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knots

The marriage-knot or knot of Hercules, a strong knot created by two intertwined ropes, originated as a healing charm in ancient Egypt, but is best known for it’s use in ancient Greece and Rome as a protective amulet, most notably as a wedding symbol, incorporated into the protective girdles worn by brides, which were ceremonially untied by the new groom. This custom is the likely origin of the phrase “tying the knot.”

According to Roman lore, the knot symbolized the legendary fertility of the God Hercules; it probably relates to the legendary Girdle of Diana captured from the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. In this, the marriage-knot was probably a representation of the virginity of the bride.

The symbolism of the knot survived well beyond its religious use, and was a very common symbol in medieval and Renaissance love tokens.

Greek girdle, 3rd cent. BCE

Related Symbols:

Hexagram

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The Witch’s knot is a common symbol in folk magic. The witch’s knot is a symbolic representation of the knot magic practiced by witches in the middle ages, and was used as a sympathetic charm against witchcraft, and usually scratched over doorways of homes and stables. One aspect of its efficacy as a protective charm lay in the ability to draw the complicated symbol in one continuous motion.

While the symbol appears to be made up of intertwined vesica pisces, it does not represent “feminine powers” as is sometimes claimed, but the inversion of those powers- the four radiating half circles symbolically reflect malefic winds. Ironically, this is a popular emblem of choice for modern witches.

Related Symbols:
Triskele

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