For Christmas this year I decided to try and make at least one gift from scratch. My daughter lent me the perfect idea when she began reading and talking about witches. This is an interest that I believe she picked up from her Anime shows and graphic novels. Wherever it came from though, it was a perfect match for my gift plan because hand made objects are imbued with power in the world of witching.

Also, in order to make a quality gift, I knew I’d have to be into the concept on some level myself. When I began reading up on witchcraft spells, I quickly found my way to the story of the origins of magic runes. Originating from an ancient Norse poem called Hávamál, the tale is one of sacrifice and attainment of knowledge. It is also one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read!

In this story Odin pins his corporeal self to Yggdrasil, the tree of life which contains the nine realms (be prepared for lofty language and imagery). There he hung above the Well of Urd, a repository for all of the knowledge of the entire Universe, for nine days and nights. He refused help, food, and water from all of the other Gods for this entire time. After the ninth night, the Norns recognized his sacrifice (himself to himself!!!) and taught the power and use of the runes to him. Odin then passed this knowledge on to Humanity, teaching it to the first generation of witches himself.

I was blown away by the depth and beauty of the imagery of this story. If you are unfamiliar with it I highly recommend looking it up. Here is one pretty good link to further you along that path:

I built this box from an idea. I had no blueprints or plans. Also, I chose not to use fasteners of any kind (except to affix the bronze hardware). The wood is basswood, sourced from my local hobby shop, called Hobby Hut Models. They were very helpful and understanding of my staring at their wood selection for what seemed like forever as I measured and remeasured in my head.

Wooden blocks on the shelf at Hobby Hut Models.
Block selection at Hobby Hut Models.

I began by cutting and gluing the frame of the chest together using 90º clamps. I then cut and glued boards around the frame to create the body of the chest. For the floor of the chest I used the thickest pieces of basswood board so that it could hand the abuse of having things tossed into the chest over the a period of years.

Next, I used a plate to trace a semi-circle onto slightly thicker boards which I used to create the end caps of the domed lid, as well as two ribs to give it more structural integrity. This I had to do because in order to bend the planks for the rounded top of the lid, I knew I had to use fairly thin sheets of wood. I glued these to sticks to create the frame of the chest’s lid, and then glued boards atop the arched end pieces in what I would call a shingled fashion.

For the consecration, I focused my energy and chanted “Elhaz” as I burned the rune itself into each side of the chest, and onto the end pieces of the lid. When the consecration ceremony was complete I used a weathered gray wood stain to color the box, as well as a clear coat inside the chest. Lastly, I glued a beautiful golden garland around the lower seam of the lid, both to close a small gap and to provide some aesthetic nuance to the chest.

My family watches television directly outside of my office, so my daughter knew that I was working on something in here, but we didn’t let her see what. Instead I pieced together a small gazebo from an old wood burning kit and showed it to her at various stages of completion. We repeatedly told her that she was getting the gazebo for Christmas, which really messed with her because of how much time I spent in here working on such a simple object, not to mention the noise and smells that I created in the process. I even wrapped the gazebo and put it under the tree. It was really great fun!