by Estelle Daniels
One magical art which is not widely used is that of cord magic. Cords or ribbons of various colors are braided together while concentrating upon a desired end. Then the cord is consecrated, blessed and worn.
Many magical traditions use cords of various colors to designate attainment of degrees. This varies by tradition and region.
What cord magic is used for is widely adaptable. One very basic use is for protection. A cord can be made with the intent to protect the wearer from harm by psychic or magical energies. Then when worn the cord protects the wearer. Specialized cords can be made to protect from specific types of harm as the need arises. One caution, these protective cords should only be used when needed, not casually worn day in and day out. They work well when sleeping in an unfamiliar place, or visiting somewhere the wearer is uncertain about.
Another use for cords can be to help performance on the job. Weave them with the intent that you will do your job better, be more professional, make fewer mistakes, make a good impression on others etc. then wear them under your clothes to work. You could wear them every day (taking them off after work), or maybe only on Monday, or the toughest day of your week. Eventually you will no longer need them, as you will have internalized the message.
Cord magic adapts well to helping others who may not use magic themselves. You weave the intent into the cords, and the person wears them knowing what spell you used and what the desired outcome is. You cannot give a person a cord and expect it to work without their knowledge and cooperation. The person wearing the cord must know what it is about and be a willing participant in the magical intent.
Some people use cords to invoke certain God or Goddess energies. As Deity has many aspects, you can use cords to symbolize a certain aspect of Deity, and when woven with that in mind the cord acts as a link to that Manifestation. These can also be used to invoke protection or aid from that particular God-form when worn.
A cord can be also used as a portable magical circle. Weave the cord inside a circle with the intent of reproducing that circle when worn. Then all you need to do is put the cords on, and you are in that circle. This works well when you are in a place where you cannot cast a full circle, or you need a circle but lack the time or equipment necessary. This type of cord needs to be recharged every so often to retain its potency and effectiveness.
The materials used for a cord vary. I like best the round "silk" cord (called rattail, mousetail, bugtail or other names), dyed various colors, usually available by the yard or foot at craft, yarn or fabric stores. It comes in varying widths and many colors. It is not actual silk, but dyed polyester, and it works well. It braids easily and looks nice when finished. Yarn can also be used, thicker is better as it stands up to wear, and wool is best. Some insist natural fibers work best in cords, but I have used both and find the polyester is best for ease of use, being colorfast and wears well. You can experiment and decide for yourself. Colored ribbons can also be used, found in fabric stores for trim (not the ribbon used for decorating packages.). Often these materials can be bought by the spool on sale for a good price.
When planning for a specific cord, I go and buy the materials, usually all at once. It's easier to braid if you use the same material throughout, all polyester "silk" or wool yarn or ribbons. If bought in lengths, I measure to the length desired; the standard is three yards (nine feet) per strand. Longer becomes difficult to work with, shorter makes a less adaptable cord. When I get it all home, I coat the ends with melted wax, usually by running them into the melted wax at the base of a lighted candle to seal the ends and prevent fraying. If you go in at the bottom, below the flame you can get the ends waxed and not burn the cord at all. After drying I then either start the braiding or I put them away until the time I have chosen to work on the cords.
When braiding, a tighter weave will make a shorter cord. A more elaborate weave will also probably end up shorter, starting with the same length of cord. And the more strands used and the thicker strands used, generally the shorter the finished cord will be. You can use a ring to secure the cord to, (it loops through to tie more easily with a ring) or just knot the ends together and braid, if you don't want to use any metal.
When braiding I plan enough time to finish the cord in one session. With a simple three-strand braid it can be 20 to 40 minutes. With a more complex seven or more strand braid it can take hours. As I braid I recite the reasons for this cord, perhaps making a rhyme or chant. I vary the words, using more than one rhyme or chant. I visualize the outcome desired, not how that outcome will happen but just the end desired. If making the cord for another I talk about the person and why this cord is being made and what I want it to do. I do not write down what to say, but think of it, and as the braiding progresses, the words may change. That's OK. The idea is to weave an intent into the cord, not a specific set of words or a chant. You may have "mood music" playing which matches your intent, but it's best if there are no words. You want your words to go into the spell, not someone else's.
Once finished I bless and consecrate the cord, then put it away, until it is to be used. Cords make nice repositories for portable spells and travel easily. You can wear them under your clothes, or even as a belt, and they will do what you want, and be unobtrusive. You can carry them in a purse or pocket, ready to use when needed. Placed under a pillow they offer protection at night while sleeping.
Cord magic is simple and effective, and adapts well to many purposes.
© 1996, 2003 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.