|From the version of "1734 Papers" Laurelei got in 1999|
Over the years, I've tried to collect as much lore and writing on Stangs as I could find. I'm sad to say there isn't much available. That isn't to say that people aren't using Stangs, just that they aren't writing much about them.
Still, I'm happy to share the little hodge-podge I've cobbled together in the hopes that it's of use to us all. Our cuveen adores the Stang as a working tool -- for group and individual work. I think I can safely speak for all of us in saying that we would LOVE to hear what you all are doing with Stangs, particularly if it varies from the bit of lore accumulated here.
The information shared here comes from a variety of sources, including:
class notes from Clan of the Laughing Dragon (Laurelei's former coven)
Robert Cochrane/Roy Bowers writings
Call of the Horned Piper by Nigel Jackson
Sacred Mask, sacred Dance by EJ Jones
The Roebuck in the Thicket by EJ Jones
Secrets of Modern Witchcraft Revealed by Lady Sabrina
"What's a Stang and Why do I Have So Many?" earthlink.net/~twyern by VALIRE'BRAND
A Stang is usually made of Ash, relating it to the World Tree, but Ash is getting hard to come by in the Americas due to the work of the emerald ash borer. At this point. I think most American Traditionalist would suggest using any sacred wood, and I would add, any American sacred wood. I like Oak, and I really like Hickory. (Hickory is the hardwood of choice in these parts for tool handles, and it has a long association with the forge, which makes it a good wood for the Stang in my book.)
You want a nice dry piece of wood that is forked into a Y shape. Otherwise, you'll need a simple pole that you can attach horns or metal prongs in order to create a pitchfork. Of course, you could also *begin* with a pitchfork, and that wouldn't be wrong, either.
If you're using a piece of wood, you'll probably want to remove the bark and give the whole piece plenty of time to dry. You can also treat the wood, once dry, with linseed oil to help preserve it.
"Shoe" the Stang with iron, either by adding a metal cap to the base or by driving an iron nail into it. I prefer to drive an old-fashioned "coffin nail" into the base.
The size of the Stang is really up to you. Our coven Stang is taller than any of us by just a bit. Our personal Stangs are about staff height. And we each have mini Stangs, as well.
You may want to fashion a hook or a flat space between the "horns" of your Stang for placing a candle or hanging a skull, arrows, etc.
Placement of the Stang
According to Lady Sabrina, "when the Stang is accompanied by the cauldron, it represents the totality of life-giving properties of the masculine and feminine powers of the universe." The covens in which I've worked have always located the Stand with the cauldron, along with the anvil. In the case of the Spiral Castle Tradition, we envision this all on the Sacred Mound, the Tor. The Stang is the World Tree, as we have discussed before. The Cauldron is the Well, and the Anvil is the Stone (our Oath Stone). This Mound, Tree, Well, and Stone combination is a powerful one for us and it works very well as the central point, the Axis Mundi, of our Mill.
The Stang is also the tool we use to mark the Moat, the outer edge of the compass. So it is both center point and circumfrence, in a manner of speaking.
Riding the Stang is a ritual that is used to manhandle one's superiors or to run a person out of village. It is alternatively known as skmmington, skimmity or rough musicking. The basic idea is that a gathering of folks join in the making of loud, obnoxious noises -- often at night -- from the various locations in the village to the doorstep of the offender.
You can make a "sprite trap" or "spirit trap" with a stang by embedding a charged stone between the forks and weaving a pattern of red thread. These are usually made of Rowan or Ash wood and incorporate specific symbols into the woven pattern.
Dressing the Stang
In our Tradition, a ram or goat skull hangs on the Stang most of the time. This represents the Witchfather and the center of intellect.
Atop or behind the the skull, between the horns, is a candle. This is Cunning Fire, and it is also a symbol of balance.
On the shaft of the Stang, hang 2 arrows -- one black, one white. For us, these are all the dualities in our Trad -- the Black & White Goddesses, the light & dark halves of the year, the Summer & Winter Lords. From Spring to Fall, the arrows point up, and the white arrow is on front, representing the dominance of the White Goddess. From Fall to Spring, the opposite is true -- the arrows point down, and the black arrow is in front.
We hang linen shifts (robes) -- one black, one white -- at different times from the Stang, as well. During our Samhain cycle, we hang the black shift from the black arrow. This is also how the Stang looks if the coven is performing blasting magic. We hang the white robe from the white arrow for weddings, initiations, etc.
A bloodied shirt can be hung on the Stang for several types of magic. It can be used in healing and vengeance magics, as well as in maternity and Women's Mysteries.
Seasonal wreaths and garlands can also go on the Stang.