Week of: August 4th. 2013 ...
The Deeper Meaning of Harvest Celebration
Week of: March 31st. 2013 ...
Harp! Sing For Me: Musings on a More Sustainable Future.
Week of: March 24th. 2013 ...
Women Walk to Heal the River
Week of: March 3rd. 2013 ...
Artisan Sea Salt: Organic, Traditional Healing, Medieval Re-creation, and Cleansing Magic!
Week of: December 30th. 2012 ...
Four Thieves Vinegar: History, Uses, and Recipe
Week of: October 28th. 2012 ...
Samhain: a New View
Week of: September 2nd. 2012 ...
A Pagan Chaplaincy Perspective
Week of: August 19th. 2012 ...
More Than Animals: The Totemic Ecosystem
Week of: July 22nd. 2012 ...
Thoughts Are Energy: "The Dark Knight Rises"
Week of: July 8th. 2012 ...
Spiritual Learning and Social Change
Week of: July 1st. 2012 ...
Animal Religion: a Proposal
Week of: June 24th. 2012 ...
Loving Balance: Competition and Community
Week of: April 10th. 2011 ...
Better People = Better World
Week of: October 24th. 2010 ...
Week of: September 12th. 2010 ...
Peek-A-Boo: Finding the Sacred
Week of: August 1st. 2010 ...
Compost and Natural Fertilizers: Practical Offerings to the Land
People Are Part of Nature Too
Week of: June 27th. 2010 ...
Cell Phones: A Rude Awakening
Week of: April 25th. 2010 ...
How Magic Can Save the World
The Sanctity of Ancient Hunters
Life at Lizard Holler
Week of: April 4th. 2010 ...
The Delicate Dance of Balance
Week of: March 28th. 2010 ...
Everyday Things Have Ancient Roots
Pagan Carbon Footprints
Week of: March 21st. 2010 ...
The Prayer of Transcendent Smoke
Week of: February 21st. 2010 ...
Week of: November 22nd. 2009 ...
A True Inspiration for Healing Our Planet
Week of: November 1st. 2009 ...
Week of: October 11th. 2009 ...
I Buried Maia Today
Week of: May 10th. 2009 ...
The Abuse of Parents and the Abuse of Mother Earth
Week of: March 8th. 2009 ...
Why Hug a Tree - Or To At Least Pay More Attention To One
Our Mother Crystal
Week of: December 28th. 2008 ...
Connecting To The Land
Week of: September 21st. 2008 ...
Healing Children, Healing Earth
Week of: April 27th. 2008 ...
She Needs You to Listen, Her Children...
Musings About the Land: The Turning of Spring to Summer
Week of: April 20th. 2008 ...
Baba Yaga in the Sacred Landscape--a Witch Approaches Another Earth Day
What We Can Do For The World
Week of: March 23rd. 2008 ...
Paganism is a Dirty, Dirty Word
Week of: January 20th. 2008 ...
Pagans and Environmental Issues: Can We Save the World?
"An Ye Harm None" On A Global Scale
Week of: January 6th. 2008 ...
Higher Knowledge: The Enriching and Enabling Factor
Week of: December 30th. 2007 ...
On Being a Pagan Omnivore
Week of: December 23rd. 2007 ...
A Sacred Retreat
Week of: December 2nd. 2007 ...
Saving Mother Earth from Us Nasty Humans: A Contrarian P.O.V.
'Earth Is In Trouble', So Let's Capitalize On the Trend
Week of: November 25th. 2007 ...
The Spine of the Dragon...is Love
Week of: September 9th. 2007 ...
Nature Spirits: Tree Spirits
Week of: January 21st. 2007 ...
Eco – Witch (Part I )
Week of: July 16th. 2006 ...
Think Your Paganism Isn't Nature-based? Think Again...
Week of: May 8th. 2005 ...
On Seeds and Connection
Week of: April 24th. 2005 ...
Week of: April 17th. 2005 ...
Where the Christians Go Wrong and Why the Pagans Don’t Get It
Week of: March 19th. 2004 ...
Confessions of a Dirt Worshipper
Week of: April 20th. 2003 ...
Night Vision: Where Did the Stars Go?
Week of: April 22nd. 2002 ...
Every Day is Earth Day
From the Waterfront...
Pagans and the Environment: Leaders or Laggards?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Everyday Things Have Ancient Roots
Article ID: 13758
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,351
Times Read: 3,454
RSS Views: 12,212
Author: Verda Smedley
Posted: March 28th. 2010
Times Viewed: 3,454
What could be more breathtaking than our Earth, impregnated with life by cosmic glitter? She is traversed in a web of improbable silken threads of energy. Cloaked in a many-layered, multi-dimensional mantle of overlapping worlds, Her mystery moves and changes like fog seeking with intention. And yet Her secrets, seemingly unknowable wonders, reside just beyond the sheerness of nothing more than gossamer, swathing the ancient beginnings of magic in the remoteness of antiquity. It is all around us, all the time, concealed in everyday things and the delicious stuff of earth, wind, water and fire.
Everyday things. There is sacredness there, long forgotten by most, disregarded by many. Everyday things have ancient roots, sacrosanct origins, shrouded in prayer, incantation and ritual. And deeper still are the secrets safeguarded by the plants that offered themselves up to everyday things such as weaving, basketry, tanning and tools. There was no separation between the mundane and sacred in antiquity because life, every last molecule of it, was held as sacred. Everyday things were not only saturated with prayer they were imbued with the extraordinary qualities of the plants from which they were rendered. I have included several passages from Ancestral Airs that resonate with the depth of spirit of my convictions.
