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As a Shaman, we use various different tools in our
practices, many of which are similar to that of the tools of Witches, Wiccans,
and other magic practitioners. I wanted to share a small bit on one of my
favorite tools that is similar in fashion to that of a wand or staff, and that
tool is called the stang. Traditionally in many magical paths and cultures a
stang is usually a large staff with a carved Y like prong at the tip, in Wicca
this tool is used as a symbol and tool representing the horned god. However, in
shamanism a stang is usually crafted much smaller, usually the size of a large
wooden wand. A part of a shaman's journey when they reach a certain stage of
their apprenticeship or study is to go about a quest for an entire day
sometimes even longer, and commune with nature and the spirits. As they do this
they will converse with the spirits, the plants and fauna they come across, and
Their objective of this journey is to find and connect with the wood material they will carve and make their stang out of. To do this, as they commune with nature and the spirits, they usually find themselves talking to many plants, flora, and trees. At some point during their journey they will stumble across a particular plant or tree that speaks to them differently than normal, in a way that one feels on a deep conscious and spiritual level of awareness. When this happens, the plant or tree has chosen you, this means the creator and the spirits will offer a part of themselves, the wood material, for you to borrow, so that you can carve and make your stang. Being that the creator and spirits, as well as the plant or tree lends and offers you a part of themselves for you to use to make your stang, it is important to know the stang that you create, will have a very powerful bond with you as well as a connection to the spirit realm, the creator, and nature. It is also equally important to know the qualities and persona of the stang will be unique to your own, as well as it's your own and shared characteristics For example if you are a healer, such as myself, the stang will personify and symbolize the power of healing. Usually the wood material you use, that have been lent to you, will share magical properties and correspondences to those that you hold and identify with.
The shaman's stang is used for many purposes, and like that of witches and the like it may be used to direct magical energy when spell casting; however in shamanism that is not the stang's primary purpose. The stang is an embodiment of the shaman's power and spirit, and thus the primary use/s of the shaman's stang is used as a tool or key of sorts when working with the spirits, healing ceremonies and rituals, and occasionally during rituals and ceremonies or personal workings in which magical energy, and energy from the creator spirit and nature is channeled.
When working with the spirits and accessing the spirit
realm, the stang plays a critical role in the process, acting as a key, an
anchor, and a shield of protection. The shaman will usually start his ritual
for spirit working or access by holding their rattle or instrument in their non
dominant hand and holding their stang in their dominant hand. They will start
dancing, rattling, working their way towards achieving a trance like state
called the SSC or shamanic state of consciousness, it is there where the
majority of the shamans work is done. The stang will act as a key, a key of
spiritual and emotional energy unique to the shaman. From there as the shaman
traverses his or her way through the spirit realm the stang will act as a guide
and light, for the shaman, helping him or her find their way. It also further acts as a tether to the
physical plane/realm as so he or she does not become lost or entranced in the
spirit realm beyond their limitations or against their desire. Lastly the stang
will provide protection to the shaman from spirits and other beings in the
spiritual realm (astral plane), this protection is provided by the shamans
power, soul, light, and through the channeling of nature and the creator spirit.
During healing ceremonies and rituals the stang acts as a
channel and filter, which conducts healing energy from the cosmos, nature, the
earth, the elements, the spirits, the creator spirit and even you. This energy
is then filtered by the stang removing any stray or unwanted energies or
vibrations from the pure positive healing energy. The filtered healing energy
is then transferred and channeled from the shaman, through the stang, to the patient
that needs healing. The stang is directed by the shaman to heal specific
people, wounds, illnesses, and so on, however the stang can sometimes release its
own healing power at random as I have seen people recover, with no explainable
evidence or logical assumptions why.
The stang may also be used in a more wand like fashion when
a shaman presides over or practices in ceremonies and rituals; either alone, or
as a tribe our gathering. The stang can also act as the shamans talking stick
during tribal or communal gatherings and meetings. Many shamans form such a
strong and personal bond with their stang, that from the moment the shaman has
carved and created his stang, he or she will always have it by their side or on
their persons at all times. In
conclusion I would say from personal experience that the stang is most shamans’
favorite tool and symbol aside from their rattle or drum, which in my book
share the same equality of status and reverence. Within the next day of writing this post, I
will put up a picture of my stang, for others to see.
The true origins are uncertain of the lore and use of the stang as it was first introduced to me by my mentor who is an eclectic shaman. Shamans as well as medicine men and women can belong to any faith, path, religion, or culture. My own practice of shamanism stems from a wide array of beliefs and practices from many paths and magical practices, mostly Native American, Celtic/Druid/, and Egyptian; as well as some northern traditional shamanism. However the research I have been able to find on the stang and it's history and lore comes mostly from northern/Norse and Druidic shamanism.
However, to clarify, this information is written based on my personal experiences and practices within my path. so I encourage others to continue further exploration of this topic.