Glass wands, shaped like a walking-stick with a curved handle and having hair lines in the glass, or rods filled with a multitude of small coloured seeds, are now sometimes seen in houses where they are kept as curios or ornaments. Formerly, however, they were hung up as a protection against witchcraft and evil spirits. It was believed that any entering demon or witch would be forced to count the lines or seeds during the hours of darkness, and would be prevented, while doing so, from enchanting or injuring any person or thing in the house. Disease and infections were similarly supposed to fly to the wand and to be held there. In the morning, the evil influences could be harmlessly wiped away with a cloth.
If such a charm-wand was accidentally broken, the omen was bad, and illness or misfortune of some kind was expected to follow.
Next, we have a passage in Nigel Pennick’s Secrets of East Anglian Magic, 2nd edition:
Looking like a glass walking-stick, containing spirals of coloured glass threads, the charm wand was once more than just a collectable curio… The master glassmakers who created them by hand produced magically empowered artifacts with the express function of warding off airborne illness. The proper way to use a charm wand is to hang it up indoors as a protection against the entry of disease into the house. To empower the wand, each morning it should be wiped vigorously with a dry cloth, charging it up to trap contagious particles in the air… Naturally, breaking one is an extremely bad omen, and ill is sure to follow.
Now, what you’ll notice about both these sources is how recent they are. It’s troubling that I was unable to find any earlier sources. Was I overlooking something?
I asked for some help on this question, and I’ll share what I found with you next time.