How to begin with the Purple Thread

Many people find it difficult to begin to worship a new god/hero/group of them. But beginning with the Purple Thread is pretty easy. First, get some purple thread. If you're a spinner, as I am, you spin it. As you do so, recite the prayers from the last post on the Thread. When you prepare to spin, say: Seven women whose lives are twined In history and myth Seven women whose names are wrapped In purple thread Seven women whose lives show Our weaknesses and our strengths Seven women I honor and praise: The women of the purple thread. Then begin to spin. Since I'm a drop spinner, I give the spindle a good flick and spin as it drops, saying: I spin for Arakhne, Who rues what she did, And weaves now forever I pray to Arakhne of the Purple Thread When I wind up that length, I almost sing, "The Purple Thread winds on and on, the Purple Thread winds on," which after a while, combined with the spinning and the rest of the prayers, puts me into a light trance. You can do all your spinning for one day for one member of the Thread and go through them all over the course of a week, or run through them all one after the other on one day. When you finish, and have plied if you wish, and have washed and set it, move on to the next step. The rest is the same whether you spin or not. Take a length, which can be as short as enough for a bracelet or as long as enough to circle a room, of purple embroidery floss, cord, or yarn (don't use sewing thread, it's too fine). Tie a knot, or string on a bead and knot it in place, for each of the seven. (It may help to have each of them be unique somehow, for future use.) This will thread serve as meditation or prayer beads. Knot the ends together. At first, all you'll want to do is to pray the prayers, and to contemplate the heroines and goddesses. Take the time to read about them. I use the prayers in my daily ritual, with one member of the Thread each day, starting on Sunday with Arakhne and finished on Saturday with Kirke. I think that's enough to begin with....

The Purple Thread again

I was telling a friend about the Purple Thread over on Dreamwidth, and realized that a) I didn't have a good explanation of the whole shebang here, and that my prayers here are out of date. Time to fix that! Summary of the Purple Thread as written up for my friend: My Purple Thread cultus revolves around a set of seven women, demi-goddesses, and minor goddesses linked together by certain themes. The Hanged Maiden is one, as is the Wronged Maiden. The Thread progresses upward until, at its far end, it finds its epitome in Kirke (Circe), who is never overcome. The thread starts with Arachne, who rues what she did. In some versions, she hanged herself and was resurrected by Athena before asking for penance, and certainly she hangs by threads forever now. Patron of the over-proud who learn humility, and of weavers. Next is Erigone, Beloved of the Vine. Her father Ikarious was the first mortal to whom Dionysos taught to cultivate grapevines and to make wine. When he shared his first batch with his neighbors, they didn't know to water the wine, and became very drunk and passed out. Their families, finding them, thought that they were dead, and fell upon Ikarios and murdered him. When young Erigone found him dead, she hanged herself from a tree. Her loyal dog then cast herself into a well and drowned. Dionysos, returning from a ramble only just too late, finding them all dead, set them each in the stars, as Boötes, Virgo, and Canis Minor. He also drove the villagers mad and set all their daughters to hanging themselves from trees until they made amends, and ever after that city held a propitiatory rite in which young girls swung on ropes tired to trees, and tied ribbons, cups and dolls to dangle from branches. Patron of suicides and those with depression, and of the bereaved. Now comes Ariadne, Mistress of the Labyrinth, before her apotheosis. She helped Theseus to murder her brother Asterion, the Minotaur (the murder itself a necessary mystery); she loved her monstrous brother. Theseus betrayed her and left her on the shore while she slept. When she awakened alone and abandoned, she too hanged herself. Dionysos came along and saw how lovely she was, and resurrected her and made her a goddess, and by now she has left her thread. Ariadne was of distantly divine heritage, distant enough to make her immortal. Patron of those who dare the labyrinth and walk strange roads. Now comes Helen, Lady of Sorrows, who speaks for the Silenced (including the first three of the Thread). After the Great War, few stories are told of her. Menelaus took her home as spoils of war, but set her aside, and sent her into seclusion. Perhaps she, too, hanged herself, and was granted access to the Isle of the Blessed, where she ruled beside the likewise-apotheosized Herakles, now freed from the Hera-inflicted madness that drove him to kill those he loved. Or perhaps she escaped, and wandered the world, and helped women, and ended none knows where. Perhaps Aphrodite or Athena, impressed by her strength, apotheosized her without death, and sent her back to continue her work. She is a patron of abused women. Then Cassandra, beloved and cursed. You know her story. She, too, was taken as spoils of water, and mistreated, and of her many ends are told, but not one is true. She is not an active patron as Helen is, but go to her for prophecy and advice, and be very sure you listen well. Now Medea, betrayed and vengeful, and we start to reach for greater power, a women's power on her own. Cousin to Ariadne, she, too, turned against her family for a pretty man's face, and left, and was abandoned. Not content to be set aside, not even considering suicide, she struck back instead. She is fully divine, though as distantly as Ariadne, and may or may not have died at all. She is patron of women who seek vengeance. And finally Kirke, full goddess in her own right, who used men as she saw fit, and was not devastated when one she loved left her. She studied with her cousin Hekate (as did Medea), and learned secrets of magic, of necromancy and transformation, and much more, and kept her own counsel and no other's. She is patron of women who take up all the power they can. ("Women" here is loosely defined. Anyone who identifies even part-time as a woman or a feminine person qualifies, and they can certainly choose to act as patron to anyone they damn well please as well. You may find that some of them also have genderqueer connections. I have not looked for any.) Current prayers: Seven women whose lives...

