Some believe that fetishes and medicine bundles belong to Shamanism or Vodou and Hoodoo alone, but Witchcraft and fetishism have long been mixed bedfellows. We need only to look at all the artefacts and charms in the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum to see this is so. A fetish can be anything from a simple bird foot or skull to a more elaborately crafted doll, pouch, or bottle. It is any object believed to have its own spirit we can communicate with and work with in our magic and rites. As an animist I believe everything has a spirit – even the tools I use to contact other spirits. Because of this, fetishes need to be cared for, fed energy and offerings, and kept in a safe and sacred place when not in use.
This week I pulled out my leather, my sewing kit, and my specimens of poisons and bone to craft fetishes used to aid in working with the dark goddess Hekate. I cut up squares of raw black silk, laid them upon the pelt of a black wolf, and filled each square with specimens of mandrake, monkshood, yew, and snake skin and bones. I cleansed them with the fragrant smoke of palo santo and then tied them up into little bundles with black cotton thread.
I’d been playing with creating sigils this past week and chose a simple crossroad and key sigil to include in the bundles. I pulled out my magical inks and my calligraphy dip pens and set to work. The symbol is meant to open doors between the worlds and to access the World Tree.
I stitched up pouches of softest black leather, folding the corners into the center and sewing them with black silk. I stitched a leather tie onto the corner of the flap to wrap up the bundle with. I cut slits into the pouches and laced more ties through them, adding bone skull beads to the ends and used the ties to bind antique keys to the bundles. I made the keys removable so they can be used in ritual.
Now that the pouches and their contents were ready, I carefully tucked all the sacred specimens and the folded sigil inside and then carefully and tightly wrapped up each bundle, tucking the end of the tie back into itself.
And the bundles were ready, simple and elegant. They can be carried during ritual, whether it is for Hekate, the dark moon, or the ancestors and the underworld. They can be used to open a door between the worlds by laying out the the sigil with the key on top – in the woods, a graveyard, or on your altar. They can be carried, tucked in a pocket, or laid on an altar to aid in working with the dead. Whether these Hekate bundles are used for necromancy, transvection, or rites of the dark goddess, they will well serve the witch who keeps them with care and employs them often. I hope I’ve inspired you to create your own fetishes for your arts of Witchcraft. May the flame between the horns guide your hands in the forging.
Pre-Christian, pre-Olympian, pre-Titanic Hecate
world-tree planted in Asia Minor
gate-guard of the worlds,
keyholder to the three reams,
gross seated mother, lions at your sides,
fostering nurse of all that’s young,
female heap of big fat attributes,
cruel, non-rational mistress
of slain corn-kings, sacrificed children,
you glide into Greece after Troy’s fall,
Hecate-Enodia riding down from Thessaly,
leading the angry horde of ghosts,
planted yourself at the crossroads;
your torch began to smoke, then flared up,
making night noon —
world-tree Hecate, your roots reach Hell’s
downmost altitude to suck the power
of the buried dead. Eater of filth,
goddess of darkness, grimly silently
munching on corpses, Hecate,
regaled with incense of goat-fat, baboon-shit,
garlic; honored with gutted puppies
and rubbish rites;
Hecate, in your oakleaf crown shaking reptile dreadlocks,
around you hellhounds yowling sharp and shrill,
so meadows tremble, river-nymphs scream,
their waters rush backwards up the stream-bed
and dive affrighted down their own fountains;
with witches I dance around you,
naked, snake necklaced,
hair in the wind, gashing blood from arms:
sex-crazed hags with false teeth and hair,
young girls, gloriously pornographic,
stir the cauldron of ugly oddities,
throw in magic salads gathered in the graveyard–
a brew with power to draw babes screaming
into existence, or hurl them howling hence.
The witches lay hold of you, Hecate, World-tree,
shake, make tremble on your branches
the planets suspended
like rare and fragile fruit.