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Image by Charles MacFarland/Cyfrin

As symbols of the strands of the web of wyrd, of the forces which connect us, leaving us, at once, bound and free, cords are one of the more widely used magical tools.Witches speak of binding spells, binding malefactors, handfasting, severing bonds - in any such case, our symbolic language may be expressed in cord magic. A cord is often used in conjunction consecrations and image magic, where it is wrapped around the new weapon or tool to bind the power in.

Many wiccans whether working robed or skyclad, will wear a cord about their waist, serving the multiple purpose of reminding the priest/ess of their bond to the Craft through initiation [ in which rite, cords play a special role - what with binding, releasing, taking the measure, swearing on it and so on], grounding during shamanic work [to avoid a permanent state of being off with the fairies] and being useful in keeping robes secure and scabbarded blades handy. If required, a long cord can be used to delineate the Circle's boundary.


In all the following suggestions, the cord should be coloured appropriately to the work [using whatever system or quirks appeal]. The traditional length for a cord is nine feet, and if it can be made from a natural fibre, so much the better. Whether cords are re-usable or not is open to debate. One notion is to use a virgin cord for each working, giving each length to earth, fire or water when it is no longer needed, but an equally valid opinion holds that, like any tool, a cord will gather it's own power through usage and so can benefit from repeated use. There is also a view that, after a few workings, a cord can get "burnt out". So as ever, let intuition decide.

Finally, for especially demanding work, it can help to give to the cord - or any magical tool - of your blood, saliva or sexual fluids, your material and spiritual essences.


The ladder is a simple piece of knot magic, but will often do the trick as well as elaborate spellcasting. A number of knots [forty is traditional, but if another number suggests itself, so mote it be] are tied in a cord or smaller string or thread, with the intention stated and willed with each knot. It is then used last thing at night and first thing in the morning and/or in connection with meditation as an "intentional rosary", the purpose being reaffirmed at each count.


Wheel formations of cords occur in a few different types of work, nearly always with cords hitched in the centre with a woman holding one end of the cord and a man at the other, even if some doubling up is required to maintain the polarity. This structure can be used to centre a running or dancing power raising, or for knot binding. In the latter, the intentions may be either common or individual. A knot/s is tied with the expression of the desire, after which power is raised by chant, movement or any preferred technique and "bounced off" the hub {An Alexandrian variation has a priestess lie beneath the hub to participate in this focusing]. Another possibility is to release the cords at the cone's peak.


The number of knots tied in a cord can be used for magical reinforcement too. British Tradition has nine knots tied for many types of work. Qabalistic or other types of numerological lore can obviously be used for intentional harmonising. In any case, it is common to knot each end of the cord to hold in it's consecration and other energies. But how the knots are deployed themselves is another variable. Here are some commonly used workings :-

  • A set of cords is kept by a coven or grove to be used specifically for group wheel workings. The knots bound during the working remain until the next time the cords are needed. Here we have the image of locking the ends to keep any energies moving into the centre and so to the object.

  • The individual witches will charge and bind their own cords privately at a time[s] prior to the group working, wherin the cords will be linked in a power-raising, after which, within the circle or at a later date, the knots will be untied. In this case, the energy is bound within the cord to be released with the knots.

  • Similarly, energy may be tied in on one occasion for later release, just as it can be stored in a candle. A variation has destructive feelings locked away into a black or red cord to be released when the witch can better deal with the issues, or else to be buried or given to the sea to be gradually cleansed and re-integrated with the environment. Like a charged candle, a cord can also be a method of giving your stored energy to a sister or brother in need.

  • In binding a dangerous or obnoxious person [which for a responsible wiccan, is a very rare occurrence] a cord may be left knotted permanently. Other workings [such as dedications, blessings of people or places etc] may similarly use this image of maintaining an intention.

  • A knotted cord's power may be released with rather dramatic effect, by burning or cutting, instead of unpicking the knots. Cutting may be especially effective - a cord will be held taut between the hands of the spells subject or stand-in, or else between a Priestess and a Priest. Energy is raised, then the cord suddenly cut with a boline or athame at the peak. The release can even be felt by the least sensitive.




Published in Australia  1984 - 1990
In Seattle & Sydney 1990-1994 - and Sydney/Seattle Webzine 1999
Copyright Shadoplay 2000. All rights reserved. 
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