In witchcraft, everything has its own magic. There are entire books on, amongst others, the properties of trees, gemstones and colours. These properties help us guide our magic in the right direction. They help us focus on our goal and add their magic to our own, strengthening it.
A lot of witches craft their own talismans, pouches and tools. Using fabrics for their crafts, aligning them with the colour they need to work their spells. But what about the fabrics themselves? The way they were made, the materials they were made from, their history and myth. Why limit yourself to only the colour when working with fabrics?
This essay is made up out of three pieces. First the correspondences, an easy and fast way to see what the different fabrics mean and what their magical properties are. The correspondences were put together from history, myth, folklore, dream symbols and my own thoughts about the fabrics.
Secondly the trivia, fun facts about the different fabrics which explain where the properties came from. It explains how the fabrics have been used in the past and the myths surrounding them.
The final part is a list of materials, showing what the fabrics are made of. This list is included because it can add more depth to the choice of fabric. For example; flannel can be made from wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. Wool flannel could have very different magical properties than synthetic flannel. The same could be said for linen made of flax or linen made of hemp.
This essay shows the magic of fabrics. Every symbol used in witchcraft will add its magic to the ritual or to the craft. So this knowledge is not just for the pouches and talismans, but also for ritual robes, magical cords, and everything else the witch could think of. Like everything in magic the possibilities are endless!
Canvas: creativity, new beginnings, potential, possibilities
Cashmere: comfort, warmth, luxury
Chiffon: feminine, delicacy, vulnerable, elegance
Cotton: simplicity, harvest, protection, rain, good luck
Denim: ruggedness, durability, labour, working, independence, rebellion
Felt: protection, good luck, wealth (white felt), sacrifice, strength
Flannel: mojo bags, comfort, relaxation, warmth
Flax: weakness of man, prosperity, gift of the gods, Hulda
Gauze: uncertainty in wealth, healing
Hemp: travel, burial, trance, opening gates and doors, vision, enlightenment, Bast
Lace: sacredness, rite of passage, feminine, privilege, sensuality, sexuality, duality
Lamé: luxury, wealth, royalty, sun or moon
Leather: protection, covering, animals, instinct
Linen: righteousness and purity, does not cause sweat, rest, elegance, luxury, sophistication, light
and purity, (display of) wealth
Satin: lustrous, sensual, shine, love
Silk: wealth, luxury, softness, smoothness, prestige, transformation, magical insulation
Velvet: distinction, honor, sensuality, emotions, royalty, leadership
Voile: secrets, unveiling, hidden, wedding
Wool: Hope, renewal, spinning, women’s crafts, durability, comfort and warmth
astrological signs and fabric correspondences:
Aries: lamb’s wool
Gemini: gauze, chiffon, voile
Leo: lamé, brocade, velvet
Virgo: cotton, canvas, chintz
Libra: silk, satin
Sagittarius: spandex, lycra
Capricorn: mohair, cashmere, hemp
Aquarius: feathers, metallic fabrics
Pisces: rayon, nylon, watermarked taffeta
Elements and fabric correspondences:
Earth: leather, wool, cotton, felt
Air: chiffon, voile, gauze
Fire: satin, lace, velvet
Water: silk, satin, taffeta
Spirit: hemp, linen, felt
Cashmere: The goat is considered a ‘clean’ animal in the Jewish community. In the past a goat was sacrificed to honor a special guest. In the bible the goat is seen as ‘those who do not need God’. They are stubborn and world wise and God keeps them away from his followers. It was Napoleon’s second wife who made cashmere popular with the aristocratic community. According to lore, Napoleon had brought her seventeen scarves made from cashmere and she loved them. It became a must-have for the wealthy.
Cotton: Burning cotton was thought to cause rain. Planted or scattered in the yard it keeps ghosts away. In the black community of Georgia it was said that a newlywed couple that slept on a cotton mattress during their wedding night, would always have money. See: Linen
Felt: the Mongolians tied felt amulets to their horses before going to battle, they believed felt brought good luck and protection from evil spirits. Mattresses with felt protected against scorpions and snakes. Brides used to be seated on a seat of white felt during the wedding ceremony. The yurts of the Mongols are also made from felt. The whiter (newer) the felt, the wealthier the person who lives in it. They also made fetishes out of felt which they hung in their yurts. Foxes over children’s beds for peaceful nights, horses over the hearth as a totem of the sky and a man shaped fetish at the door to represent the man of the yurt or the guardian spirit. This is still in use today.
