Monday, November 26, 2012

Using Botanicals to Dye Magical Textiles

A few days ago I did some natural dyeing, so I thought that I would share a wee bit about that in case other folks would be inspired to give it a go. Please keep in mind that there are different ways that one can dye textiles with botanicals, this is just they way that I have been comfortable with.
There are a few things that all methods have in common:
  1. Extracting colour
  2. Fixing colour
  3. Transferring colour
I would highly recommend people going through the resources that I will put at the end of this post to get more ideas to see what works for them.

The whole purpose of me doing this was to infuse the magical properties of the plants into the textiles, as well as obviously leave some colour on them as well.

For this batch the actual magical properties of the plants were of more importance to me than the colour. I wanted something that could be a good general purpose textile and wasn't quite sure how the colours would turn out. In one of the extra resources at the bottom of this post, there is a list of different plants and the colours they give off.
For fresh ingredients this is not necessary, but berries apparently benefit having a soaking in vinegar before simmering. This is a good time to do a blessing over the plant materials should you wish to, or to "charge" them with intent.

Using cold water is best to add for the vinegar, and after simmering giving the fabric a good rinse in cold water {water it runs clear} is needed. Other methods call for the fabric to be wet before putting it in with the dye wash, so this takes care of both the fixative and that step. Other fixatives are sometimes added to the actual dye wash or used to treat the textile afterwards. Learn more about fixative in the resources below.
Other methods call for a lower simmering time, depending on the materials being used. Sometimes fixatives, such as salt are added at this stage.
This is probably not a must, but it will make stage six a whole lot easier. As you will see in the follow photos, I did not strain all of the plant material out; some of it stuck to the fabric, which I just shook off outdoors once I was finished drying them out. I put the strained off bits into the compost.
The textile I used was a natural coloured cotton linen and I left it in the dye wash for a couple of hours. I shifted it around every once and a while with a pair of tongs. If handling, it is best to used a pair of rubber gloves so you don't dye your hands!
Before removing from the dye bath, carefully squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. To get the concentrated veins of colours, I left my fabric bunched in a pile on a dish drying rack {made black rubber, no risk of it staining!} over night. Then I dried out flat on our clothesline.

Extra resources:

Using Natural Plant Dyes by Kate Aimson {from White Dragon Magazine}
Natural Dyes: Their History and How to Make Them by Varenya
Making Natural Dyes from Plantsfrom Pioneer Thinking {has a great list of plants and the colours they give off}

a comparison of my linen before dyeing {top} and after dyeing {bottom}
It was exciting to see what the finished product would be and I am quite fond of the yellows, rusts and browns that came out in the linen. I will be using some of it in an upcoming project that I will post about later, as well as using some for charm bags and pouches.
For those who don't want to make your own, but would like some magical textiles, I will be listing some of this batch in the Unfettered Wood shop and I am happy to take custom orders.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Incense Additions, Round One

I have finally put a few incense into the Unfettered Wood shop and there are still quite a few more waiting to be added. Right now I have...

For physical journeys and spiritual ones, including dream work, hedgecrossing, and other travels in the spirit realms.
For divination, sorcery, battles, and as an offering to Macha, and perhaps An Morrígan.
For Imbolc, hearthcraft, creativity, smithing, poetry, women’s sexual healing, blessings of dairy and livestock, and as an offering to Brigid {Goddess or Saint}.
For Lughnasadh, harvest blessings and other agricultural activities, fertility, abundance, horse allies and as an offering to Macha.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Candles for the Three Realms

Often when I am doing rituals and spellwork I will light a candle for each of the Three Realms {Land, Sky and Sea}, and I have finally had enough time to make a custom candle holder for each. This project might be suitable for folks who work with the Four Elements that are often found in other Pagan practices {Earth, Air, Fire and Water}.
The process for making each was similar to what I did to make the fall candle holder that I posted a few weeks back. For Land I used moss and a wee pinecone, for Sky I used sparrow  and grackle feathers, and for Sea I used beach sand and seashells.
If you decide to do something like this, please feel free to share them!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fun With Beeswax

I am currently experimenting with beeswax for charms. It is definitely a favoured material for me to work with and it smells divine!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Two Powerful Allies & Two Essentials

Rowan and Juniper are two treasured allies for when I perform blessings & clearings on a place. Pictured are a couple essentials in my kit: rowan and red thread cross and Imbolc water with juniper greens and berries.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Shrine of Remembrance

This morning I erected a shrine dedicated to my Ancestors who risked or lost their lives in wars that were faught for defending sovereignty and to protecting people from persecution.
Photos are of Ancestors who faught in WWI & WWII and there are representations of other Ancestors who go further back and whose names I do not know.

My Grandfather's photo album from WWII, when he faught in the Canadian Navy.
My Grandfather {second from the left} and some of his ship mates.
I believe this a ship that my Grandfather was on.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Few Irish Charms & Spells

{originally posted on the nefaeria blog}

Below are a few traditional Irish spells and charms; the first two I have changed to suit my personal situation, the last one is in its original form. All of these charms and spells are from Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Francesca Speranza Wilde.

To Attract Bees
photo by Umberto Salvagnin
Gather on Midsummer {the original calls for this on Bealtaine/May Day, so the change I made is due to the climate that I am in}:
raspberry leaves
wild marjoram
Mix them in butter that is also made on Midsummer {original calls for Bealtaine/May Day}. Boil them altogether with honey. Rub the mixture on a small clay pot and place in the bottom of a bee box and the bees will soon come.
Against Enemies
royalty free photo
The three things are of my evil adversary:
An evil gaze;
An evil tongue;
An evil mind.
The three things are of my Gods:

The merciful word;
The singing word;
And the good word.
May the power of these three sacred things be on all of those that I hold dear.
A Charm for Safety

Pluck ten blades of yarrow, keep nine, and cast the tenth away for tithe to the spirits. Put the nine in your stocking, under the heel of the right foot, when going a journey, and evil will have no power over you.




Thursday, November 1, 2012


A few Jacks on our doorstep, waiting for the trick-or-treaters that the rain kept away. They are nothing fancy, but it was a wee bit easier carving the turnip this year {the secret: a spoon with a very sturdy handle!}. The top Jack is a turnip, the other two are pumpkins.