Monday, June 4, 2007

To Make a Witches Ladder

My yard has been so full of little songbirds lately, that it got me thinking about making a new Witches' Ladder. This fun little crafty item is made to be hung from the tallest point inside your home, and aids in protection of your home and those residing in it.

So, what does this have to do with birds, you might ask? Well, a Witches' Ladder for protection is made of a collection of nine different colored feathers. I have made them with only seven, too. You can also make the charm for a particular purpose such as health, with only three feathers. The feathers need to be different colors. Traditionally, they would come from nine different kinds of birds, as well. However, I know just how difficult it can be to find these feathers. As long as they are all different colors, I don't think it impacts the magick too much. These would be feathers that you find on the ground.
We are coming into the time of year when adult birds will start to molt their feathers, in preparation for the Fall migration. This molting usually occurs after the baby birds have started to fledge. It has taken me many seasons to get enough feathers to make my ladders. I like to use songbird feathers. You can use any feathers that you gather, except from birds of prey. I would not use nine different feathers from these birds together. For one thing, it's illegal to possess feathers from any bird of prey. You are not even supposed to pick up a fallen hawk feather from the ground. Yeah, right, but I have to tell you that anyway. It is the law. (Technically, you are not allowed to collect songbird feathers, either.) Aside from that, using different raptor feathers together is tricky business. If you are not extremely well-versed in working with these spirits, I really suggest you don't try it with this project. I also use parrot feathers that have been gifted to me. You can use feathers that you have bought, but try to find as many wild feathers as you can first.

The actual ladder is made from braiding three cords, yarn or ribbons together. The traditional colors used would represent the triple aspect of the Goddess: white, red, and black. I have used other colors that represent my magickal traditions, such as green, white, and purple. If you are doing a three feather charm for a particular purpose, I would choose a cord color that corresponds to that work. Once you have your feathers and ribbons, you're ready to being assembling the charm.

I like to do this in sacred space, in a cast circle with an altar, during the full moon. You will need about a yard of each color ribbon. Tie one end together and start braiding. Say a chant while you braid to add power to the charm. Repeat this chant over and over until you are done braiding. When you're done, knot the end. At this point, you can start to tie on the feathers, evenly spaced along the ladder. You can continue with the spell as you tie on each feather. For instance, you can call in Health with the red feather, Prosperity with a green feather, Illumination with a yellow feather, Protection with black feathers, etc.

After you tie on all the feathers, tie the ends together to form a circle. Consecrate the ladder by smudging it with incense or sage, and infusing it with purpose. Hang the ladder in the highest part of your house where it won't be readily seen, such as an attic or in the eaves.

So, now that you want to make this charm, you need to go find feathers! You know that you can always find me walking along, staring at the ground, looking for feathers. I've actually walked right into trees because I was so busy looking at the ground!
Let me know how it turns out!