In witchcraft one of the most misunderstood tools is the cords. What color should they be? Why do we use them? How long should they be? What should they be made of? Are there different types of cords for different rituals? I will try to explain these as best as I can. If anyone has any other information I forget please feel free to email me with it so that I can update my knowledge! firstname.lastname@example.org
The first set of cords I will talk about are for handfastings! I love creating these types of cords! I usually make them to order for the couple they are intended for. They can be ornate and elaborate. I prefer to work with a minimum of 3 feet long as it makes wrapping and tying them easier than a shorter length would be. When the couple are bound it represents the bond formed between them. It is a visual representation of their lives joining into one. My cords from our handfasting are now part of our besom and hung over our front door. The love they represent and the besom's protection from negative energy guard our house and watch over our entrance way! They should be made of natural materials. I use cotton and silk to make mine. I also suggest that if the couple followed tradition of the trial marriage (engagement period of a year and a day) and exchanged rings for that ceremony that they allow me to incorporate those into the weave as well as any charms and dangles they may wish to add. Just as much care and love should be put into the making of cords for handfasting as they intend to put into the marriage! Meaning a LOT of love!
The second set is the witch's cords or witch's girdle. These are a set of cords traditionally used to measure off the circle and are used to bind during initiations. They should each be 9 feet long and can either be red, black, or white. They are wrapped around the witch's waist and worn as a belt to charge them with the witch's energies. A loop can be tied halfway and at one end, and then the Athame is placed in one Loop and secured to the floor or ground and the other end is used to physically draw the circle.
And third is the Witch's ladder. This is a strand with beads or knots tied into it. Charms are knotted or braided with specific magical intention into the cords. One example is a string of 40 beads or a cord with 40 knots. Sometimes feathers, bones, and other items are braided into the string as symbols for a desired spell effect. The number of knots and nature of charms varies with the intended effect. They can include hair or pieces torn from clothing or bedding. I use witch's ladders primarily in healing and binding rituals. They can also be used to "bind the thirteen moons of the year", and to open the doorway to the spirit world.The cord can be made out of any material, but natural materials like hair and cotton are best. Although ladders are often created as part of a specific spell, many witches keep a personal ladder, the knots or beads are used to keep track of repetition in a spell or meditation, similar to Rosary beads.The first recorded witch ladder found was in an old house during demolition in the 1870's. The witch's ladder can be created a section at a time or all at once. Special chants are spoken during the creation process.