WOTC Extra – Making Your Own Ritual Robe

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WOTC Extra – Making Your Own Ritual Robe

Many Wiccans and Pagans prefer to perform ceremonies and rituals in special robes. If you’re part of a coven or group, your robe might have to be a certain color or style. In some traditions, the color of the robe indicates the level of training a practitioner has. For many people, donning the ritual robe is a way of separating themselves from the mundane business of everyday life — it’s a way of stepping into the ritual mindset, of walking from the mundane world into the magical world. Most people prefer to wear nothing at all under their ritual robe, but do what is comfortable for you.

It’s not uncommon to have robes for the different seasons, symbolizing the turning Wheel of the Year. You can make one in blue for spring, green for summer, brown for fall, and white for winter — or any other colors that symbolize the seasons for you. Do take the time to put some thought into your color selection — it used to be that most Wiccans wore white robes, but many people prefer to use earth tones, because it’s a way of establishing one’s connection with nature. Some people choose to avoid black, because it sometimes has negative connotations, but use the color that feels right for you.

Anyone can make a robe of their own, and it’s not hard to do. If you can sew a straight line, you can make a robe. First of all, for experienced sewers, there are a number of excellent commercially available patterns out there. You can check catalogs at your local fabric store under “Costumes”, which is where most of the good robes are hiding out, especially in the “historical” and “Renaissance” categories. Here are some that look nice and can be made without too much sewing experience:

* Simplicity 4795: Believe it or not, this is a set of patterns for a passion play. There’s an angel design in here that’s fantastic for a ritual robe. You may want to reduce the drop in the sleeves a bit, though, just to keep from setting yourself on fire while lighting candles.
* Simplicity 3623: This pattern is for a Scottish-themed costume, complete with tam. However, it also includes a pattern for a muslin underdress to be worn beneath the bodice and skirt — this makes a great ritual robe, and can be assembled in just a couple of hours.
* Simplicity 3616: Sure, the wizard costume seems campy, but if you eliminate the trim and the long white beard, it makes a version of the ritual robe that is far more masculine than some of the other patterns.
* McCalls 4490: For more advanced sewers, this lovely Renaissance-style dress can easily be adapted for a ritual robe.

To make a basic robe without buying a pattern, you can follow these simple steps. You’ll need the following:

* A piece of material in the color of your choice — make sure you select something that will be easy to sew and comfortable to wear. On the average, you’ll need about three yards, but if you’re heavyset or extra-tall, add in some more. A flat bedsheet is actually the perfect size for this.
* Scissors, thread, tailor’s chalk, and a measuring tape.
* A sewing machine.
* A length of cord or light rope, approximately 6 feet long.

You’ll need some help for this first step, because you need to measure yourself from wrist to wrist with your arms outstretched. Unless you have a third arm, get a friend to do this for you. This measurement will be Measurement A. Next, figure the distance from the nape of your neck to a point even with your ankle — this will be Measurement B. Fold the fabric in half (if the material has a print on it, fold it with the pattern side in). Using your A and B measurements, cut out along the lines indicated in Figure 1, making a sort-of T-shape. Don’t cut out along the top fold — that’s the part that will go along the top of the arms and shoulders.

Next, cut a hole for your head (X) at the center of Measurement A. Don’t make it too big, or your robe will slide off your shoulders! On each side, sew along the underside of the sleeve, leaving an opening at Y for the arms (Figure 2). Then sew from the armpit down to the bottom of the robe. Turn your robe right-side out, try it on, and adjust it for length if needed.

Finally, add a cord around the waist, as shown in Figure 3. In some traditions the cord may be knotted to indicate degrees of training or education. In others, it acts simply as a belt to keep the robe from flapping around during ritual. You can also add trim, beadwork, or magical symbols to your robe. Personalize it, and make it yours. You may also wish to consecrate your robe before wearing it for the first time.

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Calendar of the Sun for January 1st

Calendar of the Sun

1 Wolfmonath

Kalends: Day of the Moerae

Colors: White, red, and black.
Element: Air
Altar: Drape with cloths of white, red, and black, and place upon it three candles in these same colors, three goblets in these same colors holding white wine, red wine, and elderberry wine, a spindle wound with handspun thread, a piece of woven cloth, and a large knife or pair of shears.
Offerings: Libations of wine.
Daily Meal: Vegan. Should be eaten in silence.

