I have always loved ritual jewelry. My preferred way of approaching the Gods is wearing nothing but raw or handcarved gemstones. I need to feel beautiful and worthy when I approach my shrine, and soft lighting by Moon or flame that illuminates the soft curves and hollow places on my naked skin, feminine flowing gowns and summer maxi-dresses, and my best and most beloved jewelry all aid in doing so. The jewelry I wear when I light the candles and open the Gates is consecrated for the purpose of transporting me into a higher state of consciousness, one that isn’t concerned for the moment with the unnecessary thoughts that run through the mind of middle-class 20-somethings in 2012 such as myself. It has encapsulated little pieces of the magic I have worked while wearing it, it resonates with the blessings of the Gods I have received while it was warmed by my skin and splashed with the mead of wisdom.
I have recently added several more pieces to my collection, one of which is a jasper necklace handmade by my sister. It resembles a hagstone (a holed stone), even if my own pendant’s shape isn’t natural. Hagstones were used all over the world as powerful protection charms (for boats in Britain, against the Evil Eye in the Middle East, and against malevolent spirits all over Europe, to name only a few) and aids in magic as well as, to some, the womb of the Earth Mother, or the gateway or key to the gateway of Elfhame. It is said that if it is held to the eye at the witching hours, the Spirits are visible through the hole, which can interpret what one Sees; others believe it can be an aid to the see the Spirits as well as dodge their tricks simply by being carried by the Witch. I have never tried to See through the hole in my own jasper stone, but I have certainly found it an aid in my magic. In addition to their ability to aid in traveling to the Otherworld and interacting with the Landspirits, hagstones were also used as spellcasting or wishing stones by Medieval Witches, as well as pledge stones, in the same manner that the Bible is modernly used to bind a person to speaking the truth. Tradition holds that hagstones ought to be found or given in love, and as my own stone is a gift from my sister, I consider it in keeping with the custom.
Some ritual jewelry I wear only on certain occasions, like a crescent-shaped abalone necklace given to me by an old friend that I only wear during lunar rites. Some I wear whenever I wish for protection (in any form, but especially psychic or spiritual), or when doing things that may appear more mundane than sitting before a shrine and reciting rhyming verse to the Gods but that are still ritualistic and done with great reverance, such as scavenging or processing deceased animals for spiritual uses, wildcrafting for spiritual, magical, or medicinal purposes, or going on vision hikes or meditative walks guided by the Spirits or the Gods.
When I first began studying and practicing the Craft, I envisioned my neck dripping with talismans, my waist jingling with belly-dancer’s jewelry draped down my hips, silver and copper bands shaped like snakes slithering up my arms, great raw gemstones consuming my tiny little fairy fingers (I have the tiniest hands you will ever seen on a grown woman), and my head crowned with a gemmed silver circlet and flower-wreaths. At the same time, this seemed to be in contradiction with the concept of piety: Would it not be hubris to approach the Gods wearing anything but the skin They gave me? To approach Their shrines wearing things such as make-up and jewels that make me more beautiful than I am without them? There were Pagans shouting “the right way” to approach the Gods on either end of the spectrum: always “skyclad,” or never in anything but your absolute best clothing and make-up and jewels.
Neither made much sense at all to me, and the idea that there is always a “right way” made about as much sense to me as Christianity. So I found my own way, which is that I am the most reverent when I am experiencing beauty and eroticism and the heady gifts of nature that are also so finite, these wild wicked things that the Gods have bestowed upon us and upon all beings. I wear nothing, but when I must, I wear clothing that accentuates my body’s natural curves. Jewelry can be erotic and sensual, and carries its own vibrations. The jasper of my sister’s holey-stone gift sinks into the thin skin above my sternum and washes its soft and gentle gift of equilibrium and realignment over me. It is said that jasper’s gift of balance is so subtle that one doesn’t even notice that the stone is doing its work. I give this gift to the bones and bits that I process, to the plants that I touch and take and thank, to the Spirits and Gods and Dead to whom I sacrifice and who bless the wine that flows through my whole being. When I put on my necklaces, my rings, my amulets, my flower-crowns, I am the erotic blossom of spring, the reverent servant of the Beings to whom I am bound by oath and blood, the woman who blesses and heals with one hand and curses and binds with the other. With my ritual jewelry, I am whole and ready.
Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland
Crystals: Healing and Folklore by David Rankine