|Image from Wikipedia|
originally. Some argue that they are derived from the rods that ancient cultures used as their early measurement system. Others would say that they are derived from spears or similarly shaped tools. A few have opined that the wand is derived from long handled spoons. Each argument has its adherents and I am confident that there are more arguments that I'm not aware of, as these were ones that I became familiar with via casual conversation with a few people.
It is my personal belief that wands are derived from the rod that was used as a semi-standardized form of measurement in a given culture as well as a tool for punishment. A quick review of texts from antiquity and you will find that the term 'rod' is used to denote equipment for this purpose. It is also something that is associated with authority. The scepter of royalty is a direct descendant from the rod of measurement and the rods used as switches. It is my understanding that wands entered into popular consciousness during the era of the witchcraft trials (Inquisition era and a bit later), where the idea of occult practitioners attempting to usurp the trappings of power held by 'legitimate' authorities became rather prolific.
With the rise of 'fashionable' occultism during the Victorian Era, the concept that a wand was absolutely necessary for magical work was cemented in the popular culture of Europe and Western society. This shift in attitude is actually something that can be found in the different ways that occult work is portrayed in the arts. Older artwork that depicted such things typically didn't feature wands. This was something that slowly became more prominent as the idea of wands being used in witchcraft and occultism grew in popularity. Now, it is perhaps one of the most common trappings of witchcraft and occultism.
Mention the word 'magic' and the next thing to come to mind for most listeners in the US is 'wand'. Wands are exceptionally popular because they are considered crucial for control of magic. They are also tools that many find to be a pleasure to collect. They can be as simple as a twig or as ornate as something heavily jeweled and adorned with many accouterments. In my post next week, I will talk about what exactly are the defining characteristics of wands and the folklore associated with them.