28 Triangles, and Planning for New Projects

Well, that’s done. I have 28 little gray triangles and 28 little purple triangles, woven with and as prayers to the Hyades and the Women of the Purple Thread. Now I just need to stitch them all together. Now to start on the next big project, the 6’x6’ rainbow flag afghan for my wife and I. Buying even a skein of Red Heart Super Saver is difficult these days, but a friend was kind enough to get me a thing of bright, pure re d so I can get started on it. The plan looks something like this: Each triangle is about 4” on the long side and 2” on the short side. To get a 1’ stripe, I need three rows of 4” width each. I’m going to fiddle around with it, but I’m thinking of alternating rows of meshed-teeth style and square-block style: The math for either type of row works out the same. Each row needs 54 block, times three rows is 216 triangles. 216 triangles is 648 yards. Round up to 700 for extra for stitching. A single skein of Red Heart is 364yds, so two is enough plus 28yards of squish room. Fortunately, Red Heart, being synthetic and mass produced, doesn’t have dyelots and is consistent. Color #319 will always be the same shade of red. At 216 triangles per stripe, that’s 1296 triangles for the whole thing. Even at ten triangles a day — which I am not going to average, that’s a good day — that would be 130 days, that’s more than four months. Probably more like 6 or 8, because me. Even more if I get into the school I’ve applied for, which is very intensive. Fortunately, the triloom is such that I can do other projects at the same time, so I don’t get too bored. Also fortunately, it’s easy to use the tail at the start of each triangle to tie it to the next one, and it’s easy to make both types of rows from long strings of them. Which makes the project much easier to keep track of. Individual triangles are too easy to lose. I’m assigning a different quality I want for our little family to each color, magic to support us in each of them. Red for protection, orange for strength, yellow for wisdom, green for health, blue for peace, and purple for passion. The recited charms for each are proving annoying to write. I’ve got a version for protection, but I’d rather get them all written and posted together. They’re doggerel, really, and won’t scan well. Just something to recite while I work, to shape the intent and energy. I’m also playing with the notions of using the triloom to build an ABRACADABRA spell, an ancient diagram spell of protection that dates back to at least the 3rd century CE and the physician of the Emperor Caracalla, who prescribed it worn as an amulet against disease. A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R - A A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A A - B - R - A - C - A - D A - B - R - A - C - A A - B - R - A - C A - B - R - A A - B - R A - B A This, obviously, lends itself to the triloom pretty well. It would probably work better on a equilateral triloom, but I don’t have one of those. This would, obviously, make a good-sized wall hanging rather than a wearable amulet — the top edge would be 44” across if made on this triloom! — but I think the spell could be easily applied to a household rather than an individual. I’m also thinking about the idea of making spell-nets out of wire and beads to catch bad influences trying to come in at windows, like a witch’s ball, dreamcatcher or spirit trap. I want to do combinations of the rigidity of the weave and more freeform, organic shapes. Even a single triangle — and I’d rather do 4-piece squares, to keep the inward motion toward the central stone — will take 3 yards of wire just for the base, plus another foot or two for the other work, so I’ll have to work in copper wire for now, as much as I...

