Autumn is for Mending

Spring cleaning is about clearing out stagnant energy. Fall cleaning is about carefully picking through the contents of your life to find what to keep and what to pitch. It is for opening your closet doors and laying all your clothes on the bed, for pulling out your fall and winter gear and inspecting it. Those gloves and scarves and coats you carelessly packed away six months before get an airing out. You wash those that need it. You pair up gloves, toss those what are missing partners, or, as I do with my son’s gloves, pair them up with another lonely one to make a mismatched set.

This is the process I’m going through now. I am trying to bring order to a house I never properly set up. Our move-in was hasty and chaotic, and the last year didn’t afford me much time to purposefully arrange things. This fall, however, has brought me the time and energy to tackle such housekeeping details.

Ripped Skirts
5+ years old, these skirts have seen better days.

I’ve started with my clothes. By virtue of my life spent mostly in my home, my daily wardrobe consists mainly of pj pants and T-shirts. Those times I have to venture into the outside world, I will exchange the pants for one of my skirts. This has been my daily uniform for the past five years, and my clothes are beginning to show it.

Handful of scraps
I’m really just happy to be able to use up some scraps, to be honest.

I began with the shirts. All the T-shirts riddled with holes went under the pinking shears. In thirty minutes I had reduced them to rags for cleaning. They replaced the previous rags that had come to the end of their useful life.

Mending Skirts
There are so many holes, I just pinned scrap fabric to where they were.

This last week I moved on to my skirts. Currently I have four every day skirts, one “fancy”, and two that haven’t made it into rotation yet. All of them are handmade. One skirt went into the bin, so torn up and run down it wasn’t even fit for rag duty. The other three are threadbare and torn at the seams. If I toss them now, I’ll be short of outside wear, though, so I’ve decided to mend them enough to get through the next month while I make new skirts.

Fancy Patching
This is what it looks like when I take my time to patch my skirts.

I’ve patched these skirts before. Those times I was careful with my fabric choice and my stitching. This time, knowing that I just need to keep my underwear from showing, I set to the task by first grabbing a handful of scraps. The result is haphazard, but serviceable. And that’s all that’s warranted. Once I’ve made up new skirts, these will be retired. I’m considering remaking them into a throw, something cozy for the winter nights ahead.

Less Fancy Patching
My patch jobs this time were less careful and more quick and dirty.

This upcoming week the target of my fall cleaning will be the pj pants. Several need some light mending and I’ll probably make a couple of new pairs, as well as retire a couple that are as ratty as the skirts. Then I will move on to the winter clothes: sweaters, sweatshirts, long sleeved garments, as well as tights and leggings. By the time December rolls around I should be well sorted out to survive the winter.

Spell for Overcoming Obstacles

Domestic witchery is a fascination of mine, I think because it seems like it would be the oldest and most common form of witchcraft.  Or maybe it’s just the lazy part of me that appreciates being able to accomplish two tasks in one.

This spell is one I’ve been working with over the last year or so, no only as I write Sew Witchy, but also in my daily life.  When you are facing a great task ahead—a job interview or a court case, say—the odds can feel overwhelming.  Using the spell below and visualization you raise energy to overcome all the small obstacles that can come between you and your goal and also provides you with a magickal talisman attuned to your task.

Materials

  • A wrinkled piece of fabric or clothing*
  • Steam iron
  • Ironing Board

*Circumstances should dictate the fabric you choose.  Clothing that you will be wearing during your challenge is ideal.  For example, a skirt you’ll be wearing to a court case or a shirt you’ll be wearing to an interview.  You could also choose a fabric scrap; about 18″ by 18″ is ideal.

Cotton and linen are best for this spell as they tend to wrinkle naturally.  Synthetics and non-wrinkle clothing is not recommended.

Spellwork

Clear space and cast a circle according to your tradition.  Call on any spirit helpers or deities you wish to aid you in the spell.

Place the wrinkled cloth on the ironing board.  Use a heat setting that is appropriate for the cloth you are using (consult the iron’s operators manual to find out what that is).

As you iron see the wrinkles as the obstacles you face.  See the steam and iron as you press as smoothing out not only the physical wrinkles, but those obstacles.  Visualize the obstacles clearly.  Name them as you work: people’s preconceived notions are smoothed away, distance becomes a non-issue, doors that were closed will now open, even traffic will not be a problem.

Continue working, ironing out all the wrinkles.  See the path you are treading becoming smooth: the road you travel is paved, the ocean you cross is calm, the sky you fly through is clear.  Everything is crisp and pristine, just like the cloth is after you press it.

When you are finished, hang up the clothing, or cloth.  Wear the piece of clothing to the event you are preparing for.  If it is a piece of cloth, hang it near your altar until the event—and your need for it—has passed.

Make your spell more potent by using a linen spray.  Before beginning, make a spray by mixing 1 ounce of witch hazel, 3 ounces of water and ten drops of essential oil together in a spray bottle. Choose an oil aligned to your goal. Spritz a light mist onto the part you are going to press then go over it with an iron.  If using on an article of clothing, test on a small, inconspicuous part first, like an inside hem, to make sure it won’t stain the fabric.


