Greek Handkerchief Magic by James Kambos - Air Magic

Llewellyn's 2018 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living - Team of authors 2017

Greek Handkerchief Magic by James Kambos
Air Magic


The humble handkerchief has played an important role in civilization for centuries. In ancient Rome, games and races wouldn’t begin until a handkerchief was dropped to the ground. During medieval times, knights would tie a lady’s handkerchief to their helmets before battle as a sign of devotion and for luck.

From catching a tear to making a fashion statement, handkerchiefs have been part of our lives for over a thousand years. In his play Othello, however, it was Shakespeare who gave the handkerchief magical significance. Then the day came when I learned that my Greek ancestors from the Aegean Islands also had their own magical beliefs about handkerchiefs.


My Lesson in

Greek Handkerchief Magic

It was a sunny autumn afternoon many years ago that I learned how an ordinary handkerchief could be used magically. I had taken a weekend off work to visit my mother. After arriving I settled into a chair in her den. On the table by my chair was a houseplant. That wasn’t unusual. But there was something in the flower pot along with the plant that was unusual: a handkerchief. Pressed into the soil was a yellow handkerchief, and it was tied into a knot. Part of the knot couldn’t be seen because it was covered with soil. How odd, I thought to myself.

I had no idea, but I was about to learn some family history and be initiated into the family tradition of Greek handkerchief magic.

I reached out to examine my bizarre discovery.

“What in the world is this for?” I asked.

Giving me a sharp look, my mother answered, “Don’t touch it! Just leave it alone.”

I continued, “But why in the hell do you have a handkerchief stuck in a flower pot?”

“If you promise not to touch it, I’ll tell you.” She began to chuckle. “It’s what my mother used to do when she lost something.”

Now it made sense. My mother’s mother, Katina, was skilled in the art of Greek folk magic. She had spells to remove the curse of the evil eye and could tell your future by reading tea leaves. To bless the house, she’d combine olive oil and smoldering cloves, and then while saying a secret charm, she’d sprinkle the oil mixture around the house. When she left Greece for America, she brought her magical traditions with her. So now I was about to learn another of her folk magic traditions.

My mother began to explain that the day before she had misplaced a gold pendant. To help her find it, she decided to use a Greek folk magic charm my grandmother had taught her. She said when her mother would lose something, she’d take a handkerchief, roll it, bring the ends together, and tie it in a knot while thinking of the lost object. Then she’d usually press the knot into the soil of a houseplant or outside in the garden. The loose ends of the handkerchief would be left exposed above the soil.

In a day or two the item would turn up. So, following these steps, that’s what my mother had done. In a few days my mother found her pendant. It seems she had wrapped it in a tissue and dropped it into her purse. In a day or so after performing the handkerchief spell, she said she had a feeling she should look in her purse, and that’s where it was.

After learning all I could from my mother that weekend about this old magical tradition, I began to use it myself. As I found out on many occasions, it does work. I’ve recovered my checkbook, keys, and even an important file at work using Greek handkerchief magic.

What follows are detailed instructions about how to make Greek handkerchief magic work for you.

How to Perform

Greek Handkerchief Magic

Greek handkerchief magic is easy to do. All you need is a handkerchief. Use one you’ve had awhile; that way it’s imbued with your energy. It’s always performed when something has been lost. You can use it to find jewelry, a missing document, eyeglasses—anything you can think of.

After searching for your lost item, if you can’t find it, then select a handkerchief. It can be white, colored, plain, or fancy. It can be lace, cotton, silk, or linen. Any hankie will do.

Begin by thinking of your lost item as you run the handkerchief through your hands a few times. Now, roll the handkerchief up. Bring the ends together and tie the handkerchief into a knot. The knot should be about in the middle. Visualize the lost item in your mind as you tie the knot. At this point I say,

I won’t untie you until you bring my (name of item) back to me!

If you wish, you may press the knotted handkerchief into a houseplant or garden soil. (Why this was done I never discovered.) Or do what I do: place the knotted handkerchief where the lost object was kept. For example, if you lost a ring, then place the handkerchief in your jewelry box, and so on.


Now, leave the handkerchief undisturbed and go about your daily routine. For me, usually in an hour or two it suddenly dawns on me what I was doing when I was last holding the item. I retrace my steps, and I find the misplaced item. It may be hard to believe, but it works.

When you’ve found your lost item, thank the handkerchief and untie the knot. If you had your handkerchief in soil, wash it.

Now you have a new magical tool. It must now be used only for this purpose. Keep your handkerchief on your altar or tucked safely in a drawer.

A Few Tips

How does handkerchief magic work? I don’t know. But many experts in human behavior say we never really lose anything. Somewhere in our subconscious we know where “lost” things are. I feel that at the moment you tie the handkerchief into a knot, it must help trigger your memory.

Here are a few things to remember when you perform Greek handkerchief magic:

• Let the handkerchief do the work. Don’t stress trying to remember where something is. Don’t be surprised if you get a feeling or suddenly know where something is. I’ve known people who’ve tied the handkerchief into a knot and immediately just knew where their lost item was.

• Also, if you’re ever in a pinch and find yourself in a situation where no handkerchief is available, use a paper towel. It’s happened to me, and it worked well.

• It’s hard to believe that a simple piece of cloth we call a handkerchief could possess such power. But remember Othello’s words as he described the fabric of his special handkerchief to Desdemona—“There’s magic in the web of it.”