Friday, January 3, 2014

The Green Witch: Textile Art and Love of Dyes


A few days ago while skimming through my normal routs for anything related to herbs, herb dye and plant textiles (all of which I utilize on a spiritual level for my charm and talisman work as a practitioner of folk arts and agrarian magic) I ran across a wonderful variety of blogs both old and new that have other pagan plant-textile enthusiasts and even one recent article in The New York Times about how DYI plant textile art is coming back! I'm happy to not be alone in this art; it's something I developed an interest in watching my art teacher Missa teach classes on how to tie-dye fabric when I was about 8 years old.  She taught me and the other students how to dye fabric, how to make art from fabric dying.  Later, as I evolved into my green path, I became enamored with how herbs with all their specific properties both medicinal and occult can be so beautiful, so endlessly useful to us.  

First it was boiling camellia flowers in the spring time and dyeing old sheets my parents would throw away, trying to capture the essence and color I would need to apply to the yarns, cotton weaves and linen bolts that would help with my dream pouches, amulets, bags of medicine and cunning, herb-storing bags, sacred and pure silk bags for my sacred stones... it has spiraled into an all out addiction!  I bend over the stove, stirring pots; chamomile and basil for that sweet icy champagne color, corn flowers and blueberries for a dreamy twilight blue, cornflower greens with fresh onion skins will make a dainty yellow that works for a seasonal charm pouch, but Oregon grape, blackberry and wild acorn is sweet for an end of summer love spell.  The red and pink roses in a tin pot will make a sweet sage green that would make a lovely charm for Aphrodite, while a half cup of pinot skins and no tin pot will make a silver gray that reminds me of pure and new love.  The safflower and st. johnswort make a perfect yellow for a dream-protection charm, though I never did quite achieve the right protection black from those nut shells...  I'm still working at it.

My sister's work in anthropology takes her into the realm of ancient indigenous textiles and its potential in modern textiles and fashion.  Of course, being influenced so much by her, I take a similar road- though my studies have taken me to the use of sacred herbs and herb dyes in any and all pagan lore.  Anything and everything I can find on how certain colors and dyes were used in the processing and creation of mystical and magical objects or clothes is my interest.  While I cannot obtain all the plants, flowers, minerals, clays and chemicals I want to produce the vibrant array of the spectrum I see in my studies, I do well in my own right, matching the herbs to the cloth material, matching those to the needs I have, finding the balance between color, material and magic- and everything in-between. 

Some domestic, kitchen and green witches of the traditional variety spin at their looms for their purposes, others knit or weave, some sew glorious ritual robes, others embroider sacred objects... and some of us dye with the herbs we cut and uproot from the wild, we stew them in cauldron's over busy burners and experiment with raw, unprotected hands, puckering flesh, yellowed nail-ends, purple cuticles.  The smell is raw and hearty   The colors are deceiving and change over the course of a week and all the while your kitchen is ever untidy as your pots boil over.  The chamomile rises and explodes and the fruit flies make suicide dives into the miasma.  I feel a real connection when I'm seeking my colors, communing with those sacred plant spirits and watching the transformation from mundane into sacred just through the sacred act of devotion to one's craft... and crafty work.

Naturally Dyeing Blog with Sonia
Creative By Nature
Dyeing With Plants