Witch Cords: By Knot and Feather or Whatever

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Witch’s ladder found in England in 1878

Other than candle magick, Witch cords are my favorite type of sympathetic magick to use. Cord magick also known as knot magick, or a Witch’s ladder is a very old form of folk magick. Traditionally the ladder is made from knotted cord or hair, natural items and charms are knotted or braided with a specific magickal intention in mind. The number of knots and types of woven items can vary as well as the color and number of cords.

The first recorded evidence of a witch ladder was found in an old house in Somerset, England in 1878. A “rope” with feathers and other items woven into it was found in the attic space. However, this is not the only account of such cords used for magickal intentions. The Gospel of The Witches Author, Charles Godfrey Leland discovered that the Witches in Italy used a similar form of the Witch’s ladder, called a “Witches garland”; Which was made of a cord, and contained black hen feathers. It was said that a spell was uttered as each knot was tied and that the cord was placed under the victim’s bed, to cause the ill fortune. Another was mentioned in an article found In Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould’s “Curgenven”; published in 1893. In his account the ladder was made of wool, and white and brown thread, and at every two inches was tied cock’s feathers. It’s maker then would weave into it; ill intentions intended for the victim. The ladder was then thrown to the bottom of a pond.

This type of folk-magick can also be found in its simplest form, also known as “knot magick”. Knot magick was traditionally been used by sailors to bind winds and then untying the knot to stir up a wind. The “Old-wives tale” of using a square knot on a bandage would make a wound heal faster.

marksamcord.jpgDespite it being overlooked by modern Witches, cord magick is very effective and can be done anywhere, at any time, and with any items you have on hand. I often recommend it for those who live and work in non-accepting places. They can be simple or lavish in design, all depends on the Witch. One of the more attractive cords I carry on my online store, The Hierophant, was created by “The Staten Island Witch” Mark Eadicicco for Samhain. Whereas my cords tend to be more traditional in style. Whether of “knot” you choose to cast a more traditional one or a modern one, it’s all about the intention weaved within.

Typically, the more modern “traditional” knot spells use nine knots. While constructing the cord; concentrate and focus your energy on your intent and repeated for each knot that you tie. Thus, your magick will continue to work as long as the knots are tied. Once your goal has manifested or is no longer needed, depending on the intent you should untie, cut and/or dispose of the cord. Tied with in the knots can vary depending on your intent, as would the color of the cords.

To make a basic modern Witch’s ladder, you will need yarn, ribbon, or cord in a color that matches your intent. Some Witches like to use three different colors, one or two for intent (i. e.: money and success), one to represent the knotter (or two in cases of love), and a third to bind (usually red) and nine items that are similar in correspondence (beads, shells, bones, buttons, feathers, stones or whatever you have on hand).

Cut the yarn in a workable length. Tie the ends of the three pieces of yarn together into your first knot. Begin braiding the yarn together, tying and knotting the feathers or beads into the yarn, while adding your energy and envisioning your intent. If you wish, you can say this variation of the traditionally used chant as the items are tied into the knots (not sure where the traditional one evolved from, but this is the one I have used in the past):

By knot of one, this has spell’s begun.
By knot of two, the magick comes true.
By knot of three, so it shall be.
By knot of four, my power is stored.
By knot of five, my will shall it drive.
By knot of six, this spell I fix.
By knot of seven, the future I leaven.
By knot of eight, my will be fate.
By knot of nine, what is done is mine.

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Be sure to stop by E. Massey’s online store, The Hierophant.

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