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The Symbolic Literature of the Renaissance

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French: Baguettes

Authority: Menestrier 1694

(What is this?)

A magic wand or divining rod or staff

     The wand is most commonly used in English for the magician’s wand or the divining rod. In classical times it was also used as a synonym for the caduceus, the staff used by Hermes and Asclepius. Circe, described by Homer as herself carrying a wand, refers to Hermes as he with the Golden Wand. The two intertwined snakes of this symbol were derived from the story of Apollo (others say it was the blind seer, Teiresias) using his staff to separate two fighting snakes. Athena also used a golden wand to transform Odysseus when he arrived home in Ithaca. In the Old Testament both the rod of Moses and the rod of Aaron are used to perform magic or miracles.

     In modern times, Pierre Menestrier in his Philosophie des Images Enigmatiques of 1694 devotes one hundred pages or so to the Baguette making it clear that its use was widespread, for water divining, the location of treasure, the identification of boundaries and the tracking of wrongdoers. His interest was apparently sparked by the case of one Jaques Aymar which was a cause célèbre in France at the time (1692). Aymar was a French peasant who was proficient with divining rods and in this case was able to track down a serial killer many miles from the scene of the crime. Menestrier goes into a long essay on the causes of the phenomenon: he discusses whether it was the influence of the stars, the natural ability of the user, one more example of the enthusiasm invoked by ancient cults to approach God or the malevolent force of demons. He uses this specific event as an example and excuse to expand into a general discussion of the origin and causes of all physical phenomena.

See also: Divinations, Prophesies, Visions