11 Unusual Ways To Use Cords & Knots In Your Magic
Raise your hand if you ever shared friendship bracelets as a child? Have you “tied the knot” with your significant other? Or gotten a Celtic knot tattoo, maybe? I know you’ve at least seen one. Because of their simple and beautiful symmetry, knot designs are extremely popular in jewelry and even hairstyles, and many have been adapted into corporate logos. We see knots everywhere, but few realize these pretty shapes have deep magical significance.
Traditionally, knots are protective. Sailors used them to ensure safe travel, good winds, and to remember loved ones left on shore. Solomon’s knot, two interconnecting rectangles, appears all over the world in different religious contexts. Knots are associated with secrets, binding, love, and confusion, to name only a few. Their rich history and symbolism make knots a natural fit for witches, and though they can be incredibly intricate, knot magic is one of the easiest ways to perform magic.
Though methods of performing knot magic vary widely, in essence you are tightly binding your intention in a length of cord. Typically the cord is either 9 inches or 9 feet and you’ll use an uneven number of knots, tying and untying them in specific intervals. This isn’t written in stone, of course, and when doing your own magic you should always personalize it. Use numbers that mean something to you. When performing knot magic dealing with other people, I’ll use their birthdays. The month will be the length of cord and the day will be the number of knots. But any date can be used. Wedding anniversaries are another example.
Next you must choose the type of cord to use. Natural fibers are said to be best, but I’ve read about witches using scraps of clothing, hair, even underwear. Again, this comes down to you, but I like to keep things simple and just use a hemp cord from my local craft shop. I choose the color based on my intention and proceed from there.
Now, depending on what kind of spell you want to do, you’ll decide on which type of cord to use, how many knots, and whether or not they will be eventually untied. If you’re doing a knot spell to break a bad habit, you’ll want to make the knots incredibly tight, then slowly untie them or break them somehow (like using a rock to bash them apart). Your intention will drive the magic to break these habits as you break the knots. If you’re doing a binding, banishing, or protection spell, obviously, the knots will not be untied. The tighter you want the spell to be, the tighter your knots. Double up. Make your knot a tangled ball, so secure that only a blade could ever cut it free.
When tying your knots, you put your intention into each one. How do you do this? You can recite a spell, thinking of what you want to happen and seeing it clearly in your head. You can kiss the knots or squeeze them tightly between your fingers — anything that gives you a clear mental image of the knots enveloping your intent. This magic is supposed to be simple and easy to perform so there’s no need to over-complicate it. Meditate on your intention and tie each knot as you do so.
Elevating Knot Spells
Oh, how I love making things more complex! Simple is all well and good — a staple of knot magic — and great if you’re in a hurry or need a spell fast with limited resources. However, if you’ve got the time, why not put a little extra effort into this simple magic and crank up the power of your spells?
Altar knot: As I mentioned, I like using simple cord. I also like decorating my altar in any way I can, so I incorporated knot spells into the candles I burn weekly. I suggest using candles in glass jars because the last thing you want is for your knot spell to burn away (or your home to catch fire). Whatever your intention, create a knot spell and wrap it around your candles. If you’d like to take the magic with you, dip the knot in the candle wax (further sealing it) and wear it around your left wrist or ankle until it’s time to return to the altar each week (or whenever you perform your rituals there).
Stone knot: Take a drilled stone that fits your spell, and loop the cord around this stone before tightly securing the knot. This simply clarifies your intent and makes a nice looking, wearable spell. These also make great gifts for both the magical or non-magical people in your life. If you are giving the knot spell as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient what the spell is for so they can focus the magic for themselves. Whether or not they practice magic, I find that non-witches still gravitate toward amulets they believe bring them some kind of benefit. That belief then fuels whatever magic you’ve already done for them.
Soaking: Great for protection spells. Create a bath of saltwater or diluted vinegar and soak your cord in this water before using it for your knot spell. You can charge the water with water safe stones, powders, or oil (if you’re going to wear the knot, make sure the oils are safe for the skin) before letting it dry and proceeding with your spell. If you want the knots to be extra tight, tie them while the cord is still wet. When dry, those knots will be sealed tighter than a drum. Good to use for when you want something to stay a secret.
