"...a special one but still a pole"

From: "Rev. Ivan Stang" <stang@subgenius.com>

Date: Tue, Dec 16, 2003 4:43 PM

What's a Stang and Why do I Have so Many?
by Valire'brand

(from http://www.witchvox.com/words/words_2003/e_stang.html
Thanks to Rev. Kirk Bailey for pointing it out.)

Now, it is vital to remember that this is not British Traditional
Witchcraft I'm describing here. And it is certainly not Wicca as
commonly understood. It is a modern syncretic practice rooted in my
personal tradition and my understanding of the symbol set that is the
Stang. And make no mistake; there is nothing simple about the Stang.

Just what the heck is a Stang? Stang - "past of sting (obsolete)" Am.
Heritage 3rd Edition. Hmm, well, that raises more questions than it

Hutton seemed to think it came from the Berbers (Triumph of the Moon),
but this time he's off the mark. Kerr Cuhulain asserts it is from
Anglo-Saxon "staenga or steng" meaning pole or rod. In Scandinavia,
there is a word "stongen" and in Iceland "Stanga" as in MayStanga or
May Pole. This seems a more likely source for the term; after all, a
Stang is a pole, a special one but still a pole.

Okay, it's back to a dictionary, this time the Shorter OED. Stang - "a
pole or stake;" derived from the Old High German "Stanga."
Interestingly, it comes from STING, v. "to pierce or goad." So, the Am.
Heritage definition actually does apply, though it is woefully

Dictionary aside, what is a Stang in the sense of a tool within
Witchcraft, which is what I'm talking about? It is a tool derived from
witchcraft, the technology, as opposed to the religion.

Physically, a Stang is a forked stick. It is usually made of ash or
other sacred trees. ash is most common, perhaps, because it is the
most common wood used as tool handles and Stangs are frequently made
from pitchforks or other farming implements.

However, ash is also the symbolic World Tree with branches in the Upper
World and roots in the Underworld and the trunk running through our
Middle Earth. Other trees share these associations, but ash seems to
be predominantly cast as the World Tree. Maybe because ash trees are
often struck by lightning (due to their height) making them more
touched by the Gods.

Why is this important? It means the Stang represents the channel
between Sky and Earth. A shaft from the Sky to Earth. Moreover, it is a
physical representation of the Goddess, the God and their Children, us.
One fork, Goddess, one fork, God and the shaft, their Children. This
means the Stang can serve as an altar without anything else commonly
used on altars. This makes it highly desirable for outdoor workings.

But wait! There's more! The fork (yoni) represents the Goddess, while
the God is represented by the shaft (lingam). So, the Stang also
represents Their Union, a.k.a. the Great Rite within Wicca. It means
that symbolically the Stang can replace the Chalice AND the Athame! It
is physically a Staff, which means it functions as a Wand and its base
is often shod in iron to be thrust into the ground, which completes the
list of Elemental Tools, the Paten/Shield/Pentacle. The fork is often
made from sacred animal skulls, horns or antlers. Standing in or behind
a cauldron, it is even richer symbolically: it reminds us that Life
comes from Death and vice versa. Rebirth, Transformation, Union; the
list goes on as long as you care to take it.

The Stang may be of differing sizes. The Greater Stang (my
terminology!) stands about shoulder to head high, most often with a
skull and horns/antlers. A Small Stang is roughly a meter long. At this
length, a skull is unwieldy, so it may have antlers/horns or may just
be a plain forked stick. Then, there is the Mini Stang. At less than a
foot, it is used for travel when space is an issue and/or as a
centerpiece on an indoor altar. A Greater Stang may serve as a group or
coven altar/tool, while the Small/Mini Stang serves the individual.

The base of the Small Stang is often used as a focusing tool in ritual,
the fork as a dispersing/concentrating tool. The Small Stang and the
Mini Stang do not have preferential direction, so mine have a Goddess
and a God side assigned. Each has a small disc with God or Goddess
colors on each side of the base of the fork. The God colors are yellow
and red; the Goddess colors are white and black. This allows them to
mark the progression of the Aspects around the Circle of the Year. In
invoking, it is a clear indicator of whether a God or Goddess Aspect is
being invoked. It also serves as a reminder to the individual of which
energies are currently in use.

However, this is starting to verge on decoration, a highly individual
option. Many British Traditionalist Witches "dress" the Stang with
garlands for various holidays and have crossed arrows set on the shaft.
To them, these have special meaning1; not being one of them I will not
attempt to elaborate2. All of my Stangs are bound in the colors of my
system with black bases symbolic of the Underworld3 that they pierce
and little other overt symbolism. I feel piling more symbols on as rich
a symbol set as a Stang is overkill. Obviously, other people feel
otherwise, so there is a great deal of variation in Stang decoration.
I can tell you that I spent over 100 hours thinking about these tools
before I constructed them -- actual build time about 1 or 2 hours per
Stang. Was it worth the effort? Oh, yes, for these tools are
undoubtedly mine, and accurately reflect my particular tradition!

