Thinking about magical jewelry

Apologies for lack of posting – I was seriously wiped out by a nasty cold for the last week (and not feeling great for other reasons for a few days before that.) And, of course, I’m about to be out and about for Thanksgiving, and likely not near a computer much if at all.

This did, however, get me thinking about magical jewelry, because I’m trying to decide what to pack for my plans (I’m seeing friends, and there may or may not be some ritual time, depending on how things fall out.) Especially since I’ve just done another talk at work today (to our comparative religions class) about Wicca.

Now, there is, of course, the old joke about the race for priestesses: each priestess puts on all of her jewelry, and whoever can drag themselves to the finish line first wins – because, somehow, we all accumulate it.

I try to be very good about this – as people around me have heard me say, I have only one neck, and only so many things that are going to go on it at a particular time. I therefore try really hard to make sure that any new additions meet a specific need or fill a gap when I wouldn’t otherwise be wearing something.

A digression into amber and jet:
Amber and jet, of course, are considered to have specific magical properties. Both were formed what was once living trees (amber is fossilised sap, and jet is fossilised wood), and they’re widely considered to have energetic properties to match that are different than stones. (Note that I’m carefully not saying ‘better’ here: different.)

In some paths, it’s traditional for only 3rd degrees to wear mixed amber and jet: there are all sorts of poetic descriptions of why this is the case. (In this theory, 1sts wear amber alone, 2nds wear jet alone, and at 3rd, you mix them, having done both the external and internal work, the light and the darkness, etc. etc.)

My tradition isn’t formal about this, but many of us have chosen to do this – and I was greatly delighted to get an amber and jet necklace from a good friend as a 3rd degree present. I’m actually wearing it at the moment, as something wear for this presentation.)

I have one big chunky amber necklace (bought with funds that were a communal gift to go shopping with while I was in Vienna and Hungary two winters ago with my mother – her side of the family is from that part of Europe, so buying amber from nearby was a really lovely choice.) and a few smaller, ‘casual’ pieces that don’t look obviously Pagan. But mostly, I think I’ve collected as much amber as a person needs. (It helps that both the red and green ambers look horrible with my skin tone.)

But in general:
I tend to have two sets of jewelry. One are formal ritual pieces – symbols that are commonly recognised, either within the broader community (like amber and jet) or within the tradition (our tradition medallions and some other specific adornments).

And then there’s the stuff I actually wear far more regularly – pieces that are not obviously Pagan (the only pentacle I own, in fact, is on the back of one of my tradition medallions. Strange, but true) but that have a particular feel or focus or meaning to me.

I have a good friend who is an immensely talented jeweler (look for the posts that say ArtLog: she posts current items many Fridays). I acquire at least one of her pieces each year: these are not formal magical workings, but they do hold energy in a truly amazing way, and they tend to have strong personalities as she names each one. You can see a few samples here, and here. And this shot shows another one (on the left) along with my cluster of amber and other deliberately magical pieces.

So, there’s a necklace I wear when I want to be particularly balanced, one I wear when I want to focus on creativity and playful exploration, one I wear when I’m focusing on doing a good, detailed, job at something. They’re not formally charged pieces – but they’ve grown those energies over time. And I have several I wear for specific kinds of priestessing work – teaching, or having a challenging conversation, or being supportive, that make it easier for me to hook into that particular focus and energy.

Other jewelry:
My tradition does have a practice of giving medallions – one at 1st degree, one at 3rd degree – that have symbols of the tradition on them. These are commonly worn for ritual (and I’ve worn them very occasionally, usually next to my skin, on days I particularly wanted to draw on that connection and assocation.) They’re also, obviously, imbued with the energy of the tradition both actively and passively.

This can sometimes be a little tricky – we did have a student figure out where to get one, and start wearing it, and had to explain why that wasn’t considered appropriate in that very specific setting (this being one of those things that isn’t broadly explained until it’s relevant to you. The medallion in question is not common: it’s a combination of stamped sides that’s not likely to happen unless you request it.)

I’ve also got pieces collected from specific workings – pieces from elemental attunement work, for example. But these are fairly few and far between. At least 75% of what I own is not obviously Pagan even to other Pagans (at least until they handle it) but deeply meaningful (and useful) to me.

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  • How lovely to read of jewelry customs. Since my own path is so solitary, I have no such things to share, although I do think of some pieces of my jewelry as having ritual components. I didn’t know there was such significance to amber and jet. I don’t own any jet pieces, being afraid to try it…black stones in general don’t seem to work well for me. Onyx seems to flee my body like rats leaving a sinking ship—without exception every onyx black piece ever is lost on the first wearing. I do have a heavy necklace of black jade beads that works and IS an energetic object for me. So, would jet be like onyx, lol, or like the jade for me??