As stated by a friend, Michelle Belanger:
We don’t forgive the fire for burning us. We learn to keep our hands away. #WednesdayWisdom
Jar spells and the various other sorts of charms are probably one of the most well-known and used areas of the cunning craft. Of these, I believe the some of the most used are for the protection of the Self, home, and protection of others whether they be child or animal. They are created to protect from physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial attacks from other people, practitioners, those of the Otherworld (lumping spirits, fae and any being that is not inherently human in this category momentarily), and even bacterial/viral attacks. These charms are practiced in possibly all forms of religious and spiritual belief. I say possibly because I haven’t studied every different spiritual or belief system… yet. However, of the ones that I am familiar, whether through my own actual practice, the practice of friends, or through study, there is always some form of a protection charm contained within the myths and mythos even if it is not called exactly that. A rose by any other name and all (thanks, Shakespeare!)
Charms can be used for “white” or “black” magic. Or green magic or purple magic or whatever unicorn rainbow glitter flavor of magic you proclaim to use. I just use magic. I am a magic practitioner. I do not assign color to my workings. I do work or I don’t; no color of magic involved. You do you. I have found over the years that it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Those who profess to only use white magic always have that line they will cross. There are those who say they only practice black magic yet they will protect another from harm. Again, a line they are willing to cross. The most honest practitioners are the ones who profess to practice grey magic – not entirely good and not entirely evil. In my mind and according to the alignment system of D&D, that sets them more at a chaotic good than anything else. Chaotic good doesn’t have a color – it just is.
Charms are also one of my very favorite types of magical workings. They are part of magic both high or low; animistic or Judeo-Christian, and anything in-between. Now, most followers of a monotheistic or Judeo-Christian religion will say that they don’t practice charms or magic. And yet, it is still found in their history and within their regular practice – even if they don’t realize it or want to accept it. This is a fact and not up for debate.
Why is this my favorite? Because it is so versatile, of course! It can be done with lots of items or hardly anything more than a writing utensil and something to write on (or carving into something). However, I will not say that it is easy. It can be fairly easily implemented depending on the charm and what you are trying to accomplish. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take knowledge, work, and a bit of yourself put into every one. You don’t get something for nothing.
Collecting things for charms can be done with a specific purpose in mind or can be gathered to be used at another time. It is rare that I go anywhere without accumulating random bits of stuff in my bag, purse, or pockets. Feathers, stones, leaves, shells, dirt, seed pods, egg shells, bits of cloth, buttons, nails, pins, beads or charms can be gathered in the darnedest places. Everything in nature has magical properties and can be used to represent an abundance of things. Even things not found naturally occurring can have a magical use so don’t discount anything. You don’t have to be a packrat either. Be smart about what you pick up and what you leave behind. It can all have a purpose or a meaning. And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (thanks, Freud!)
A magic square or a horseshoe are two examples of a common charm. Many people are familiar with a horseshoe above a door for good luck. Depending on your set of beliefs would depend on whether the horseshoe was hung with the tines pointing up or down. Tines up means it is gathering all the luck and in other beliefs, if a horseshoe has its tines down it is pouring the luck onto whoever walks underneath. Magic squares have been found in many ancient writings and are believed to have been used by magical practitioners as a form of protection magic and also in numerology. Magic squares have been known to be used in creating talismans. Agrippa used magic squares in his Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy by joining the seven known planets (during his time) with seven different magic squares. Each of those seven magical squares are numerical and different according to the planets they represent. Other magic squares contain letters and most magic squares are palindromic. A palindrome is a word, phrase or sequence that reads the same backward or forward. The Sator Square (pictured below) is a four times palindrome and is believed to be one of the oldest representations of a magic square when discovered unharmed but under the ruins of Pompeii. There have been other Sator Squares found in other areas of Europe, Britain, and the Middle East. It is believed to be created for protection or, more specifically, protection from fire. Some believe it must be carved into a particular type of metal during specific astrological times whereas others believe it is inherent in the Latin words themselves and any “specialness” added will only enhance the protective powers of this charm but it can be created with nothing more than a writing utensil and something to write on.
There have been charms consisting of Bible quotes written on parchment, rolled and sealed within door frames. Boots or shoes within the walls or hearth of a home. Even the skeletal remains of a cat have been known to be found within the walls of older homes when undergoing restoration or reconstruction. Many of these items and the tales behind them can be seen at the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall. Things such as a horse or other large animal heart pierced with countless thorns, pins, and nails that are hung within the chimney or from a high beam in the house to protect the home, its inhabitants, and their belongings from any evil-doers or ill-wishers. However, I think the oddest practice that I have found along these lines is a piece of bacon pricked and pierced with pins and nails and then hung far up a chimney. Presumably, to act as a decoy for the house’s inhabitants and the pins to prick at the person who originally sent the curse. I see this more as a bit of a waste of a perfectly good piece of bacon!
A witch’s ladder or knotted rope is yet another form of a charm. There are a number of ways to create one and a number of reasons to do so. It all involves knotting a rope in certain ways and sometimes adding things within the knots. Different knot magic represents different things and is created slightly differently depending on the creator. Some of my crocheted items have magic knotted into them. Not everything I crochet has magic woven in, but some things have – especially those things I have created with a specific person in mind and it is usually protection magic that is woven in as many times it is also something to be worn.
Of all of these different ways to create charms, I think the most prevalent and possibly the first image that comes to mind is of a tiny bag or piece of cloth that contains any number of mystical objects. These charm bags are then to be worn or placed in a pocket as protection, to bring good fortune or good luck, to help clear certain health complaints, to enhance one’s charm or beauty, or any number of other magical “fixes” that can be done. I think that’s truly why they are my favorite type of magical workings – because of the pure versatility! With that said, I need to go work some charm magic!