How then did I make them? Well, the shafts were the easy part. My Great
Stang shaft is a cut-down spare ash spear shaft I had on hand (how many
people can say that!?); my Small Stang shaft is an old ash weed sticker
with a ground-down digging tip. The Mini Stang, I went with an oak
dowel, since I was unable to acquire a dowel in ash. Still a sacred
tree, please note! The Great Stang and Mini required some work to clad
the base in mild steel to properly earth them. The Mini has a
ground-off screw-in hook in the base to support it outdoors. The Great
Stang has a rubber tip, for use in processionals; however, it has a
slip-on point to support it outdoors as well. The Small Stang was
easiest; the design of the weed digger already had steel cladding as
well as a ground piercing point. All the bases were painted black,
partly to protect from rust, partly to link to earth.

The fork on the Mini is deer antler, on the Small, elk antler, and on
the Great a deer skull with antlers. The Great's skull is removable,
the rest fixed. To affix the antler, first I matched the pieces to make
a fork, grinding their bases flat. Second, I cut flat spots on either
side of the shafts. Third, I hot-glued the antler in place and held it
until it cooled. Fourth, I bound the joints with black linen thread.
Fifth, I applied varnish over the thread. This serves to bind it firmly
in place, much like fiberglass.

I used colored cord to wrap the Aspect colors on all the Stangs. After
wrapping, I coated the cord with white glue (dries transparent), again,
to bond it in place, just like the linen/varnish combination. So you
see, it really isn't that hard to make them! The only real difficulty
was prepping the skull. And that only required boiling the icky bits
off, a long but very effective process. Oh, yeah, and cutting open the
brain pan (10 minutes with a Dremel) for inserting the shaft.
Determining what you want is still the major consideration;
construction is pretty simple.

OOPS, nearly forgot! Why do I have so many? I find that I prefer doing
most workings with the Small Stang as a tool. I also like the Great
Stang with cauldron as the altar or altar centerpiece. The Mini Stang I
use with a small cauldron, also on the altar. It can substitute for the
Great Stang as centerpiece, when I'm not at home. It's also very
portable for travel when the larger tools are hard to pack. Mostly, I
use it as a checkpoint to whether Goddess or God energy is presiding
over the rite. But I like having it on the altar, as it seems to
increase the sacred charge on it.

So, there you have my very personal take on the Stang -- an oft
neglected, poorly understood, yet richly complex and quintessentially
Witch tool. A tool for the Witch that symbolically combines the four
elemental tools, representations of the Lady and Lord, the functions of
an altar and the structure of the universe into a single object, etc.
Truly, a "Witch Army Knife" if ever there was one!
pgs. 61-67 The Roebuck and the Thicket, Evan John Jones, Capall Bann,
pgs. 87, 91-92 Call of the Horned Piper, Nigel A. Jackson, Capall
Bann, 1994
pgs. 109-110 Sacred Mask, Sacred Dance, Evan John Jones, Llewellyn
pg. 142 The Robert Cochrane Letters, Robert Cochrane, with Evan John
Jones, Capall Bann, 2002

ibid. (On the other hand, these folks are them. Fascinating site, and
informative as well.)

Thanks to Volkhvy of Rockhopper for pointing this out to me at the
11-17-03 lecture.

Bio: I embarked on my Path in '61, when I first heard the Wild Hunt.
Encountered a real, live teacher (CM) in '71. One day I was alone in
circle and felt a hand on my shoulder! THAT was when the Gods became
real to me.

I was initiated in '76. After my Second in '78, I asked for and
received Ministerial credentials (MCOW). In '85 I started Twyern, and
in '88 co-founded the Wiccan Church of Minnesota. This year I decided
that Twyern has become sufficiently non-Wiccan as to be a Path of its

4th Stangian Orthodox MegaFisTemple Lodge of the Wrath of Dobbs Yeti,
Resurrected (Rev. Ivan Stang, prop.)
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Subject: Re: "...a special one but still a pole"
From: "iDRMRSR" <idrmrsr@subgenius.com>
Newsgroups: alt.slack,alt.binaries.slack
Date: Tue, Dec 16, 2003 9:40 PM
Message-ID: <fJKdneKQmdiwX0Ki4p2dnA@giganews.com>

Here's another Stang by a different name:


What a chunk a choklit!



Subject: Re: "...a special one but still a pole"
From: ridetheory <ridetheory@notmail.com>
Newsgroups: alt.slack,alt.binaries.slack
Date: Fri, Dec 19, 2003 10:45 PM
Message-ID: <BC0905DD.47B3A%ridetheory@notmail.com>

in article 161220031643292500%stang@subgenius.com, Rev. Ivan Stang at
stang@subgenius.com wrote on 12/16/03 1:43 PM:

> Okay, it's back to a dictionary, this time the Shorter OED. Stang - "a
> pole or stake;" derived from the Old High German "Stanga."
> Interestingly, it comes from STING, v. "to pierce or goad."

AHA! It was YOU who used to play bass for The Police!


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