Monday, June 20, 2016

Ritual Attire

Many Pagans do rituals and spellwork naked, referred to in the Craft, as skyclad- “Clad only by the sky.” This certainly seems a preferred and recommended practice. But there are times due to temperature; you may wish to be robed. It may even be that you just prefer to be robed most of the time and that is ok.  Personally, I prefer to be robed.

Robes can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. I’ll give you a few ideas to make ritual clothing. Two of them I have made for my husband and myself.

Any type of fabric will do, the choice is up to you. Natural fabric is usually preferred. Polyester (if you must!), silk, cotton, or wool. Consider, though, its weight: will it be too heavy and hot, or too light and cool? Also consider how easily it creases and wrinkles. Will it stretch too much? Is it washable? Will it itch? Since witches wear nothing under their robes, this last is a serious consideration!  Personally, I wouldn't pick wool, it makes me itch. Instead I choose cotton and it is breathable. If it is cold I have a velvet cloak to go over it.

The fabric you buy must be 46 to 60 inches wide. To determine how much fabric you will need, measure in inches from your shoulder to the floor, and then add 2 inches. Divide that number by 36 inches to determine how many yards of cloth you will need. It will most likely not end up with an even number, and it is best to buy a little extra. This measurement for me was 3.24 yards.

If the fabric is washable, prewash it. This will take out the chemicals used to treat the fabric and preshrink it so that it doesn't shrink after you have sewn the robe. If not washable it will need to be dry cleaned and it can get expensive.

Here are the measurements you will need to take:
1. Shoulder to floor + 2 inches=______ divided by 36 = ______.
2. The distance from shoulder to shoulder=_____.
3. The circumference of your head (for the neck opening) =_____.
4. The measurement of the fullest part of your upper arm=_____ + 4 inches ( you don’t want your sleeves to be too tight) =_____.
5. The length of your arm from your shoulder to your wrist = _____ + 1 inch = _____.

Take the material and fold it in half. If the material has an “outside” and an “inside,” fold it inside-out. Draw out a more or less T shape. Another way is to use a loose fitted T-shirt and trace the outline and extends, belled out to the bottom of the fabric. Make a cut in the middle at the neck hole. The T-shirt method helped me since I had problems with the sleeves being too tight with a previous attempt, resulting to be turned into a sleeveless tunic for my husband. Sew along the bottom of the sleeves, down the sides and if you did the T-shirt method, the shoulders. All that remains is to turn it right side out again, try it on, and hem the neck hole, sleeves and the bottom of the robe to a convenient length (e.g., an inch or so above the ground). A few patterns are McCall’s M6630, Simplicity 4055 and 9891.  Long sleeves are one thing you want to think about. The last thing you ever want to do during a ritual is catch your sleeve on fire. It is best to be safe than sorry.

Add a cord around the waist as a finishing touch. The cord I use to use is made from nylon cord found at the hardware store. This cord is thin and comes in a variety of colors. I crochet three rows each of black and white together. My new cord is made from 550 paracord, 100 ft found at A. C. Moore's.

Think about the color of your robe. Some Witches will wear white or black but more people in this day in age are wearing other colors to symbolize nature.

Yellow is an excellent color for those involved with divination.

Purple is favored for those who work with pure divine power (magicians) or who wish to deepen their spiritual awareness of the Goddess and God.

Blue is suited for healers and those who work with their psychic awareness or for attuning with the Goddess in her oceanic aspect.

Green empowers herbalists and magical ecologists.

Brown is worn by those who attune with animals or who cast spells for them.

White symbolizes purification and pure spirituality, and also is perfect for meditation and cleansing rituals. It is worn for full moon celebrations, or to attune with the Goddess.

Orange or red robes can be worn to Sabbats, for protective rites, or when attuning with the God in his fiery solar aspect.

Black robes are quite popular. Contrary to popular misconceptions, black doesn't symbolize evil. It is the absence of color. It is a protective hue and symbolizes the night, the universe, and lack of falsehood. When a Wiccan wears a black robe, s/he is donning the blackness of outer space-symbolically, the ultimate source of divine energy.

Sleeveless Tunic:
For the tunic you can follow the same steps for the robe just leave out the sleeves or use a sleeveless shirt. Measure from just above your knee to the floor. This measurement is used to mark a 1/8 inch cut on both side seems of the tunic and hem up the side slits. Finish by hemming the neck hole, sleeve holes and bottom of the tunic.

Hooded Cloak:
This project is a bit more difficult, but the results are well worth the effort. You might want to use the same fabric used for the robe-natural fibers. If you want your cloak to be fancier, try using wool crepe or velvet. This will be considerably more expensive than the heavier cottons, but if you watch for sales after the winter holidays you can often find some good bargains.

You will want to line your cloak, so you need to buy lining fabric. It’s very difficult to find lining fabrics made from natural fiber. Rayon or silk are both good choices. Avoid fabrics that are too lightweight and slippery. They also have a tendency to pucker and gather when you sew them. If the fabric is going to be heavy it is best to have a heavy metal hook and eye. My hooded cloak was made from velvet and satin lining using the McCall’s Costumes P409 or M4139 by a seamstress since at that time I didn’t have much of a sewing skill. It had a light frog clasp and the weight of the cloak just made it pull apart and tear. A few weeks before Pagan Pride day I replaced it with a metal hook and eye and it works much better with the heavy fabric. Other hooded cloak patterns are Simplicity 1582, 5840, 5794 and Wal-Mart exclusive 0882; McCall’s M4698, and M5957.

In some traditions certain jewelry such as a wide bracelet with inscriptions, a bracelet, or a Moon crown to signify rank. Many Witches usually female wear a headband. Necklaces and pendants are very popular. Rings often bearing inscriptions or depictions of deities are also very popular. There are some very talented Witch jewelers who make incredibly beautiful items that deserve to be displayed.

But some people feel that jewelry has no place in the Circle. There are some who feel that it is a hindrance to the raising of power. I respect those who feel this way. If they truly believe that it restricts, then it will restrict. So decide for yourself whether to encourage the use of jewelry; whether to limit its use or prohibit it altogether. I wear a necklace 24/7 of a dragon holding a pentagram in its wings. My husband is making me a wide bracelet with my deities’ names with symbols and a headband I plan on using for ritual use only.

Emblems or Insignia:
Many covens design their own individual emblems or insignia, which they use on notepaper and put on flags and banners for Craft festivals. I've created two versions for my coven with a pentacle and Holly.

Info from:
Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Wicca: A guide for the solitary practitioner by Scott Cunningham
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca Craft by Miria Liguana and Nina Metzner

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