Visual Journal 4: The Power of Prayer (Oh, no, not that old chestnut) and a Walk along a Herakleotikon Hamma


Reef Knot 18 May 2016

Another image for my Visual Journal

“Wounds heal more quickly when bound with a Hercules Knot.” (Pliny)

The knot on the left is a Reef Knot.  An image of a knot came to me directly after a prayer I made with a very specific target. Actually, the image came to me after I’d made the same prayer three days in succession. I only noticed this image after the third prayer and then realised it had also been presented to me after the first and second prayers but that I had been blind to the first two events.

Strange. And even more puzzling, the image bore no direct relation that I could perceive to the subject and object of my prayers; and yet, presented to me three times, immediately after each prayer, it was an image – vision, if you like – of which I was clearly meant to take especial note. And so I had a good look at it and identified it as a Reef Knot.

I’m no knot expert. The Granny and the Reef are the only two knots I know how to tie. Yet if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I have long had a preoccupation with knots from the physical to the metaphysical, the metaphoric, the symbolic and the mathematical and quantum and everything in between I’ve not mentioned. So I set off on a walk along this Reef Knot to see where it might lead.

I’m going to have to try to write what happened on this walk without going into specifics. Let’s say (and I apologise in advance for inflicting this pun on you) I have had to deal with, for quite some time,  a knotty problem. And as fast as I’ve unravelled the knots, it’s snarled up again. This most recent time – in desperation – I thought I’d pray for this snarled-up mess – that it be surrounded by and infused with Love. My egoistic nature resisted this strongly, but cringingly, I did it:  three times and three times was presented in exchange with the image of the knot, the Reef Knot.From research online I soon learnt that the Reef Knot is ” … an ancient [between 4,000-9,000 years] and simple binding knot used to secure a rope or line around an object.”  Well, that’s a meaningful connection, since here I am, trying to surround a snarled-up mess with Love.

The name Reef Knot dates from c1794 and originates from the reefing of a sail – which means to tie down a part of it so as to decrease its surface area where there is danger of damage and shipwreck in the face of strong winds. And in this, the Reef Knot can also be undone quickly with just a tug.  So here’s more to the meaningful connection: a knotting and unknotting to save body and soul; a knot for protection; a knot to stave off the danger of disaster and tragedy.

I was intrigued to learn – explaining its antiquity – that the Reef Knot is also known as a Hercules Knot- the Herakleotikon hamma. I was even more intrigued to read, on The … knot of Hercules … originated as a healing charm in ancient Egypt, but is best known for its 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.”

Love, protection and now healing. From Ancient Links:  (
It’s main use though is in medicine, to tie bandages. Pliny records that wounds heal faster when the bandage is protected by a Hercules knot, which, like many absurdities recorded by Pliny, is correct, and modern medicine still uses this knot to this day.

I read that the more you pull apart the sides of a Hercules Knot, the tighter the two ropes are bound together. This is likely a reason why the knot became a symbol of friendship and marriage. Remember the Friendship Ring? It’s no surprise that many friendship/engagement rings take the form of the Hercules/Reef Knot. And that the knot also took on the name: Love Knot.

I pondered all the above in respect of my snarling mess and noticed that every time I tried to undo the mess and it snarled itself up again, it actually diminished its own space, its own zone of movement. And the meaning of the image of the knot – this very particular knot – became clear to me. My snarling mess is engaged in an activity that will – if it continues on its present snarling course – eventually reduce its space to a point where it will be unable to function at all and is not at all aware that it is doing this and my acts of prayer are pulling in the opposite direction – the direction of Love, which has infinite and unending space because it is beyond space and time.

And so this symbol given to me after each one of my three prayers has presented me with an entirely different perspective on this knotty problem (ouch!) Watch out for the appearance of the Reef Knot in future artworks.

Have you had experience of this old chestnut – The Power of Prayer? I’d be interested in hearing your experiences.



About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer/Chess Enthusiast/Musician (Singer)/Gardener
This entry was posted in Art, Art Journal, Blogging, Creativity, Inspiration, spirituality, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Visual Journal 4: The Power of Prayer (Oh, no, not that old chestnut) and a Walk along a Herakleotikon Hamma

  1. Renie Szilak Burghardt says:

    Well, that is so interesting! I had no idea about prayer knots, although I do believe in the power of prayer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • AnnIsikArts says:

      Hi, Renie. I hope you’re feeling fully better from you recent illness. I like your expression ‘prayer knots’. It reminded me of the Rosary; and also, the prayer beads used by Hare Krishna devotees. … I’ve just looked up ‘Prayer Knot’ and found the ‘Prayer Rope’. I had no idea there was such a thing. So I can deepen my knowledge even further. Thanks for mentioning the ‘Prayer Knot’ Renie! I certainly got a lot in exchange for my puny prayers! 🙂


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