First and for most let me say that a magic wand is nothing more than an extension of yourself.
It is a tool that enhances your casting abilities and there are many different materials that a wand can be made of. I prefer wood but do have a completely twisted copper wand.
I won't be all high and mighty and pretend that I know what all of the uses are for each kind of wood used to make a magic wand because I don't, I still have to refer to a few different online resources to get my bearings on what I am looking for.
Here are the resources that I use.
Making a Wand
I do however have a very eclectic collection of wands and I do know what each of their recommended uses are and hope to expand my collection this summer.
I never take a live wood. I try to only take what Mother Earth has given back. I think that if you have to damage a tree to make a wand you are defeating the purpose. The only way I take from a living tree is if it is beneficial to the overall healthiness of the tree by aiding sunlight penetrating the interior or if it helps with airflow. Same with a staff, but that is a whole different topic.
So, how do you pick a piece of wood to become a wand? Well, for me, I look for a piece that calls to me. It needs to be be between 3/8 and 3/4 inches in diameter, and about 12-20 inches long. Something inside the wood says I am a wand, let me out. So that is what I do. I make two clean cuts. I strip the bark. Sand thoroughly. Then sand some more. when I think that I have done enough I do a little bit more. I think that it should be very smooth in preparation for finishing. Then I may stain it, or leave it natural. But I always polyurethane it to preserve it. Also, I quite frequently wrap the handle in copper wire. I find that this aids in the transfer of power from your hand to and from the wand and I like the feel of the heaviness in my hand. They can be adorned with sacred symbols. Topped and bottomed even sometimes with magic stones or crystals.
History of wands
The use of the magic wand can be traced back to proto-Indo-European times (The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of a common ancestor of the Indo-European languages spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. PIE was the first proposed proto-language to be widely accepted by linguists.) as shown by its appearance in both Zoroastrianism (Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago.) as well the early Hinduism.
The magi or priests of the Zoroastrian religion. Were keepers of the baresman (barsom), or sacred bundle of twigs "slender wands", has played an important part in religious practices since before history. Notice the resemblance in the words to besom or a broom. the baresman is an emblem of looking for a higher power, and it makes a connecting link between this world and the spiritual realm. The barsom is, as it were, is the pipeline through which the thoughts and feelings and intent make themselves known. The wands were be considered a 2 way tool not only to receive but to send power. A magi's wand is traditionally made of tamarix or tamarisk twigs also known as salt cedar. The Greeks believed that it should be made of Holy branches of the myrtle.
In addition there are many other references to wands and staffs take the grimoires for instance, or otherwise known as manuscripts of magic. In the gray Necromancer's Journal, Steel is not an acceptable material it must be Iron. I have my own personal preferences and steel is not one of them. According to the key of Solomon, cane or elder wood should be used to make your staff and the hazel or the nut tree used to fashion your wands from. No matter which, all should be one years growth or 'virgin' and taken with one cut, on Wednesday(the day of Mercury), at sunrise. The Sworn Book Of Honorius reinforces this. Once again I don't try to harm a tree in any way, unless it is beneficial to the overall healthiness of the tree.
Franz Bardon (1909-1958) who is one of the most important occultists and magicians of the twentieth century Has said that, "the most important aid in ritual magic is, and always will be, the magic wand."
The Wand In Modern Witchery and Wicca
In my opinion the wand is becoming more and more a symbol of witchery and Wicca and is not being used that much in ceremonial gatherings or in casting of spells. I have attended many rituals and celebrations of the Sabbats and I have noticed that it is being used less and less. I think that the potential of wand use is not being taught anymore and with the progression of our pagan religions, things are just changing. I, personally would love to see an upwards turn in the use of wands among Witches and Wiccans. I guess that it is just a personal preference, but I will say that I don't use a wand in every spell I cast. I cast so rarely that it may only be once or twice a year that I do.
Wands are an air tool if you are concerned with the elemental side of things. It was however, debated that it was a tool of fire, but I can't find very much static evidence to verify this. To me the waving in the breeze makes it obvious and the fact that fire will destroy a wand unless of course it is metal, and even then if it is hot enough it will be destroyed as well.
Charging and using your wand
You will find that it is recommended to charge your wand before using it. There are many ways to do this and is up to the user to decide what feels right. I myself pass my wand through all 4 elements and leave it out in a full moon on a bed of sea salt. I say my little chant or cast a spell if you like and wait until morning before putting it into use.
Now as far as using a wand, there are no right and wrong motions, no secret maneuvers. Just where you hands would normally move when casting a spell is exactly where it should go. Remember, a wand is a mere extension and amplifier of your power or your intent.
I hope that you found this article helpful and informative. Blessed Be.