Roots and Stuff
- Abramelin Oil or Oil of Abramelin
- "Abramelin Oil," also known as "Oil of Abramelin," is a magical oil mixture written about by "Abraham the Jew"
in the medieval grimore, Book of Abramelin. Supposedly, the mixture known as "Abramelin Oil" is one
form of the Jewish recipe for Holy Oil. (See Moses Oil.)
- In truth, there are a number of different recipes depending on who is using the oil for what purpose.
"Abramelin Oil" is used by ceremonial magicians, gnostics, Kabbalists, and some hoodooists.
- Here are two commonly known reciepes Abramelin Oil which are used by some hoodooists.
- Abramelin Oil recipe #1 contains one part myrrh essential oil, one part cassia essential oil, one part calamus
essential oil, one half part cinnamon essential oil, and seven parts olive oil.
- Abramelin Oil recipe #2 contains eight parts cinnamon essential oil, four parts myrrh essential oil, two parts
galangal essential oil, and seven parts olive oil.
- In hoodoo folk magic, Abramelin Oil is used for simple consecration of talismans, candles, mojo bags, etc.
to be used in spell work. Both olive and myrrh oils are sacred unto the LORD God. Cinnamon, however, draws
money and luck. Calamus is used to sweet control of others. Thus recipe #1 can be also be used to counteract
evil influences or control from others. Recipe #2, containing galangal (aka Low John), is used in protective work,
especially that involving court cases, contacting spirits during rituals or as an incense to sanctify the altar or magical
tools. Abramelin Oil may be used for anointing altar candles in spirit work--especially if Abramelin Incense is also
- Adam and Eve Root (Aplectrum hyemale)
- Adam and Eve flower is a species of orchid, which is also known as "putty root." The name "putty root"
comes from the thick, gluey fluid which can be removed from the crushed roots. This mucilaginous fluid was
used by early American settlers to repair broken pottery. In hoodoo, the root is used in marriage magic. Adam
and Eve Root is used by both men and women to draw a potential spouse to be a "help meet," by reciting
Genesis 2:18, "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;
but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him," and adding "Bring me one who is destined to be flesh
of my flesh and bone of my bone." This root is often as an ingredient in mojo bags by women, usually wives, to
cement their marriage relationship by reciting Genesis 2:24 over the root: "Therefore shall a man leave his father
and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (I'm guessing it could make a useful
protective charm for handling a mother-in-law who is over-possessive with her son.) Likewise, if a woman
wishes to attract a wealthy man for prospects of marriage, she can tie Adam & Eve Root, Jezebel Root,
orrisroot, dried rose buds, sweet flag, and catnip into a red flannel bag. She should dress the bag with a little
- All Saints Oil
- The formula, "All Saints Oil," is said to bring blessings and success. It is used
for petitioning the saints in heaven. It can also be used on the Feast of All Saints,
November 1. The oil includes the following botanicals: gardenia (Gardenia angusta
formerly known as Gardenia jasminoides), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia),
vetivert (Vetiveria zizanoides), patchouli (Pogostemon cablin),
mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, Cinnamomum aromaticum,
or Cinnamomum burmannii) which are mixed into a base of sweet almond and jojoba oils.
- aloe vera (Aloe vera or Aloe barbadensis)
- Aloe vera is now an item commonly sold in mainstream drug stores. A gel from the leaves of this desert plant
may be applied externally for sunburns and mild burns. It may also be applied externally to topical bruises or
- Common names include "Indian aloe," "burn aloe," "Babados aloe," "First Aid plant," and "zabila." Early
records of the use of aloe vera appear in the Ebers Papyrus in the 16th century bce. This papyrus had twelve
formulas for use externally and internally. Aloe vera was definitely a sunburn cure in Texas-Mexican folk beliefs
and may have been absorbed into the collection of African American folk medical practices in Texas.
- Many botanists agree that the aloe vera plant originated in the warm, dry climates of Africa. In the USA it is
cultivated in Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida.
- Some health stores sell aloe vera for internal consumption as a laxative, but its laxative properties are very
powerful. It can give diarhea and gas. It is probably best not to use it internally.
- alum powder (hydrated aluminum potassium sulfate)
- Alum is a naturally occurring mineral substance also called "potash alum" or hydrated aluminum
potassium sulfate. Alum powder has numerous uses.
