Spells aren’t just recipes, they’re weird little performances designed to communicate your intentions through metaphor. And I think that’s why some of the best (and most reliable / time-tested) spells are relatively basic and use simple, direct metaphors to convey their purpose.
Burning desires, planting seeds for the future, washing away negative energy -these are all metaphors that work very well in magical ritual. They’re direct, meaning they convey a specific intent, easily understood through symbolism. They’re self-explanatory; easy to understand and, you hope, easy to convey to your spirit team as well. And they’re efficient, not requiring a lot of materials, or time, to be effective.
In the energetically fraught world we live in, every mage should know a handful of important spells, just in case, including rituals for personal and home protection, energetic cleansings, road openers, jinx breakers, and so on. And a good, reliable cord-cutting ritual is definitely on my list of essential bits of magic that everyone should know.
We all get ourselves into situations that aren’t healthy, from time to time, and it’s really important to be able to shake them off and get back on the path to fulfillment. Many times it’s a job you hate but rely on, or a toxic, but co-dependent, relationship that needs to be cut loose. Sometimes you know that you need to let something go but it’s still hard to extricate yourself -because you can’t let it go or it can’t let you go, either way- and this is precisely why a cord-cutting is essential tech.
The idea is simple: energetic cords connect us to the various elements which are currently present in our personal story, through the field (think, “The Force”), and we can sever these ties (when they become unhealthy) by cutting or burning through a proxy cord -some kind of a visual metaphor for this connection like string or twine, etc…
There it is, that’s the ritual; but, of course, the devilry is in the details here and the success of your working will largely depend on how you select your targets, magical links, and so on. So, quickly, let’s run through everything you’ll need to consider to perform a successful cord-cutting ritual.
- Candle (white / black)
- Magical link / target
- Statement of intent
- Twine, string, etc
- Hammer and nail, hole punch, etc (to create a hole in the target for the “cord”)
- Glass of wine
- Bowl of water with a cut flower floating in it
- Plate with a slice of bread covered in honey and 3 hardboiled eggs
Timing is always one of the most important factors in any magical working. Contrary to much of popular discourse about magic; the effectiveness of a spell doesn’t come down to the power of your personal will alone. I would agree that focusing will is important but too much importance is attributed to the so-called “power” of that will on it’s own.
The reality is that timing is as important to magical success as the focusing of will; primarily because certain things are naturally more likely to occur at certain times, or at least the energy of any given moment is more or less aligned with certain types of activities. By correctly identifying the appropriate time and aligning your activities with the energy of the moment, you vastly increase the likelihood of success in any related workings.
The cycles of time on Earth were ruled by the Moon long before the solar calendar was invented and the Moon is the closest celestial body to the Earth. Thus the first, and in many ways most fundamental, cycle of magical timing is the waxing and waning of the Moon.
When she is waxing (gaining light), she is generative, creative, productive: and generally better suited for producing, growing, yielding -manifesting the outcomes we want. Harvests take place under full moons and they are associated with fullness, completion, and culmination.
When she is waning (diminishing in light), she is purgative, withdrawn, and internalized: best suited for releasing, shedding, and preparations for the future. Seeds are sown prior to the New Moon, which is associated with the menstrual cycle, death and rebirth, intuition, and investment (sowing rather than reaping).
For the purposes of a cord-cutting, performing your ritual in the waning phase of the Moon is ideal, even getting as close as you can to the New Moon while still remaining in the waning phase.
Beyond the Moon’s phase, the placement of the Moon within certain signs and between certain degrees also affects her disposition. This describes the lunar mansion system, of which there are actually several but the one typically used in the Western esoteric system (and detailed within the Picatrix and Agrippa’s “Three Books”) is the tropical lunar mansion system. Each lunar day (of the 28 days in the lunar month) is defined by the Moon’s passage through an almost 13 degree arc of the sky (called a lunar mansion), which also places the Moon in a particular zodiacal sign. The Moon takes on unique properties and powers while in each mansion with certain days being generative and benefic and others destructive and malefic.
Performing a cord-cutting ritual in both the waning phase of the Moon, and also in a mansion which is purgative or destructive, aligns your intention with the natural energies of the cosmos which support your desired outcome.