Originally posted July, 2 2018.

Plarn: It’s Crafting and Magical Uses

In my book, Sew Witchy, I write about the magickal correspondences of fabric.  My focus there is on natural fibers (cotton, linen, wool and silk).  Not all crafters and sewists limit themselves to natural materials, though.  In fact I’d hazard to guess that very few do.  One could, I suppose, use only silk or cotton thread, eschew plastic buttons for only metal, wood, bone or horn, leave out zippers or plastic snaps, as well as iron on interfacing, etc.

There is an emphasis on only using natural materials in ritual and magick crafts.  While I can understand the reasoning behind it, I find the insistence to border on classism and elitism.  Not everyone can afford or has access only natural materials.  And, when we get down to it, everything comes from the earth in one form or another.  Everything is ultimately natural when it’s roots are traced back to its beginnings.  Even plastic.

Magick in the Plastic

Our witch ancestors didn’t use colored candles, or have access to the array of crystals and herbs available online.  And some might have turned their noses up at colored ribbons, grocery store herbs and store bought besoms as not “traditional” tools.  I think it behooves modern witches to see how the practice of witchcraft and magick have changed over the centuries, adapting as new technologies and products have come available, and be open to using materials that might strike us at first as non-magickal.

I’d go even farther to argue that plastic is decidedly magical.  It is alchemy at its most refined.  Taking the remains of dinosaurs and creating a material which is named after its defining characteristic: its shapeshifting ability.

Yes, plastic does have its drawbacks, its production and longevity make it a serious hazard for the environment.  This doesn’t exclude it from being considered a natural material, though.  The elements have their destructive aspects.  Sheep rearing, silk making, cotton farming and linen production all have their affects on the environment as well.

So, how do we approach plastic as a magical tool?  One way is through making and using plarn: yarn made from plastic bags.  Many crafters have found clever and practical uses for plarn, from making lightweight and rugged bedrolls for the homeless to arts and crafts to sell to support their families.  Plarn has the added benefit of removing plastic bags—one of the hardest items to recycle–from the system.

Plarn Correspondences

Let’s start with a few correspondences.  These are associations I have made on my own through study and meditation.  They are not meant to be set in stone, and if they don’t ring true to you, feel free to form your own correspondences.

  • Deities: Cerridwen, Janus, Kali, Oya (deities of change and transformation)
  • Element: Air
  • Color: White
  • Themes/uses: transformation, durability, flexibility, change

Making plarn is a straightforward process that lends itself to a meditative practice.  Use it just as you would yarn to crochet or finger weave a variety of items, or spin it into thread.  You can make tote bags, mats, jewelry, and baskets.


A version of this article was first posted on Idiorhythmic Designs on September 25, 2017.

Take Off & Nuke It From Orbit

Sometime over the last forty-eight hours this site got hacked. Sometime in the last four hours I realized I have never backed up my site. Not even once.

This comes on the tail end of a six day battle to get my computer back up and running after I decided to fix how slow it had become by restoring it to factory settings. Reader, it did not fix anything. In fact it made things worse. My computer is a slight machine, a Lenovo Thinkpad 2 named Ada, purchased in 2013 to replace my previous laptop which had literally started melting.

My previous laptop, Caliban, which started leaking goo from various spots. There was also bubbling in the monitor.

After days of wrestling with failed updates, failed restores, failed refreshes and failed downloads, I was facing the grim prospect that I would be without a computer. I don’t have the funds to get a replacement.

All of this came on the heels of making the decision to focus on my writing. I have Sew Witchy coming out in December. I have an agent interested in reading my fantasy novel (which I foolishly queried before it was finished). I was just invited to submit an article for Llewellyn’s Witch Almanac. All of this put me in need of an actual computer. I was seriously facing the prospect of trying to type, write and edit on my phone. And as cool as my phone is, and as much as I depend on it for a variety of tasks, I didn’t relish the idea.

On the sixth day, however, I managed to get my Ada, to a point that would work. I have Windows 8.1 installed. The only programs it is running are paint.net, KG-Chart Pro, and an antivirus program. I’ll be using Google Docs for my word processing. I really don’t need any more than that.

Which leads me back to this site and the sudden dearth of posts. My hosting company told me that the hack to my site was one that required professional servicing. I realize that might just be a come-on to get me to shell out money to the company they suggested. I considered for a hot minute trying to dig out the malicious code myself. The prospect didn’t excite me and I found myself strangely non-bothered by this turn of events. Maybe I had been worn down by six days of fighting my computer. Whatever the reason, I looked at the whole mess and realized I was okay with saying goodbye to six years posts.

I decided that it was best to just take off and nuke the whole thing from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.

So that’s where we are now. I might try to salvage past posts. But since I can’t know if malicious coding has infected them, it won’t be a fast or easy processes. I’m just going to move forward. Start posting regularly. Work on the novel and articles. Update my Patreon. Close the door on that chapter of life.