Knot Magic

Knot Magic

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Knot magic has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians and has been connected with witches since the Middle Ages. Knots were thought to be powerful magical weapons since they could be ritually tied to impede a person or event, or undone to release power tied up in them. A knot might be tied, for example, to prevent conception or to join two people together irrevocably.

In ancient Egypt, Isis possesses the magic knot, Tat, or "Knot of Isis." An Egyptian robe would be tied with a Tat knot at the front (made by tying together ends of the material). Regula suggests that it is a symbolic representation of the female reproductive organs, worn as a talisman for fertility or health and luck.

Rabbinical law forbade the tying of knots on the Sabbath unless they could be untied with one hand. Celtic knotwork was famous and still is as decoration.

An old folk belief was that by tying a knot in a length of red thread, one could stop a nosebleed. If a woman is having problems in childbirth, the untying of knots will ease the birth. Gypsies will knot together two diklos, or scarves, that have been used to wipe the male and female genitals after sex, believing this to bind the two lovers together for life. They will also knot a red silk ribbon with seven knots to keep a marriage together and make it last. A female Gypsy will similarly knot a red silk ribbon the same length as her lover's erect penis, and this is said to keep him faithful to her.

Olaus Magnus's work Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (1555) shows a woodcut of a sorcerer selling two sailors a knotted rope. It was said that if one of the knots was untied it would provide a gentle wind from the southwest. The second knot would loose a strong north wind. The third knot would unleash a dreadful tempest. Sir Walter Scott tells of a witch named Bessie Millie who did the same thing, selling winds to sailors, as did the witches in Finland and Lapland.