- Alum powder is found in the spice section of many grocery stores. It is popularly used in many pickling
recipes, particularly cucumber pickles.
- About 1/8 teaspoon of alum powder put in an empty muslin tobacco-sack with a piece of brown paper
that says, "All Those Who Maliciously Gossip About Me," will stop gossip. Because of its use as a pickling
agent, a bit of alum causes the mouth to pucker--affecting speeh. Hence, this charm bag will silence gossipers
by puckering their mouths.
- Alum powder is also a home health cure for foot odor. The powder will neutralize the growth of bacteria
that causes most body odor. Alum has also been applied to small cuts to prevent infection due its astringent
qualities. A pinch of alum powder is an excellent home remedy for aphthous stomatitis, commonly
known as "canker sores," when applied to the affected area. It is also used as an ingredient in some cosmetic
recipes. Alum is also one of the mineral ingredients of Three Ingredient Bath.
- Alum powder has long been used to treat water. When added to water, small particles of pollutants present
in water tend to stick together, forming colloid particles, and sink to the bottom. The pure water can be separated
out after the heavy colloid particles get settled down at the bottom of the container.
- American sweet flag (Acorus calamus)
- American sweet flag is a wetland plant native to the northern USA and Canada The foliage has a
citrus-like spicy aromatic quality, and can be used to flavor beer. It is sometime used in mojo bags for love
which call for sweet flag or calamus.
- angelica root (Archangelica officinalis)
- This root is used in some mojo bags for protection and uncrossing. If it is
sprinkled in the four quarters of the home, it can provide powerful protection
from negative influences.
- ant bed
- Those who have breast fed know that the more gradually a woman weans her child from breast feeding,
the less likely her breasts are to become sore and engorged with milk. Often it takes about seven to ten days for a
woman's milk to dry up. Clinicians will suggest cold compresses to help with the
discomfort during this time period. It is said that
applying raw cabbage leaves, chilled in an ice box, to the breasts reduces milk production and helps ease
discomfort of engorgement. (Naturally, if someone has an allergy to cabbage or sulfa drugs, she should not
be applying cabbage leaves to her breasts.) Occasionally, during the weaning process, women are advised
to express a small amount of milk to ease the discomfort of the engorgement.
According to West Florida folk wisdom in
the 1950's, the "best" way for a woman to "dry up" her milk after her child has been weened was to go into
the backyard at high noon and express a little bit of milk over the opening of an
"ant bed." She can repeat
this action only one or two days. In theory, it should be done only once.
(Interestingly, the species of ant did not seem to be important,
but there was some disagreement among locals as to whether the ants should be black or red.) The woman
could also drink an infusion of sage tea, maybe with a little honey, as well.
- Apache Tears
- "Apache Tears" are small naturally formed droplets of obsidian or nodular obsidian (volcanic black glass)
that range in color from black to smoky brown. Such nodules are also known as "Obsidian Pearls" or
"Obsidian Drops," but throughout the USA Southwest they are known as "Apache Tears." Not surprisingly,
these nodules can be found in locations where Apache Indians lived, especially Arizona, Nevada, and New
Mexico. The San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, USA, is a famous source of Apache Tears as is the
area surrounding Apache Leap Mountain.
- The name "Apache Tear" originated from a legend relating to the Apache tribe. According to the story,
a band of seventy-five Apache warriors rode their horses off the edge of Apache Leap Mountain to their
deaths in order to avoid capture by the US Army. When news of their deaths reached other members of the
Apache tribes, the tears that were shed were turned into the obsidian Apache Tears which are found in the
surrounding area in abundance. Allegedly, this sorrowful tale took place in 1875, but historians say there is no
genuine historical basis for this story.
- Nevertheless due to the legend, Apache Tears are said to remove pain and relieve grief. They are good
luck stones and are said to bring good luck to anyone who has one. That is because the Apache have shed
enough tears already, and no more need be shed. Magically, Apache Tears serve as healing black obsidian
stones. These stones are apparently used by some hoodoo practitioners who live out in the western states of
- Apache Tear gemstones appear to be opaque by reflected light, but are actually translucent if held up to
- All obsidian is naturally occurring volcanic glass, not actually a true mineral. It can be found in places
where volcanic activity occurred, including Mexico, South America, Japan, and Afghanistan. The hot lava
forming the obsidian cooled rapidly within the earth.
