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Stang

Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:00 am

By Freyawyche (Freyawyche) on Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 05:14 am:

Does anyone ever use a stang? I know what it is in
a general sense, but found one discussion group that said they shod their stangs with iron nails. Anyone know about this?
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:00 am

By Helen (Helen) on Saturday, March 25, 2006 - 03:19 pm:

I'm sure I've read about this - possibly in A Witch Alone by Marian Green? If I find the exact ref. I'll post it!
Merry Meet Freywyche
Helen
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:02 am

By Bonnie (Bonnie) on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 04:04 pm:

Funny you mention the stang - I've been researching it myself lately. A stang is a forked staff traditionally of ash or oak and is shod or capped on the end in iron where it's stuck into the ground, partly to protect the wood from moisture damage and partly because iron is magical in its magnetic properties that align to the north. The importance of the north is mentioned below. Nails suffice if they're iron & not galvanized steel.

As an altar, the stang can be decorated for the seasonal observance with greens and flowers. Some use 2 crossed arrows to make the equal-arm cross of the 4 directions/4 greater sabbats. The cup is traditionally placed to the left of the stang and the athame to the right. Either the cauldron of rebirth or the sickle of sacrifice (death/rebirth) are added to denote the intention of the sabbat.

The stang represents the axis mundi, the center of the earth, the point around which all the cycles of life revolve. It is placed at the north rim of the circle & I make a guess that this is to associate with Polaris, the North star around which the heavens appear to currently revolve as seen from earth. The north star changes with the precession of the equinox. The concept is of cycles of nature.

The staff represents the "world tree" that connects heaven & earth, the upper, middle and lower realms. This concept is known to all indigenous cultures who use shamanic practices. It is this tree between the worlds that the shaman traverses in trance work that we talked about a little the other day.

Many traditions have evolved from it, like the Maypole and Christmas tree.

I seem to recall that Rae Beth mentions placing a small representation of the World Tree on her indoor table altar, and some of the folks here have mentioned they also use this symbolism. I only recall one person saying their only altar was the stang & they only worshipped outdoors.

The stang can also replace the more familiar working tools; as a staff it is wand and athame (air & fire), it's iron-shod end is earth, but as iron is forged this is also a union of fire and earth. The fork represents the union of Goddess and God & serves as the sign of the cup (water), and of the Great Rite, and sacred creation.

OK, I promise, that's everything I know about it. FINI
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:03 am

By Freyawyche (Freyawyche) on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 08:43 pm:

Thanks everyone for all the stang info. Also: I work with Brighid and know from study that in smithcraft, after iron is forged by fire and air, it is dipped into water(usually a stream) to cool and set the metal, so water is represented in the iron shodding as well.(I had to study Smithcraft and metalwork a bit when I joined Ord Brighideach. We light a perpetual flame to Brighid : every Priestess has a turn, for 24 hours every 20 days. I have been doing this for 6 years or so and it is very calming and grounding.)

By Freyawyche (Freyawyche) on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 08:56 pm:

First and foremost there is the Stang, a forked piece of ash wood, usually about six feet in length. It is planted in the ground to serve as a focal point and a seat for the Horned One that take place in the rites. It is usually considered the altar of the rite, as no "table" is used in the compass. The stang sometimes is situated 3 foot steps from the north perimeter of the compass and the libations are placed in front of it, or wine poured down the shaft to hallow it.

The stang represents the Horned Master of Witchcraft, and should be considered the most important tool of witchery. Some traditions have iron horns fashioned on top of an ash pole, instead of a forked piece of wood, and some decorate it with garland and crossed arrows, depending on the season. Its name comes from the Old Norse stong and the Middle English 'stange' meaning 'pole.' This tool may have originated with the crude wooded pitchforks used on farms since the Middle Ages and before.1

Robert Cochrane mentioned in his article "The Witches' Stang" published in The Cauldron #76 that "the easiest way to obtain a stang is to beg, borrow, buy or steal a good old-fashioned pitchfork." (Copyrighted lore from a website:
"The Crooked Heath"...FreyaWyche.)
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:04 am

By Bonnie (Bonnie) on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 10:00 pm:

Freyawyche - :) It looks like you and I both went to the same sites for our research on stangs. You brought up something I think is an important symbolism of the stang - that it is the "seat of the Horned one".

In your research, have you found any explanation of why the stang is placed 3 steps outside the circle on the north? My best guess about it's placement at the north was mentioned above, re: Polaris, but none of the sites I've visited have explained why the focus of a rite like the altar would be placed outside the circle.

Most wiccans place their altar within the circle, and often in the center, so I naturally am curious why Cochrane's Tubal Cain tradition is different. He always seemed to have a good reason for whatever he did. Since the stang is related to natural cycles and the turning of the mill, again I ask why wouldn't it be in the middle? This bugs the heck out of me. I'm going to keep pecking away until I understand it. Grrrrr.

Since you and I are both searching for info on this, I thought maybe you'd have some ideas.
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:04 am

By Freyawyche (Freyawyche) on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 10:29 pm:

I am just starting to research this. Will pass along anything new that I find.(Typical Virgo)
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:05 am

By Bonnie (Bonnie) on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 03:14 pm:

Appreciate it :)

Last night I re-read the chapter on the stang in "Roebuck in the Thicket". It mentions only that the stang is placed at the north RIM , and thus acted as a "symbolic guardian of the gateway." This is the passage to enlightenment.

I guess my next concern is wondering why the North is considered THE gateway to enlightenment as opposed to another direction, and then how this relates to the horned god. As I run it thru my brain, I know the horned god is called the Dread Lord in his underworld aspect of Hades, who is the guardian of the gates of death...and North is the direction in the quadrants of the Circle that is associated with death. Hey!

