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Tag Archives: Gordian Knot

Thoughts on Knot Magick

Knot Magick
A Brief History by Eliza Yetter
(written 2002 / revised 2007)

* I take no credit for the following article.  Please support the original writer by visiting the link below.*

as posted on www.sacredspiral.com

Knot magick has been in use since long ago times. Knots can be found in the art and literature of all ancient cultures, ancient Mesopotamia onwards. Reference to knots and knot magick is also found in all the religions of the world.

It was a practice among Catholics to tie a knot when invoking saints as a way to bind the saints to them until they have done their bidding.

Mohammed, founder of Islam, was cursed by a knot and, had it not been found and untied, it is said that Mohammed would have died. Some male followers of the Islam religion would tie a knot in their beard to protect themselves from the evil eye. When at sea, they might tie several knots in their clothing to put an end to violent winds, but when going to Mecca they must not have any knots in their clothing.

In Hinduism, knot tying is often associated with the death gods.

Buddhists refer to the untying of knots as a “process of liberation.” [5]

Knot tying was common in Roman magic as images of lovers were sometimes tied together to keep the couple bound to each other. Solemn oaths were also made to their deities while tying a knot.

In mythology, we have the Fates who wove, knotted, and cut the strings of life. We also have the famous Gordian Knot which Alexander was said to have cut in two with his sword.

In not so long ago times, there were men and women who were called blowers of knots. They would recite incantations while tying knots. The most famous of these incantations were done for wind knots.

Wind knots were three knots made in a string, rope, or rag and sold to sailors. If a sailor were to untie one knot, he would get a moderate wind. If he should untie 2 knots, the wind would blow half a gale. To untie all 3 knots would have caused a hurricane. [2]

Knots are prevalent in wedding lore, where two people are united in marriage which is also known as “tying the knot.” From the Dark Ages to the 18th century, it was forbidden to tie a knot at someone’s wedding for fear that it would prevent a true union between the bride and groom. Another form of knot magic associated with weddings is the wearing of a net over the bride’s head. Today, brides often wear a veil, originally meant to protect them from the evil eye and evil sorcery on their wedding day.

During a woman’s labor it was custom in many cultures worldwide to undo all knots within the house. In black magic, knots can be used to hinder or stop the birth of a child, killing both the mother and infant. It was also believed that a knot could cause a painful and difficult delivery.

To knot a cloth that had touched a man’s penis was believed to bring about his impotence. The same was held true to tying a knot into a man’s pubic hair and burying it in the earth.

When someone was dying, it was once a common practice to untie all knots within the room so as to not keep the dying person bound to life and suffering.

In Russia, knot magick was once very common. There are written accounts of the many types of knot spells including an 8 double-knot curse to use against an enemy in which wool yarn was used. As each double-knot was made, these words were spoken:

“1. I go out onto the road, 2. I throw into the open field, 3. into the distance, 4. between the homesteads, 5. into the fields, 6. into the seas, 7. into the forest, 8. into the quaking bag.” [4]

This cord was then left in a place where its intended victim would step on it.

For protection from harm by a gun or other weapon, 5 knots were tied in a cord and kept about the body.

Red wool thread with nine knots was sometimes worn by children to protect them from getting a fever.

A cord with 40 knots might be kept as an amulet for protection against thieves.

In todays world, knot magic continues to have its place. Examples of this would be in the dream catchers made by the Lakota’s, the “Eye of God”, and shell decorated nets that are hung in homes and businesses.

Select Bibliography:
1. Amulets and Superstitions by E. A. Wallis Budge. Dover Publications. 1978.
2. The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer. Collier Books. 1963.
3. Taboo, Magic, Spirits: A Study of Primitive Elements In Roman Religion by Eli Edward Burriss. Greenwood Press. 1972.
4. The Bathhouse at Midnight: Magic In Russia by W. F. Ryan. The Pennsylvania State University Press. 1999.
5. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. Translated by John Buchanan-Brown. 1996.

Components to Knot Magick

  • Cord or Rope – Honestly it can be anything from thin thread to cotton cord or twine.  If you prefer to work with natural materials most craft stores can offer such things.  Cotton, Wool, Silk, Linen, and strips of Leather are just a few materials you could use. If you prefer an in depth approach you could even spin and dye your own thread. Additionally the cord can be colored to correspond with your spell work.  There is no set length the cord should be although some like to make the length a multiple of 3 or 13 inches.  Some people prefer to work with greater lengths and will have a cord 9 feet long.  This is helpful if you are doing cord magick as a group.  If you are a numerologist if could be any length with numerical significance.  This again falls under preference.
  • Knots – The knots in knot magick absorb the qualities that they are charged with. For energy you want untie the knot there by unleashing the energy contained to come back to you.  If you want the energy absorbed to be bound forever DO NOT untie the knot. Burn it or bury it. The knots can be as simple as an overhand knot or as complex as fusion knots (see below). This could even include weaving.  This can also be customized to what you want to accomplish. For example, weaving a bracelet or charm would be a good way to ward off the unwanted.
  • Purpose – Along with will and intent create magick.  This is more important than the cord or knots.  Be clear on want you are sending into the knots.  They are a powerful vessel and will gladly hold onto anything.  Mediation can help focus the mind from wondering during Knot Magick work, but avoid distraction as to not muddy your intent in the spell. I also find that chanting or old weaving songs also help when casting to focus the mind.

