Can you believe it? This is the end of January already. That happened really fast. We are going to talk about cord and knot magick today, which is actually an ancient method for performing magick, and I also wanted to talk about Imbolc. But first, lemme read an email:
I appreciate your podcast so much! I discovered it relatively recently and binged close to all the episodes!
After listening to your last episode about healing magick, an idea popped into my head and I’m wondering if you’ve ever heard of this or what your take on it is. Have you heard of a poppet being made for multiple people? In this case, I’m thinking of a household so they’re all related, under the same roof and it would be for one specific purpose applying to all.
I was thinking of “quilting” sections to represent the 4 people, but having it all be the same fabric and attached. Does that make sense? Any concerns with doing this?
Now, I had never heard of using poppets in this way, but that doesn’t mean this witch shouldn’t be the first. This is the kind of originality and innovation that makes witchcraft so special. I LOVE that kind of outside-the-box thinking.
As for any potential drawbacks, my only concern for daisy-chaining a spell this way across multiple people is the way that it would connect their outcomes. So it depends on the intent of the spell. If this is a healing work or an abundance work or something like that, then affecting everyone in a household isn’t probably going to be a problem.
If this was for a baneful purpose, or if the intent was something that you might only want to enact for a limited time, then having the recipients of the spell connected means that you wouldn’t be able to call off the spell individually once you were satisfied with the results. Like if one member of the household apologized and made amends but the others didn’t, you’d either have to call back the spell for everyone, or continue to let the apologetic party suffer along with the rest of them. But again, if we’re talking about a spell that’s not baneful, I think you’re probably fine. So thank you so much for that, it’s a really interesting twist.
Now, let’s get into Imbolc. Imbolc begins this year at sunset on Wednesday, February 1st and ends at sunset on Thursday, February 2nd, so I wanted to give it some time today because the next time we talk, it’ll be Imbolc. Imbolc is one of the cross-quarter sabbats on the pagan wheel of the year. It is a fire festival which marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, or Ostara.
Last year for the Imbolc episode, I talked a lot about the Maiden archetype of the Triple Goddess and how it relates to Imbolc, to this time of year, and how it can be really freeing to lean into this archetype when we are ready to embark on new adventures, or try something new, or even just to start a new chapter in our lives that we might be nervous or insecure about. Like going back to school to further our education, or starting a new career path, or moving to a new city, or whatever. And while I don’t want to retread that same ground today, I do just want to encourage you, if you maybe weren’t with me a year ago, to give that episode a listen.
The Maiden aspect of the triple goddess is one that I fear doesn’t get the same recognition or respect as her Mother and Crone aspects, but she is no less important. She is the eternal optimist, and she is the cheerleader when we’re considering trying something new. She is the one who encourages us to be brave and to expect the best, and that’s why she ties in so nicely with this time of year. We are in the doldrums of winter. In the Northern hemisphere.
We are past all the holiday madness, but we’ve still got several weeks of harsh weather before spring arrives in earnest. This is like, the slog through long nights, gray days and cold floors and frozen pipes, and so embracing the optimism of the coming spring is important. So anyway, give that episode a listen if you like.
Very briefly today, I just want to talk about some Imbolc rituals we can observe for this sabbat. The first one I want to suggest is pretty obvious. But as Imbolc is a fire festival, doing some candle magick will not go amiss. It’s up to you how much of a fuss you want to make, and if you’ve got some major magick in mind, of course, this will be an auspicious day for it. Especially if it’s the kind of spellwork that the Maiden could assist with.
It’s a wonderful day for work that seeks to plant seeds for the future. But if you don’t have something so outwardly ambitious in mind, that’s fine. Imbolc is a great time for more introspective candle work as well. A candle for self love, a candle for a loved one you’ve been worried about, a candle for a health issue that’s been nagging you. Any kind of fire or candle spell is going to be well-received on Imbolc.
Imbolc, especially in Ireland and among the Celtic pagans, marks a day of reverence for the goddess Brigid. So making a Brigid corn dolly to keep on the altar or even on the mantle or in the kitchen of your home is a great way to bring good luck and fertility into the home. If you’re not interested in literal fertility, fear not. The goddess Brigid will also bring fertility of abundance, of joy, and of good fortune. I posted a video on Instagram last January for making a simple corn dolly, and it’s the kind of thing that’s really fun to do with little witches.
It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, and you can even dye your corn husks before you begin so that you can use color correspondences in the construction of these as well. You’ve gotta soak the corn husks in hot water before you can begin working with them anyway, and so if you add food coloring to the water, it’ll dye them.
In the same vein, making a Brigid’s Cross is another activity that’s not only going to be a fun activity that you can do on your own or with a little witch, but a Brigid’s cross is nice to keep on the altar during Imbolc and also anytime you’re working with the goddess Brigid. She was the pre-Christian goddess of spring and fertility as we’ve said, but also the patron goddess of poets, of healing, and smithcraft. So when you’re working with her, or if you’re petitioning her for help in any sort of spellwork, keeping a Brigid’s cross on the altar is a nice tribute.
