Cord cutting has become an uber popular topic on TikTok and Instagram but what exactly is it?!
In this article, we’re going to explore what cord cutting is and how to practice it, as well as how to know when cord cutting is called for – or not.
What is Cord Cutting?
Cord cutting is the spiritual process of removing the bonds between yourself and other people or situations, which may be draining your energy.
The idea here is that we have energetic “cords” that tether us to certain people, situations, places, or beliefs. In some cases, these cords are our connection to the world – we have cords that tether us in our families or romantic relationships, to our hometown, or places we’ve been.
But in other cases, having these cords lingering in your energy field is a drain. Perhaps you still feel tied to someone from your past or to a place where you suffered trauma.
Or perhaps you’re finding it nearly impossible to shake a limiting belief that’s holding you back from manifesting more money, the ideal partner, or general happiness.
Cords like that need to be cut so that you can move on with your life and call your energy, motivation, and focus back into yourself. In a way, cutting energetic cords is a form of self-care, tending to the parts of yourself that are connected to others and releasing what’s no longer serving.
You’ve probably heard someone say they need to cut ties with a person or situation; cord cutting is essentially about cutting energetic ties. Cord cutting is primarily an energetic process, but it’s often done as part of a more formal ritual or spell.
Wondering if YOU have any cords, positive or negative? Odds are you have some of each. We develop cords like this just by moving through the world and experiencing life.
We don’t even necessarily have to cut cords to all past relationships or places, as sometimes those cords continue to serve us through nostalgia, good memories, or as reminders of where we’ve been and where we are headed.
How to Cut Energetic Cords
Practically, though, what does your favorite WitchToker mean when they talk about cutting cords?!
I know, this is one of those super jargon-y, occult-y terms that sounds dramatic and mysterious but isn’t always defined very well.
If you’ve been here for a while, then you know I’m all about bringing magick into the light of day where we can simplify it and make these incredible tools actually approachable – so let’s do it!
As I said, cord cutting is first and foremost an energetic process. You never need tools like crystals, candles, herbs, tarot cards, etc, in order to cast spells and do magick.
All you truly need is your mind, body, and intuition, the tools you always have with you and inside of you.
An energetic cord cutting might be as simple as taking a few grounding breaths, moving into a deep meditation, and visualizing yourself cutting the energy cords that tie you to a particular person, place, or situation.
This can be an incredibly potent and powerful way to sever those unhealthy bonds.
But, in some cases, it might not feel like quite enough. If the ties that bind you are particularly tight or deep, or if you feel like you keep coming back to the same patterns even after a visualization like that, it might be time to channel your magick with a few tools.
In cases like this, tools can help you harness and amplify the power that already exists within you.
One simple cord cutting ritual to try is just literally cutting a cord. Get a piece of rope or string and cut it with scissors. You could tie the string around your wrist and cut it off, (being careful not to cut yourself, obviously).
You could lay the string in a circle around you while you sit on the floor and cut it. Or you could even just fold it over in your hand and cut it in half, whatever feels most meaningful and ceremonial to you.
Another popular way to practice cord cutting rituals, and that I would employ especially for the most important or deeply rooted situations, is a cord cutting candle ritual.
This is where you tie a piece of string around two small candles, (typically chime size candles), light the candles and allow them to burn down so that they burn through the string on either side of them.
This is a visually dramatic way to do a cord cutting that certainly looks amazing on TikTok, but it’s not just pomp and circumstance – this is truly a very powerful spell for releasing and cutting emotional ties with that which is keeping you from being in alignment.
When to Cut Cords (or Not)
So how do you know if a cord cutting is needed or not? I would actually err on the side of not, most of the time.
If TikTok is to be believed, you might think all witches are running around cutting cords every week, but this is actually a pretty serious and advanced type of magick.
I’m not one to fear-monger around magick and I really don’t believe you can make a lot of mistakes when you trust your intuition but…
With that said, cord cutting is not a ritual to be done lightly. No, it’s not going to dramatically erase your memories of that person or bring harm to them or anything like that.
But it is likely to significantly change your relationship with them or with your memories of them, so you should be sure that’s what you want before you perform a cord cutting.
Here’s a few situations to consider:
- Dated someone for a few months and it either fizzled out or ended amicably?
- Left your hometown and have nostalgic memories of being there but no desire to return?
