Wand

From Academic Kids

A wand consists of a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, ivory, or metal, approximately 30 cm (a foot) long and up to 25 mm (an inch) in circumference. Generally, wands have associations with magic, but the term sometimes applies to a conductor's baton.

The wand is also a pre-Norman unit of length used in the British Isles equal to approximatelt the modern metre. The 'wand' survived for a time under the Normans. Then when the yard was established, the wand came to be known as the 'yard and the hand', and then disappeared, either slowly or by being banned by law.

The old English unit of 1007 millimetres was called a 'wand', and although the 'yard' was created to replace the wand the wand was still used for some centuries because of its convenience as part of an old English decimal system that included:

10 digits (base of long finger) about 20 millimetres 10 digits = 1 small span (span of thumb and forefinger) 200 millimetres 10 small spans = 1 armstretch (1 fathom from finger tip to finger tip) about 2 metres 10 fathoms = 1 chain about 20 metres 10 chains = 1 furlong about 200 metres 10 furlongs = 1 thus-hund of about 2000 metres

The wand that has survived today as part of folklore may in fact be a rendition of the ancient British length unit. Thus a true wand would be a metre in length and not 30 cm.

Contents

Symbolism

In ecclesiastical 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

Main article: Harry Potter Wands

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:

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, as in Puyo Pop Fever, where Miss Accord, a character of the game, has lost her wand that she calls her "flying cane."

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