the world in flatness
four corners reaching out
all the world
becomes a crane
flying high through new realities
Origami, as you may or may not know, is the Japanese art of paper folding. It is a craft enjoyed by school children, elders, and every age in-between. I was introduced to origami by a Japanese exchange student and I found the entire process fascinating; to take a simple piece of paper and turn it into whatever your imagination chooses. But of course, to turn paper into anything takes a great deal of patience and experience. So for a number of years I forgot about the beauty of origami and did other things (like study Paganism, etc…). Years later I worked in a bookstore and origami started popping back into my life. Grandparents, it seemed, liked to buy origami books for their grandchildren as presents. My interest was rekindled and so I purchased a beginning origami book with clear instructions and stater to fold on my own. People, I found, were drawn to the process. I could take a piece of paper and start folding around a crowd of strangers, and they would watch intently until the last fold was complete and a new form appeared. They would ooh and aah and fight over who would get the piece. I was also enthralled with the process. The concentration necessary to complete a good piece along with the simple beauty of the art made (and still makes) me feel a sense of wholeness. So it must have been the culmination of these thoughts that resulted in using origami in ritual. It is a natural extension of the entire process and mind set of origami.
Origami folds can be used for decorating the altar, ritual space, yule tree, the participants, whatever and however you choose. Folding a piece that you will wear for ritual is a great way to get yourself into the ritual mode, especially if you choose to fold something that is directly related to the ritual.
Power Animals or Totems
Folding a particular animal or totem is a good way to get in touch with or actually invoke the energies of that animal. Care must be taken that you do not actually trap your totem animal inside of the origami piece. You want to think about the energies of your totem, using the model as a representation of those energies, not as the actual totem. You could also allow the model to become a place of power for your totem to come and visit. However, YOU DO NOT WANT TO PUT YOUR POWER ANIMAL INSIDE THE MODEL PERMANENTLY. (See spirit guides below.)
There is a traditional Japanese myth that says if you fold 1000 cranes you will have happiness in your life. I’d say. It would take a great deal of concentration and effort to fold that many cranes. Something’s bound to manifest. Sounds like magick to me!
If you are working on a spell to obtain a particular “thing” then the folding can be a focus for the actual manifestation of the “thing”. If you need money you could fold a purse and visualize the purse filling with money. If you wish to be more productive, how about folding a bee? What if your life is too hectic and you really need to slow down? Try folding a snail. (This little guy is cute!) Working with a particular aspect of the elements can be easy depending on what fold you choose. And if you get really frustrated, those little wads of paper can become boulders. Drain your energy into the earth and recycle! What about working on new projects? I like to do the main folding of a flower and then every day pull the petals out a little more. I concentrate on the blooming as I work on my project to make it bloom. All of these techniques can be particularly powerful because you are taking a flat piece of paper and making something new appear. Putting the origami where you can see it often arouses no suspicions, especially at work or if you have nosy relatives who don’t know you’re a Pagan.
One of the most powerful rituals that I have done with origami involved the creation/calling of a spirit guide that would lead a dying friend to where they needed to be in the afterworld (underworld, summerland, wherever). This ritual was done previous to the death of the person (who had terminal cancer). A white ritual candle was blessed and anointed with frankincense oil. Then group power was raised as I folded a crane and we visualized the crane filled with a spirit guide. (The last step in the folding of the crane involves blowing air inside the model to form the body.) As I blew the air into the body of the crane, we saw the spirit go into it. We gave the crane a name and blessed it with the power of the four elements, charging it to guide our friend after death. After it’s task was complete it would then be free. The crane was then given to the daughter of the dying woman. (I should note that the daughter, who was not part of the coven, participated in the ritual and was the one to anoint the candle and name the crane.) Soon after the woman died, the children of this woman used the white candle to burn the crane and set the spirit to it’s task. They told me that it was a powerful ritual and that their mother was at peace and indeed gone from this world.
I would like to note that in all of the above cases of using origami, you need to know how to do the fold in your sleep. This requires a good deal of folding practice. It is very difficult to concentrate on your intent if you have to keep looking at the diagrams in your origami book. Plus it wouldn’t be much fun to work to make a house manifest in your life and your fold turns our looking like a damaged sumo wrestler. Who knows where you would end up?
I have only outlined a few uses of origami. The required act of concentration makes this a good training exercise for beginning Pagans. It is a great way to get kids actively involved, not to mention that their friends will be incredibly jealous and will want to learn all about origami! It can be a great motivator, not to mention fun. Mundane or magickal, origami can create whole new realities in you life!
Origami paper can usually be obtained in art stores or sometimes, gift and book stores. It comes in a variety of sizes, colors and patterns. (Origami paper is usually white on one side.) If you cannot or do not want to use origami paper, wrapping paper can be a very good substitute. You should note that very heavy paper is not conducive to folding. It makes the model too thick and doesn’t hold the folds well. Prior to the magickal act of folding, you can write on or decorate the paper.
You can get origami paper at your local craft or art supply store. If you don’t have one of those near you, there are many on-line ordering options including Amazon.
A few recommended books on Origami – This is not meant to be an exhaustive list by any means! Click on the title to go to Amazon.com where you can buy this book at a discounted price!
Essential Origami by Steve and Megumi Biddle
St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 19919. 1991
Best book for the beginner that I’ve seen. Very clear diagrams and instructions. Shows all basic folds. Great book! A must for the origami library.
Origami by Hideaki Sakata
Not as many models as Essential Origami, but very nice. Shows folds through photographs which can be very helpful for the beginner. This is a great partner book, because it lets you see how the folds look from a photograph, which then helps you translate to diagrams used in other origami books.
Mythical Beings by Jay Ansell
HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53 Street, New York, NY 10022.
This book is not for the faint-hearted or novice, but WOW! What a great book! Four different dragon models, an ouroboros, Pegasus, centaur, cerebrus, unicorn, elf and a dancing Shiva! There is a wizard/witch model, but the author explains that they are meant to resemble children in Halloween costumes. Plus more. A great addition for any Pagan thinking of origami as a serious magickal practice.
This book is out of print. You can order new and used copies through third party sellers at Amazon.
There are many, many, many origami books with new ones being published all the time.