“…finding the appropriate materials to form a wand core is the work of centuries. Not just any part of any magical creature will do after all, as the magic of the beast rarely outlives the beast itself, and in those rare instances wherein the enchantment survives it is usually a brief thing. The pelt of the demiguise is the perfect example. It is well known that the beasts’ hair, when carefully woven, retains its ability to become invisible. The magic is short lived though, and far from perfect…the obfuscating force wears thin within just a few years, and even careful preservation cannot maintain the garment’s powers for long.
Thus, the discovery of those magical creatures’ whose parts and pieces have both the requisite strength and durability to be of use as a wand core is the work of generations, and is comprised of much trial and error. In Europe only three cores have proven to be of high enough quality for use: dragon heartstrings, unicorn hair, and phoenix feathers. Two of these cores, the phoenix feather and dragon heartstring, are also used in Northern Africa and parts of Asia. Other types of core are not unheard of of course, but they generally require fairly consistent replacement over the course of years, and the expense of acquiring such replacements is usually more than most are willing to bear.
In North America, the expense of importing traditional European wand cores had led to the adoption of new types of wand core. There are currently four that are most commonly used: gowrow tusk, pacific sea-serpent spines, and the tail feathers of thunderbirds and firebirds. Every individual mage in the United States seems to have an affiliation with one of these cores, though true masters of wandcraft prefer to say that each wand core has a preference for a particular type of witch or wizard.
The tusk of the mighty Ozark gowrow is harvested carefully on a yearly basis by the caretakers of their vast reserves in the American south-east. The gowrok uses their tusks to shift the soil and stone through which they burrow, and the magic inherent in them retains its affinity with the earth after harvesting and even centuries after the death of the wyrm through which it was gathered. Mages with an affinity for wands with gowrow tusks tend to be practical, even-tempered, and strong willed. Common sense is the keyword of this core.
The pacific sea-serpent is common throughout the world’s largest ocean, and technically comes in variety of breeds and families. The pacific-moon serpent, a gorgeous and musical beast that is most commonly found off the western coast of the Americas, especially off the southern coast of California is the primary source of wand cores, as the creatures are both exceedingly friendly and their spines are very flexible. The recipients of such wands are likewise generally very pliant people, being willing to adapt and bend as needed. Empathy (though not necessarily sympathy) is the trait most associated with this wand.
Firebirds are distant relatives of the phoenix, native to the American Southwest. Like their Indian cousins, the firebirds are closely associated with fire and the sun. Less intelligent than their Indian cousins, the firebird is larger and tends to remain aloof from all other species, both mundane and magical. When the firebird bursts into flame to restart its life-cycle, it leaves behind its mighty pinions, which are gathered for use in wands in the AWC. Passion highlights the personalities of the wizards and witches chosen by these wands, and a focus on creativity is common.
Similarly related, the thunderbird of the American northeast also contributes its tail feathers to the cause of American wizardry. Thunderbird feathers kept in the Smithsonian Institute of Magical History have been shown to hold electrical charges and be able to predict the weather even after being stored underground in glass jars for over a century. The power of the wind and storms resides within the bodies of these mighty raptors, and carries over even after the plumage is plucked by intrepid caretakers and magizoologists. Wizards who handle these wands tend to favor sharp wits and academic intelligence over other forms of mental cognition. As the proud owner of just such a wand, this witch can certainly testify to natural superiority of thunderbird feather cores…”
Lidia Thrift, Magical Crafts in the AWC - Volume II (Required Reading for the EWE Level enchantment courses at the Blackgate Academy).