I don’t have any tutorials on making a Brigid’s cross, but they’re easy to find on YouTube, and I’ll make a note to look one up and link it in the episode transcript on the website, middleagedwitch.com so if you’re inclined, you can check that out.
And now, I want to talk about cord and knot magick.I want to just preface by saying that this kind of magick is dummy simple. There’s no need to overcomplicate this unless you want to, you can absolutely make some very complex spells using knot magick, I mean, consider dream catchers; they’re immensely intricate. But basic knot magick is really great work for folks who maybe don’t have the time or the energy to work a huge ritual. And it’s a great sort of starter magick for little witches.
This is some of the most ancient and elemental kind of magick that we can perform. Tying a spell into a knot, weaving a spell with thread, goes back far as we have written records. The three Fates in Greek mythology wove the destiny of every man, woman and child with thread. The first Fate held a distaff, or a spindle of thread, and she would decide the day of a person’s birth and where and to whom they would be born. When she decided it was your time, she would pass the thread on to the second Fate, who measured your thread. This determined the length and the destiny of your life. The third fate held shears, and when your time on this earth was up, she would determine the manner of your death, and clip your thread.
This kind of allegory paints a very clear picture of how powerfully threads, cords, textiles and yarn have been historically associated with our lives, with our destinies, our manifestations and our fortunes. I’ve talked in past episodes about the power of taking up needle and thread in our spellwork where we are able. If we’re making a spellbag, if we’re making a poppet, the very act of sewing those vessels ourselves instills so much strength into the work itself.
It doesn’t matter how adept we are at sewing, when we participate in the creation of that bag or that poppet, we are stitching our intention into the fabric of the spell, and it impregnates the work with power. If we’re using premade spellbags, we can use knot magick to tie the bag closed. With each knot, we can fix our intentions into the work.
Knot magick is used in countless ways in witchcraft. And sometimes it’s very simple, in fact, one of my favorite and most basic ways to help folks and especially kids who have night terrors involves knot magick. People who suffer from sleep paralysis, especially those who are hag ridden, or recently I’ve heard the term sleep paralysis demon, it’s the sensation of being held down while you’re sleeping. It’s pretty common for the victim to see an old hag or sometimes a demon sitting on top of them or pinning them down. But night hags are said to suffer from arithmomania, which is just a compulsion to count things.
And so for folks who suffer from night hags, tying just dozens of tiny knots in a string and then tying that to your bedpost is said to cause the hag to be diverted from their purpose of sitting on their victim and sucking out their very life force, because she’s going to be busy counting all those tiny knots.
But tying knots is also a great way to bind someone for practitioners who may not necessarily have access to a personal concern of the intended target, like hair, fingernails, or even a sample of their handwriting. But something you can do is tighten a knot while the person is speaking, with the intent of catching a bit of their essence, their spirit, within that knot. Now you’ve got something of them to include in your binding spell.
Wishing into a knot is a practice that’s best done on the last quarter moon. You can just take a length of string outside under the second quarter moon and just tighten your knot as you speak your wish. You can carry the string with you or wear it until it comes true, and then you can burn it.
Braiding intentions into the hair is a great way to manifest a little something something into your day. And this is another easy magickal method that’s easy to use for little witches. If your little one is having trouble with a bully, you can braid intentions of protection. If your little one has a big test, you braid intentions for a good outcome. If your little witch has trouble sleeping at night, you can braid intentions for a good night’s rest right before bed.
For us big witches (who have enough hair), we can braid intentions for a good day at work, or to make a big sale, or to find the perfect place if we’re like, apartment hunting, or whatever the case may be. Braiding intentions into the hair is a wonderful way to wear those intentions and carry them with us throughout our day.
A witch’s ladder is a length of braided string or thread or twine that’s been tied with different curios and these will vary depending on the intention of your witch’s ladder. I did a reel for making a protection witch’s ladder a couple months back, and I’ll link that in the show notes and in the transcript on the website, but you can tie all kinds of different things into your ladder.
If you’re making a ladder to invite abundance, you might want to include tiger’s eye stones, clam shells, chicken feathers, sprigs of pine or oak leaves. If you’re making a ladder for peace, you may want to tie a dove’s feather, some lilac, a cinnamon stick, a small piece of selenite, or any small bit of silver into your ladder. A witch’s ladder for success might include cloves or marigolds, cowry shells, rose quartz or agate.
You can also use different colored thread, yarn or cord for your ladder, or for any knot magick that you do for that matter, depending on your desired outcome. If you’re working knot magick for a love spell, pink or red. If you’re doing a protection knot, black or blue will be helpful. For money work, obviously green or gold. And so on.
Now as I said at the top, a witch can really get involved in this kind of magick, if he or she is so inclined. If you’re handy with knitting needles, if you can crochet, if you know how to macrame, if you are a quilter, if you are talented with a sewing machine, you can weave some very powerful and potent and long-lasting, far-reaching magick. My 18 year old still sleeps with a blanket that was made for her by her great aunt and I know that no matter how many times it goes through the wash, those intentions of love and protection hold strong.
So I hope this was helpful, I hope this gets the wheels turning and we’ll talk again next week. Please email me at email@example.com. Visit the website, middleagedwitch.com, or DM me on socials at @middleagedwitch. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.