Hello Elias – you asked this on the About- page
I wrote a long post and managed to press a button and off it went – somewhere. Trying again. And I replied – and am learning about blogs.
That is a long question. There are many responses, many experiences. Gleaning, I find a few.
First, I ask from Spirit(s) – my helping ones – I ask from the Land. Very simply, to the point, for a staff. If I am on the Land, in a place where I can be in nature (city parks and fields have offered staves) – I give a small gift to the spirits of the Land, my kin, my kith. Could be tobacco, turquoise, a pc of fish or delicious food morsel, return a crystal, a coin, pc of jewellery, etc.
And I wait. I walk.
I might decide to go on a walk for this. Start from a specific place and end in a specific place. And let Spirits guide me on the walk. Using shamanic eyes, liminal eyes- how you want to call this? I just say keeping my eyes open nowadays. And spirit helpers along, Life along, intention…. and walk, meander.
The question is do I take from a living tree or what we say, dead-fall: wood that has fallen from the living tree. Here, it is not allowed to take from a living tree. Because here in Finland, the trees are “kept”, owned by someone for different reasons. Could be that they are protecting their trees so they can grow normally without human interference; or it is for clear-cutting or thinning or or or the place is part of the commune (county?) or village…. But what I was taught in Tuva was that one never cuts a living tree down, takes from a living tree because if one does, they kill one of their children (in their village, or family circle, country). Literally, kill through disease or straight-out death. So we would collect wood for winter from dead-fall, those storm-fallen, flood-ripped, and even old-age trees. Thinking about that on a macrocosmos-microcosmos manner arises the way humans are now….
Which reminds of a story which I have permission to tell. So, I and another are holding a week long drum-birthing workshop in North Karelia years back. Could have been yesterday! And one of the participants, she who now works with me on this workshop, heads out to her sit-spot, her power place, her special spot in the forest. And she has asked Spirits for a staff, a piece of wood.
Crouching in the bush amongst the fir trees and gathering up connection and advice, she is. Kind of near a small car track (narrow, thru the forest-type). There she is, minding her own affairs and along comes a small car with two older folk. She can see the approach – so if she can see, could it not be so that they can see her also? HA!
There she is with mosquito hat on, forest coloured clothes, her rattle amongst the bush. And comes the Oh Shit! they have a chainsaw with them! They are thinning the trees. She watches them move along. And then realises they are coming her way! What to do? Just sit there amongst the trees and wait til they stumble upon her? Can she be invisible? Don’t want to scare them – I mean, we are in the forest with no one supposed to be around! Should she just “pop out” of the bushes like some little menninkäinen- troll- fairy-? Will they get a heart attack from shock? How embarrassing this is, she feels. She don’t want interference! What a predicament!
Gathering up her strength, her courage, her gumption she decides to reveal herself. Better that then have them drop their chainsaw on her! So she stands from her crouching and steps out to be visible. Well, a bit of shock. Now if you see her, know her, and could see her costume, her little specs on her nose, and a mosquito hat with netting covering her face, you’d be rolling on the floor with laughter. And she says: Good day!
And that couple! What do they do? Neat as a hat, just cool as cucumbers on a spit-hot day, return the greeting: Good day!
“I see you are thinning the trees,”, she says. I mean that is very obvious, but one must abide by some courtesies. Finns are not intrusive. Generations (of trauma too) of “doing things on one’s own- story.
“Yes, we need to take care of our little road. Easier to see when moose and animals come out of the bush”, says the man with the chainsaw. “What are you up to?”
“Oh I am just enjoying being here in the forest. Is this your forest? (Yes) and I am in a workshop nearby. I am out here looking for a staff”, she says in all truthfulness. For she is probably the most honest persons I know.
“Oh, what kind? We have this chainsaw – how long do you need it, you know what kind of tree you need for this staff? How long?”
Well, one of her advices that she heard was, rowan, the world tree for her, and straight as a straight can be. And that is what she tells the man with the chainsaw.
He goes over to a rowan – not a big one, straighter than straight and whizzes that saw – and the wife goes over and holds it – and he cuts that rowan to the perfect height to her shoulder.
My friend says thank you many times. The old couple act as if embarrassed by this praise and say thank you back to her – no problem and all continue their way.
My friend, she says that the lesson of that day was not just about the staff, and getting her staff, but about being seen and following where courage called, becoming visible when everything in her body was saying make yourself small, disappear into the earth, be embarrassed because those were her sore spots. It was for her: asking for help, which is something that does not run in her parents, nor relatives. One must always do everything by oneself. That old couple came around to the workshop site later to see what we were all up to and have a chat, check in with my friend and her new staff. Such it is out in the countryside.