Invocation to the Moerae

(Light the white candle and raise the spindle.)
Spin truth into words,
Spin words into doom,
Spin doom into fortune,
Spin fortune into life,
Spin my life fine and strong,
O Lady with the spindle
Whose thread is my beginning.
(All take a piece of thread from the spindle. Pour out the white wine as a libation. Light the red candle and lift the woven cloth high.)
Weave truth into vision,
Weave vision into mind,
Weave mind into spirit,
Weave spirit into life,
Weave my life with depth and color,
O Lady with the shuttle
Whose tapestry is my existence.
(All knot their thread. Pour out the red wine. Light the black candle and lift the shears high.)
Cut truth away from falsehood,
Cut falsehood away from illusion,
Cut illusion away from matter,
Cut matter away from body,
Cut my body away from my life
When the time comes,
O Lady with the shears
Whose knowing hand is my doom
And also my truth.
(The leader of the ritual drapes his or her head with a cloth of black and walks around the circle, cutting each thread in silence. The cut threads are laid upon the altar as an offering, and all sit in silence, meditating on their Fate and that of the coming year. Leave in silence.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Sun for December 12th

Calendar of the Sun

Bruma

Colors: White and brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a bare table lay a large pot shaped like a human figure, reclining, filled with earth. All should enter bearing two white cloths, one on each arm.
Offerings: Silence and meditation.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian

Bruma Invocation

Earth, you lie sleeping in silence,
And we can do nothing but wait.
We have breathed upon your first seeds,
We have sung your first green shoots
Up from the bare brown soil,
We have watered you with tears and sweat
And fed you with the remains of our meals,
We have cut down your bounty and saved it,
Yet this is not the time for seeds, or green,
But simply the long cold wait in the dark
Until the light waxes and the time comes again.
You are silent, and will not speak to us,
No matter how we cry out.
You are dormant, and will not sing to us,
No matter how we raise our voices,
For all things come in their own time,
And this is not the time for movement.
So we will sit with you, Earth,
We will watch over you as you sleep
And take part in your dreams
In silence, and wait for your awakening.

Chant:
Earth dreaming
Silent seeming
Winter’s vigil
We will wait for you.

(After the chant has been sung five times, all come forth to the altar. Each lays one white cloth gently over the pot, saying, “Blessed be the Earth in the time of winter.” Then each sits on the floor and places the other white cloth over their heads, and meditates on all that is sleeping and cannot be awoken. Silence in the House until Akte.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Moon for December 3rd

Calendar of the Moon

3 Ruis/Poseideion

Pandora’s Day

Colors: Grey and white
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a grey cloth set a large wooden box covered with carvings of horror, blight, and disease. It should be filled with two layers of rolled papers, separated by a cloth. The first layer is rolled papers tied with black string, which are assignments as to what offering of aid to the unfortunate should be given. The bottom layer is rolled papers tied with silver string, each of which has a saying of hope written upon it. Aside from the box, the altar should be starkly empty.
Offerings: Give aid and hope to those who are suffering outside the House. The following day should be a day of helping other organizations.
Daily Meal: Give food to others; the House fasts tonight.

Invocation to Pandora

Sweet Pandora,
Lady All-Gifted,
You were made like a toy by the Gods
To take revenge on the world,
Yet you hold your own mystery.
You were constructed with all gifts,
Yet we must never forget
That suffering, too, is a gift.
Though it may seem like the greatest of evils,
The pain that you bring hones us,
Tries us, trials us, tests our mettle,
And teaches us the limits of Life.
Help us to honor these gifts of yours,
These thorns and hails and lightning strikes,
This pain and weakness and suffering.
And help us to always remember,
Lady All-Gifted,
The final gift in the bottom of your box,
Which is hope for the future.

(All come forward and kneel before the altar. The keeper of the box says, “Choose your suffering.” One at a time, each comes forward and takes a paper from the top layer of the box. Then the keeper of the box says, “Choose hope,” and each comes forward and takes another paper from the bottom. The box is closed and all leave in silence.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Sun for December 2nd

Calendar of the Sun

Bruma

Colors: White and brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a bare table lay a large pot shaped like a human figure, reclining, filled with earth. All should enter bearing two white cloths, one on each arm.
Offerings: Silence and meditation.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian

Bruma Invocation

Earth, you lie sleeping in silence,
And we can do nothing but wait.
We have breathed upon your first seeds,
We have sung your first green shoots
Up from the bare brown soil,
We have watered you with tears and sweat
And fed you with the remains of our meals,
We have cut down your bounty and saved it,
Yet this is not the time for seeds, or green,
But simply the long cold wait in the dark
Until the light waxes and the time comes again.
You are silent, and will not speak to us,
No matter how we cry out.
You are dormant, and will not sing to us,
No matter how we raise our voices,
For all things come in their own time,
And this is not the time for movement.
So we will sit with you, Earth,
We will watch over you as you sleep
And take part in your dreams
In silence, and wait for your awakening.