Lunar mansions which can be used for this purpose include the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd lunar mansions, but each will do so in a very different manner and it’s necessary to research the basic nature of each mansion to understand how that will play out in your ritual. Chris Warnock’s excellent book “Mansions of the Moon: A Lunar Zodiac For Astrology And Magic” is the definitive source for newcomers to get up to speed quickly.
Selecting A Magical Target
For the purposes of this spell, you will want to select a magical target (an object to symbolically represent the thing you want to remove from your life) that is meaningful but can also be destroyed during the ritual. If necessary, this can be a copy of a document that is otherwise used for legal purposes. It can also be something owned by a person you wish to separate from (that they will not miss) or it could be as simple as a picture of the two of you.
If you’re in a contract that you want out of, a copy of the contract with a hole punched in a corner works perfectly. If you’re having trouble letting go of bad habits or addictions (and you are truly ready to move on) the magical target could be a fresh pack of cigarettes, or an unconsumed bottle of alcohol, and so on.
Simply put, the target should be something that connects you to the scenario you’re trying to escape that, ideally, elicits a strong emotional response from you (good or bad).
When Not To Do A Cord-Cutting
Handy as this ritual is, cord-cuttings are not suitable for every situation, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, in this context, cord-cuttings are intended to be permanent and are not suitable for anything which you might regret ending completely. This is a one-way spell.
Secondly, there are simply situations for which the metaphor of a cord-cutting does not apply; family, for example, are blood relations and these relationships are part of your fate and karma and, ultimately, cannot be escaped. Some of us have better relationships with our families than others and so I understand how unfair that may seem, depending on your situation. Extreme examples where abuse has been involved, in particular, may seem ideal candidates for cord-cuttings of this sort but you simply cannot sever family ties. It is part of your story to heal familial wounds or else pass them on to your children -sorry…there is no other option. Healing doesn’t mean accepting or even engaging with directly. Victims of abuse absolutely should avoid their abusers physically but energetically there is deep and monumental work that must be done to achieve the inner peace that you want.
Likewise you can’t use a cord-cutting to remove anything biologically or physiologically true about yourself (gender, physical characteristics, etc) and you can’t remove a lack of something (“I’m not good enough for X”). You can’t run from these realities; you need to heal these parts of you, not try to escape them (because you cannot). Issues like this are best to work through with a shamanic energy healer from a place of self-love and acceptance, not rejection.
It’s worth mentioning that the cord-cutting spell I’m describing shares a name, but nothing else, in common with a shamanic healing technique which is perfect for working with deep emotional wounding like situations involving abuse. Their similar names are unfortunately confusing but the two practices are for very different purposes. For the sake of this discussion though, I am referring to a magical spell to remove a relationship from your life completely.
When it comes to the actual cord-cutting part of the ritual, there’s not much involved, but there’s a bit of work to be done first, calling in spiritual support and creating the opportunity to get yourself into the right, focused state of mind..
Build yourself a working altar for this ritual with a white or black candle, the object which represents the thing you want to cut loose, with your “cord” (string, twine, whatever…) attached at a corner, and your various offerings to the Moon (eggs, bread, water, wine, etc). Light some myrrh incense, if you can find it, otherwise frankincense will suffice.
Begin with a brief meditation, a few minutes of counting breaths while you visualize sitting on a wooden bench at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. It's a dark night with only a sliver of a waning Moon and the only sound you hear is crickets. No traffic passes on these roads. Picture clouds moving quickly over the crescent Moon; her bright outline phasing in and out of focus as they pass. The hypnotic rhythm synchs to your breathing and lulls you into a tranquil but lucid state. When you're ready, picture yourself lighting a single black candle and placing it at the corner of the crossroads in front of you, and beside it, a plate with three hardboiled eggs and a thick slice of bread covered in honey, a bowl of water, and a goblet of wine...
Take a moment to light the candle on your actual altar, in the room where you are performing the ritual. Take your incense (stick, bowl, etc) and face the east, making an equilateral cross (a plus sign) while you invoke its spirit:
Eurus and Cocytus, wind and river of the East, attend me at the break of dawn.