That just leaves the part about some trads placing the stang 3-steps beyond the North rim (vs. on the rim) to figure out. What's the significance of 3 steps? and of being outside?

WE Virgos can nit-pick 'till the cows come home :)
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:06 am

By Freyawyche (Freyawyche) on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 11:02 pm:

Funny...I write poetry and wrote one on Hades where he climbs up out of the pit and must climb up over a wall or the rim of the wall and then touch down to Land.I had a sort of vision of Him one night. A friend and I were out for Mexican and drinkies and on the long drive home from her house I was alone with my thoughts. We had been discussion MEN and suddenly this little story/vision of Hades came through. (I was also listening to the soundtrack of Queen of the Damned, so go figure).Anyway, perhaps the stang is three feet outside for our protection!
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:07 am

By Bonnie (Bonnie) on Monday, April 3, 2006 - 04:29 pm:

I did some more reading and thinking about the stangs position 3-steps outside the circle - and find that not everyone places it outside. Some place it on the rim. All place it at the north which is the gateway to the underworld.

By association-thinking I considered that the underworld itself is outside mundane space and time, so placing the doorway (stang), of which the Horned One is the guardian, outside the circle is to symbolically place it outside space and time. But then I talked myself out of this because the circle itself is considered outside space and time.

So I go back to my original thought that it's a wee bit off sides to be out of the way when a group is dancing around the circle's edge. The mini-steps (heel-to-toe) keep the stang energetically joined to the circle. I'm totally assuming on guess work alone.

This may be more comment than anyone cares to bother with, but the three steps could represent navigating a path through the three worlds. The steps are heel-to-toe from the circle's rim so that they are energetically connected by the physical footsteps, and thus are the magical path to the underworld.
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Re: Stang

PostAuthor: TheWiseHedgewitch » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:07 am

By Anonymous on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 10:24 pm:

A Stang is a forked piece of Ash wood (or other sacred woods) that can be 6 feet, 1 metre or less than a foot. The non-forked end is put into the ground as the centre point of a ritual. The 6 foot stang sometimes has goat horns or deer antlers on top instead of the forked wood and can be seasonly decorated. It is said to represent the god of witchcraft - usually a horned god - having a stang at a rite means having the god's presence there. It also goes a lot deeper. It is said to represent the World Tree, as well as the yoni and the phallus. If used in Wicca it would negate the use of the chalice and the athame, as well as wand, sword, staff, altar and pentacle. An interesting article I found on it is "What's a Stang and why do I have so many?" http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a ... ds&id=7544 from Witchvox.

Definition 1: A forked ritual staff usually of Ash wood that serves as an altar -- additionally it is a physical representation of the World Tree or Irminsul showing the illusion of duality, as well as being a staff of office for the coven Magister or Magistra. Also functions as a simple walking stick and early versions were used to mark ley lines and used as tools to survey the surrounding countryside. (source)

Definition 2: Ritual tool from Pagan Rome which resembles a two-pronged trident. Often used in place of the wand or circle. (source)

Definition 3: A forked ritual pole serving chiefly as an altar. Traditionally, it is made of ash wood. The Stang probably has more symbolic significance attached to it than any other implement used in the secret craft; it can represent the Godstane or the Good Tree; it can represent the Lord of the Dead, or the Horned Master of the Witches; it can represent all manner of dualities, chiefly life and death, and union that resolves them or the Mystery that resolves them. It can represent the portal into the unseen world, and the ward of the Owl-tracks or the Ghost Roads. It can represent many other things as well. Normally, a Stang is a 5-6 foot pole, terminating in a fork or mounted horns, and the term “Forked Wood” can refer to a smaller version of the same, normally 2-3 feet in length, ending in a natural fork. They are interchangeable. (Scarespite)

Definition 4: "Common to West Country witchcraft, the traditional stang is representative of the Horned God. Its appearance is that of a forked staff, suggestive of both an agriculturalist's tool or antlers. This item was supposedly amongst the chief means by which the cunning may be recognised by those who might seek to employ them. It may also act as a make shift altar unto itself, being decorated by wreaths of seasonal flor and placed to the north of the circle. Its modern reappearance comes chiefly through the work of Robert Cochrane.

A similar object, sometimes identified as a stang but more commonly simply as a horn stave, survives in the witchcraft and wizardry of East Anglia." (Nathaniel Harris)

Definition 5: " 'It is an altar', which is correct as far as it goes, but the witches' stang in a coven sense is much more than this. [...]Always mounted at the northern compass point of the circle's edge, it represents the Old Horned God/King of the forest glade. The returning of the Old Year King reincarnated back into the body of the Young Horned God/Child born of the Goddess in her aspect of Diana of the Greenwoods and sired by the Old Horned God himself. When placed at the edge of the gateway to that circle, the stang becomes the symbolic guardian of the gateway to that circle, the link between the Old Gods and that of the working ring. The stang is always mounted in the north of the four great Sabbats of the ritual year; Candlemass, May Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe'en..." (Robert Cochrane aka Roy Bowers)

************************************************

The Gwelen is a forked ritual pole or Staff used by Pellar to invoke, call up the powers, send powers, mark out the compass and as an altar. Often made of ash but can also be of other woods and having a Horn or antler fork at the top. Though it is sometimes made both shaft and fork, from one piece of wood. After the compass has been marked out (cast) the staff is stood upright at its centre were it represents the cosmic axis, centre of the crossroads or world tree. Its roots in the deepest parts of underworld (Annown), its trunk passing through the centre of this world (Nor), and reaching up to the Heavens (Nevek), uniting all worlds and giving access to them. Its Horns represent the union that resolves all of dualities, Male/Female, Life/Death Womb/Tomb etc.

***********************************************

Both posts sourced: http://www.crookedpath.org/topic.asp?TO ... itle=Stang
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