Chant:
Earth dreaming
Silent seeming
Winter’s vigil
We will wait for you.

(After the chant has been sung five times, all come forth to the altar. Each lays one white cloth gently over the pot, saying, “Blessed be the Earth in the time of winter.” Then each sits on the floor and places the other white cloth over their heads, and meditates on all that is sleeping and cannot be awoken. Silence in the House until Akte.)
[Pagan Book of Hours]

The Lost Tools of the Witch

The Lost Tools of the Witch

Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen

When you ask your average neo-Pagan or Wiccan what tools are on their altar (or are important to their craft) , you typically get the following list: athame, wand, pentacle, chalice, besom, cauldron, candles, incense, sometimes herbs and stones, sometimes a “white-handled knife” or boline. That’s about it though. A great number of the tools are things that would have been common household implements during the early-Modern Witchcraft trials. Every household needed a cup, a knife, a pot, a broom and firelight to see by (whether by candles or an oil lamp) . It’s interesting how the common daily tools became associated with witchcraft (it also made it exceedingly easy to tell the magistrate you suspected your neighbor of witchery and for “proof” of said witchery to be found) .

What I find interesting is that some of the most common tools that are also mythologically associated with magic are not mentioned amongst the tools of today. These are the tools of the textile industry; which in older times were the distaff, spindle and loom. Often, in Viking women’s graves, these tools are found amongst the grave goods, meaning they were important enough to be taken to the afterlife. Often, they were noted as the “women’s weapons.” Since they aren’t likely to be physically good at inflicting bodily harm, this must mean something else. That something else is magic.

Since these tools aren’t listed among modern witch and/or magician tools, we have to look to lore, myths and fairy tales to find their significance. This isn’t as hard as it might sound because the fairy tales we were told as children are filled with this information. The most famous example is Sleeping Beauty, but we’ll talk about that story later.

The most famous spinners in folklore are the spinners of fate, the three Fates of Greek mythology and the Norns of Nordic myth. The Fates spin the thread of your life, weave the story into a tapestry and cut the thread at the end of your life. Clearly, the tools of old textile work are deeply connected with fate. A lot of neo-Pagans blanch at the concept of fate; I know I used to be the same way. We make our own destiny and nothing three biddies can do can change that (sticks tongue out for cheeky emphasis) ! The truth is that both are correct. There are some things we cannot change; we will all die someday (after-all life is sexually transmitted and always fatal) . Basically, the choices you make throughout your life bring you to certain places where you make more choices. Now, based on your past choices there is a great likelihood that you will make specific choices at this new crossroads. However, once you become aware that you have a pattern, you can work to change that pattern. It’s a bit confusing, I realize, but it makes sense when you really think about it.

Now, if the Fates or Norns spin your fate and you are seeking to change it, how would you go about doing that? Well, sympathetic magic works wonders in other ways so why not here? If you are willing to concentrate on the fate you want and spin (with either a drop spindle or spinning wheel) , you may be able to spin that fate into existence yourself. In essence, you are replacing the thread spun by Fate with the thread of your choosing. I will admit that I am a failed spinner. I either cannot get fresh enough roving (unspun wool) so that the natural oils can hold my thread together, or I’m just plain rubbish at it. Spinning is hard and it may take years to master, especially in a society where you can just go out and get yarn and thread without the hassle. However, I think spinning will be worthwhile in the long run.

The Norse goddess Frigga, the wife of Odin, is also associated with fate. She knows all fate, but speaks nothing of her knowledge. She is also associated with spinning and some see her as the source of the master material from which all fate is spun. As far as I know, Frigga interceded on the fate she saw but once. Her son, Baldr, was doomed to die and she tried her best to prevent that from happening. She failed and his brother killed him. Baldr’s death might explain her silence, for if she cannot change fate, why speak of it at all? The story of Baldr mirrors the Greek vision of fate as shown in the story of Oedipus: everything done to try to prevent the fate is what brings it about. However, if we go through the thought that our choices bring about our fate, then Oedipus’s father was already patterned to throw his son away at the first sign of trouble (which may have been why he wanted his son’s fate read by the Oracle to begin with, to foresee any trouble) .

