Alternative Words for Wand

Fantasy has a fascinating array of alternative words for wand. Interestingly, many of the words are used in different way to their dictionary definitions and I’ve found it hard to find much information. So I put together my own list of definitions I’ve learned from years of reading fantasy and mythology.

There aren’t as many options for wand as there are on my list of 60+ Alternative Words for Mage but it should give you something to work with whether you write fantasy or you’re just a curious word seeker.

A long, thin stone wand with carvings of crocodiles, lions and other animals
Egyptian Apotropaic rod from the Middle Kingdom, possibly used to dispel evil spirits during childbirth. (Met Museum, public domain)

It is important to note that some of these words are also actively used by people today in practicing their spiritual beliefs, and you should do research before portraying their beliefs in fiction.

A to Z of Alternative Words for Wand

AsklepianThe Asklepian was the magical staff of Asclepius – Often confused with the Caduceus. The Asklepian had one snake, while the Caduceus had one. The Asklpeian had healing powers.
AthameAthame are ceremonial blades, primarily used for magical rituals and to channel magic. It is important to modern Wicca.
BatonA baton is a cylindrical short staff, usually made of wood or precious metals. They’re a common symbol of power. The Suit of Wands in Tarot is sometimes called the Suit of Batons
CaduceusThe Caduceus was the magical staff of Hermes – Often confused with the Asklepian. The Caduceus had two snakes, while the Asklepian had one. Iris, the goddess of messages, also wielded a similar staff. It had the power to wake the sleeping and revive the dead.
CatalystA catalyst is a substance that speeds a chemical reaction. In fantasy fiction, this concept has been adapted to mean a spell catalyst, a tool or staff which speeds up or empowers magical spells.
ChannelA channel is the method or means used to pass something through, such as a channel for passing water through. In fantasy settings, this has been used to mean the tool magic passes through.
ConduitA conduit is a pipe or passage for something to pass through – in this case, a conduit is a staff through which magic passes. It is also sometimes used to mean a witch’s familiar.
Crosier / CrozierA Crosier is a staff that has religious significance as the symbol of an abbot or bishop. It can also be the magical tool of a Cleric in fantasy settings.
Foci / FocusFocus comes from a Latin word for the hearth in a home, which sort of embodied the idea of the center of the home. Today it means an object used to make something clear, or the act of paying particular attention to something. D&D has popularised the concept of spell foci as a general term for any sort of magical wand, staff, or scepter.
Gand / GandrA Gand is an old norse word, which has a somewhat vague meaning but implies something magical or used by sorcerers. A gandr was a magic wand or staff. Fun fact: Gandalf means “Staff Elf / Wand Elf”
LituusThe lituus was the staff or wand used by Roman augurs in ceremonies to determine the future, and as a symbol of the augur’s office in general. 
RodRod means a stick of wood. Since the 15th century, the word has also gained particular magical significance – such as in the concept of a divining rod, which is used to find water. 
Rune StaffRune Staffs are a nordic tradition, a staff inscribed with a perpetual calendar – the solar year and lunar month. Their exact uses (whether they were purely practical or also ceremonial) is up for debate, but the term has been adapted by a range of fantasy media to refer to a particular magical staff engraved with runes to enhance its power.
Scepter / SceptreA scepter is an ancient symbol of royalty and priesthood. It is a symbol of power that dates back to ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. In the medieval period, it became the symbol of royal power – and in fantasy, it has long been a symbol of the power of magic.
SekhemSekhem were ritual scepters used in ancient Egypt, particularly as a symbol of the power of the Pharoah and priests, and also used during mortuary offerings.
SprigSprigs, which are small sprays or the young branches of woody plants, used as magical charms or for the casting of spells. A sprig of rosemary is worn to honour the dead on Remembrance day, a sprig of holly brings good luck at Christmas, and a sprig of laurel in the right hand is a protective charm.
Staff / StaveThe word staff is originally from a word meaning to support or fasten something – and later began to mean a walking stick or a shepherd’s crook. From its association with the wise or powerful, the staff has evolved into a symbol of magic users, particularly wizened old men and women with power.
ThyrsusA thyrsus was a wand of giant fennel, covered with ivy vines, and sometimes decorated with other plants. It was the symbol of Dionysus / Bacchus, and it was carried by his priests, and used in magical rituals.

Fun fact: Did you know that Jesus was often portrayed using a wand in early medieval art?

What does your favourite fantasy universe call their magic wands? Let me know in the comments.

Credit: Featured image, The Disillusioned Medea by Paulus Bor, 1640. Public domain.

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