A Faerie Haven: Living in Myth, Being Magic

For some people, magic isn't something they do, it is what they are. This blog focuses less on theory and more on lyrical mysticism, applied spellcrafting, experiential awareness of Divinity, and related topics. A haven for you who long to become your myth and live your poem. Faerie tales do come true.

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A Witch’s Ladder Experiment




The term witch’s ladder has a few meanings, but here I use it to designate a spell made by tying knots in a length of cord. Various items, such as feathers and beads, might be tucked into the knots.


It occurred to me that perhaps a witch’s ladder could be made not by making knots and inserting items into them, but by spinning a cord—actually creating a cord using the ancient art of spinning fibers together—while spinning into the fibers a length of strong thread onto which beads had been strung. 


After all, there must’ve been a time in history when a witch’s ladder was not necessarily made by tying knots in a cord, but by actually creating a cord using the ancient art of spinning fibers together. That seems inevitable, given the magic inherent in spinning.


I spun on a pencil instead of a spindle. When I first learned to spin, I started by using a pencil because I decided in the middle of the night to try my hand at spinning, had no spindle, and found a video showing how to use a pencil. Good thing, because it ended up my physical disabilities made spindles unmanageable for me, but a pencil or short stick is doable.


Eventually, I had a spindle tailor-made to my body, but I often use a pencil anyway. For the witch ladder, I felt a pencil would allow me to better deal with the intricacies of working a beaded string into the fibers. 


I love trying on ideas for size, but not everyone does. For one thing, I cannot even remember the number of times I've told one of my students that society wants us so lacking confidence that we immediately discount every new idea we have.


Of course, not at all ideas are good, so I don't explore every last one. Heaven help the world if I followed through on my every thought! 


But many an individual in our society tends to discount out-of-hand an original idea they have almost as soon as it springs to their mind. So I explored spinning this ladder. I wouldn’t be sure if it'd work magically until I finished it, but if it didn’t I could then simply go about the spell another way. 


Heck, I didn’t know if it would even work on the mundane plane. I'd never tried spinning a strand of beads into a length of fibers, and did not know whether doing so was even possible. Plus, I’d attached a drop to one end of the thread. I did not know if that would make spinning hopeless. But I knew, regardless of the outcome, I would learn in the process. I experienced beautiful magic while I did so. 


(Here’s why I attached the drop. A friend purchased a lovely amulet that she ended up passing on to me. It consisted of a cord with a wooden drop at each end. The drops delighted me, but the cord and most of the beads on it didn’t feel right. Mind you, the cord and beads were great. They just weren’t exactly what I wanted magically or aesthetically. Then I got the idea of spinning a new cord with a thread of beads I’d selected woven in.)




For fibers for this talisman—you could rightly call a witch’s ladder a “talisman”—I blended green silk, green bamboo, and Angelina. I enjoyed looking at them so much against the beads as I tried spinning. That’s another reason this was good to try: experimenting is fun.


I’m a novice spinner. The witch’s ladder turned out well magically and far less well physically. Maybe spinning a length of beaded thread into fibers is impossible, or I just don’t know how to do it yet. The spinning ended up really messy, the beaded thread broke, and the knots that reconnects the broken places are obvious, and I doubt the cord is durable. However, this is not a witch’s ladder I intend to sell or give a friend, so no problem. It’s been perhaps a year since I made my witch’s ladder, and it’s holding up physically and magically. I enjoy looking at it, flaws and all. I get to savor its magic and looks.

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Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny is the bestselling author of "Be a Goddess!" Founder of The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition that she teaches through both text and oral tradition, De Grandis says, "I'm a trickster working for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Bard, painter, mystical innovator, and busy elf who works part-time for Santa Claus, she blogs here and on her own sites, www.stardrenched.com and www.outlawbunny.com


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