva stav is the same as my pathwalking stav: they both have nine rungs for the different realms, which serves the same purpose for me.
As a final touch to the stang, you might want to place a small amount of your blood upon it. This connects it to you directly and makes it more personal. Carving your name into the stang, then placing your blood across your own name, is normally how I go about it. Just dont forget to exclude your name from it if youre making a stang. ;)