Sieve - Tools of Witchcraft

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Tools of Witchcraft

Among the magical tools hiding in the kitchen disguised as mundane kitchen utensils are sieves. The term refers not only to the modern metal strainer but to any type of sifter including grain winnows, which may have been the first sieves. The sieve may derive originally from agricultural rites associated with the Corn Mother.

According to legend, when her beloved Osiris was murdered, Isis collected the dismembered parts of his body together in a sieve. Her act was ritually re-enacted during the annual harvest festivals that commemorated Osiris the Grain God’s death.

Sieves for culinary use are now mainly identified with sifting water from a pot. One removes pasta from boiling water, for instance, by pouring the contents of the pot into the sieve: the food remains while the water drains through the multitude of holes. However, herbalists also use sieves to sift botanical materials. Henna in particular must be very finely sifted in order to create henna paste, a natural dye used to ornament and magically empower the body, the equivalent of a temporary sacred tattoo. (To understand how finely henna needs to be sifted—and the effort required—an appropriate makeshift henna sifter can be concocted by stretching panty hose over a bowl and sifting the botanical powder through the exceedingly fine mesh.)

Sieves are crafted from all kinds of materials; North African and Middle Eastern frame drums, women’s magical, musical, and practical tools, are sometimes riddled with tiny holes so that they served as sifters too.

Sieves are used in divination and various spells, especially for fertility, healing, and weather magic. Witches were once popularly envisioned using sieves as a travel device, by converting them to boats.

Bulgarian witches were rumored to cause lunar eclipses by drawing the moon from the sky using a magical sieve. (Why would they wish to do this? Not merely to terrorize people. Allegedly they were able to temporarily transform the moon into a cow and milk her before letting her transform back and return to the sky. Presumably this was very powerful, magical milk.)

See CREATIVE ARTS: Music: Drums.