A Brief History of Magic Wands

By | May 29, 2019

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Vintage illustration of a cigar box label for Wizard tobacco in the 1920s. Source: (Photo by Found Image Press/Corbis via Getty Images)

Magicians, wizards, witches, sorcerers, and fairies all know that to give their magical powers a boost, they need a magic wand. These thin, hand-held devices were said to be the source of magic or, at the very least, served as a distraction away from a sleight-of-hand. It may be tempting to credit JK Rowling for the invention of the magic wand, but in fact, this power stick has a long and diverse background. Let’s look at the brief history of magic wands. 

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The goddess Circe turns Odysseus's men into pigs with her magic wand. Source: (picdeer.com)

A Greek Invention

By all accounts, the first written references to magic wands come from the Greek writer, Homer, and appear in his works, The Iliad and The Odyssey. In The Iliad, he wrote that a magic wand, which he called a rod, was the tool used by the god Hermes to put people to sleep and then wake them up again. In The Odyssey, Homer wrote that the goddess Athena used her magic wand to turn Odysseus into an old man and then, with a wave of her wand, she made him young again. Later in The Odyssey, the goddess Circe also uses a magic wand. She uses her device to turn Odysseus’s men into pigs.