Aug 11, 2012

The magick of padlocks

Padlock image , scaned from
Book covers( see credits ) and
edited, depicting confornted foce s
fighting as they emanate from padlock

Padlocks are lock devices invented in ancient Rome in third century, but  some consider they’ve existed in  simpler forms in ancient Egypt as well. However  The padlock, as we know it today  , with the lock body, shackle and key  had been, as said above,   made ( created , composed ) in third century, and quickly gained  popularity and spread beyond the great Roman empire. It was due to it being useful, practical and portable, more so in times when personal property was not as protected ( by law ) as today is. The origin of the word “padlock” may be traced into old English : “padlock” , even though the meaning of the prefix  “pad” remains unclear.  In Germanic and Scandinavian country, the words used to described padlock,  literarily translate to “hanging lock” or “hang lock”.  Possibly their simple use and effectiveness were not the only things that made people like them.   It is considered that in China they were initially used by  emperor and wealthy people, as a sort of power/status symbol. Wooden beams were used  before padlocks to protect property in china and were doing a good job. Padlocks were ( and are still ) mostly made of metal, so it could have been that this had added , at least spiritually, to their “protective” power.

In psychology, lock , and consequently  padlocks, bare many symbolic meanings, as they do in folklore and myths as well.  Well I’d say what Freud though keyhole or padlock and key represent, but I try to keep this blog pg rated lol. It’s worth mentioning ( for those unfamiliar with the fact ) that Freud’s analogies and symbolism were almost always sexually related.  Besides , symbols are not defined with how  some humans perceive them, but with  what they represent.  Therofore, locks and padlocks are usually indicative of something that is suppressed, locked, repressed or  dissociated in the unconscious or elsewhere, while keys are symbols or solution to the riddle, resolving of the problem and alike. Same applies to padlock and keys in dream analysis, and here is an example on how the locks dreams are interpreted by one online dream interpretation source:

“Dreaming of a lock represents that you cannot get what you desire. If you are locked out of something, first relate what you are looked out of to your life. Maybe you are concealing parts of yourself. You feel confused and locked out of society.
If the lock is shut around your wrist, even though it is by accident, in reality it denotes feelings of uncertainty about expressing your feelings. You probably feel like you cannot trust people with them, you may be right. However, it is a risk you should take if you want to be understood and accepted.”[1]

We should note, here, that the concept of lock and padlock is hardly ever separated in mundane speech or discussion, which is fine, because symbolically and in terms of esotery and occult, the two might be seen as  almost the same. That simply means , that  You’ll have to try harder to find an entry: “padlock” in dream dicitionries , but even when You do it will say pretty much the same as under “lock” or will simply say “look under lock” lol

Unfortunately, in occultism , padlocks are rarely ( if at all, in a proper manner )  dealt with at all, more entries on them we find in folk magick and folklore. Seems like indeed , over the years some magick related information and secrets get lost.  Where I live ( Eastern Europe ),  is however  common to find   some of the “oldest”  magickal secrets preserved intact, in their raw and “undistilled” form, which is so  simply due to lack of urbanization in remote ( usually mountain ) areas, where people  still have  much closer bond to nature and heritage of their ancestors, than most of us ( city people lol ) do.  Interesting, in Taiwan they are considered to be sort of luck generators, when affixed to the train station overpass. It is believed that the trains magnetic force shall empower them and make wishes come true[2]. Make sense, if we look at occult belief that magnetic field ( such as TV’s  electromagnetic  field )  help wishes come true. Hence, the same is with padlocks. Researching European, and American folklore, as well as drawing from  ( little ) written and ( rich ) oral tradition of Balkan  peninsula cunning folk,   has given me some, good information of properties and uses of padlocks in occult and magick, and here is what I’ve encountered:

·         Padlocks represent oppressive, constricting and protective force and impediment

·         Padlocks can be seen as “double headed” , as they can cross, or bind, and uncross or unbind, see examples latter in text. This is particularly true in  Balkan peninsula folk magick

·         Padlocks can be used in love magick ,  which gains popularity in certain urban areas of the world. This may be so because  padlock can be symbolic of an unbroken , firm, steady bond.