Teeny Tiny Triangles

Way back April, I talked about the esoteric possibilities of small triangle looms, weaving prayers or spells into small pieces. Well, I finally had a little cash and found a small tri-loom for under $15 on Etsy. (It was sold as a 4”, which is the length of the legs rather than the hypotenuse. Odd, the big ones are measured by the hypotenuse.) When it arrived, I grabbed some spare yarn from the stash (my sadly depleted stash: moths got in, but this was treated to keep them off), and dove in. I ran through that skein in about a week, a week I was pretty sick, and not spending much time on fiber. The first several came out uneven and buckled, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the later ones came out nice and even. By the end, a single triangle only took about five minutes. I got thirty triangles out of the 100yd skein, plus a lot of cat-chewed scraps of yarn that I’m using to stitch the triangles together. It’s an interesting thing about the tri-looms: Each loop, which becomes both warp and weft, is the same length: the length of the hypotenuse of the triangle. You have as many loops as there are pegs on one leg of it. To get the total yardage for each triangle, no matter how large or small, you multiply the hypotenuse by the number of pegs. My little tri-loom (which has a 6” hypotenuse and 17 pegs) takes 102in, plus a 3in tail on each end to knot, or 108in, for a total of three yards per each. I measure the yarn a bit slack, and then you have to keep it under a certain amount of tension while weaving, so there’s usually a bit extra. Being able to measure and cut a hank of 3’ lengths means I don’t have to carry the whole skein and a pair of scissors if I want to go out and weave. Also good for airplane trips, where you still can’t take scissors on board in the US. I’m working on writing specific prayers to use with this. I’ve started doing sets with the Purple Thread and Hyades prayers I wrote previously, but those are really designed around the rhythms of spinning, and the tri-loom definitely has a rhythm of its own. The idea, though, is to recite a prayer as I weave, making each piece a prayer of its own. I want to do a lunar month’s worth of prayers, then stitch the pieces together into a kind of prayer hanging. Not prayer hangings as my Hermes and Athene hangings are, which contains written prayers to be recited, but hangings that are made up of prayers, tangible works of dedication. Once I’ve found a written rhythm that works for the tri-loom, I’ll start writing spells for it, too, for tangible, useable spellcraft (my favorite kind!). Scarves for health and healing, small afghans for protection and warmth and contentment, large family-sized blankets for togetherness and love, whatever I can think of. I want to do a rainbow flag coverlet for Kate and I, with each color bearing a different spell for our little family. I’m working up a whole how-to post on weaving on tri-looms, although there are several excellent ones out there already, and a project post for what I’m doing with the practice triangles I’ve made already. My regular camera is out of commission, so it’s all phone pics for a bit. Sorry....

