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The Witches Ladder

  Since olden times, feathers have been collected for magickal uses. One of the most famous charms using feathers is the Witches Ladder. To make a Witches Ladder, three different coloured yarns are braided together, the colours depending on the purpose of the spell. Nine feathers are worked into the braid.  Feather colours will depend on the type of magick you are working.

 The magickal qualities of feathers are determined by their colour, and sometimes by the birds from which they fell. Listed below is feather lore from European folk magick sources. You'll find it differs slightly from that of colour symbolism in general.

 Found feathers are best. Walk in the wild, keeping your eyes open for these treasures.


 WHITE -    White feathers symbolize purification, spirituality, hope, protection, peace, and blessings of the Moon.

  RED - Red feathers symbolize physical vitality, courage, good fortune, and life.

  BLUE -  Blue feathers symbolize  mental abilities, peace, protection. And psychic awareness.

 YELLOW -  Yellow feathers bring cheerfulness, mental alertness, prosperity, and blessings from the Sun.

  GREEN -  Green feathers symbolize money, prosperity, growth, health, and fertility. Green and red mixed feathers affect financial matters.

  ORANGE -  Orange feathers bring attraction, energy, and success.

  PINK - Pink feathers attract love.

  GRAY -  Gray feathers symbolize peace and neutrality.

  BROWN -  Brown feathers give stability and respect. They also symbolize the home and grounding.

  •  Brown feathers striped in black, like the tail feathers of a pheasant, give a balance between the physical and spiritual life.
  •  Brown feathers banded or mixed with white bring happiness and give the kind of protection that enables one to go unnoticed amidst those who would harm them.
  •  Brown and red mixed feathers bring healing to animals.

  BLACK -  Black feathers give the mystical wisdom that comes with true spiritual initiation. 

  • Black, iridescent feathers give mystical insight. Black and white mixed feathers give union and protection.
  • Black (or gray) feathers banded or mixed with white give hope, balance and harmony.
  • Black mixed with purple means deep spirituality.
  • Black, white, and blue mixed feathers brings change.

 PEACOCK FEATHERS - The "eye" on the end of the peacock tail feather protect against the "evil eye" and stimulates inner clairvoyant vision.

 ROOSTER FEATHERS - The rooster's two prominent tail feathers (called sickles) are symbols of the God and Goddess.

  • The black ones are sacred to the God because of their resemblance to the curved horns of the Horned God. They are also a symbol of male virility.
  • The white ones are sacred to the Goddess because they resemble the tool (the sickle) with which grain (sacred to her) is reaped. They also resemble the waxing and waning Moon.



 Items needed:

     3 cords of equal length, each 3 feet long (Traditionally, these cords are red, black, and white for the three aspects for the Goddess, however you may substitute any color for its magickal correspondence.)

  •     9 feathers
  •     Ring on which to tie cords to anchor them while braiding (Optional)


Assemble materials. Cast circle or create sacred space. Light a candle in a colour corresponding to your magickal working. (Blue for peace, etc.) Burn incense which corresponds to your purpose. Have a small bowl of salt and a small bowl of water at your work space.

 If using a ring, tie one end of each of the three cords side by side to the ring. (You could even use a belt buckle or hanger). Anchor this ring to a doorknob, handle, or chair back. If not using a ring, tie one end of the cords together loosely. Begin to braid, saying this or a similar rhyme:


    Yarn of red, black, and white

    Work your magick spell this night.


As you braid, work all nine feathers (all one colour or a combination of colours, depending on your magickal intent) into the ladder, one at a time, as evenly spaced as possible. As you insert the feathers, begin this or a similar chant:


    With this feather and this string,

    Protection (or peace, etc) this charm will bring.


When all nine feathers have been tied onto the cord, and the length is braided, tie the ends of the cords together to make a circle (after removing the braid from the ring). Consecrate the ladder by passing it through the incense smoke and candle flame, asperge it with salt and water, saying:


    In the names of the Goddesses

    And the God

    By Air, Earth, Fire, and Water

    I consecrate this charm

    Of feathers nine and cord of three

    As I will, so mote it be!


Hang the witch’s ladder high in your house where it will not be seen by others, but where you can see it everyday.


Adapted from Pauline Campanelli's Ancient Ways and Wheel of the Year