In the late 1800’s in the eaves of a house in Somerset, England some strange items were discovered. They consisted of a chair, four brooms and a string of feathers. It was declared that the house had belonged to a witch as the chair was for sitting in. The brooms had been used for flying and the string of feathers was referred to as a ‘witches ladder’. The witches ladder was a long string with cockerel feathers stuck into it. It was suggested that it might have been used by the witch to cross over the roof, to cause deaths and to hex the neighbour’s cattle. A second string of feathers was also found which had much newer feathers in and then a third was found which had feathers bound loosely to a skein of black wool.
At the time it was said that each feather was a hex, a curse or a bad wish, the witches ladder would then be thrown into a pool of water where the feathers would eventually pull away from the wool releasing the curses, these would appear on the surface of the water as bubbles.
Many people have theorised over the years as to the purpose of witch’s ladders ranging from stealing milk from a neighbour’s cow to the curse of death, but also covering healing and to bring wishes. There doesn’t appear to be any actual evidence of what they were for or that they were even used by witches, but I think the idea works very well.
You could create a witches ladder with twine, wool or ribbon and insert feathers each one for a curse but equally you can also create witches ladders for positive intent such as luck, prosperity, love, healing or success. Insert a feather for each wish.
The basic structure is that of braiding three, nine or twelve cords together, they can be made from string, ribbon or twine. But the idea is to weave your spell into the cords as you plait, chanting as you go if you wish. Colour magic can be added in if you want to with the use of coloured ribbon, beads or feathers. Charms, buttons and bells can also be added in. Once your plait is done you can pop feathers or sprigs of herbs in between the threads to add intent to your spell.
You can make the process your own, but here is how I create a witch ladder:
You will need:
9 pieces of twine, of equal length
2 short pieces of twine or ribbon
Any herbs you wish to add, but make sure they can be poked into the plaits
Plait three pieces of twine together, three times – so that you have three plaits, put a knot in the top and bottom of each.
As you plait, visualise your intent and say a chant or state your intent out loud.
Now tie the tops together with your ribbon or twine.
Plait the three plaits together, visualising your intent, saying your chant or stating your intention out loud.
Now tie the bottoms together with your ribbon or twine.
Insert each feather into the finished plait, stating your intention out loud and sending energy into it.
Next add your herbs, slotting them into the plait and stating your intention.
Your ladder is now complete, pop it on your altar or hang it by your front door.
Watch the video below to see how I make a witch ladder:
Originally posted on Beneath the Moon, Patheos Pagan - 25.3.20