Sometimes when I walk my dog I find branches which have fallen of trees by the storm or washed up by the river or the sea. I can see the potential in them for beautiful or powerful objects and by working with them, shaping them, I feel, I give them a voice. Its like this part of the tree and me create something together in unison as a result of a communication that is going on.
But not only the branch or piece of wood must resonate with me, I also carefully choose the places I collect the branches from. A place with a negative resonance could leave imprints of this in the wood. I therefore get the wood from areas which have a positive and strong energy, ask permission and leave offerings in exchange. Only when I get permission, I take the branches home with me to work with them.
What is also important, is the type of wood used. The power of a shamanic tool can be increased by using a type of wood which enhances the power symbols on it. Oak is the male wisdom keeper. The trees grow slow and live hundreds of years. The wisdom of oak is magnificent which the Druids already knew and highly revered this tree. The beech is the female wisdom keeper, birch is a tree for fertility, love, family. Yggdrasil, the world tree or tree of life was supposed to have been an Ash (some say it was Yew - both have a very old ancient energy as they are around a long time) and it is very good for rune staves, rune sets and rune magic. The Hawthorne has a very protective energy as it is the tree connected to the fairy realm guarding the entrances to the otherworld.
The tools I use are my hands, a wood carving knife, sand paper and a wood burning iron. Most of the designs are not painted on the wood but burned into it. Afterwards I oil the carvings using only natural Linseed oil.
I don't normally cut branches of trees and take what is freely given unless I'm asked to. This happens sometimes with Ivy branches which I cut off when they are strangling a tree and weakening it. I normally use the Ivy branches to create serpents as they naturally hold the energy of serpent crawling up the trees. In the shamanic work we build a relationship with serpent as she teaches us to shed that which does not serve us, the way serpent sheds the skin.
These are some examples of serpent carvings I created.