- Worked through a limiting belief with your coach or therapist and feeling pretty good about it?
These are situations when a cord cutting is probably not necessary and, in fact, might be major overkill.
On the other hand…
- Ended a relationship that was intense, traumatic, or triggering, regardless of how long it lasted?
- Moved away from a place where you experienced a lot of grief or loss and keep visiting there in your dreams?
- Struggling to release a limiting belief about your body, money, love, or worthiness that is keeping you from truly feeling that you can be happy?
These deeper issues and situations are when a cord cutting may be called for, though I still encourage you to really check in with your intuition about what kind of ritual is needed first.
Cord cuttings do not have to be a scary thing, but they do have a certain air of finality about them and they’re best used with deeply rooted beliefs and experiences.
With that in mind, depending on how deep a wound or belief runs for you, there are definitely also situations when a cord cutting is not enough!
You may want to do a series of cord cuttings over a few days, weeks, or months, or combine a cord cutting with traditional therapy or another healing modality – or perhaps a restraining order, if your safety is in question.
Candle Cord Cutting Ritual for Clearing Past Relationships
Probably the most popular type of cord cutting candle ceremony is for cutting cords to toxic relationships, especially after a difficult breakup.
A cord cutting can be really helpful in moving forward and reclaiming your self-love and worthiness.
For this ritual, you will need:
- Two black candles (again, chime candles and it can also be substituted with white)
- Fire safe container, dish or plate
- Candle holders that fit on the dish or plate
- Picture of your ex (or a piece of paper with their name written on it)
- Piece of string
- Smoke cleansing bundle, cleansing spray or a bell
- Salt (optional)
Sit in a comfortable position at a table or on the floor. Cleanse your space with your preferred method, such as burning a bundle of common sage, spritzing essential oils, or ringing a bell.
You could also sprinkle salt around you in a protective circle or take an Epsom salt bath before and/or after your ritual to clear and cleanse your own energy.
Place the photo of your ex on the dish or plate. Place the candle holders a few inches apart on top of the photo and place the candles in the holders.
Tie the string around the two candles around their midpoint, tight enough so it stays up but not so tight that it pulls the candles off center.
In magick, we often work with the idea of transference, sympathy, or correspondence. These are very fancy terms that just mean that the tools you use in your spell represent people, places, or things.
In this case, the two candles represent you and your ex and the string represents the energetic cords that bind you together.
Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Relax your shoulders and drop into your body. You might place your hands over your heart or rest them in your lap. Close your eyes and imagine a warm, comforting darkness all around you.
Slowly, imagine that a shape comes into focus in front of you and it slowly becomes a clear image of your former partner.
Begin to imagine that you see a cord, (or multiple cords – allow the visualization to guide you), that connects the two of you. Notice where these cords are located, (such as to the heart, hands, head, etc.)
Sit here with this visualization as long as you feel called to, becoming familiar with the cords that tie the two of you together. Allow whatever emotions this brings up to flow through you without judgment.
When you are ready, open your eyes and light both of the candles. Chime candles typically take 2-2.5 hours to burn down completely.
If you’ve tied the string right in the center, you can expect it to take about an hour for the flame to burn all the way down to the string itself and to energetically cut the cords between you.
There will be some flames and sparks as the candles burn through the string so watch them carefully and have water and something to extinguish the candles with on hand at all times.
Ideally, you will want to allow the candles to fully burn down, even after the cord has been burned.
Also, if you need to leave or step away from the candles before they have burned completely, extinguish them. Never leave candles burning unattended, especially when burning string or paper in a ritual.
It’s always more important to practice fire safety than to perform a spell exactly how a book or an article online told you to!
While you wait for the candles to burn down, return to your visualization but with your eyes open this time, gazing into the candle flame, (this is called scrying and is great for clearing your mind and connecting with your intuition).
Imagine the cords between you and your ex slowly being cut, dissolved, or burned away. You might also want to journal on why you are doing this cord cutting, what toxic habits or forms of relating you wish to release, and anything else that comes up for you during this potentially emotional ritual.
When the candles are fully burned down or have been extinguished, dispose of the wax, burned string, and photograph in a garbage can outside of your house – and move into the new year feeling fresh and free from the negative energy of your past relationship!
You can also absolutely modify this ritual for any form of cord cutting, not just romantic breakups; just replace the photograph and visualization with something to represent the person, place, or idea that you are releasing from your life.