Turn to the South, illustrating a circle with the incense around you as you do. When facing due South, invoke its spirit:
Notos and Phelegeton, wind and river of the South, attend me at the zenith of the Sun.
Turn to the West now, illustrating the circle the same way as before and, when facing due West, invoke its spirit:
Zephyrus and Styx, wind and river of the West, attend me as the Sun sets.
Then turn to the North, illustrating the circle, and invoke it’s spirit:
Boreas and Acheron, wind and river of the North, attend me in the dead of night.
Complete the circle and come to face the East again, raising your hands to the sky above you, then lowering them to the earth below, then expanding your arms wide from your center until they are outstretched on the sides.
Hekate Ourania above, Hekate Chthonia below, Hekate Panopea within and without.
At this point your magical circle has been cast and the four directions invoked, along with the sky and the underworld, through the medium of Hekate as the greater connector -the void between all things.
In the next part of this ritual you will invoke Hekate using the “Prayer To Selene For Any Spell” from the PGM (Greek Magical Papyri) which is the most complete and versatile invocation for the lunar goddess I have been able to find.
Before beginning the invocation, first attach your “cord” (string, twine, etc) to your magical target (punch a hole in it for the cord to pass through if necessary) and then tie the other end around your wrist snugly. Then proceed with reciting this invocation:
Come to me, O beloved mistress, Three-facedPrayer To Selene For Any Spell – PGM IV.2785-2890
Selene; kindly hear my sacred chants;
Night’s ornament, young, bringing light to mortals,
O child of morn who ride upon fierce bulls,
O queen who drive your car on equal course
With Helios, who with the triple forms
Of triple Graces dance in revel with
The stars. You’re Justice and the Moira’s threads:
Klotho and Lachesis and Atropos
Three-headed, you’re Persephone, Megaira,
Allekto, many-formed, who arm your hands
With dreaded, murky lamps, who shake your locks
Of fearful serpents on your brow, who sound
The roar of bulls out from your mouths, whose womb
Is decked out with the scales of creeping things,
With pois’nous rows of serpents down the back,
Bound down your backs with horrifying chains
Night-Crier, bull-faced, loving solitude,
Bull-headed, you have eyes of bulls, the voice
Of dogs; you hide your forms in shanks of lions,
Your ankle is wolf-shaped, fierce dogs are dear
To you, wherefore they call you Hekate,
Many-named, Mene, cleaving air just like
Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone,
Shooter of deer, night shining, triple-sounding,
Triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene
Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked,
And goddess of the triple ways, who hold
Untiring flaming fire in triple baskets,
And you who oft frequent the triple way
And rule the triple decades, unto me
Who’m calling you be gracious and with kindness
Give heed, you who protect the spacious world
At night, before whom daimons quake in fear
And gods immortal tremble, goddess who
Exalt men, you of many names, who bear
Fair offspring, bull-eyed, horned, mother of gods
And men, and Nature, Mother of all things,
For you frequent Olympos, and the broad
And boundless chasm you traverse. Beginning
And end are you, and you alone rule all.
For all things are from you, and in you do
All things, Eternal one, come to their end.
As everlasting band around your temples
You wear great Kronos’ chains, unbreakable
And unremovable, and you hold in
Your hands a golden scepter. Letters ‘round
Your scepter Kronos wrote himself and gave
To you to wear that all things stay steadfast:
Subduer and subdued, mankind’s subduer,
And force-subduer; Chaos, too, you rule.
Hail, goddess, and attend your epithets,
I burn for you this spice, O child of Zeus,
Dart-shooter, heav’nly one, goddess of harbors,
Who roam the mountains, goddess of crossroads,
O nether and nocturnal, and infernal,
Goddess of dark, quiet and frightful one,
O you who have your meal amid the graves,
Night, Darkness, broad Chaos: Necessity
Hard to escape are you; you’re Moira and
Erinys, torment, Justice and Destroyer,
And you keep Kerberos in chains, with scales
Of serpents are you dark, O you with hair
Of serpents, serpent-girded, who drink blood,
Who bring death and destruction, and who feast
On hearts, flesh eater, who devour those dead
Untimely, and you who make grief resound
And spread madness, come to my sacrifices,
And now for me do you fulfill this matter.
