Category:Knot Spells

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Knot magic is a spiritual extension of the practical use of knots: just as a rope ties a ship to the dock, so may a string tie two people to one another

Tying knots dates back to prehistoric times. Archeological evidence shows that 100,000 years ago, bone needles were used for sewing, and knots are generally used to secure the thread in a sewn garment. Magical knots and ties, undertaken to create spiritual effects, are assumed to have developed later; they maintain an extensive cross-cultural history and are used on every continent in the world.

In most magical traditions, there are general formulas for the creation of magical spells. By understanding the principles used to create effective knot magic in the hoodoo tradition, you will understand why your conjure doctor is using knots in the work being done for you, and you may also seek out magical coaching from an AIRR practitioner or take one of our online hoodoo workshops in order to learn how to create your own custom knot spells.


Hoodoo Knot Magic Principles

A conjure worker's altar with a pair of red candles to symbolize two people who are being tied and knotted together for the rest of their lives; in the background are two honey jar spells and a helper candle
A knotted and tied money mojo prepared with a Chinese cash coin, ready for dedication on a money altar
A black cloth doll baby of an enemy that has been tied, bound, knotted, buried alive, dug up, and burned; the enemy's photo has been glued on the doll to personalize it
A knotted red bendel or protection bracelet used to ward off the evil eye
A binding spell made by tying, knotting, and piercing a male black wax figural candle and completely encircling it with the whole shed skin of a large python snake; in the background is a vinegar jar spell with a second black candle and a bottle of Florida Water

Two major magical principles form the basis of most traditional hoodoo knot spells:

Knots Tie Spirits

The first hoodoo knot principle is that the spirits of entities (be they malevolent, benevolent, living, or dead) can be captured by saying the entity’s ineffable name as a knot is tightened, capturing (part of) the spirit. This functions as a spirit trap.

Capturing even a portion of the spirit puts that entity under your control. Once the spirit has been caught or captured the hoodoo practitioner can work with it for a wide variety of magical goals, and may include it in love spells, justice spells, cursing spells, and even money-drawing spells.

The Measure is a Personal Concern

The second principle of hoodoo knot magic is the sympathetic use of an exact measure of the person to be tied. This may be the overall height of the person or a body part to be affected, such as the genitals or feet.

Traditionally this measure is the length of the string that will be knotted. It may be taken on the string itself or gotten by conventional measurement and transferred to the string; in either case it forms a link to the person After the string is cut to the appropriate body measure, the knots are tied.

A less common way to take a measure is to use two knots as incremental markers on a longer string. The knots are separated by the measure and the knot-free loose ends of the string can be used to bind together large objects, such as vigil candles or dolls.

Hoodoo Knot Magic Techniques

The Type of Thread or String

Knots can be tied in thread, embroidery floss, pearl cotton, string, twine, or ribbon. When using thread or string to wrap up a spell, often the knots are only made at the end of the binding, to secure the work.

The most common string is off-white kitchen twine or kite string. Coloured strings or ribbons can be coded to the usual candle-colour symbolism: red for love, green for money, et cetera.

The Number and Pattern of Knots

Nine, seven, and three are the most common number of knots. Of these, nine is used most often. Because these are all odd numbers, you cut the string to the measure, knot it once in the center, and then tie an equal number of knots on either side, alternating from left to right. However, if you are using two knots on a long string to mark the measure, you fold the string in half, place a knot in the center and then tie equally-spaced knots on either side until you reach the two marker-knots.

Knotting may also include craft techniques such as braiding or macrame. Friendship bracelets, knotted wish bracelets, and red string protection bracelets against the evil eye are forms of knot magic, and not only can mojo bags hold a knotted measure, but talismans and amulets are also secured to with stitchery and knots.

Directionality of the Knots

Most workers tie a loose overhand knot between their outstretched hands and pull both hands apart at once with equal force to tighten it. However, some feel that the direction used to tighten the knot is important.

To tie a knot "away from you" to keep evil or harm away, hold one end of the string in your left hand against your body. Grasp the opposite end of the string with your right hand and tighten the knot by pulling your right hand outward and away.

The reverse is true when you tie a knot "toward yourself" to draw in luck or safety. Your left hand clasps the string away from your body and your right hand pulls the string toward you to cinch the knot.

Dressing the Knots

The knots of the string are often anointed with bodily fluids, spiritual condition oils, perfumes, herbal tea, whiskey, or other magical liquids. They may also be smoked with incense.

Spoken Words

Appropriate prayers, petitions Psalms, and appeals to spiritual intercessors can be said as you tighten each knot, or you may call the name of the one whom you are tying and speak your command as you tie each knot. The same petition or command may be repeated over every knot or a different command may be spoken for each knot.

Deploying the Spell

Knotted string spells may be placed in specific locations. For instance, a string for love or healing may be secretly worn around the waist, against the skin; a string for fidelity may be hidden in or under the bed; a string to keep someone home, may be buried in the backyard; and a string to remove crossed conditions or unnatural illness may be burned to release negative energy.

One of the best-known knot-spells in hoodoo is the knotted measure of one's lover's genitals that is kept in a special type of mojo hand called a nation sack.

Cord Cutting

Knotted string spells are usually thought of as a way to tie, connect or bind together objects, people, or animals, but they may also be used to separate them. This type of work is often called cord-cutting.

First a knotted binding spell is created to symbolize the unwanted and extant connection between the two objects or entities. This is done whether or not the relationship involved an intentional magical binding at the outset; in other words, even if no actual binding spell was crafted at the outset of the unwanted connection, a knot spell must be created so that by unmaking it, the connection will be broken.

To undo the symbolic connection, the knots may be gently and carefully untied, with good wishes to all, but more often the binding cord is suddenly cut at the culmination of the ritual, thus immediately severing all contact between the objects or beings.

Knot Spells for All Manner of Conjure Work

It is not possible to recount all the ways knots are used in the practice of worldwide folk magic, but in African American rootwork knotting is found in spell casting for these sitiations:


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