Two cords: These can be done a few different ways. If you’d like something to happen to you, like winning at the casino or getting a job, make one piece of cord represent the job, and the other cord represent you. Tie them tightly together so what you want to happen is connected to you. If you’re performing a love spell or trying to keep your partner close, the two cords can represent each of you in the relationship, bound together. These knots can be sealed with wax and special attention should be paid to detail here. The colors, length, and number of knots should be a clear representation of you and your partner.
Banishing knot: Aside from the altar knots, this is what I use knot magic for most regularly. Knots are binding by nature, and using them to stop someone else’s actions is a no-brainer. I use black cord, tie it in three knots focusing on specific reasons why I want the person gone or to stop what they are doing, then freeze the knot in a small ice cube. Inevitably, though, someone in my household will take the ice cube out of the freezer, ask me “what’s this?” then walk away, leaving the ice cube to melt in the sink. Not good! If you want this spell to be more permanent, go to your local hobby store and buy a tube of resin, then use this to seal the knot in suspension indefinitely, thus “freezing” the person from bothering you again.
Smoking the knot: Although I’ve never tried this personally, many witches run the knot through incense smoke or the smoke of a candle to bless the knot. This can be done before starting any work or as a final step after the spell is complete. If you’re giving a knot spell as a gift, this would be a nice touch, especially if the knot is for protection or a gift for a child.
Braiding knot: Connecting three or more cords together can be done to bind a family or group of friends together, especially if there are stormy waters on the horizon (proactive magic). Hang on the front door of the home or in the kitchen as a way to keep the group bonded together through thick and thin. Don’t forget to braid in additional cords for your pets!
Unconventional knots: Just because tradition dictates knot spells should be done using cord or string doesn’t mean you should only use this technique. If you’re a kitchen witch, bake bread knots or candy knots. If you’re an earth witch, use the stems of leaves or strips of bark to make your knot spells. If you’re a water witch, dip the cord in water before tying, and if you work with air, blow onto each knot to infuse it with your intent. However you work best, you can find a way to work knot spells into your craft so you are more comfortable using them.
Burning knots: Knot spells are easy spells to break; you simply untie them and the spell is undone. Of course, if you prefer a more dramatic ending to the spell, you can burn the knot instead. This method can be useful for when knot spells are supposed to be broken — for example, breaking bad luck, ending difficult relationships, or getting rid of bad energy in your life. Create a knot spell that represents whatever you’d like to get rid of and then set it on fire (safely, of course) and bury the ashes.
Drawing knots: I mentioned earlier that we see knots everywhere, usually as repurposed symbols. Much like runes, original knot designs have deep roots and even though they aren’t tied with string, they still have power. The act of actually tying or untying knots is important, but this same process can be replicated by drawing a knot on a piece of paper. This allows you to get creative, making the knots as intricate as you want them to be (something that’s difficult with cord unless you’ve learned all the ways to tie knots — shoutout to the sailor witches of the world!). Though part of the beauty of these knot designs in the symmetry of them, don’t feel confined by this standard. Not everyone is artistically inclined, so simply draw a straight line, add a loop or infinity symbol in the middle, and continue the line. To “untie” the knot, just erase it!
Incorporating knots: When writing spells, witches will often turn to the big three: Candles, stones, and herbs. I know I do! But if you’re short on any of the above, or just want to try something new with your spells, add knots. Tie them around tarot cards to bind two courses of action together. Add them to the tops of jar spells to seal the the jar with another layer of your intention. Gold and silver jewelry wire makes for beautiful knots and can be twisted around stones and candles. Tie a knot while reciting your spell, thus “closing” the spell in two ways. You can carry the spell with you wherever you go by binding it to a chain of knots and transforming it into a talisman.
Knot spells lend themselves to so many styles of witchcraft that I’ve barely scratched the surface on the different ways to use them. Truly, there is no limit. So, whether you want to keep it simple or go into more detail, adding knots is an easy way to expand your knowledge and make your craft infinitely more magical!
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by SL Bear
I grew up in the Sonoran desert, then moved to Colorado where I spent my 20s and early 30s morphing into an adult in the shadow of the Rockies. My life has been a quilt of extraordinary landscapes and wild terrain, and I have seen some beautiful, impossible things. I credit this upbringing for my ability to see beyond the regular day-to-day, and find the hidden magic that is ignored by so many. I work mainly with art, sigils, candles, stones, weather, and moods. With my articles, I will always try to be positive and find ways to bring new experiences and new ways to practice a craft we all love so dearly. I hope you enjoy.