Cloutie Rags

Cloutie Rags and Prayer Poetry

Have you ever been to a sacred site or Holy Well and seen little rags tied to trees? These are cloutie rags; small strips of coloured cloth. Cloutie rags (Kloo-tee) are tied by someone who wishes to pay their respects to the spirit world, mother earth or the ancestors. They are also a means of healing bodily and emotional ailments. Clouties can carry a blessing or prayer for the world. Perhaps that we may stop polluting our environment, both physically and spiritually. They are also a means of communicating to the invisible ones a wish, need or desire.

Prayer poetry written on scraps of paper is often tied with the cloutie rags. Prayer poems put the sentiment into words. Using words mean that any reader will add their energy to the prayer, sending it out into the beyond sooner and with added love. Words also focus the intent of the prayer.

People are returning to nature and communing with the natural world. They are tiring of the rat race, the constant striving to acquire more “stuff”. They are seeing through the modern habit of judging one’s self worth via possessions or a bank balance.

Healing for the world

Healing is moving further away from the GP surgery and returning to the ways of the ancestors.  We do ourselves a disservice in forgetting the learnings of people who had a living connection to Mother Earth below and Spirit above. The lack of interaction between humans and the natural world may be the cause of ill-being.

One ancient Celtic and Pagan method of healing was to find a sacred spring or well and dip a piece of cloth into the water. The affected body part is touched with the cloth which absorbs the ailment. The cloth is subsequently tied to the tree. Thus the ailment or emotional pain is dispersed into the air and onto the ground.

Wise women of old – witches, hedge witches, healers – would take a strip of clothing material from a sick person to a sacred well and pray for healing from the spirits of the earth, particularly to local spirits.

Cloutie rags tied to a beech tree.
The practice of tying cloutie rags to trees was once common

Likewise, a personal and private entreaty or prayer for the world can be breathed into a cloutie rag. The prayer is communicated to the local spirits and released to the four winds and the seven directions as the material disintegrates. The same prayer could be written as prayer poetry onto a small piece of paper and tied along with the cloutie to weather and disperse to the winds.

Read my prayer poetry here

Celtic healing practice is enjoying a revival

Once common practice across Britain, cloutie prayers are enjoying a revival as Celtic Christianity and Paganism returns. Oak and hawthorn are the most sacred of trees but there is no hierarchy. Many cultures across the world revere trees and tribal peoples tend to leave offerings beneath them.

Coins, bent pins, food (unpackaged!) are left as offerings under trees or around wells. Note that it is highly out of order to remove any offerings to keep for yourself. You will take on the pain too! I make no such predictions or threats, just don’t do it!

Remember that we share our world with people of all faiths and beliefs. Including those who choose none. They may regard little pieces of cloth tied to trees as litter; the very thing that many Earth prayers wish to stop. Therefore, always use a natural material, one which disintegrates quickly. Finally, paper prayers should not be laminated.

Christianity adopted some healing wells and springs as Holy Wells and dedicated them to a saint. Therefore it upsets some Christians to see Pagan worship there. Be respectful of the beliefs of fellow earth dwellers as you observe your own.

Modern clootie rags
It is far more environmentally conscious to use natural materials when tying clootie rags. Synthetics are adding to the problems – plus they will take longer to disintegrate. You’ll have to wait longer for the winds to disperse the cloth and carry your prayer to the spirits.

Sacred Tree and Holy Wells Prayer Poetry

Dementia poems

Life Poems – put life into words


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