Wind knots are definitely documented as a practice in traditional magic. In Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore, author Melusine Draco states:
“Beneficent witches... were often called upon to provide a weather spell in the form of a knotted string. The following was recorded c1350 in the Polychronicon by Ranulph Higden: ‘[In the Isle of Man] witchcraft is exercised much, for women there be wont to sell wind to the shipmen coming to that country, as included under three knots of thread, so that they will unloose the knots like as they will have the wind to blow.’”In Forbidden Rites author Jeannette Ellis states: “There are legends of Witches selling three knots in a rope or a lock of their hair to sailors, undo one for a breeze, undo two for good wind but three would cause a gale.”
The idea of tying knots in rope, string or hair as a spell is not exclusive to weather magic. Knot spells can be cast for pretty much anything, usually by tying nine knots in a cord while saying something along the lines of: “By the knot of one, this spell is begun. By the knot of two, my spell comes true. By the knot of three, so mote it be. By the knot of four, power I store. By the knot of five, my magic is alive. By the knot of six, this spell I fix. By the knot of seven, this spell I leaven. By the knot of eight, if it is fate. By the knot of nine, what I wish is mine!” That example comes from The Green Wiccan Year, but you can find variations easily online and in many spell books.
The difference is that with the nine-knot spell you are tying a purpose into the cord and would not normally undo the knots unless the spell was truly over and done with, but wind knots are created with the intention of eventually undoing them to summon, or perhaps release, the wind.
Wind magic features in the Homeric poem The Odyssey, although it is described as a wind bag rather than a wind knot. As part of his epic journey home from the Trojan Wars, Odysseus and his crew stay with Aeolus, the master of the winds. He gives Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds except the west wind, to help them have a safe return home. However, the sailors opened the bag while Odysseus slept, thinking it held gold. All the winds flew out, resulting in a storm that drove the ship back, just as their home country came into sight. That is a lesson to always be cautious when using any magic.
Although I can’t find the traditional wording witches used in the past to create wind knots I would suggest saying the following while tying three knots into a piece of ship’s rope: “I ask the blessing of Aeolus, Ruler of the Winds, to harness into this cord the power of the storm: In the knot of one, a breeze begun; In the knot of two, good winds and true; In the knot of three, a gale to see.”
David, I hope that helps answer your question. If you try it out, be careful to only summon a gentle breeze or useful wind, not a destructive storm!
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