When the first wind breathed life upon planet earth, no one was there to listen. As the planet evolved, people settled in places where the wind already lived. Wind was here before any of us, and informed all of life with the sublime wisdom of the ages. Wind is the great transformer that connects everything in the universe, and we are connected similarly through the wind of our breath.
I have embraced numerous spiritual practices over 30 years, but became fascinated by the powers of the wind, and ancient practices to work with it. To uncover these ancient practices, I became a consummate tracker, and spent five years researching 32 wind gods/goddesses from around the world. My book, Winds of Spirit, was the result of this research.
At first I thought the wind was merely a perfect metaphor for life that could be easily adapted to help others navigate these turbulent times. Then I realized I had unearthed a vast body of ancient knowledge. I learned that winds are teachers, guides, and healers. They can also be stern way-showers pushing us towards the shores of personal integrity, planetary harmony, and balance. Perhaps this is why the wind has been interchangeable with the concept of Spirit.
For centuries wind spells have been part of humans’ attempts to control—or work with—nature. The wind has been used to cast blessing spells and curses. In Greenland new mothers were said to be capable of raising storms to carry their husbands home promptly to meet their new child. In Greek myth Ulysses received his winds in a leather bag from Aeolus, king of the winds.
Tying “Wind Knots”
The proper art of tying knots to control or influence weather dates back to the 13th century and is attributed to the wizards of northern Norway, the witches of Shetland (off the north coast of Scotland), and the Isle of Man (between England and Ireland).[i] The witches or magicians gathered air from mountaintops, trapping varying intensities into the knots tied in rope or string. Sailors purchased the magical knots and, during an expedition, they would untie a single knot to call up a gentle breeze, two knots for a half gale, and three to summon a storm.
The following exercise is best performed on a beach or atop a mountain, although it can be done almost anywhere outside as long as a breeze is blowing. You can work in a group, but each person’s knots should be hidden from others so you can focus intently on your own knots.
There is an unspoken law of attraction that states that for our prayers to be answered, we should offer them up to the wind in a sincere manner. The same goes for your wind knots. In olden days knot makers would protect their sacred knots by covering them with their hands.
Tools Needed: A piece of rope or cord, and winds of varying intensity. You will need to mark one end of your rope with a colored string, paint, or marker, so as to differentiate between each knot.
Step One: Opening ceremony. Find a comfortable place to sit, such as a rock or tree stump. Begin by tuning in to the forces of nature. Inhale a deep breath of wind. Feel it fill your lungs and expand into your belly. As you exhale, remind yourself that your breath is capable of reaching the other side of the world in a matter of days. We are all connected through our breath, the wind.
Begin your knot ceremony with a prayer, thanking all the people who have contributed to your knot, all the knot makers who have come before you, the plants that have offered themselves to the rope, and the rivers, streams, rocks, trees, fire, and winds that are older than caves. Ask that each knot be tied at the perfect moment. Ask for guidance to remind you to release the knots at the proper divine moment, and only for a good purpose.
Step Two: Tying the first knot. Begin by tying an overhand knot. Take your piece of rope, form a loop, and pass the other end through the hole. Repeat the following words: “I call forth the power of the wind to be placed into this knot for safekeeping.” Like a surfer, wait for the perfect wave. When the energy of the breeze feels right, finish the first knot by securing it firmly, but not so tight that it can’t be untied when needed.
Step Three: Tying the second knot. Continue your connected breathing. Prepare the second knot, and wait for a second, stronger breeze. Repeat Step Two.
Step Four: Tying the third knot. Repeat a third time, this time waiting for an additional wind to blow.
Step Five: Give thanks. Once you have completed your three knots, thank the ancestors for showing you the ways of this ancient wind practice, and the wind for its gifts. End by saying, “These powerful knots have been worth making.”
Step Six: Storing your knots. The power of the coiled knot is proportional to the strength of the wind that you placed inside with your intention and prayers. Coil the wind knot counterclockwise, and store it in a safe place. Draw upon the power of the knot whenever you need to regulate the intensity of wind in your life. To release the wind, simply uncoil the rope. Untie one knot if you need to get your energy moving forward, untie two when you need a strong push, and release the last one when you are ready for a complete upheaval.
One wind worker experienced the thrill of untying her second knot prior to taking a licensing exam. Her first knot provided support for a family trip. After unleashing the power of her second knot, she finished her exam in record time and was awarded a state license. Since the first two wind knots had produced the desired results, she decided to loosen the third knot, hoping to eliminate an unhealthy habit. However, at the mere mention of the third knot, other aspects of her life quickly unraveled, catching her by surprise. She quickly retreated from untying the third knot and placed the wind knots back on her altar for safekeeping.
One time I untied the third knot, and within days, I lost my job, which compelled me to move several states away. In retrospect, I see that this disruptive event was divinely orchestrated. Nature has its own sense of timing and consciousness. Of their own accord, winds blow whenever, and wherever they choose.
As you become proficient at knot making, you will learn how to use wind knots to harness your thoughts, emotions, and affect physical objects. Your knots will become sacred containers of stored energy.
As we continue to awaken to our own internal compasses, we can establish a more harmonic relationship to nature’s rhythmic cycles. During the Vernal Equinox, spring in the North, we can attune to these shifting winds by enlivening our dormant seeds and prepare them for planting. (In the Southern Hemisphere the pattern is reversed).
This spring, move consciously toward ancient wind-magic practices that strengthen your connection to the world that surrounds you. No intermediaries are required to share your message or interpret the response from spirit. With practice you can remember to navigate life and fill your sails with the wind.
- James George Frazer, “The Magical Control of the Wind,” in The Golden Bough. New York: Macmillan; 1922, 80.