Erigone Pendulum

Sannion, talking about developing his divinatory toolkit, mentioned that he was thinking of developing a pendulum divination using a noose or a doll hanged from one, but that he hasn’t done any work with pendula. Well, I have, and am very fond of them, so I’m thinking about developing this. The thing about pendulum divination is that it’s basically used to answer binary questions — yes/no stuff, or you can play hot-and-cold with one, or any either/or question (there’s an old midwife’s divination that hangs a pregnant woman’s wedding ring from a thread over her belly; along her body means a boy, and across means a girl) — or for dowsing, finding, or tracing energy patterns (which all come down to the same thing). I would be inclined, for my own use, to connect it more generally to the Women of the Purple Thread, although still through Erigone. Many of them were hanged or hanged themselves. But using Erigone, who was still young, and in whose memory a girls’ festival was held, suggests that this divination be done in a fashion more like a children’s game. Perhaps start it with something like a counting or clapping rhyme, pendulum spinning, and the line on which it goes to a flat swing or maybe stopped altogether being the first indicator. Then play hot-and-cold, chasing it down with more questions, if necessary. If so, the skill would be in asking the questions. An unweighted noose won’t have enough weight on the end of a rope to make a good pendulum, but a well-weighted doll would. I went looking for the little clay doll that’s a replica of one found in some Greek ruins, I forget which ones, but I’d quite forgotten that my young friend stole it and gave it as an offering to Hermes (who is not inclined to give it up; I asked). I’m poking around for something else to use. It needs to be no more than about 2-3”, well-weighted, and compact to work as a pendulum. I’ve got all the Poppets, but I don’t think those will work for various reasons (starting with them having their own meaning and personality). I suppose might try making a knotted-rag doll and weighting it with beans or something, but that would be clumsy — loose fabric would slow the swing. I have air-dry red clay, and might try my hand at sculpting with that, or with Sculpey or some other more modern material. (I’ve got some two-part epoxy clay someplace, I think.) There wouldn’t be anything wrong with buying one at a toy store, but it would need to be small enough and heavy enough; money’s too tight for me to spend any at all, we’re counting pennies. A fancy doll could also be carved from some dense wood or root, or bone, but I don’t have the skill for that. My modeling skills aren’t good, but they’ll probably do. Of course I’ll be spinning my own hemp for the noose and line, although there’s no reason anybody else who wanted to try it couldn’t just buy twine. One of the really great things about a pendulum is that you can make it from nearly anything. All you need is a weight and a line or string or chain. Pick up a river rock, tie a bit of string around it, with at least four or five inches for it to swing by, or use a fishing weight and line, or a binder clip and thread, whatever you have handy. For this, the symbolism of a doll and noose is significant, but any doll of appropriate size and weight will work. It is important that the line or chain not be too heavy for the weight, that the line be pliable enough, and that the mass of the plumb be compact. One thing to know about pendulum divination, though, is that it’s highly susceptible to influence by the person holding the pendulum. It’s very very easy when divining for yourself to simply pick the answer you want and to unconsciously change the swing. Unless you’re specifically trying to get at answers from your own subconscious, pendulum divination is best worked by someone other than the querent....

Arachne’s Shrine Wallet

Warning: There is a spider at the end of this post. The two parts of the wallet shrine for Arachne: You can’t really see it, but the outside is actually stitched with Arachne’s name in Greek and the wandering thread, both with the Purple Thread. Damn black background. Won’t do that again. The inside, of course, has the frame loom, a picture/prayer frame, and now… flattened pennies. These three are from Woodland Park Zoo’s spider exhibit some years back. I was pretty pleased with myself for going, as I’ve been attempting to get over my arachnophobia for years, and I ran three pennies through the machine to commemorate it. From top left to bottom right, they are Golden Orb Weaver (my favorite; beautiful webs), Happy Face Spider, and the infamous Black Widow. And now, just because, here’s a banana spider, the kind that lived in my childhood backyard. Image from here. These are a rather large variety of golden orb weaver. The females’ leg spans easily reach 5”, with a two-inch-long body, and they can spin webs that are twelve feet across. The silk shines golden in the sun (the origin of the name golden orb, and of the alternate name yellow silk). On a dewy morning, they’re amazing. Even when I was most terrified of spiders, I loved those webs. (The wolf spiders that often made it into the house were another matter. Nearly as big as the banana spiders in the yard, they were hairy, like a tarantula, and they tended to get really close, and sometimes to jump. Those were flat-out terrifying. Still are. I’ve got the willies thinking about them. Worse than palmetto bugs, the infamous giant flying cockroaches of Florida.) Now I just need to sew the two together, and I can start Ariadne's....