- Apricot kernel oil (Prunus armeniaca)
- Apricot kernel oil is cold-pressed and refined from the dried kernels of apricots. This oil has been tradtionally
credited with moisturizing, nourishing, and revitalizing properties. It is a base oil that combines well with essential
oils and supposedly is easily absorbed by the skin. Apricot kernel oil is often recommended as a beauty treatment
for dehydrated, mature, delicate, or sensitive skin and for damaged or dry hair. Since it is used for beauty treatments,
this oil is a key ingredient in the hoodoo recipe for Cleopatra oil.
- arrowhead root (Sagittaria graminea)
- Arrowhead plant grows wild in shallow water from Eastern USA to Texas and is found in ponds,
ditches, wetlands, canals, and slow rivers. The roots were cut up and strung in a circles on a cord to draw
pain and fever out of a child during teething. Arrowhead root can also be mixed
with good luck herbs in gambling powder to reinforce the mojo. Arrowhead roots, when dried
and ground into powder, are sold as "arrowroot powder." Arrowroot powder can be
mixed with gambling powders, or fast luck powders. It can also be used to dust a lucky
Lottery tickets can be blessed with a mixture of arrowroot powder and lucky powder and the set next to a green
candle annointed with a lucky oil like Fortuna Madama. In cooking, arrowroot powder is a thickener used in place
of flour or corn starch. Hence, arrowroot powder can also act as a thickener for luck.
- asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida)
- Asafoetida, also spelled asafetida, is commonly known as "giant fennel," "stinking gum,"
and "devil's dung." The asafoetida plant has a hollow stem and roots which contains a milky
substance that is rich in organic sulfur. This flowering perennial plant, which is native to the
Middle East, grows about six feet tall.
- The gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots. It is greyish-white
when fresh, but is a dark amber color when dried.
- Raw asafoetida has a pungent, stinking smell, which is the origin of the the names
"stinking gum" and "devil's dung." It was used as spice in Roman and Indian cuisine and once
cooked in Indian ghee or oil, its odor becomes much milder and more pleasant. It is said to be
something like sautéed onion and garlic. Asafoetida must be stored in airtight containers in
order to avoid contamination of other spices. It is commonly sold as food in speciality shops
in spice bottles as a fine powder which is compounded asafoetida--containing 30% asafoetida
resin, along with rice flour, and gum arabic. Asafoetida powder is also known as "Hing."
- Asafoetida has a long history of medical use. It was believed to be good for digestion,
flatulence, asthma, bronchitis, and painful menstruation. It does have antibiotic properties which
check the growth of microbes. Thus, asafoetida has been used as a preservative in pickles and
sauces. Since asafoetida has an unpleasant smell, it has been used as a natural pesticide.
- In Maryland folk medicine, asafoetida was worn about the neck in a little bag to drive away
disease, like the cold and flu. In the practice of Jamaican Cumina, asafoetida was traditionally
applied to infants in order to prevent spirits--like malevolent "duppies"--from entering the
children and making them sick. In the African-American hoodoo tradition, asafoetida is used in
magic spells as it is believed to to protect against disease, as well as certain malign spirits--like
Boo Hags. It is sometimes employed in spells to drive way, or jinx, a specifically named individual.
- basil (Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum tenuiflorum aka Ocimum sanctum)
- The common culinary herb, basil, is a magical or sacred herb in numerous cultures. There are numerous varieties of
this plant. Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the widely used varieties. In India, tulsi or holy basil
(Ocimum tenuiflorum aka Ocimum sanctum) is associated with various religious rituals.
- In hoodoo, apparently both of the above and possibly other kinds of basil are used by practitioners in their
personal recipies. Dried basil is sometimes sprinkled on the kitchen floor and then swept up and carried out to
"drive away evil" and increase peace and happiness in the home. The green herb, basil, can also be used to draw
prosperity. Basil water, traditionally made by soaking the herb for three days, can be sprinkled around a doorstep
to bring success and money. Basil oil, particularly "sweet basil oil" (Ocimum basilicum) can be used to draw
sweet green cash to someone rubbing it on a mojo bag for prosperity or a dollar bill, particularly if the bill is
wrapped around a High John the Conqueror Root (Ipomoea jalapa). See basil oil.