·         Padlock s like locks can be opened magickally using various plants, seals and or other techniques

Padlocks and crossing  

Padlocks can be used to cross indeed. The very simple  symbolism obviously played an important role here. Padlocks restrict, bind, lock, they can do same when cunningly employed to someone’s energy, will power, joje de vivere , allegedly even spirit. Certain sprit traps contained a padlock, as part of them. I witnessed a folk ritual that used a poppet  over which ( or around which ) a padlock was closed and then they were thrown together in a river, and  so symbolically sacrificed, or given, tied and helpless to watery spirit called Tartor, a nasty chthonic entity, invoked in Balkan peninsula folk magick. Somewhat less sever example , is what they call here “erotic black magick” where the personal concern of desired person  is collected and “locked in padlock” along with casters. This when properly done, violently binds two persons together, sometimes literarily  unless one of the parties in question dies. Similarly, a men’s personal concerns ( mostly seminal fluid ) can be collected on with a piece  of cotton or old cloth , which is then ritually ( while speaking and incantation ) “locked” with padlock to make men infertile or dysfunctional in a specific sense, ehm…lol   

Love locking with padlocks

As I have mentioned before, padlocks can be used for love magick, and even what is considered love manipulation and binding, taking away sexual virility and so on.  As of more-less recently ,  people from all around Europe have been practicing a strange ritual with padlocks. It seems to be a part of urban culure now, for a couple to write their names together, on a padlock and hung it on a bridge’s fence or even a tree in some cases.   This  was allegedly supposed to ensure the stability and endurance of the relationship, and was even more powerful if done of ( let’s call them such  ) cultic or legendary places, such as certain Bridges.  In Paris for example, there is “Ponte des  arts”  , or “Ponte Vecchio” in Florence ( Italy, it had 5500 padlocks attached to it , now removed  :O )  or “Most ljubavi” ( in town  Vrnjacka Banja ) in Serbia , Ponte Milvio in Rome ( Italy again, this one inspired by romantic novel ) etc . Usually these places have some sort of legend, or myth about the fierce love  between two Young people, associated with them.

Whether  such practice is effective or not, You tell me, You’ve probably encountered it somewhere near You. It can be illegal and damaging to the architecture, therefore people might consider that as well.

Padlock Uncrossing ritual

Now the following is an example of a ritual used to remove an evil spell, as used in Eastern Europe. It is however very possible that  the  such use of padlock and key is ( or was, or had been  ) more cosmopolite, however in such form,   it has survived where I live, and in some neighboring mainland and Mediterranean European countries [3]

It requires 6 black candles, and incense ( here was often either or a mixture of: Frankincense, Sage, Nettle, Blackberry leafs, Basil  and other ), a sponge or old cloth,  ( or piece of fabric ), needles or pins,  and a padlock with a key. In older days, they used candles covered with tar and or chimney sooth, which made the candles smell really nasty when burnt, and the odor created was considered to be a demonifuge of a kind.  Padlock has sympathetic role in the ritual in the way. For closed padlock may represent ( or even be used to ) restrained will power, luck, binding, captivity etc. Ritually unlocking a padlock was  symbolic of breaking bonds , much like piece of broken chain in Your Uncrossing Condition oil. It was also symbolic of “taking control” over  the messes and fusses  in Your life, and bringing it to desired state once again,  for which key of the padlock is used. The sponge or clothe is a form of image magick and it represents the very evil that oppresses one, bad luck , enemies, evil magick, evil spirits sent, evil energy, You name it. Warmed needles are stick into  it during one phase of the ritual , thus symbolically overpowering, defeating and destroying evil.  Let’s take a look at ritual broken down to steps :

·         Light six black candles and as You do  meditate  on Your strength  to  overpower evil and injustice

·         Light the incense

·         Inhale the incense smoke few times, than open/ unlock  the  ( locked ) padlock above the candles saying something along the lines: “This padlock I open, over my condition/situation / destiny power to gain” . This can be done few times. Then leave the unlocked padlock on the  left , and  the  key on  the  right side of the candles.