Practical Application

Knot magick can be simple to understand but it application will test your will and resolve. It is extremely portable and easily concealed. While working the spell it can be worn as a bracelet, necklace, or charm.  You can tuck it under a pillow or store it in a pocket.  The cord doesn’t have to follow you around but can as a reminder of the magick work.


Knot Magick can be broken down into 3 easy steps. 1. Meditate and raise energy to focus your intent. 2. Cast your magick. 3. Follow through with strength of will.

(Magick work is always best when done within a cast circle)

You should start with what you want to accomplish.  What is your intent?

Hold your cord and meditate on the meaning behind your spell.  When you have a clear focus on what it is you want tie the knots in the following order.  This is called a traditional nine knot spell, and is only one of many tying possibilities. (The x indicates a knot and the – is the string.)


“By knot of one the spells begun.”

mystic knot, one of the eight Buddhist symbols of a happy omen


“By knot of two, it cometh true.”


“By knot of three, so shall it be.”


“By knot of four, the opened door.”


“By knot of five the spell is alive.”


Click me to learn how to tie this knot!

“By knot of six, the spell is fix’d.”


“By knot of seven, of Earth and Heaven.”


“By knot of eight, the stroke of fate.”


“By knot of nine, the thing is mine.”

Make sure when tying the knots that if you plan on untying them later that you don’t tie them too tight. Also, as you tie them charge each one with the energy of what you are trying to accomplish.

If it is a spell for good, growth, or enhancement you want to untie, in backwards order, a knot every 24 hours after you cast the spell. By the time you reach the final knot your goal should be accomplished.  This will release those positive energies out into the world guided like a missile with your intent as rocket fuel.  I like to do simple visualizations of releasing colored energy out around me when I untie knots.  I really like doing growth/enhancement spells with knot magick because for nine days while I untie the knots it gives me something to think about and meditate on every day.  It becomes a good reminder of the purpose I was trying to fulfill when I cast the spell.

It is very important that if you are doing Magick to banish something like a bad habit or bind something that you do not keep the cord around you after your spell is done.  Bury it away from you or burn it after your ritual.  It should be thought of as poison with each individual knot having sucked up the bad energy.  I can’t stress enough how powerful this object will be and if you keep it around how it will amplify what you were trying to get rid of or bind.

For more spell ideas visit sacredspiral.com and Eliza Yetter’s post on Knot Spells.


Knot and cord magick can be an invaluable ritual tool to store and release energy.  During each ritual you can charge the cord with energy and store it to release at a more appropriate time or if you are doing ritual with multiple people charge the cord and then use it like a laser beam to focus the energy when you release it.  Many covens and groups have a cord present at each ritual to store energy for those times when the group’s reserves are low or use it as another barrier of protection.

Celtic Knotwork

The use of interlaced knot work as decoration can be found in many cultures that pre-date Celtic design motifs. The earliest example of this being roman architecture around the 3 and 4th centuries AD.  It is not known for certain when the Celts started their use of knot work design, called plait work, but it is believed that the practice of broken and reconnected plait work spread from northern Italy and the southern Gaul area by the 7th century.

Much of the popularity of Celtic knot work design we owe to the reconstructionists of the 18th century, who as a conscious effort began to re-establish this type of design with Ireland and Modern Celts.

According to George Bain, a 20th century Scottish Celtic art professor, Celtic knots that have a closed path, (no end or beginning), are considered to be a symbol of eternity, or represent the infinite. Those with open paths are said to signify a journey (both physical and otherwise).

Magickally Celtic knot work can be use like a labyrinth to aide in meditation. Many Celtic knot work designs can be tied with cord as well, making it possible to create amulets or do Knot Magick through weaving.

Fusion Knotwork

Fusion knots are amazing works of art that can dazzle the eye and stir the soul.  I never realized, until I got deeper into knot tying, that most Celtic designs can actually be tied with cord or rope.  I really find this form of knot tying very closely related to weaving.  These knots take time to tie and lend themselves well to old weaving songs or chants.  They are a good way to clear the mind and meditate almost like you were tying a labyrinth.

The best resource I can give for Fusion Knots is www.fusionknots.com and Tying it All Together from Youtube.  Both were created by J.D. Lenzen who has  been formally recognized by the International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT) for his contributions to knotting, and is the originator of Fusion Knotting–innovative knots created through the merging of different knot elements or knotting techniques.

Below is only on example of the over 100 videos J.D. posts on his Youtube channel.  If you find this interesting please visit his website.

I hope you enjoyed the post and found it informative.  Thanks for your support and if you liked this post spread the word about my blog.  All the kind words and emails keep me moving forward to post new content.

Blessed Be.