“I was invited to examine baskets, mats and nothing less than masterpieces entirely woven from indigenous fibers. Each of them held profound mystical significance that eluded my mind but could be fully comprehended by my hands. They contained secrets about life, some dark, some light, and a kind of magic that tingled in its majesty. Article after article moved its transcendence into my body, lighting up ancestral memories and ancient wisdom about our Mother. The knowledge had been snared like a covey of tiny birds by the old women’s industrious fingers. I could read their work with my own with greater depth than my eyes could ever hope to reveal. As though asleep and dreaming I felt at once the extra ordinance of the Infinite Present that moved through us from the beginning and into forever.”
When I consider the art of weaving, for example, I am compelled to take into account not only the mystical properties of the plants that yield the fibers but also the dyes and mordants as well, all of which have magical attributes. Mysticism such as this convincingly supports my belief that the selection of species was chosen with deliberation and not randomly culled from natural surroundings. The piece was created by the artist with intention and purpose, to be used for doctoring, ritual transcendence or as an everyday thing that brought beauty, security and mystery to her home.
Spinning and weaving were considered by some to be spider medicine tied to sacred cycles and the mystical wheels of the cosmos. Similarities have, since antiquity, been made to braiding hair and tying knots as crafts that exercised control over human destinies and natural forces alike.
And finally, let us not forget that the very act of weaving was believed sacred and mysterious unto itself. Weavers were regarded as practitioners of a magical craft where fates and futures were visible and even manipulated by the weaver. The tools that she worked with such as looms and shuttles were regarded as sacred and the selection of patterns as powerful, ritual medicine.
“My attention was drawn to the baskets containing medicine plants. Each had been intricately woven with designs that were remedies unto themselves. It staggers the imagination to suddenly realize that such magic alone would have consumed lifetimes of practice. Every ancient configuration of handwork held knowledge and purpose just as surely as the written word itself.
The women had literally woven every detail of their history and culture. Clan secrets and wisdom were plainly visible for all to read. Some patterns were prophetic; others were keys that unlocked doors to the Shadowland. When not a remedy the designs could have easily been catalysts to conjuring or windows into the world of the Unborn. My speculation was suspended suddenly when I realized that within each of these baskets was woven the applications of the species it contained. Astounding. My scrutiny took on fabulous depth.”
It has always been my contention that every plant safeguarded a unique and specific spirit that was invoked when that particular plant was chosen. Sadly, what has been dismissed, relegated to folklore or even ridiculed was once the foundation of absolute belief. Consequently I can offer no proof even as I tend to assert that I believe absolutely what I have unearthed in a lifetime’s of study. At its very best I can only call it informed speculation, with which you are free to decide if it holds any meaning for you. But it comes full circle where it can be seen that spirits, spirit handling and everyday things integrate precisely and beautifully.
There are tens of thousands of species that have ritual implications. I have studied merely the hundreds indigenous to the British Isles and want to explore one of them here.
Well-known and popular, oak (Quercus spp.) is a terrific example. Both oak bark and oak galls can be rendered into mordant that sets color during the dye process. The same tannic acid found in oak is an essential component to tanning leather. As a dye plant oak can be used to create a range of colors from black to brown, yellow and red. Soaking acorn caps in iron rich water makes an excellent black dye for baskets and the root bark can be boiled to create red. Oak wood can be split thin enough to be woven into vessels, as can shoots when split into strands. Thin oak branches make stout basket rims for vessels woven with finer fibers. All of these processes bring the hidden secrets of oak to the finished article. And there are numerous.
In ritual Solstice combat with holly (Ilex spp.) , oak is the keeper of winter to summer. The tree is sanctified and burned at midsummer to fuel the sun and the ashes are spread in fields to empower new growth. Smoldering oak coals are carried from home to home, exorcising and blessing the dwellings in the new season. The acorn is a tantric symbol, the cap is female and the kernel is male, linking it to fertility and Creation. Foliage is braided into crowns and worn by ritual lovers, fostering the fertility of the Earth.
Because of its inflexibility oak is not regarded as a symbol of strength but is instead the symbol of endurance. It promotes courage to exceed one’s perceived inability, guards against the limits of logic and fuels the energy needed for achievement. As the sacred first food of mankind the acorn is the symbol of security and abundance, left at gravesites for ancestral feasts. It counteracts loneliness and guards against lightning. It is the keeper of lineage and history, entreated for resolution of issues with the historic knowledge it safeguards. It is believed that the forces of Creation are concentrated in oak.
Oak is linked to expansiveness while standing as a boundary or gateway marker to the spirit world. The extraordinary scope of oak makes it easy to understand why the entire range of components was handled in rituals that included prophesying, divination, spirit handling, ancestral invocation, perhaps anything for which one could imagine a need. Oak enhances sexual potency as well as sacred songs. It is an abode of the spirit of protection, a keeper of the details of sacred cycles and history, and a guardian of rebirth. Every bow and arrow, mortar and pestle, lodge and cradle, basket, weaving or tanned hide that is created with oak is imbued with its power.
I will be posting an appendix to this piece on my website (www.verdasmedley.com) that lists the plants used in antiquity for weaving, tanning, baskets, tools and so forth. Most of these species has earned an entry in The Compendium for Spirit Handling due to be released this year. This book is a comprehensive study of the ritual applications of more than 400 species indigenous to the British Isles. Between now and that eventuality I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have about plants, if I am able to, through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Temple of Cybele has generously published some of my work as well, beside their extraordinary and comprehensive research into the ancient history of Goddess worship.
Compendium for Spirit Handling
Copyright: Both registered with the Copyright Office by me, the author
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Author's Profile: To learn more about Verda Smedley - Click HERE
Other Articles: Verda Smedley has posted 16 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Verda Smedley... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).