The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Tools of Witchcraft
Cords serve a variety of magical purposes. Smaller cords are used in knot spells, which are virtually universal, common to a multitude of magical traditions. Knot spells are among the most primordial types of spells. The underlying concept is that, as one pulls the knot tight, one’s wish, desire or command is activated within the knot. Knot spells are most commonly used for healing, love, sex, and protection spells as well as, most notoriously, for hexing.
Knotting is inexpensive, highly accessible magic, only requiring a piece of string or cord and human will or desire. Knotting is, however, amongst the most difficult types of spells to master: unless one is consumed with emotion, it can be difficult to summon up the intense focus and will necessary for success.
Long cords are used in Wiccan ritual. The Wiccan cord is frequently titled a “cingulam.” The standard cingulam is a nine-foot-long silk cord. (Other natural fabrics such as cotton or wool may also be used.) Style and color vary. It may be a single red or green braided cord or three cords braided together, traditional colors being black, red, and white. The cingulam is used in a variety of binding rituals and may be used to measure the circumference of a coven circle. The cingulam also enables a solitary witch to easily cast a circle:
1. Hold the end of the cingulam in what will be the center of the circle.
2. Mark the center by placing a large crystal or rock atop that end of the cingulam.
3. Rotate the cingulam’s other end in a circle; mark the cardinal points with additional crystals or, alternately, sprinkle salt or powder to denote the physical boundaries of the circle.
The power of the cingulam is stored within its knots. Typically a series of nine knots are made, which may be tied and untied as desired to release or sustain power, reminiscent of ancient weather magic spells.
The Witch’s Ladder names a knot spell, once strongly associated with hexes and so very feared. However it is also used for blessing and protective spells.
1. Three cords of equal length and nine feathers are required. Hen’s feathers were traditional, perhaps because they were most accessible; adjust as desired.
2. Braid the cords together while focused on your desired intent.
3. Knot a feather into the bottom, where the braid begins.
4. Continue braiding and adding feathers: the nine feathers are knotted into the cord at equal intervals, evenly spaced from bottom to top.
5. Reserve the cord in a safe, secret place. Should you change your mind, undo the knots.
In some Wiccan traditions, the cingulam is knotted at Initiation. It may be used to fasten a robe around the waist. When not worn or in ritual use, the cingulam may be maintained on an altar; alternatively, it is stored by wrapping it around a staff or ritual broom.