This is the appropriate point to state your intention in the form of a prayer to Hekate. Something to the effect of:
Hekate, Goddess of the many-faced moon, guardian of the crossroads, great connector, you who exist in between all things, binder and breaker of chains, I call upon you to end [the thing that you wish to let go of], to sever our connection, to cut this cord that binds [this thing] to me, and set me free of it once more.
As you say “cut this cord that binds [this thing] to me,” hold the target in one hand, with the cord tied to the other, and stretch your hands apart, pulling the cord tight between them -illustrating the cord and the target clearly.
Then, as you complete your petition, hold the cord (attached at one end to your magical target and at the other to your wrist) over the candle flame so that it burns through the cord and severs the connection to your magical target as you finish and say “So mote it be.”
Feel the energetic connection release and drain away from you and give this a few moments to settle into your awareness fully. When you feel like you have adequately released the energy from this connection proceed to the closing by reciting:
I thank you Hekate for your presence and blessing.
I give honor and gratitude to all your many forms.
I give honor and gratitude to the sky above and the earth below.
I give honor and gratitude to the four winds and rivers.
And in your name set forth these things into motion.
Khaire (kai-ray). Khaire. Khaire
The ritual is concluded; blow out the candle and exit the circle, leaving your offerings for a while. When you do clean up the offerings later, dispose of them, and the magical target, either burn them in a fire, or dispose of them in a natural setting or by leaving them at a crossroads. If the magical target is non-biodegradable, dispose of it in the trash but with the same level of intention (and maybe throw the trash in the dumpster for good measure).
Working In The Mundane As Well As The Magical
Whenever you work a bit of magic, you should also look for ways to take mundane steps towards your goal as well. This has the effect of creating momentum for your magic and embodying it in the physical world. There must be physical / tangible means for your spell to manifest and putting in the mundane work helps to open potential pathways for that to take place.
When it comes to cord cuttings, you could of course attempt to break the ties naturally but that sort of defeats the purpose of the spell. Instead, think about how you can take quiet (invisible) but meaningful steps towards your independence while the magic is starting to work.
If you’re in a relationship that you’re trying to end (peacefully), then spend more time by yourself and start establishing routines of activity that do not include the other person. Start preparing for your eventual exit as unobtrusively as possible.
If you’re in a job that you don’t want any longer (and can’t simply leave), then start putting together your resume, if you haven’t already; or sending it to recruiters, etc. if your resume is already prepared. Begin the process of taking your next steps as if the obstacle in your way has already started to dissolve.
Putting It All Together
There are times in your life that ending a relationship, quitting a job, etc. -breaking ties with some aspect of your life- is not simple or straightforward and you can’t see a way to extract yourself without doing more damage than you can bear. After such a scenario has played out, it’s definitely a good idea to spend some time considering how you allowed yourself to get into such a situation in the first place; but while you’re in this unfortunate situation it doesn’t really matter and you should just focus on getting free of it.
When you feel stuck in a bad situation it’s time for a cord-cutting. Following the steps I outlined in this article (with focus and intention) will eliminate the problem but you will, of course, still have to deal with the karma and consequences from the situation. The cord-cutting ritual is equivalent to bailing out of a plane -you eject from the burning wreckage but you still land somewhere inconvenient and have to make your way back to your normal life.
Still, sometimes this is exactly what you need, so when you realize you need to cut ties with some part of your life, don’t waste any time. Find a suitable magical target (I used a client’s business card when ending an abusive working relationship, for example), a suitable time (under a waning Moon, perhaps during a particular lunar mansion, etc), and be confident that you’re making the right choice. The ritual will simply fail if you aren’t fully convinced these ties need to be broken.
When you’re prepared, work your ritual like you mean it. Allow your desire to be free from the scenario to become overwhelming. Let it burn within you with purpose (not anger) and focus your will on it completely during the ritual.
When you sever the cord, release any and all emotions you feel towards the magical target completely, embodying the truth that the ritual is successful first with your attitude and awareness and, in small ways, your actions -and the rest of reality will quickly follow suit.