Another way is to dream the staff. Dream through a dream, as in when asleep. Or dream through a shamanic journey. Spirit helpers along- always. Those guiding relatives who may be another form than two-legged – those ones or one who know the ways of the spirit(s) world(s).
My staves came through a dream. I was invited over to BC, Canada to do some shamanic work, ceremony, teaching. I asked at home before dreaming what needs to go with me for this journey – and they said what needed to go along AND also said, you don’t take your drum. I almost always work with drum and song. Shock! My status, my personal being! My special friend left home alone???
So I left for Squamish without my drum. They said you going to find your staves. Staves? That is more than one. I arrived and went off to one island off of Vancouver Island for a visit to a friend. They own a plot of land there. And I asked, that if perchance, some pieces of wood, some staff wants to come with me, may I take – from ground or living or neither. And they said: help yourself to any and all.
I was in their hut – and made a shamanic journey (intention simple, a couple of spirit helpers along, singing and rattling, sending a part of me out and about, find answer, return, and follow-through). I asked what they -shehe should look like, what to keep in mind, what offerings to bring, how to care for when I get them back to the hut). A very clear journey and a very clear vision. Leaving the hut, taking the offerings along I began to walk with eyes wide open. I wandered through the woods and wetlands looking to see who called- or rather who was answering. For in the journey I saw two beings – one with new growth wrapped around old growth and and vittu or crook- like a diamond-ish shape at the top with the other one a straight arm-thick staff. I trust the journey and the spirits yet to be honest I really was not sure – how could I find such an old-growth new growth branch or tree? And singing out there, I came upon one that called and said “me”.
This was the straight one. A dead branch attached to a mighty cedar mother. Offerings, double-checking that this was alright to do, in that taking-receiving the “dead branch” – I also received a gash in the head, pride squashed and a black out. Humbled greatly, I walked with the thought only to return to the hut, for my head was bleeding and needed tending. Such a twat I was. How harsh my tongue to myself. Still am! I strolled under cedar branches, mother trees, small trees, talking all the time with them – and there just like in the journey – sticking out from a cedar on one side of one cedar was the branch – new growth wrapped around old forming at the end an opening – a diamond-like crook. And this one, after learning from the previous – I just asked: if you want to come with me, come. Listen! Listen! Listen and watch and wait. So I sat and waited. And then I stood and touched the branch, and we knew that this one could come. With the permission of the land owner, with the permission of the tree, with much food offering, some vodka, some remembering words, I sawed the branch off in a spot where new growth was sure to follow. Ahh, some guilt, much “I hope I gave enough, I hope I balanced enough” went through my head.
I travelled to England once. Needed a staff for a long ceremony as I will not bring my staves any longer through airports. My dear friend Annie and I go off for a walk through the back streets of Bath, off up to some fields. We walk a few minutes. I noticed a buzzard above me. Circling tight circles above me. This was welcome. A hello from that land. And I passed on the news about on the look-out for a staff for this ceremony. Buzzard flies off. We walk along, cross the hillside grassfield – you know, the British kind: trees only line the edges. And there in the middle of this field is a long, shoulder-height wrist-thick stick. We stand there looking around – no humans around, trees are very far away, no dogs (this is not throwing stick- more like a javelin, although we do know one dog in BC who would think this was a fantastic throw stick, that is another story)….like did Buzzard just drop one into the middle of the field? Fairy folk? WHO KNOWS! So thank you gifts in return, check-in for ok to pick up, and now to create a relationship with this staff.
A few ways to make a staff? Nature makes them.
Shoulder height – or up to your head. Your world tree.
You do not need to decorate it. For why have something that stands out that others can notice and pinpoint and desire? In the archaic exists the sacred used. And only those who use or are privy to the teachings, or participated in the ceremony where this “item” has been, truly know the beauty and the energy, the power and threads tied to Sacred and Spirit.
You may have more than one staff – one for public use, one private use perhaps. They are just like a shaman’s drum, or other “instrument” – they become your friend, they are sacred, they have Spirit, they are Spirit, they gather and swell, dream and dwell in this world and others; they hold and take in and spread, sending out.
An afterthought when I remembered the original post.
Make a walking journey- where you have an entrance to nature. This might be some sort of natural threshold, gateway, gate, between two trees, over a natural waterway. Stillness, nature talking not humans. It can be a known route or one you make your self, for instance. Taking your spirit helper(s) along, make clear your reason for this walk, step through this Nature-made doorway and seek out your staff. Keep in mind the “fallen” or “living” from above and follow as your helpers guide you. When you find your staff, ask, give thanks, gifts, and return the same way as best as you can. The whole walk is part of the story, there can be little lessons along the way about the staff and your relationship with staff.
Staff- simple walking stick – or not.