Beyond the usefulness of spinning (and by connection, weaving) in regards to fate, there are other uses magically. It is a common held belief that it is better to use natural materials; and that tools have more power if you make them yourself. By spinning your own thread and weaving your own fabric, you can make sure to use only natural fibers for your cords and cloths and you can put your intent into the very fibers of your creation. You may also be able to connect with ancestors that would have spent much of their time with the spindle and at the loom. (Now I am going to be realistic here, most of us have jobs and not as much time to spend on crafting — of any sort — as we would like. I would hazard that you can take shortcuts by mock-spinning pre-spun thread and yarn, as long as you visualize and focus intently.)

So, back to Sleeping Beauty. The spindle was very important in the tale, just as it was important to the very clothes on anyone’s back during the era from which it came. The bad fairy (having been slighted by not being invited to the baby princess’s party) curses her to prick her finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday and die. The only good fairy that could do anything to help (the rest having somehow used their blessing allotment for the princess, though what law only allowed each to give only one gift is not stated) only had enough power to put her to sleep if the events should come about rather than die. The King attempted to prevent the fate of his daughter (again with trying to out-maneuver fate) ; rather than keep spindles around and telling his daughter to be careful of them (you know, so she would know it’s not a good idea to play with the pointy ends) , he outlawed spindles, having all the spindles in the kingdom burned (thus, forcing his subjects to wear rags or spend exorbitant amounts of money on imported cloth and thread) . As an added bonus, this also effectively crippled women. If the spindle and loom were the weapons of women, outlawing them put women at an even lower status. So what does our princess do when she sees a spindle for the very first time? She touches its pointy tip, falls asleep, and has to be rescued by a handsome prince willing to fight his way through the briar-patch of doom. He kisses her, she wakes up and they live happily ever after. The spindle? Well, a good look at the Industrial Revolution lets you know its fate.

Fraue Holle is often associated as a witch goddess in Germanic lore and she, too, is associated with spinning. I mentioned in my Yule piece that if you hadn’t finished your years’ worth of spinning by the Solstice, she would come by and befoul it. If a witch goddess thought spinning was important, then it was once an important part of magic and is worth delving into even in this technological age. It’s not easy, but whoever said magic had to be easy?

Footnotes:
Our Troth Volumes 1 and 2 edited by Kveldulf Gundarsson
The Poetic Edda
Hedge-Rider by Eric De Vries
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Sleeping Beauty collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Calendar of the Moon for October 27th

Calendar of the Moon

27 Gort/Puanepsion

Khalkeia: Weaving Athena’s Cloak

Color: Blue and white
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of white set up a table loom which will be used over the next nine months to weave Athena’s cloak. The warp should be strung, and the shuttles loaded.
Offerings: Weave a line or two.
Daily Meal: Anything served with olives.

Khalkeia Invocation:

Call: Hail Athena, Weaver and Craftswoman!
Response: Hail Athena, Giver of Civilization!
Call: On this day we begin to weave our gift to you.
Response: On this day we begin to weave our worship.
Call: We weave into it the high flight of birds.
Response: We weave into it the firm earth beneath us.
Call: We weave into it clear-eyed vision.
Response: We weave into it skillful hands.
Call: We weave into it the grim struggle of battle.
Response: We weave into it the focus of strategy.
Call: We weave into it the spiral twirl of the spindle.
Response: We weave into it the clashing of swords.
Call: We weave into it the beating of owl’s wings.
Response: We weave into it the glare of the Gorgon.
Call: We weave into it the soft counsel of wisdom.
Response: We weave into it the draught that cools hot heads.
Call: We weave into it the ancient knowledge.
Response: We weave into it the new discovery.
Call: We weave into it study and seeking.
Response: We weave into it manifestation.
Call: We weave into it our hopes and fears.
Response: We weave into it the cry to heaven.
Call: Hail Athena, Weaver and Craftswoman! May you bless the work of our hands.
Response: Hail Athena, Giver of Civilization! May you bless all that we do.

