Introduction to Knot Magick
Knot magick is a type of folk magic that involves tying knots in a specific way to achieve a desired outcome or intention. The practice of knot magick has been used in various cultures throughout history, with examples found in ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Hungarian, Celtic, English, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese traditions as well as modern witchcraft practices.
Types of Knots
To perform knot magick, the practitioner will typically visualize their intention or desire while tying knots in the cord or string. While “normal” knots are perfectly fine, different intentions can be emphasized with different kinds of knots:
- Hercules Knot (joining)
- Figure Eight Knot (anchoring)
- Celtic Button Knot (stopping)
- Slip Knot (releasing)
The Herakles knot was often used in wedding ceremonies, where the bride and groom would take turns untying the knot as a symbol of their ability to work together to overcome challenges in their marriage. The Herakles knot was also used in other rituals and ceremonies, such as the Eleusinian Mysteries, a secretive religious cult in ancient Greece. The knot was believed to have protective and purifying powers and was used to ward off evil spirits and negative energies.
Types of Cords
In knot magick, different colors and types of cords or strings may be used to represent different intentions or desires. For example, green may be used for wealth or abundance, red for love or passion, and black for protection or banishing negative energies. Yarn, thread, leather, hair, silk, and practically any type of fiber can be knotted and woven. Pick a color and fibre that matches your intention, and be mindful of thickness if you will be stringing beads, etc.
More than one color can be used; in Hungarian tradition the szűz kötél, or “virgin rope,” is a cord made by twisting together red, white, and black threads. These colors symbolize love, purity, and challenges in a marriage. During a wedding ceremony, the cord is draped over the couple’s shoulders, and they take turns untying the knot to represent their commitment to overcoming challenges together.
Similarly, one ancient Greek spell involved tying nine knots in a cord made of red and black wool while reciting incantations and prayers to the gods of rain and thunder. The knots would then be untied one by one, with the final knot being left untied to symbolize the release of rain.
Cords can also be cleansed, anointed, blooded, and charged before / during / after the knot magick.
Working Knot Magick into Spellwork
Knot magick can be used on its own, e.g. for jewelry, sewing patches and clothing, magickal embroidery / crocheting / knitting, as an offering, etc. One well-known example is the tyet knot, also known as the knot of Isis, which was a symbol of fertility and protection. The knot was often depicted as a red cord with seven knots, representing the seven goddesses who protected women during childbirth. The tyet knot was frequently worn as a protective amulet by both men and women.
Another example is the witch’s ladder, a type of knot magic spell used in English tradition for healing, protection, cursing, and love. It consists of a cord or rope with knots tied while reciting a specific intention, and the finished cord is used in a ritual or placed in a specific location to manifest the desired outcome. It is commonly used for healing spells by tying knots with specific herbs or crystals, and for protection spells by creating a barrier with the knots.
Examples of Witch Ladders:
In some African and Caribbean traditions, knot magic has been used in rainmaking ceremonies. Knots are tied in cords or ropes to invoke the spirits of the elements and bring rain to a dry or drought-stricken area. The knots are often tied with specific intentions or incantations, and the finished knot cords may be placed in a sacred location or carried by a designated rainmaker.
In Norse mythology, the god Thor was said to use a belt made of braided cords that could control the weather and summon storms. The cords were believed to represent the power of the elements, and by manipulating them, Thor could call forth thunder and lightning.
Knots were also used in seiðr as a means of binding or unbinding spirits. If a person was believed to be possessed by a malevolent spirit, the seiðr practitioner might tie knots in a cord to bind the spirit and prevent it from causing harm. Alternatively, if a person was believed to be under a curse or hex, the practitioner might use knot magic to unravel the curse and release the person from its effects.
In Chinese culture, knotting cords were used to bind things together and evolved into the use of knot magic for protection, love, and prosperity. In Japanese Shintoism, shimenawa, a type of knot magic, is used to purify sacred spaces and ward off evil spirits. Tibetan Buddhism also uses knot magic in various rituals and practices, such as prayer flags with knots for blessings and protection, and prayer beads where each knot represents a mantra or prayer.
Knot magick can also be incorporated as a part of a larger working, such as knotted candle spells. Magic cords can be used to wrap candles, statues, physical links, spirit traps, poppets, fetishes, etc; which is ideal for binding spells. In this case, the practitioner would chant / pray and visualize while wrapping and tying the cord.
- Knot Magic (Tylluan Penry)
- Daemonic Prayer & Prayer Cords (S.Connolly)
- Folk Witchcraft: A Guide to Lore, Land, and the Familiar Spirit for the Solitary Practitioner (Roger J. Horne)