Wednesday, 18 July 2012 12:56

The Witches' Ladder

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A Witches LadderThe witches' ladder hangs on my patio, where I often sit to write, work, read, or let my thoughts wander.  It sway and spins with the slightest breeze, yet the little charms at the bottom give it just enough weight that it stays in place.  I like to lean back in my chair and get lost in the slow, hypnotic motions of the bright feathers, while meditating on the purpose for which I built it. 

The witches' ladder is easy to make.  Three pieces of yarn, braided together with nine feathers braided into the cord is the basic idea.  I use red, black and white to represent the middle, lower, and higher souls, but any colors that contribute to your goal are great. I add some charms to the bottom of mine to add decor as well as to give it weight, and I tied nine knots with nine pieces of ribbon along the length of the cord.

When built with magical intent, it can draw something desirable into your life, whether it's something specific or general blessings.  The constant, gentle twisting of the feathers collects those natural energies of the earth, continually sending and directing them toward your goal.  For this reason, I consider witches' ladders to be excellent for long term magickal goals - the kind that may take months or years to manifest.  I also consider them excellent for blessing magick, as amulets that protect or draw blessings to the space they inhabit.

When building a witches' ladder, I choose nine words that describe the purpose for which I built the ladder.  If I built a ladder to help me get excellent grades in school, I might choose words like, "tenacity," "clarity," "energy," "intelligence," and so on.  They can be virtues that you have, virtues that you are working to increase, or descriptors of the desired outcome of the situation. If desired, you can select specific colors for your feathers which represent these virtues.

I get into a trance, and I start weaving the three cords into a braid.  As I do, I keep a clear vision of the goal realized.  I may say a keyword or phrase repeatedly as I weave the cords, enhancing the focus I achieve through the repetitive motion of braiding.  When I pause to insert a feather into the braid, I imagine bringing the full power of that virtue into my being so that it may aid me like the perfect gust of wind in my sails.

With this particular ladder, I wanted to incorporate Doreen Valiente's "The Spell of the Cord," into it.  The power of knots is well-known to many witches.  I used it as a way to seal in the magick, and put a final punctuation mark on my work.  With this project, I cut nine pieces of ribbon in equal length, and tied them just above each feather.  I started with the first one on the top feather, the second one on the bottom feather, the third one on the second-to-top feather, the fourth one on the second-to-bottom feather, and so on, working my way inward to knot number nine, which was tied directly in the middle.  As I tied each knot, I pulled up energy from the earth, channeled it through my body, and put it into the knot by blowing on it as I pulled the ribbon tightly.  Then, I held my fingers over the knot, focused, and said the verse for that knot.

What I like so much about the witches' ladder is the beauty in simplicity.  Such an easy project it was to make, but it turned out to be such a delightful way to make magick.  No special tools or skills are required; all that's needed are your mind, heart and soul, your hands, and a few simple items.

The Spell of the Cord

By the knot of one
The spell’s begun.

By the knot of two
It cometh true.

By the knot of three
Thus shall it be.

By the knot of four
‘Tis strengthened more.

By the knot of five
So may it thrive.

By the knot of six
The spell we fix.

By the knot of seven
The Stars of Heaven.

By the knot of eight
The hand of fate.

By the knot of nine
The thing is mine.

~ Doreen Valiente, Witchcraft for Tomorrow pp. 188-189