A cloutie is a piece of cloth. But not just any piece of cloth…
Clouties are part of an ancient celtic magic tradition, used when a person wished for something or needed healing. It could also be an offering to a goddess or a nature spirit.
The ritual included tying a piece of cloth to the branch of a tree, that preferably grew beside a well. The cloutie was dipped in the water of the well, while a prayer was said, before it was tied to the tree.
The ceremony might also include circling of the well a set number of times.
This magic practice could be used to remove ailments. First you tied a piece of cloth around (or wore it close to) the area of the body that held the ailment. Usually, a strip of a persons own clothing was used for the cloutie.
Upon arrival at the well the piece of cloth would be removed and tied loosely to a branch as healing was asked of the spirits. As the cloth disintegrated and fell to the ground, the illness would be healed.
When the cloutie was an offering to spirit, it was an attractive, clean piece of cloth.
Cloutie comes from cloth and tie.
This whole ritual is based on the idea that a piece of cloth can carry energy, and that a cloth we carry close to our body will absorb our energy. (And vice versa!) Furthermore it implies that we can imbue a piece of cloth with a specific intention.
I believe all of this is true. So, why not use it in a modern way… I will make my own cloutie. Not to heal, but as a wish for something… to connect to a specific energy.
I decide to use the practice of circling, tying and dipping the cloutie in water in my own very special way…
I take out some thin, transparent cotton voile. I roll it up around a sponge and tie it at 5 places. Next, I leave it in water with yellow color for half an hour. After rinsing and drying it, I repeat this process with an orange color.
The result is an orange piece of cloth with streaks of yellow and orange. I make it into a tunic with a yellow lining and sew them together with yellow and orange stitches.
Voila! My cloutie will bring me sparkling joy until it disintegrates…