Constructing the Cord

A typical example of most decorative cords.

You would think that obtaining a magical cord would be one of the easiest tool acquisitions.  After all, dozens of stores in every town stock at least some type of rope and sewing and home decor stores sell sleek cording and tassels in just about every color imaginable.  So what’s the problem?  Very few ropes and cords that you can readily purchase in brick and mortar stores these days are made of natural fibers…or at least natural fibers you’d want to wear next to your skin or even over a robe.  The natural fibers you’re most likely to find will be scratchy sisal or maybe a more rugged hemp.  Smooth, soft ropes and cords will all be filled with nylon, rayon, and polypropylene.  Naturally, unnatural fibers are not conducive to magical work…so what are we to do?  Well, I suppose that it is unsurprising, but there are a lot of options at just about every budget and craft level.

If you are not a terribly crafty Pagan, one of the better options (and potentially one of the most budget friendly when all crafting materials are accounted for) is turning to online shopping and the world of BDSM, where certain craftspeople are very skilled and producing ropes in very skin-friendly natural fibers.  One online retailer, Madame Butterfly, handspins rare silk rope (6mm (1/4″) and 8mm (5/16″) diameters).  Butterfly’s minimum order, though is 90 feet of rope in three 30 foot hunks, at a rate of $1.50 per foot for standard rope and $1.75 for custom.  This means that one order from Butterfly is a $135 investment.  Other vendors such as Twisted Monk sell more manageable lengths.  Monk specializes in skin-friendly hemp ropes, but also offers Butterfly’s silk, bamboo, and silk/bamboo ropes in lengths as little as 10 feet (which cost $22).  Undyed ropes could be easily hand dyed yourself with very little effort.

Another option in the bondage world is cotton ropes, and that’s where things can take a turn back into standard retail.  Although cotton ropes can be found in a wide variety of sizes online, cotton clothesline braid can be found in most hardware and discount stores nationwide, even Wal-mart.  Often sold between $4 and $9 for 50-100 feet, this 3/16″ (about 5 mm) cord could easily be 3-strand braided into something a little larger that 1/2″ (about 14 mm).  And, of course, its white color could be easily dyed into anything in the rainbow.  For maybe $15 in materials, one could outfit an entire coven in cords!

If a little more effort in the crafting line is desired, there’s always trying your hand at twisting your own rope.  At that point, the world is your oyster as far as fibers go.  Silk embroidery flosses could make for a beautiful rope, for example.  Better yet, you can craft your own ropes and cords without having to get much in the way of specialty equipment.  In fact, according to the video below, all you need is a drill, a cup hook, a fishing swivel, a wire clothes hanger, a bungee cord, an S hook, and a timer.  (For the record, about 12 strands of regular embroidery floss will twist into a 4 mm cord.)

Of course, there’s no real need to be married to a twisted rope for your cord.  Cotton macramé cords (often white) can be purchased and whipped and dyed into a very attractive magical cord.  In fact, it would be very easy to incorporate various beads into a macramé cord, which could be very attractive.  It would also not be terribly time consuming to knot up 9 feet of macramé cording.

Many examples of cords braided using the Japanese kumihimo technique.

Those who have lots of time and creativity might even want to look into using the Japanese art of kumihimo to braid their magical cords.  The result of these braids can almost look like three-dimensional friendship bracelets such as elementary school children are fond of making, and–as anyone who was ever a child knows–those bracelets can be gorgeous.  All it takes is a special stand to keep all the threads organized and an awful lot of silk floss, and you’re in business.  Over the course of a week or two of quiet evenings, you could end up with a very intricate, very powerful magical cord.

Knitters and crochers also have lots of options for cord making, the easiest of which might be the knit i-cord (‘i’ being short for idiot).  However, in knitting and crocheting the magical cord, one should take care not to use a very stretchy yarn.  Unfortunately, most yarns are quite elastic.  I find this makes them unfit for most magical cord purposes.  The cords stretch so much that they constantly fall off one’s waist at the most inopportune times, you can never remove knots from them unless the knots are very loosely tied, and they’re way too elastic to use in a circle dance.  There are lots of better options out there for crafting your own cord.

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