(The one who is the House weaver should weave the first three lines with the shuttle, saying “Hail Athena!” each time the reed swings back and forth. All should come forth and weave a line or two, also saying, “Hail Athena!” Then the loom is carried to its place of honor for the rest of the year, where the cloak for her statue will be woven with pictures and symbols in her honor, to be presented to her at the Panathenaea.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

The Witches Spell for October 24 – Dream Weaver Spell

solstice-altar

Dream Weaver Spell

To bring informative and helpful dreams.

Items You Will Need:

Purple candle
Piece of Amethyst
Piece of paper or picture
Mugwort
Small muslin or silk bag/piece of cloth with ribbon

Spell:

Place stone, mugwort, and slip of paper on which is written the issue you want answers to in the bag or cloth. When done with the spell, put the bag under your pillow. (You don’t need to use all of these if you don’t have them, and you can just put a slip of paper under your pillow instead of the bag.)

Chant the following:

“Spirits of sleep and intuition
I call on you to lend a hand
As I slumber, send me visions
So I might know and understand.”
 
“Send me answers to my questions
Clarify confusion’s mist
Send me knowledge as I’m sleeping
Which awake I might resist.”
 
“Let my dreams be strong and true
Containing knowledge that I need
Intuition rules at night
So for wise dreams I plant the seed.”

Calendar of the Sun for February 6th

Calendar of the Sun

6 Solmonath

Day of Aphrodite Genetrix

Colors: Sea green and white
Element: Water
Altar: Lay with a cloth of sea green, strings of pearls, white lace, many scallop shells, colored glass sea floats, abalone, small shells with hearts and fishes painted on them, and a large chalice of Greek wine with frothy sugared  floating in it.
Offerings: Shells. Fishes. Promises to aid expectant parents.
Daily Meal: . Shellfish. Sweet things, especially desserts. Whipped cream.

Invocation to Aphrodite Genetrix

Lady of Sea-Foam,
Green as the ocean from which
You sprang, with pearls
Of whitest foam,
Aphrodite Genetrix
Love that creates all Life,
We thank you for the Love
That sparked our existence.
We remember that we were all born of love
Whether it was brief and poignant
As a firefly’s courtship
Or solid and lasting
For half a century,
Whether it sprang from the body
Or the heart, or the soul.
You who bind the proton to the electron
And so bind the world together,
May we never forget your gift of attraction
That makes us all human
Even as you are divine.

Chant: Amor Invictus Amor Invictus

(The ritual for this day is the Great Rite, performed by one man and one woman, as Aphrodite Genetrix is the matron of procreative sexuality. If done symbolically, the man plunges a blade into the chalice held by the woman, and then it is poured as a libation. Ideally, it should be done literally, either by members of the house or by two who have come in for this purpose. If outsiders, it would be an auspicious time to conceive a child. All sit facing outwards in a circle and chant as the couple are wrapped in a red cloth and lay together in the center, and when it is done all repair to their rooms and either contemplate love or have ritual sex, alone or together.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Sun for January 23rd

Calendar of the Sun

 
Bruma

Colors: White and brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a bare table lay a large pot shaped like a human figure, reclining,  with earth. All should enter bearing two white cloths, one on each arm.
Offerings: Silence and meditation.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian

Bruma Invocation

Earth, you lie sleeping in silence,
And we can do nothing but wait.
We have breathed upon your first seeds,
We have sung your first green shoots
Up from the bare brown soil,
We have watered you with tears and sweat
And fed you with the remains of our meals,
We have cut down your bounty and saved it,
Yet this is not the time for seeds, or green,
But simply the long  wait in the dark
Until the light waxes and the time comes again.
You are silent, and will not  to us,
No matter how we cry out.
You are dormant, and will not sing to us,
No matter how we raise our voices,
For all things come in their own time,
And this is not the time for movement.
So we will sit with you, Earth,
We will watch over you as you sleep
And take part in your dreams
In silence, and wait for your awakening.

Chant:
Earth dreaming
Silent seeming
Winter’s vigil
We will wait for you.

(After the chant has been sung five times, all come forth to the altar. Each lays one white cloth gently over the pot, saying, “Blessed be the Earth in the time of winter.” Then each sits on the floor and places the other white cloth over their heads, and meditates on all that is sleeping and cannot be awoken. Silence in the House until Akte.)

 Pagan Book of Hours

http://www.paganbookofhours.org/