You will need to collect a few things together before starting this project – they are: a wooden staff of a comfortable length, some leather scraps, some leather or sinew straps (or heavy string or twine), some epoxy or other durable and water-proof glue, some lacquer or wood finish, some pretty feathers, and wood working tools such as chisels or Dremel tools. You don’t need to be a gifted wood carver to make your staff unique – if you don’t feel comfortable carving wood, you can either cut designs into the staff or you can epoxy a finial-type decoration on the top of your staff. If you are going to use a finial, skip step number two.
Step 1. Prepare your staff for a long time of use and honor the wood.
The staff you choose should ideally be some sort of hard wood, or cedar (pine tends to leak sap and rot after just a few months) – you can get a piece of wood for a staff from any renaissance festival, a construction site where new housing is going up (find a cut down sapling), or even a hardware store (closet poles can work just fine). If you go scouting in the woods for a fallen tree, be careful that the wood is not starting to rot – if you get a tree branch, the tree should be newly fallen. When you find your piece, clean it of all the branches and bring it home. Light some incense and and seal the aura of the wood – clutch it tightly and and empower it with your essence. Give a ritual to the wood, and make it a place of honor in your heart – this wood will be your companion for a long time.
You can cut down a sapling for your staff, but there is a process to it that is very important to follow. Many people do not like to cut down saplings that are alive, since we already have a hard enough time keeping the forests safe – though there is a good method for this that the Native Americans of the East coast tribes used (according to several books anyway). First, go into the forest and take a full day looking for the perfect sapling – it should stand about ten feet high, be very straight, and have few branches on it. Go to the tree, and meditate with it – let it know that it has been selected for an Earth empowering and sacred task. Give the tree an offering – usually tobacco. Remember were the tree is, and leave. Over the next several weeks, come into the forest and visit the tree – get to really know it while it is still alive and growing. Become familiar with the section of forest that it calls home. Visit during the day and night, during the sun and rain, during the heat and the cold – each time you visit, leave another offering for it. Also, pay respects to the trees surrounding your tree – also let them know that you will be taking their companion soon, and that it will be for a sacred and honored task. After a while, you will know when the time is right to actually take the tree. Go into the forest, and cut the sapling as quickly and painlessly as possible – a hand axe should fell the sapling in two or three blows. Take the sapling and remove the branches – cut a section that you will be using for the actual staff (usually a good part is from a foot above the stump spanning 5 feet up). Take the remaining and unused parts of the sapling and arrange them around the freshly cut stump. Give offerings to the stump, and to the surrounding trees – give an oath so that the forest knows that this is for a good and sacred cause. You should leave with the blessings from the forest.
Step 2. Carve the staff and mark it with your energy
If you are not good at carving, or can’t for some reason, you can drill a hole in the top and put a finial on it (a finial is the decorative piece used for the ends of curtain rods). Otherwise, get either some chisels, a pocket knife, or a Dremel tool and carve the top into a symbol or icon that represents you. I personally like the Dremel tool best, and can carve easily with it. Carve whatever you wish – a goddess head, a dragon, a wolf, a rabbit, whatever. If you don’t want to carve a 3D sculpture, symbols will work fine as well – such as Ogham, Runic, Witches Runic, English, or just random symbols. So long as it represents you, it is fine – in case of a horrible mistake, I usually make the staff extra long so I can chop the top off and start over. If you get it right the first time, chop the bottom off to make the height correct. Whatever you do, make sure to sand it thoroughly after you are done – this will help the wood to stay more durable.
Step 3. Treat the wood
Take the lacquer that you purchased and give the staff several thin coats. Many people do not like the shiny look on their staff and don’t coat it – I have to recommend against this, since it will prevent long-term outdoor use. If you have a camp out, and bring your staff, the morning dew will start to rot your staff. If you don’t want the shiny look, get a matte finish. Outdoor porch and patio finish (Water Seal