How to Cast “Witches Ladder” Spells for Beginners
Spells for Beltane - Or Any Time
If you look up a “Witches Ladder” in any store that sells Pagan spiritual supplies, you’ll usually find a jewelry-like string of beads with multiple charms attached. They usually offer instructions on using these beads as a sort of Pagan rosary or prayer beads. People use them when chanting to help keep track of how many repetitions they say. It’s a great way to practice meditation.
Witches ladders were used as a spell, though. At least, they were believed to be used in folk magic when first found in the 1800's. I find the Witches ladder perfect for Beltane magic. A traditional Beltane activity is weaving, whether you’re weaving ribbons around a Maypole or braiding flowers into your hair or weaving garland for decorations,
The Witches ladder is a form of magic that’s good for beginners because it doesn't require any special tools, ingredients or elaborate rituals. Just you, a few items found in the house or in nature, and your goal in mind.
Remember -- you can do a Witches ladder spell anytime; it's just particularly suited for Beltane, one of our most sacred annual holidays.
Witches Ladder Spell
Illustration of a Witches Ladder
Witches Ladder Overview
To cast a spell with a Witches ladder, take three pieces of string, ribbon, yarn, etc.—preferably of colors relevant to your intent. To cast the spell you focus your intent on the ribbons and “weave your desire” into it. As you braid it you can add little tokens – feathers, charms, shells, beads and other such objects. You can weave in as little as 9 or as many as 40.
Once finished you use the charm to draw your desire. You can hang it in your home somewhere, bury it on your property, or use it for meditation.
Remember that store-bought Witches ladders are good for meditations, and you can certainly enchant them if you wish, but they will never give you the power of a home-made product. You imbue it with your energy thoroughly when creating it with your own hands.
The Process for Casting a Witches Ladder
Getting Ready: Prepare yourself by determining your specific intent. If you can’t say it in a brief sentence, you’re probably not specific enough.
Get three ribbons, each 3 to 9 feet long. I prefer working with 3 foot ribbons for smaller Witch ladders but you can make yours as long as you like.
Choose colors for your Witches ladder spell appropriate to your intent. You may wish to think about this for a while—what elements do you need to “come together” for the thing that you desire? If you’re not sure, you can check out brief color guide below for guidance.
You can mix colors—for example, if you want your business to thrive, you may combine orange, green and brown ribbons.
Get at least 9 items appropriate to the intent of your charm: feathers, twigs, charms, etc.; you can use up to 40. If you’re into numerology, choose a number significant to your intent.
Where to Cast: You may do this during your Beltane ritual, but it does not need to be cast within a formal ritual circle. You can just as easily cast it sitting in your favorite chair, or out in the garden. Wherever you can get into the mood. If you’re not having a full ritual, lighting candles and/or burning incense to help facilitate an atmosphere conducive to attaining the right state of consciousness is recommended. You may also wish to cleanse and consecrate all items before beginning.
When to Cast: If you’re doing it for Beltane, the ideal timing is from sunset April 30th to sunset May 1st. Again, this spell is suited for any time and can be adapted for any cause.
Step by Step Spell Casting Instructions
Take some time to meditate on your intent. Visualize yourself having obtained your goal already. If you visualize yourself wanting your goal, then your spell energy is going to put you in a perpetual state of wanting something out of your reach.
Line up your three strands. Tie a knot at the top and make a loop. Envision that this knot ‘binds’ your intent to your charm here, and know that the spell is begun.
Begin weaving the Witches ladder, every so often stopping to add a feather, twig, charm and a knot.
Tip: I usually find the best way to hold it is to hold the looped end between my toes (yes, I’m a bare footer) to pull it taught while I weave with my hand—but you can hook it on something, put a weight on the looped end, or clench it in your teeth.
Illustrated Guide to Witches Ladder
Finished Witches Ladder
The weaving motion is part of raising energy, but it also helps to chant or sing. Here is one common Witches ladder chant you find listed in many books and websites, but its origins seem to be lost in time:
By knot of one, the spell's begun.
By knot of two, the magic comes true.
By knot of three, so it shall be.
By knot of four, this power is stored.
By knot of five, my will shall drive.
By knot of six, the spell I fix.
By knot of seven, the future I leaven.
By knot of eight, my will be fate.
By knot of nine, what is done is mine.
While that’s a fine chant, it’s not the one I use. I don’t like the counting, I feel like I don’t focus on the intent while I weave, I focus on rushing to the next knot.
I prefer a rhythmic chanting to keep me focused on “pouring” my intent and energy into the weave. For Beltane spells, I like to use a chant that you can hear on the Reclaiming CD, Second Chants:
Wandering in the deep of the night
A thousand birds take flight
And our dreams are born
On the wings of change
We are weaving the world tonight.
Something about it speaks to me—the wings of change tie in with the feathers, and the “weaving the world” line just fits for both Beltane and the Witches ladder spell. Plus, it’s easy and repetitive so I can slip into the right state of consciousness without thinking about it.
Choose a chant that works for you, or make up your own.
Finishing the Spell
As you weave, save one single charm to put at the end of your ladder. Add it when you get to the last knot. Some people like to connect the two ends and tie them together with the last charm.
At that point, you’ll want to “seal” the spell by yanking the knot tightly with a shout, such as “So mote it be!” or “So shall it be done!”
Now you can hang your Witches ladder somewhere and let its power work. If you are working on a long-term goal, use it to meditate on your intent periodically.
Quick Color Guide
love, sex, energy, vitality, defense, anger, good fortune, blood
platonic attractions, business partnerships, studying/learning, persuasion, authority
intellect, happiness, wisdom, confidence, communication
fertility, wealth, prosperity, material goods, gambling, stability, ambition, success
intuition, peace, healing, loyalty, compassion, cleansing, purification
spirituality, royalty, power, psychic abilities, dreams, visions
(pinkish-purples) romance, affection, love (between friends/family), femininity, innocence
invisibility, forgetting, dulling the senses, neutralizing energy, balancing
work, efforts, domestic issues, friendships
protection, banishing, absorbs negativity, strength, transformation, hexing/destructive magic*
Another Witches Ladder
Items to Add to a Witches Ladder (Suggestions)
- Hair: I like to add my hair (or the hair of the person for whom I’m casting the spell) into the weaving. A few strands will do fine.
- Feathers: the most traditional item to weave into a Witches ladder is feathers. If you are choosing natural feathers, choose feathers from birds that line up with your intent. For example, doves are symbols of peace. Blue jays are associated with higher knowledge. Ravens are a symbol of transformation. You would have to do your research to find out what birds feathers you would want to work with. Craft store feathers are fine for people who don’t have a lot of access to natural bird feathers. In this case, go with the appropriate color in line with your intent.
- Stones: crystals, minerals and rocks are excellent if they’re small but they can be hard to incorporate into the weave. Gluing on a jewelry loop to allow you to pass a string or ribbon through it is a good idea.
- Beads: beads are a lot easier to string on as you go along and more effective. You can even purchase higher quality beads made of polished crystals if you desire. Personally, I like glass beads in the appropriate color—but I’ve also used wood and sometimes plastic.
- Charms: use jewelry charms that depict symbols (hearts, peace signs, pentagrams), or animals that are in line with your intent (for example, a rabbit charm for a pregnancy fertility spell, or a wolf for protection spells).
- Herbs, trees or flowers: just weave a sprig of fresh or dried herbs into your ladder or use a small twig from an appropriate tree. You can also weave in a fresh or dried flower, though they can make your ladder very fragile.