Garters are ornaments with magical properties, and in contemporary Witchcraft, sometimes worn in various rituals and as badges of rank. Garters may have been used in rituals in Paleolithic times: an ancient cave painting in northeastern Spain portrays nine women, wearing pointed headdresses, dancing in a circle around a naked man, who wears a cord or garter tied under each knee.
Garters are prominent in folklore and folk Magic. The color of a garter carries special meaning. Green, for example, is the color of fairies and Robin Hood. Garters are worn by Morris dancers, and “Green Garters” is the name of an old tune used in Morris dancing, red is protection against bewitchment; silver is associated with the Moon.
In witch trials, garter, or “pointes,” were associated with the Devil. Accused witches often described the Devil’s clothing as being tied with garters, as in this description by Margaret Johnson of Lancashire in 1633:
“… a spirit or divell in the similtude and proportion of a man, apparelled in a suite of black, tyed about with silke pointes.”
Margaret A. Murray, a British anthropologist, said that the garter was a secret symbol of identification among medieval witches; however, no evidence exists that witches were widely or uniformly organized.
In Wicca, the garter is the emblem of the high priestess of the Craft. Some garters are made of green snakeskin or leather, or green or blue velvet, and decorated with a silver buckle.
- Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. A Witches Bible Compleat. New York: Magickal Childe, 1984.
- Murray, Margaret A. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press, 1921.