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How to Use a Stang

By Sarah Anne Lawless

A stang is a popular ritual tool in modern Traditional Witchcraft thanks to Robert Cochrane, however, the use of a forked staff is not restricted to Traditional Witchcraft and its traditions in the UK. Reverence for forked staves is found all over Europe, East and West, and in the Mediterranean. The stang is the ancient Tree danced around by witches during their sabbat rites. It is the pillar in the Pagan temple and the sacrificed god hanging from the Tree.

A stang is an altar and a ritual tool in one. If you have a stang you do not really need any other tools to cast circles and perform rituals or spells. A stang is portable and can be taken anywhere making it an excellent choice for outdoor rites and taking to festivals.

Why the fork? The ancients believed horns and antlers allowed animals to have heightened senses and intuition and that the horns acted as conduits of wisdom and knowledge from the gods and spirits. Gods with horns were believed to be especially powerful particularly when it came to being far-sighted and wise in all things –not to mention the horns could also be used as protection or a weapon. Three-pronged staves were considered especially lucky and powerful as were trees growing in the same formation. This is because they resemble a human being with the center as torso and the prongs on either side the arms. Two and three-pronged staffs are representatives of the World Tree as an anthropomorphized figure. We find the three-tined stave in ancient art being held by Hades, Poseidon, and Shiva. Is it a fisherman’s spear, a pitchfork, a hay-fork, or a magical tool? Maybe it’s both… Often the ancients did not separate the magical and the mundane for magic can be practical also.

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