When my grandmother passed away the only thing I wanted to keep of hers, was her button tin. Many hours of my childhood were spent playing with all the buttons. I can remember tipping them out onto her dining room table and creating patterns and pictures with them.
The tin has been decanted into a large glass jar now, and I have added my own buttons to the collection over time. There are quite a number that I remember playing with, some specific colours and shapes.
But what about magic? I actually use buttons a lot in magical workings, particularly in witch bottles, spell bags and journey pouches.
What are their magical properties? I have drawn on my own feelings for it, below are my thoughts, you may like to work with them in another way.
Colour magic – brilliant for working colour magic as buttons come in every colour! Use a green button in a prosperity spell, a brown one in a home and hearth spell, a black one for protection, a blue one for healing – you get the idea.
Keeping things together – well, that’s what a button does right? Spell workings for keeping situations or issues together.
Binding – if working bindings is your thing then a button is excellent to keep the binding in place.
Gossip – buttons work well in spells to keep gossip out by ‘buttoning up’ the talk.
Secrets – in the same way as a button works well in anti gossip spells, it does just the same for keeping secrets buttoned up.
Journey/Threshold – I have a journey pouch that I use for hedgeriding. Inside the pouch is a button. It is there for the purpose of opening up doorways and for closing them afterwards. A button is used for opening and closing fabric so why not a spiritual portal?
Noise – you could add buttons to a tub or box to create a rattle to help you clear negative energy or create sound for meditation journeys.
Closing – add a button to your magical working to bring about closure, whether it is spiritual, mental or physical.
Protection – buttons close garments, keeping out the cold or the dirt. Which makes them excellent to use in protection spells.
Charms – use buttons as jewellery and you can bring their magic in. Perhaps a mala style necklace strung with buttons to help you focus on meditation.
Wishes – with the history and special memories buttons seem to hold, I think they work well to wish upon. Folklore says that if you make a wish on a button and then throw it in a well the Fairies will be happy and will grant your wish. Although I am not sure what fairies are doing in the bottom of a well.
Luck – folklore says that gifting buttons to newly weds brought about luck. In fact gifting buttons to anyone seems to be a lucky thing.
Friendships – brilliant to use in friendship magic as buttons ‘bring things together’.
Connections – buttons connect things, makes sense they can be used then in magic where you need to connect something or someone.
Psychometry – if you have an old button then it has a history, you can tap into this by using psychometry. Connect with the energy of the button to find out about previous owners.
Sigils – paint or draw sigils onto buttons. These can then be sewn onto garments or bags or worn as jewellery.
Offerings – particularly the more ornate buttons would make lovely offerings on your altar to deity.
Elements – use colour buttons or work with the material buttons are made of to represent the elements.
Ancestors – if you have a button that you know belonged to a family member you can use it to connect with their energy or have it on your ancestors altar to honour them.
Poppets – where do we often see buttons in magic? On a poppet! Use them for the eyes.
Divination – you could create a fabulous lithomancy set with buttons, whether you use it by colour, design or draw images on.
Third eye – a button can be used to represent your third eye and used in psychic magic work.
Losing a button from your shoe was considered to be bad luck, this was obviously back in the day when shoes were fastened with buttons. To remedy this situation you had to spit over your left shoulder or spit inside your left shoe.
If you buttoned up your shirt the wrong way, you had to leave it buttoned that way all day, it was bad luck to rebutton it.
But other folklore says if you button it incorrectly to avoid bad luck take if off immediately and re-do.
Familiar with the old chant ‘tinker, tailor’ soldier’ spy’? You could apparently discover what your future husband would be by counting buttons. The rhyme was ‘doctor, lawyer, merchant, cheat’ or ‘rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief’. I think I would rig this one…
A similar process was applied using the chant ‘he loves me, he loves me not’.
If a bachelor asked you to sew a button on, do it. Apparently once you had completed the sewing task for him, inside of a year he would be your husband. Presuming you actually liked him obviously, otherwise avoid the sewing…
Got some old buttons and a new coat? Don’t sew them on. Putting old buttons onto a new coat was considered bad luck.
If you are wearing a smart business suit and a button comes off, your luck is about to change. Which way your luck changes is not specified.
Lost three buttons in one go? Either you need a new or bigger suit, but folklore suggests you can expect a funeral to happen in the near future.
Look for coats that sport eight buttons, these are meant to be lucky.
But then having a garment with an odd number of buttons on is supposed to be lucky too.
Find a button on the ground? Pick it up, check the number of holes and put it in your pocket. You will have good luck for as many days as the number of holes in the button. Unless it is a black button, in which case leave it on the ground because picking that one up brings bad luck.
Finding a button on the ground could mean a letter is on the way, actually two or four depending on how many holes the button has.
To stop someone gossiping about you, bit the top button on your shirt and that person will be rewarded with a blistered tongue.
Having a jar full of buttons is supposed to bring good luck.
Never sew a button on when you are wearing the garment, it is considered unlucky.
To ensure safe travels throughout your day, do up an odd number of buttons on your clothing.
If a funeral procession passes by, touch one of your buttons to ward against bad luck and remain connected to living!
To watch a replay of my talk about button magic, click the link below: