As a Wandmaker, I often try to use a core group of woods above others for various reasons: availability, pricing, endangered or threatened species... among other reasons. Occasionally, its due to general belief that there should be highlighted woods in each elemental category (see the bottom of the into the woods page on the website) that are "go to" woods.
In some situations, there are woods that border or sit on the threshold of two different types of personalities or wood properties... when using the Elemental model for Wand Wood classification. In my experience these woods tend to be very sought after as their dual nature creates a unique balance that is normally not found in a wood that has a strong primary element (i'll have more posts on this topic later).
Walnut and Wenge. Lets start with these two woods. In the wand world, there are few that can create such a balance together, as they do apart.
Wenge is no stranger in my line up of woods. I love most everything about this wood... although working with it can be a pain. The grain can be loose at times, having a tendency to splinter or tear out which can create an un-even surface. To have a smoother finish, careful sanding needs to take place. A wood of Central Africa, the tree itself can grow to approximately 90ft tall. It is a hard wood, able to be classified as durable, even when using it for wand making. A growing issue however, which I am ever mindful of, is that according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wenge is listed on the Red List. Meaning, its endangered.
Walnut is also a familiar wood in the workshop, as with many workshops worldwide. The type that I use most is Black Walnut, a domestic wood to Eastern North America. Nicely, it is not listed as threatened. Growing upwards of 120ft, Walnut also has a good strength and durability for my purposes with it. It works much easier with tools, either machine or hand.
Here is where the fun starts when using these two woods and where uncertainty begins to most when choosing between the two at events. They are normally considered perfect balances of each other. Wenge is a balance of Fire and Air elements. Spirit being a lingering but important, third association. Walnut is an Earth and Water association, also with Spirit in the background.
Wenge, as listed on my website is excellent for mood stabilizing, calming one’s mind. It promotes balanced thought. Works well for any meditation work for centering (all is accurate for Walnut). This is true especially when using the Air energy. Normally there is no weight to this energy, nothing weighing down its holder and a centering capability is promoted. With Walnut, the Earth grounding capability would promote the same but feel as though an anchoring is achieved which creates a more stable effect for some. For both these woods, this trait either way makes them a reliable tool for beginners or those that are simply wanting a calming side.
For the more energetic, well then, there's an element for that. Walnuts Water side is very free flowing, consuming as i normally say (also accurate for Wenge's Fire side). This is where Walnuts abundant energy comes into play. Like tides can turn a calm, tranquil area into a rushing and raging location, Walnut has that other side to it. Its calming and grounding property can be offset by this energy and its important to point out that there can be quite a significant edge to it at times.
Black Walnut is allelopathic. Meaning, the tree can excrete chemicals into its surrounding ground to protect itself from other plants, trees, etc. This characteristic of Walnut carries through with its magical energy and can be quite protective under the right circumstances. Mostly very useful in matters and ritual of protecting the home and family, although can handle any protective spell that is required of it. Wenge has the same capability which surprises many. For a wood which is known to centre and calm moods, Wenge can be a fighter. Offensive and Defensive energies are abundant and can be easily channeled. Easily channeled is something to consider whenever thinking of its fiery side. Always keep in mind that any wood which has a stronger Fire element association can be unpredictable, chaotic and dynamic. There are some exceptions of course as with anything.
Both of these woods are looked at in a very similar light at most times due to the parallels between them. Most people at events and gatherings end up having a hard time choosing between the two. I believe that Wenge's overall look, its exotic nature will win out usually and partly because of its natural, darker look. Which is a contributing reason why Wenge is in a state of endangerment. Other darker woods such as types of Rosewoods, African Blackwoods, Ebonies, etc face similar issues with overharvesting because of simple appearance. Over the course of the 2019 I plan to limit some woods, especially certain darker woods due to their overall status. Some woods when working with them in the workshop can handle a searing or fire effect quite well and those wanting a visually darker wand have found this simple technique (used vastly on woods that are not threatened at all) to be appealing. But one can't deny the feeling of both Wenge and Black Walnut being worlds apart but so very similar when holding the two..