Medieval Witchcraft: The Order of the Garter, Garter Amulets & Magic
Throughout history, clothing and jewelry have taken on special meaning and power to witches and magicians. They didn’t look at an earring as a simple means of decorating our bodies. They saw an earring for its magical significance – a “ring of power” that enhanced clairaudient abilities or protected from spirit invasion. A necklace might have held an amulet to ward off the evil eye. A hooded black cloak protected from watchful eyes on dangerous trips to meet with covens and secret societies. In Medieval witchcraft, people hid their beliefs for fear of execution, so what better way than to enchant a hidden garter to wear on one’s leg?
Medieval Witchcraft: The History & Lore of the Garter
Most of what we know about Medieval witchcraft comes from books written by superstitious zealots or witch hunters. If we sift through the lies fed to the masses, we find some reflective tidbits of what Medieval witchcraft might have looked like. Fact of the matter is that witchcraft was alive and well, even in some of the most unexpected places. Even in a royal English castle.
Magical Origins of The Order of the Garter
In 1348, King Edward III was holding court when a woman unexpectedly dropped her garter in front of the King and his men. One of the men snarled and snared and made a comment about how disgusting and offensive it was of this woman to allow her garter to slip (or some such tomfoolery). But King Edward III saw it as a good sign, picked it up, and forbid his men from ever making ill comments about it again. Why would he defend such an unseemly gesture? Legend has it the woman was actually a witch, and King Edward III was defending the Old Pagan Religion. In fact, King Edward III took this sign and ran with it. He then created the royal Order of the Garter – a group of knights held in the highest regard that still exists to this day!
Witches Wearing Garters
In Doreen Valiente’s book An ABC of Witchcraft, she mentions a couple historical instances of Medieval witchcraft with garters. A witch wearing a garter is depicted in a drawing from the Early Modern Period. Whether the artist was just including typical fashion for the time period or whether it was a stereotype of witches isn’t known. Garters have come in and out of fashion for centuries. Both woman and men have worn them to keep stockings up and shirts tucked in. Witches of past centuries might have used them as amulets because they could be easily hidden from plain sight.
The garter makes its appearance in wedding and prom traditions in modern times. At weddings, the groom removes the bride’s garter and throws it behind him into a crowd of single men. Whomever catches it will be the next to marry. In Medieval Times, the groomsmen would rush the bride for both of her garters! Scary, indeed. Ladies – we don’t have it so bad today! Removing a woman’s garter is likened to the idea of the “deflowering” of a virgin, which is why the groom removes it at modern weddings. I see the legend of King Edward and the garter as a blatant sign of female empowerment – specifically at a time in history when women had little to no power. She sounds like a witch to me.
Garters and Flappers in the 1920’s
In Prohibition Era, circa United States in the 1920’s, men and women did what they could to have a little fun. There were underground bars called “speak-easys”, and the young, vibrant women who frequented these bars were called flappers. Flappers were women who publicly went against the grain of what was “appropriate” at that time. They cut their hair short into bobs, they drank alongside of the men, danced “inappropriately”, and even dressed against the norm. And would you know it? They wore garters – garters often fitted with small flasks to carry their liquor! The garter has been a true sign of female empowerment throughout the centuries.
Make Your Own Magical Garter Amulet
Feeling inspired to make your own? It’s super easy and fun to do. Not to mention, it’s unique! Buy a cheap LACE garter online or in a lingerie store. Remember to choose a color to match your intention:
- Black – to banish negativity, to protect from negative influence, to commune with the night
- White – to retain purity, also a protective color, to invoke heavenly powers
- Red – for passion; to induce lust; for ancestral protection
- Pink – to attract romantic love
- Green – for money; fairy craft
- Blue – intuition, peace, healing, speaking your mind
- Purple – increase psychic abilities, magical powers
Next, adorn it with charms, beads, and whatever suits your intentions. It’s best if your garter is lace so that there are holes to easily add charms. Buy charms and beads at a local craft store or online. They make Celtic charms, runic charms, suns, moons, stars, and more! Add one or ten to your magical garter. Your garter amulet will be hidden under your skirt, dress, or loose pants so make it what you want it to be. Another option is to purchase a flapper-costume garter pre-fitted with a small flask, then add your favorite enchanted elixirs, moon water, magical oils, etc!
Enchant Your Magical Garter
You’re not done until you’ve enchanted it. Take your garter amulet in your hands, and close your eyes. Mentally focus on why you made it. See yourself wearing it, and see it glowing with power. If you made your magical garter for protection, imagine the garter as a starting point to a protective circle around your body. If it’s a love garter, visualize an aura of pink light bursting forth from it and extending out into the universe. And so on and so forth. Hold this visualization in your mind for as long as you can, then release the image and say “so be it.” You just did some Medieval witchcraft!!!