The wood along with the Celtic symbol design, on the walking stick, depicted the person and who he/she was. For example, some have a compass in the handle for the astronomer or seamen, and others may be devoted to a country past time such as fishing, golfing, breeding animals, merchants, farmers, Chieftains or riding. Of course the Chieftains, high ranking warriors, would have elaborately decorated walking sticks. Most likely they were buried with them. Many are adorned with items that match a persons personality or mood. They can also reflect the season or a person's individual power animal or family crest or totem. Later on they still reflected the profession, like the English Bobby!
Walking sticks, or Staves, were also used by religious men, like the Druids, to show their position originally. The type of wood, the Celts used for wand or staff showed how high a rank the Druid was - 6 yrs of school for Vate, 12 for a Bard and 18 for Druid and some 20 years. Later the stick was adopted by the Christian faith and bishops, archimandrites and Abbots used them. They even adopted some of the colors, though over the years this was dropped. The religious leaders carried a darker wood and the walking sticks were straight not curved like a candy cane. They used silver as a grip at the top and a metal cap at the tip. The walking stick used by the leading man like the Arch Druid or Christian headmen was of plain wood, and had absolutely no decorations on it. The walking stick was given only in Initiations of both Druidism and Bishop rites at the beginning of their service. No one else had the right to carry it until such time one of the same rank you were going in to gave it. Any wand or item given for that particular sect and service was returned when you were finished that service, or passed on to the new person taking over. As you can see, walking sticks vary in both size and shape. The artwork and sometimes even the beauty of the wood alone, have lead to the popular hobby of collecting them! Celtic ones are still elaborately carved with Celtic symbols, woodburned Celtic symbols, painted or plain. Some would show the hereditary badges or totem of the tribe or clan!
Walking sticks can be used to trek through rugged terrain, used to reach hard places or to clear away the wilderness foliage make a walkable path and avoid injury. They are great to use or leverage in gaining momentum to climb steeper hills, or to break a fall, or go slower going downhill. They are a must, in my opinion to bring on any outdoor adventure, as they can save a life when it comes to crossing a body of water or avoiding falling in a hole and test the ground or ice.
When purchasing one from an online store, it is good to put on a hand strap when you get it home. Most walking sticks craftsmen will drill this hole, and add a leather tie, for you at no extra charge or very minimal. You will want this if you are going anywhere so it can go around your wrist and you will not lose it in an accident. Also as a handle on the bigger ones called Staves, some may have a special grip where you place your hand for greater comfort. As a general rule of thumb, buy a walking stick staff of 3" shorter than you are. The larger and stronger the man, the larger and stronger the stick.
What are Nordic walking sticks? This term is used when telling you that there are two sticks, like ski poles. You'll want at least two kinds of walking sticks, one for cold climates, such as winter in Canada, and one for warmer weather. A winter walking stick will have a, a metallic cleat attached to the bottom in lieu of the rubber tip. Some are made so that the bottom converts into two styles, so you don't ruin indoor floors. These come in a set! They are winter walking sticks. The Norse people lived in a rugged world, and sometimes the weather was nasty. These Nordic walking sticks are all the rave in Europe today! They are becoming more popular in US and Canada as the world is reawakening to become more conscious of their health. Buying a walking stick and pedometer, and putting them by the door, will remind you that you need to finish your 10,000 steps per day. Walking with two walking sticks in the correct length radically reduces the stress to the knees, hips and back.
The collecting of walking sticks is a great hobby to take up for those searching for something to collect. Their value will never decrease and they are many types - ancient, modern, and hidden compartment ones like - hidden swords, hidden pool cues, hidden liquids (these are called tipplers!)," or compartments to hide precious stones, smokes, or matches for the survival campfire, and money. No matter what the reason, walking sticks are an investment that can't go wrong! All walking sticks are a great conversational piece as well as some having absolutely stunning - carved, painted or wood burned, designs! If you are big on the hidden sword canes, make sure it is legal in your country! Still today, people spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for them, as they are and most likely always will be, a hot collectible!