Oak-corns and Apple-thorns

September 1st, 2010

Putting a Spell in the Bag

The word craft implies a skill that does or produces something practical and useful.  If you want to put the craft back into witchcraft, try looking for the places where material and spiritual crafts overlap.

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There’s no better example than weaving and knot-tying.  Getting married is called “tying the knot,” and everyone’s heard of tying a bit of string around a finger to remember something important, or has used the phrase “weave a spell.”  When you tie a knot you store up a bit of your will, bind up some energy (possibly for use later), or even create a physical manifestation of a hope or a dream.  To untie a knot is to release that energy, to let that which was bound go free once more.


Try this very simple craft.  Once you get the project set up and the tying process becomes automatic, try either (a) unfolding your mind outward so that it’s free to wander and relax, or (b) fold your thoughts inward so that you focus completely on the task at hand, perhaps even spontaneously working a spell as you weave.  For example, if you are planning to use your bag to carry a water bottle on a difficult hike or survival trip, you can use the unfolding to imagine and predict the hazards that lay ahead; or you can fold inward and allow your intent to manifest and become tangible in the survival tool you are making.

When you’re done you’ll have a useful bag for carrying a bottle (plastic, steel, or homemade gourd).  The same technique can be scaled up with longer and heavier cordage to make a net that can hold a pot for a hanging basket.  You can even make a bag to hold potatoes and onions in the pantry, to hold seasonal decorations like small pumpkins and gourds for Halloween, or any number of things.  Instead of working with a hoop, you can even weave on a broomstick with rope to make a cargo net to cover the bed of your truck like I did.

If you feel adventurous, use sturdy colored yarn or strips of colored cloth twisted into cordage, or add a bead or two between knots for decoration.

Start by finding a spot where you can hang your project and sit comfortably.  You’re going to need 50 feet or so of cordage – jute twine works nicely – a knife or pair of scissors, and about an hour of free time.  Start by making a hoop about 10 inches across from a green stick.  Use a scrap of twine to hold the ends together.  Take two lengths of cord and tie the ends to opposite sides of the hoop.  Hang your hoop like a mobile at a comfortable height.

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Now cut about twenty lengths of cord approximately 2 ½ feet long.  The easiest way to do this is by wrap cord around your thumb and elbow twenty times; slip the loops off and cut one end.

If you want your bag to be a bit deeper you’ll need to cut them one a time, or wrap around a larger object such as the back of a large chair, adjacent fence posts, etc.

Now start tying your lengths to the hoop using cow hitches.  It’s important to use a cow hitch so that you can snip apart the hoop and slide out the pieces without leaving any knots.  Space them around the hoop evenly.

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Your hoop should now look like the one above.  Now you’re ready to begin weaving and tying.

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Move around the hoop, tying adjacent strands together using overhand knots like the one above.  As you go forward, row after row, you will be creating a series of diamond shapes.  When you’ve reached the bottom your project should look like the picture above.  Cut the hoop using pruning shears or snips and slip out the scraps of twig.

Here’s how to tie off the loose ends.  Cut a length of cordage and lay it alongside your ends.  Form a loop, and begin wrapping one end very tightly around the entire assembly.

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Insert the free end through the loop and pull the other end.  The loop and the free end will disappear beneath the wrapping and pull even tighter. Clip the ends even with the wrapping and you’re done (this tying method, by the way, can be used to wrap knife handles, to secure spear and arrowheads, to finish the ends of braided cords for necklaces, and so forth).

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Now for the final step.  Thread a length of cord through the top row of open sections and tie it off.  Now when you place something in the bag and hold the loop, the bag will cinch shut and hold firm.

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Above is a net bag my daughter made for holding a water bottle.  That’s a rubber snake in the background by the way, not a copperhead.  Keeps the chipmunks humanely out of my Calendula!

Please do give this little craft a try, incorporate the spiritual elements, and see if you don’t have a pleasant experience.

If you get stuck and need a hand, or just want to share your thoughts insights, feel free to email me at woodwitching@gmail.com.


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