Knots are a TOOL in folk Magic Spells. Knots are tied in cords, ropes, scarves, and so forth to bind magical power and are untied to release power. A spell is recited while knots are tied or untied.
Scandinavian sorcerers used knotted cords to control the weather at sea. The cords, which had three knots, would be untied in accordance with the desired weather. One knot yielded a breeze, two knots a violent wind, and three knots a tempest.
Knots are used in love magic to attract and bind love and to prevent someone from falling in love. A magical spell from ancient Egypt for securing love is as follows:
Take a band of linen of 16 threads, four of white, four of green, four of blue, four of red, and make them into one band, and stain them with the blood of a hoopoe [bird], and you bind it with a scarab in its attitude of the sungod, drowned, being wrapped in byssus [woolen cloth], and you bind it to the body of the boy who has the vessel and it will work quickly.
Knotting a cord while reciting antilove charms will prevent two people from falling in love. According to one spell, attend a marriage ceremony and secretly knot a cord—preferably three knots in a cord made of three colors—while the couple says their wedding vows. The couple will not be able to consummate their marriage and will fall out of love with each other. The spell can be broken by rubbing the threshold of the marriage chamber with wolf fat.
A man can make himself immune to antilove-knot magic before getting married by filling his pockets with salt and urinating just before entering the church. In Italian lore, the “witches’ garland” is a rope tied into knots that is used for casting curses. With every knot that is tied, the curse is repeated, and a black feather is stuck into the knot. The best results are obtained when the garland is hidden beneath the victim’s mattress.
In the Koran, Muhammad associated evil magic with women who blew on knots. According to lore, the prophet believed at one time that he was suffering from a spell of bewitchment cast by a man whose daughters tied the spell into a cord with 11 knots and hid the cord in a well. Muhammad fell seriously ill. God sent to him two surahs—verses of the Koran—about sorcery—and also sent the archangel Gabriel to tell Muhammad how to use the surahs and where to find the magical cord. Muhammad had the cord brought to him. He recited the 11 verses of the two surahs over the cord, and as he spoke each line, one knot became untied. When all 11 knots were undone, the spell was broken and Muhammad recovered.
- Ashley, Leonard R. N. The Amazing World of Superstition, Prophecy, Luck, Magic & Witchcraft. New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1988.
- Budge, E. A. Wallis. Amulets and Superstitions. 1930. Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1978.