Still unpacking, though it is more emotional baggage than physical stuff. Still haven’t done any “high working”. I don’t have the spirit in me. (Pun very fucking intended.)
It took four months before I realized I could leave more than just my tarot decks and occult(ish) books on my table. It’s been a long while since my pyracantha wand had a good oiling. Hopefully the long storage hasn’t wrecked it.
Spoiler: It hasn’t. Much.
I don’t have an elaborate system for maintaining the wand, physically or magically. I never had the luxury of doing anything more than the bare necessity before, so I was going to do as I did before. Buff the wand with a soft cloth. Oil it up using olive oil. (Yes, that was an intentional and educated choice. I know about rancidity.) Let it sit for a while. Wipe off the excess, buff smooth and dry with a clean soft cloth, then put up until time to do it again.
In my old environment, the only time I could have the oiled wand sitting undisturbed for any length of time was the six hours of sleep I got at night, and even then, the wand and its attendant drip cloths had to be hidden under the bed. When I prepared and oiled the hazel wand for its use with the summoning of Patient Caller, the oil had only enough time to change the color of the wood’s surface. No time for anything else.
Little wonder that Patient Caller added feeding of the hazel wand to his list of instructions.
But I am not there anymore. I am here, and in this place, I can leave all my shit out without fear. Dter respects my boundaries and understands that just because something is within arm’s reach, that something is not available for use.
So I unwrapped the pyracantha, noted where time and storage conditions have not been kind, and prepared it for a fresh soak of oil. And by a fresh soak, I do not mean to wipe it down with an oil-touched cloth. I mean to bathe it in copious amounts of olive oil until it dripped.
I mounted the coated wand on an upturned glass to allow gravity to pull away the oil that didn’t soak in, placed several folded paper towels under the ends, and went about my day. It was my intent to come home after work the next day to finish the oiling process.
The work day left me unwilling to do anything more than what was required that evening. I saw the wand was out of the way. I replaced the paper towels as oil was still dripping off the end. Nodded happily that I could leave it out for more than an overnight period, and went on to face the next work day.
The second day I saw no new drips had landed on the paper towel, but I noted something odd about the last drip that remained. Was it smaller? Now I left the wand alone not out of laziness, but out of curiosity. Was the wood soaking it up?
The third day presented me with evidence that the wood was soaking up the oil more than what I had expected. This wand is at least six years removed from the plant that grew it, after all. And yet, the entire length of the wand was dry to the touch with no oily residue left behind except for the very ends of the curved wand where gravity had concentrated the remaining oil. I took a picture to compare with the results after the fourth day.
Fourth day comparisons confirmed the oil droplet was getting much smaller, and that the oil remaining was now cloudy. I now understood why the oiling of the wand was called “the feeding of the wand” by some cohorts.
I left the wand alone for the rest of the week. I watched the surface of the unfinished wand cease reflecting light and turn matte. The oil droplets continued to shrink until they became a glossy smear on each end. On Saturday I picked it up for the first time and used the paper test. With the exception of the very tips of the wand, there was no residual surface oil to pick up. Bone dry.
That night I dreamt of a worktable. On the table was my pyracantha wand and my hazel wand. They were laid on the table crossing each other with the grip of the pyracantha wand on my right and the grip of the hazel wand on the left. A wrapped object was at my right of the wands but placed far enough away to not be considered as part of the tableau.
A disembodied voice, one that I recognized and yet did not recognize, spoke to me from across the work table.
“The lesson is learned but the task is incomplete. Just as a dog will guard the one who feeds it, so must your wands be fed if they are to be of use to you.”
Sunday, I retrieved the stored hazel wand. Patient Caller had left no instructions about how to maintain it, only that it is to be wrapped in a white cotton cloth when stored. Comparing it to the pyracantha wand is like comparing an emaciated cow to a fat cow.
The pyracantha wand is thicker but also shorter. But it has a heft, a sense of presence, that the hazel wand doesn’t have. I suppose it could be argued that the pyracantha wand is materially heavier due to plant structure, point of removal from the original plants, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I would not disagree with that.
But presence does not have a quantifiable measurement. And the pyracantha wand is more here than the hazel wand. Ah well, the only thing to do, then, is oil them both up and leave them out for a week.
I sopped them both up the same way. With clean hands, I stood each one in a small dish of olive oil with the grip end down and rubbed oil liberally over them (one at a time) until I could see shimmers of oil obeying gravity’s pull. Not waiting for the oil to travel the length of the wands, I placed them on the waiting glasses with the attendant layers of paper towels.
Monday, I replaced both sets of paper towels. Tuesday, I replaced the paper towels under the pyracantha wand. The hazel wand had already stopped dripping. Wednesday morning, the pyracantha wand’s paper towels were marked, but not soaked to the point of replacement. Both wands had developed their “standing drops” that would not fall.
The rest of the week was spent monitoring the surfaces of the wands and the standing drops. Wednesday evening, the hazel wand was dry and matte without any reflection of light. The pyracantha was still shiny but the surface texture (showing tool marks) was evident.
Thursday found the hazel wand having soaked up even the standing drop that was on the end, leaving only a glossy smear on the ends. A quick touch test revealed no oil remaining on the surface. The pyracantha wand’s standing drops were much smaller, but the surface retained a glossy sheen.
Friday saw no visual difference to the wands, but the hazel wand felt… hungry.
Today, Saturday, I have buffed the wands for the week. The pyracantha wand had a surface sheen of oil that needed to be buffed off before wrapping for storage. It feels thick, heavy, and full. It will not need any oiling or feeding for a while. The hazel wand is bone dry except for the slicks at the ends where the standing drops were. It feels skeletal, as if I was handling the metacarpals and phalanges of some long dead cryptid. The feeling of hunger persists, and I will be oiling it up for another week.
Regarding the wrapped object in the dream. When seeking a hazel rod for the encounters with Patient Caller, I had doubted the rod I had in hand would meet the requirements. I ordered a hazel rod from an online seller in anticipation of the rejection. Patient Caller informed me that the rod I already had in hand would meet the requirements, but not to discard or reject the rod that was being sent to me. I would need it for a later, undisclosed engagement.
The wrapped object in the dream is the same as the purchased rod remains wrapped now. That it was on the table in the dream is a reminder not to discard it as I purge myself of unusable things.
If this post is about wood wands, why is the post titled “Feeding the Bones”? Because the wands are made of the stiff inner material of the respective plants. While too thin to have made the conversion from sapwood to heartwood, they were still the structures upon which the soft “fleshy” parts of the plants were wrapped around. As something once alive, but now dead and inert, they function as bones to me for the most part.
Sometimes I’ll see myself in a dream, casting hardened twigs and carved slips of wood as an oracle much as one would cast teeth and bone. I have never tried to chase that dream and make that oracle kit a physical reality. I know that each piece of that kit must be given to me by the tree and plant the material comes from. I can’t buy that oracle kit off of a shelf.
The way things look right now, it is a kit I will never have.
So for now, I have two “bone” wands and a third waiting for its purpose to be revealed.