The Turkmen nomads sacrificed their animals on felt. The Romans used felt in their armor and shields to protect the men wearing them. See: Wool
Flannel: Originally Turkish red flannel was the best quality flannel that could be bought. Mojo bags are almost always made from red flannel. This goes back to the time of the slave traders. Flannel was a sturdy and cheap fabric that was given to the slaves to be made into underwear. The slaves turned the scraps into mojo bags. In the 1880’s it was thought that flannel underwear protected against diarrhea and dysentery.
Flax: the Egyptians thought that flax was a gift of the Gods. Linens woven from flax are found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The Teutonic Goddess Hulda looks over spinning and specifically the cultivating of flax. It is said that She taught how to spin flax into fabric. In Estonia, a spirit known as the Flax Mother guards the flax and is said to live in a linen press. See: Linen
Hemp: sails used to be made from hemp fibers, they were the only thing that could withstand the ocean winds. The deceased used to be buried in hemp. Hemp was sacred to the Goddess Bast. A sacred incense of cannabis flowers and cinnamon was burned every morning in honor of the Goddess Bast or Isis. Korean men wore paji ma, hemp pants that they thought brought virility and power. See: Linen
Gauze: Dream symbolism says that being dressed in gauze means that you are ‘uncertain in your wealth’. Gauze used to be made from silk, thus you have a luxurious, wealthy fabric, that is full of holes. This would explain the dream symbolism. Nowadays gauze can be made from any material. Cotton gauze is the gauze used for dressing wounds and other medical purposes.
Lamé: In the past entire clothing pieces were constructed using gold of silver yarn. In these cases the metal was wrapped around yarns of silk or cotton. It was said that these fabrics were ‘befitting a princess’. Nowadays lamé is made by gold, silver or even copper which has been wrapped around aluminum or stainless steel threads.
Linen: the ancient Egyptians used linen as a currency. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen. During the wrapping of the deceased, the priest would stop to say prayers and write on the linen. In Ireland linen is thought to absorb energy. Therefore strips of cloth were considered appropriate offerings. The scraps were infused with a disease of a prayer and then tied to a tree. Linen is mentioned over a hundred times in the bible. It is seen as a fabric of earthly power and success, worn by important people with influence and wealth. ‘Fine linen’ is often mentioned when talking about pure and righteous women. The temples of God were clothed in fine linens as should the people who come to them to worship.
Satin: The more expensive satins are made from silk, the others from nylon or polyester. In the Middle Ages satin was always made from silk and therefore only worn by the wealthy.
Silk: It’s been said that silk is a ‘natural magical insulator’, meaning that it will keep magical energies contained within itself and protects its contents from influences of the outside world.
Velvet: In paintings the use of velvet symbolizes leadership and royalty. Queens and leaders such as Napoleon are often depicted wearing velvet or having velvet draped over various furniture.
Voile: The name means ‘veil’ in French.
Wool: In the bible wool is thought of as pure, clean and free of sin. For this reason it was not allowed to mix wool with linen, for it would not be pure anymore. God’s children are seen as sheep and Jesus Christ is sometimes portrayed as the ‘Lamb of God.’ See: Felt
Burlap: jute plant, sisal fibers
Calico: unbleached cotton
Canvas: cotton, linen, hemp (ancient times)
Cashmere: goat wool
Chiffon: cotton, silk, synthetic fibers
Chintz: glazed and printed calico
Cotton: cotton plant
Felt: sheep wool
Flannel: wool (ancient times), cotton, synthetic fibers
Flax: flax plant
Gauze: silk (ancient times), cotton, synthetic fibers, metal
Hemp: cannabis plant
Lace: silk, linen, gold/silver threads, cotton (modern)
Lamé: metallic yarns
Leather: animal skins
Leather (fake): a textile base, often cotton, with a synthetic layer, often PVC
Linen: flax, textiles in a linen-weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibers are also loosely referred to as “linen”.
Mohair: Angora goat hair
Nylon: synthetic polymers
Organza: silk, nylon (modern), polyester (modern)
Rayon: semi-synthetic cellulose fiber
Satin: silk, nylon, polyester. Satin is a type of weave with a glossy front and a dull back.
Silk: cocoons of silkworms (moth larvae), this is a protein fiber, similar to wool or human hair.
Suede: animal skins, mostly lamb
Suede (fake): mostly cotton or silk
Taffeta: silk or synthetic fibers
Tulle: polyester, nylon
Velvet: velvet can be made from many kinds of fibers
Velour: cotton, cotton blends, polyester
Velour de panne: polyester blend
Voile: cotton or cotton blends with polyester or linen
Wool: sheep wool