Tiny Weaving

There it is, the tiny weaving from the Arachne wallet shrine. I used up all the thread I had measured off and called it good. The thread trails off the left side and wraps around the "upright" of the loom, indicating that the weaving was unfinished, as all of Arachne's future tapestries were. I could've gotten a tighter weave if I'd actually built a tensionable loom, dammit....

Things That Happen When You’re Me

I started on my wallet shrine for Ariadne. I decided that rather than do a spider web, since I was already putting in spiders, I would put in a loom. So I stitched in the simple frame that was used for tapestry weaving in ancient Greece. And then I got the ever-so-clever idea to actually weave cloth there. The problem is, of course, that the “loom” is felt and embroidery floss, and has no rigidity against which to tension the damn warp. So it’s all over the place. I put the pen under the warp threads to lift them up and stabilize them, provide a little tiny bit of tension. Then eventually I found my dichroic dragon pendant, and that and the pen allowed me to make a little more progress, but I’m still having to hold the two apart with one hand to provide tension while I thread the needle over and under the warps. Argh. These are the things that I suddenly get very excited to do at 2am when I haven’t had a full night’s sleep three days running. Ah, well. Such is life. Also, the Erigone wallet came out well. Here it is next to an Altoid’s tin for size comparison: And I painted a small wooden cabinet black. The plan is to hang it on the wall, keep all the wallet shrines inside it, and take out the day’s wallet to set on top and burn incense in front of. We’ll see how it works....

More Spinning Prayer

I was out of tea this morning. Making an offering of a red herbal tisane (they seem to like the red) has become part of my morning ritual, and a good one for both me and my gods. I go in, collect the cups, fill the kettle and set it to boil, pour yesterday’s tea into a bowl, wash the cups, pour out the tea all together, take the cups back and set them on the altar. I drum while the kettle finishes boiling. When it’s ready, I drop a tea bag (lately it’s been Red Zinger; before that it was a raspberry tea) in the pot and pour in the water. While it steeps, I write anything in my plant ally journal I might need to and do any study I’m working on (geomancy right now, of course). When it’s steeped, I pour it into a cup on each of the altars of my household gods: Hekate, Dionysos, and Hermes. I really ought to take Hestia’s plaque (it’s been in the kitchen, and I’d rather have her there, but the kitchen is in really bad shape and we’re not using it much) upstairs and set her up with her own shrine and make a morning offering to her, too. Then I spin for the Women of the Purple Thread, and light incense for that day’s figure. But as I said, I was out of tea this morning. I need to go buy some, but the nearby store didn’t have anything I cared to use, and the further away store I haven’t been to since I realized I was low. I’ll go tonight, and get wine as well — they have a nice selection, including several Greek wines I like. That did leave me with a dilemma, though. I wanted to make some kind of offering, but I didn’t feel I had anything suitable. So I picked up my spindle, and started making up a spinning prayer on the spot, taking the form of the Purple Thread prayer that’s been working so well for me. Here’s roughly what I came up with on the fly: I pray to Hekate Saffron-clad torch bearer Lover of deer and dogs I spin for Hekate of the crossroads The silver thread winds on and on The silver thread winds on I pray to Dionysos Bull-roaring liberator Mad dancer in wild places I spin for Dionysos of the Vine The silver thread winds on and on The silver thread winds on I pray to Hermes Fleet message-bearer Keeper of Knowledge I pray to Hermes of the high places The silver thread winds on and on The silver thread winds on It’s not perfect, but not bad for off-the-cuff work, I think. I may come up with something more elegant, or I may not, and just make them up in future, too. Having a larger range of spinning prayers is a good thing, I think. Pray to any gods I wish to, and spin. The principle holds, and really all I’m doing is stringing together epithets and phrases I associate with them. I thought Silver Thread was appropriate to gods....