Welcome Witches, Witchlings, and Witchlets! In this installment of our Magickal Tool Care Series, it’s all about robes. Now it may seem odd to consider a piece of clothing to be a tool, but we’ll go over this notion – and more! – in this post. Let’s get started.
“long, loose outer garment reaching almost to the floor, worn by men or women over other dress,” late 13c., from Old French robe “long, loose outer garment” (12c.), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rouba “vestments”), from West Germanic *raubo “booty” (cognate with Old High German roub “robbery, breakage”), which also yielded rob (v.).
Presumably the notion is of fine garments taken from an enemy as spoil, and the Old French word had a secondary sense of “plunder, booty,” while Germanic cognates had both senses; as in Old English reaf “plunder, booty, spoil; garment, armor, vestment.”
The meaning “dressing gown” is from 1854; such extended senses often appear first in French, e.g. robe de chambre “dressing gown,” robe de nuit “nightgown.” From c. 1300 in reference to official vestments and thus indicative of position or membership in a religious order, guild, etc.; metonymic sense of The Robe for “the legal profession” is attested from 1640s.SOURCE
WHAT IS A ROBE?
In the magickal realm, a robe is a garment worn by practitioners when performing rituals and ceremonies. Who wears them and why depends on the witch. They’re worn by members of a coven where some groups choose to utilize color to rank where someone is at in their training. They’re also worn by mystics to signify moving out of the mundane world and into the magickal domain to get into a ritual outlook.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR UNDER THE ROBE?
Again, this depends on the practitioner. There are those who choose to wear coordinating ritual clothes underneath their ritual robes and there are others who choose to wear nothing at all. Whether or not you’re a part of a group or coven that has any policies in place regarding clothing will determine what you wear under the robe.
This is why it’s important to fully vet a coven or group before joining them to make sure you are comfortable with their policies and bylaws. If their rules regarding nudity make you squeamish – and they’re not willing to budge – don’t join. Don’t think that they will bend the rules for you in the future. Take your time and find a coven that aligns with your values and your magickal journey.
WHAT ARE ROBES MADE OUT OF?
Any material, really. If it can be sewn, a robe can be made out of it. Having said that, you can have a robe custom made for you by a professional tailor. Alternatively you can go to your local fabric store, find material you like, take it to the cut counter to have them slice off your desired amount, and then sew it together yourself.
While it’s not required to have different robes for different seasons or Sabbats, it’s certainly an option. Some mystics like to align their ritual wear with the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Other practitioners layer color magick into their robe selection. As always, do what you are called to do.
PLACES TO SHOP FOR A RITUAL ROBE
If you are not a part of a group or coven and you’re on the hunt for a ritual robe, you can procure one in a couple of different ways. While I always recommend perusing the aisles of a thrift store when on the hunt for magickal tools, finding a ritual robe might be a bit of a challenge.
If you want to buy your robe in person, you could check out costume shops in your area. While there are some businesses that are rental only, others will have a selection of robes (think medieval wear) for sale. And while the word ‘costume’ conjures images of cheap plastic Halloween ensembles, a lot of shops cater to those looking for higher quality pieces.
Independent sellers on Etsy and eBay are both great resources for finding ritual robes. Most of the time you can even have them custom made to your measurements, choice of color, trim, design, hood, etc. Outside of these two resources, a quick Google search will also yield some results for your ritual wear quest.
HOW TO CHOOSE A ROBE FOR YOUR PRACTICE
If you are part of a group or coven then most likely they have specific styles and/or colors that must be worn. If so, check with your High Priest or High Priestess or other official to find out what those parameters are. They may even have someone they source their ritual wear from.
When you are not restricted by any regulations posed by a coven or group, anything goes. You love the energy that the color red brings to you? Get a robe made from red fabric. Do long sleeves bother you when you’re trying to cast? Buy a robe that boasts shorter sleeves. Does the idea of conjuring in a kaftan get your magickal gears turning? By all means, find one that you love and add it to your practice!
It is ALWAYS going to be YOUR practice. As such, follow that intution of yours and choose a robe that makes you excited when you put it on.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR ROBE
The deciding factor for physical cleaning is what your robe is made out of. You wouldn’t throw Dupioni silk in the washing machine with your weekly linens, would you? A robe adorned with intricate embellishments wouldn’t do well in the machine either. Choose the best way to clean your garment based on these kinds of factors.
Now that your robe is clean, it’s time to cleanse. A simple ritual pairing intent with sound, vocalization, smoke, visualization – whatever cleansing method you prefer – is all it takes to consecrate your robe. This is important as it will simultaneously remove negative energies while purifying the ritual wear before use.
HOW TO STORE YOUR ROBE
There are practitioners who designate a special space to keep their ritual robe. Others simply hang theirs in a closet next to jackets and coats, shirts and pants. Ultimately, like everything along your magickal path, it’s up to you. However you store it, do it with respect and reverance and your tool will be just fine.
So there you have it, Witches! Do you use a robe in your practice? What is it made of? Do you have more than one? Let me know in the comments and until next time, Bright Blessings and Happy Casting!