·         Heat  the needles or pins on candle flame and while  hot, stick them in the sponge saying something along the lines: “Sponge I puncture, evil to rupture  Some people would repeat the procedure with a single needle , some would use more than one, others may use more than one and repeat the pining with each. This seems to have been left for intuitive insight of the practitioner to determine

·         When finished, take sponge and one of the two candles placed in the middle ( candles were usually place d in a row, one next to another, forming a line of a sort ) , and go  where there is some  river or stream ( moving, flowing body of water  ) light the sponge on a candles flame and throw it as swiftly as You can into a body of the water saying something along the lines: “Evil I have pinned, into neverland*  I’ve sent, Evil I have burned,   forever destroyed,  evil  I’ve send down the  water,   forever of  it I’m released!”** Take the candle with You, and come back home

·         Return the candle to it’s proprietary place among other candles, and then extinguish them candles by blowing them out, one by one, realizing that as You do so, You are destroying the power  that   the evil spell has over Your life.

·         Collect the extinguished candle and any remaining wax, or material , pack them in a paper bag and   carry and toss down the body of moving water.***

Now the local etnographist ****  that recorder the ritual adds what seems to be a modern addition to the ritual, more so If we take in  consideration that in many remote parts of Balkan peninsula, colored candles  where pretty much unattainable, all up to very recently. Furthermore, as younger I was taught the variation of the ritual, and it  did  not include  the following:

·         Light one green, one purple and one red candle

·         Take the padlock in Your left hand, and the key in Your right then lock and unlock the padlock 9 times as You speak something along the lines: “Padlock I  hold, future/destiny  to control,  this Key I hold , eternal luck  to  gain an’ withhold !” 

·         Place the Key and padlock a in a box separated on two compartments, ideally equal ones. The box was best to be wooden, or metal. It is hidden from plain sight, and can be opened  should the need for extra power and luck arise , regarding some serious issue or condition

Many Blessings , Shadow !

NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, so If You wish to use it elswhere online, give credit , Shadow of Shadows magick place, or simply a direct link to this post

 [1] according to , lock entry
[2]  source of the information regarding  belief about padlocks in Taiwan  , can be found here:
[3] Look under : Explanations and clarifications, under ****
Explanations and clarifications:
*Neverland is  the most similar concept , and most practical translation to/for  the “Land with no echo” mentioned often in banishing incantations of Balkan peninsula traditional witchcraft.  It’s a nasty place where all sort of evil became trapped to fight among themselves and eventually fade away. It is described as a place “with no echo, where rosters never sound themselves, dogs never bark, birds never sing etc…”
**While for this very ritual there is no specific incantation, instead generic banishment incantations are used, they take form as they usually do in Balkan peninsula  folk magick,  they use  simple, often corrupted language, and are formed so to rhyme in a very simple manner, much like  modern rapping, in a way. I have done my best to translate them to English here so that they still retain their natural syllable  melodies and rhythm , and  to be analogous to the original version
***Note how method of disposal are similar to those of  traditional Hoodoo and Conjure, it’s just unclear to me ( and always had been ) why is sponge tossed separately  from the rest, and prior to the candles. When I asked cunning folk lady that taught me the ritual she simply replied :” like everything in nature there is an order in which things are done “
**** and [3] Ethnograpist , anthropologist and journalist Jasna Jojic Pavlovski, had recorded this ritual, and has posted it in her magazine “Lek I amajlija, za srecu I ljubav” ( literarily Cure and amulet, for luck and love” ) and has added the part with three colored candles, that I was not aware of. The version given in above text  is translated from Serbian by myself, edited, and commented by myself, for Your convenience. The author has her website, for those interested here:   Padlock Image with Demon and Angel, is from the cover of an older edition of the author’s book, slightly edited by myself, and used here for illustrative purposes only with no ill will J
IMAGE CREDITS: The padlock image is an edition of  scan of the cover of the book "Cuda Vlaske magije" by above mentioned author, local ethnologist ( see under ****, [3] )  and is used here without any ill will for illustrative and explanatior y purposes only

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