Knot Magic or Spells...a little help ATers?


I am looking for information regarding how far back this is documented, not about the actual spells, although if someone can find wording to a knot spell from a couple hundred years ago, that would be nice too. I know it is common in Wicca, but also have read things, many articles or in books, where it goes back to various times, cultures and religions, but no specifics. Was wondering if anyone can show me where it was used previous to Golden Dawn (not saying it was used by the Golden Dawn, just looking for previous to those times, like something before early 1800's at least). ATers? I know there are researchers here and people great at finding information. This is one thing I am having trouble sourcing back. Thanks for any help!


What little I remember about 'knot magic' is mostly in the form of 'binding spells,' except for references to 'witches' selling sailors knotted ropes containing 'the wind'; they would untie these when they crossed into the Doldrums so the wind held in the knots would fill their sails and move them along. For all we know Columbus' men had such ropes with them when he journeyed to find the New World...meaning knot magic could go back earlier than the 1400s.


I agree Tarotbear

When trying to authenticate any sourcing on this, hitting a dead end. I have found MANY things that SAY it was attributed here and here, but nothing re real sourcing or spells beyond the ones I see in Wicca or some Pagan sites.
I am trying to find an authenticated source to at least just early 1800's or 1700's. That shouldn't be that hard, but it sure seems to be. The common spell I see only seems to go back to maybe 1950's or earliest around time of Golden Dawn.
Here is the type of link I have been finding and need more re actual sources.


There is actually firm evidence about ancient cord and knot magic.

A quote from Christopher A. Faraone (Univerity of Chicago Prof. of Classics): Ancient Greek Love Magic (Harvard University Press, Mass. 1999):
"..we find that cords and straps..were employed as magical charms in the Near East at a time and place not very far removed from the eastern edge of the Homeric world: a cuneiform tablet from Ashur (Tigris River, northern Iraq) dating to about 1000 B.C.E. contains some purification rites for women and then a ritual with the rubic "Incantation to be recited when the husband of a woman is angry with her" "
The rite uses tendons of a gazelle, red wool and 14 knots. Each time one ties a knot one recites an incantation. After the cord is finished the woman places it around her waist and lo and behold, she will be loved again. The incantation invokes Ishtar saying: "I call on you, O Ishtar...because he does not tell me the words of his heart, because he is angry.."

The book includes other examples as well. For example when one enters the presence of a King one should speak magical words and simultaneously tie knots inside one´s shawl.


Oh thanks hemera!

That's wonderful info! I also went back to my russian and danish roots to look for some things and did find something. I also found these sources relating to older traditions, but nothing like yours! I am impressed.
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.


You might also consider trying to trace the practice back as far as you can. I do believe your supposition of the Golden Dawn using it is accurate. I remember reading somewhere something about Alister Crowley using knot magick. If you could find information about his use of it and track it backward from there you might at some point find yourself finding documentation in English books of some sort rather than cuniform tablets. (Though cuniform was the original form of written language! LOL I don't think you'll find anything pre-dating that! :) )


It will probably go hand in hand with female textile myths and deities from all over the world. Spinning and weaving have been linked with fate, writing and magic in all areas of the world and from that cord making (the twining of many threads) and knotting (the tying off of warp threads) start to take on symbolic meaning.

In South America, knots were used as a language, for counting and relaying messages. I can't remember the tribe name though, darn it. It was on a recent TV history program.

Chinese knotwork strongly resembles celtic knotwork and since we now know that there were trade links right across Eurasia from East to West, it is possible that many of the ideas spread with these trade exchanges.


another interesting thread by you, Greatdane! :thumbsup: you come up with some very interesting things. Hemera, also, many thanks for your post. I am intrigued with this now myself, and want to investigate it a bit further and you've supplied a great starting point.

If I find anything to add here, I'll be sure to do so. I wonder if this 'knot magic' can also be related to things such as the rosary, and other prayer 'beads'. It seems like this could be so. In fact, I am in the middle of a rosary novena, titled "The Virgin Mary, Untier of Knots", which includes using a rosary and reciting the rosary w/other prayers for 9 days. at any rate, I can see where the rosary (& this novena) would relate to 'Knot Magic'. Sort of 'Catholic Magic Spells'. :D

prayer beads are used in many faiths--and date back to before Christ. any other thoughts on this relationship?


I use and have used knot and cord magic (same thing really) for the last 10 years or so... Not sure where I read about it but it was in a modern book.. I really like it and for me, it works and works well. There seems something more solid about it than lighting coloured candles and I seem to have a bit of an affinity with all things textile ;).

Elen Hawke writes about it in one of her books, either 'In the Circle' or 'A Sacred Round' I think.


THanks all very much! Celticnoodle...

one of my references mentioned it being used by, I believe Catholics. Something about tying a knot when praying to a certain saint to bind it. Sorry, I have to go see if I can find more. So much regarding rituals used in Wicca and many Pagan religions that many consider centuries old can't be traced back before Golden Dawn or Wicca. The most commonly used knot magic incantations I've found trace to Wicca. I know knot magic has been used for centuries in many religions, because there are some references that seem solid. I researched Wicca many years ago, and of course, Gerald Gardner and his background and influences, and so much that I source back only goes that far. Not saying that's bad, it's just if I am reading about a ritual that says it goes back centuries, I want to see how far back I can actually trace and what it was used for. I believe knot magic or cord magic is a great way to focus intention, similar to lighting a candle, but for some it may work better for them, as Sulis mentions (and thank you for that info Sulis!).