- basil oil, basil essential oil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Basil essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and the flowering tops of the herb, sweet
basil. Basil essential oil is usually the 'basil oil" used by sundry magical practitioners; however, culinary basil oil can
also be used. See basil oil, culinary basil oil
- basil oil, culinary basil oil
- Culinary basil oil is used mostly in food preparation and is usually made with sweet basil
(Ocimum basilicum), but other varieties can be used. The culinary oil is made by steeping two cups tightly
packed chopped sweet basil leaves in one cup mild olive oil for seven days in the refrigerator or cool spot. Basil
essential oil is usually the 'basil oil" used by sundry magical practitioners; however, culinary basil oil can also be used
for rootwork purposes. See basil oil, basil essential oil (Ocimum basilicum)
- bat nut, bat head (Trapa bicornis)
- The seed pod of Trapa bicornis is known as the bat nut, bat head,
ling nut, ling ko, lingjiao, devil pod, goat head, bull nut, and buffalo
nut, water chestnut, singhara, or pani-fol. The seed inside the pod is
edible when cooked. In China, the edible nut is known as the ling ko or
lingjiao. In Chinese lore, the seed pod is said to resemble a bat or bat's
head. In China, the bat is a lucky animal, because the the word for
"happiness" (fu) is also the word for "bat" (fu). The ling ko or lingjiao
is considered a lucky food to eat.
- The unusual shape of the bat nut's seed pod and its rarity in the USA have
resulted some of the other colorful names, including "devil pod," "goat
head," etc. Some hoodoo practioners use it to ward off evil and is included
in mojo bags, such as "Keep Away Enemies." For protection placed above a
doorway, facing outward or hung on the wall. The bat nut or bat head is used
by some for increased psychic awareness.
- bayberry candles (Myrica cerifera or Myrica Pensylvanica)
- Southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), which is most common in peninsular Florida and on the
coast of the Southeastern USA, can be described as either a large shrub or small tree. The evergreen narrow
leaves are aromatic when crushed. Southern bayberry is also known as "wax myrtle," "Southern wax myrtle,"
"dwarf waxmyrtle," "bayberry tree," "candleberry," "waxberry" and "tallow shrub." It is adaptable to many
habitats, including fresh and brackish water banks, savannas, swamps, pastures, and woodlands. It has a
moderate tolerance of salt-spray and an ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. The waxy berries serve
as winter food for many different types of native and migratory birds.
- Southern bayberry or "wax myrtle" was cultivated for medicinal purposes in the USA South. In 1722, it
was reported that colonists in Louisiana drank a mixture of wax and hot water to treat severe diarrhea or the
"bloody flux," which was accompanied by fever and abdominal pain. The Choctaw Native American Indians
in Southeastern USA had boiled and used parts of the plant as a treatment for fevers. The Seminole Native
American Indians supposedly fermented leaves into a medicine for stomach aches, fevers, and headaches.
- The Southern bayberry has also been cultivated as an ornamental plant, as well for candlemaking. As an
ornamental plant, it creates wildlife-friendly screens and hedges. It was planted around homes to keep fleas
out and likewise placed in closets to keep cockroaches and other insects away.
- The common names "candleberry," "waxberry," "wax myrtle," and "tallow shrub" particularly relate to its
use in candle-making. Four pounds of berries yield about one pound of wax. The small bayberries were
crushed before being boiled. The candlemakers skimmed off the waxy residue that floated to the surface. This
residue was heated and strained again. The sage green colored wax candles burned much more cleanly than
animal fat tallow candles, with a more pleasant scent. Bayberry wax candles burn longer than beewax
candles. Though it was time consuming to make, wax from the native bayberry was initially more
economical than beeswax. Yet, bayberry wax is more brittle than beeswax.
- The Southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera) is closely related to Northern bayberry (Myrica
pensylvanica), which loses its leaves in winter, bears much larger berries and has wider leaves. Both
species overlap in Virginia and some of the surrounding states
- The Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is native to eastern North America. It is found
in North Carolina to Ohio and up to Nova Scotia and Ontario. The leaves are dark green and leathery and
aromatic when crushed. Northern bayberry is used in candle-making and is also commonly known as
"bayberry" and "candleberry."
- The berries of the Northern bayberry, like the Southern bayberry, are bluish-black encrusted with a
whitish, waxy coating, which is used to make bayberry wax candles.
- According to the National Candle Association, American colonists discovered the use of bayberries for
candle-making by boiling these fruits from a squat bush growing in the sandy dunes of the New England
shore. The fruit of the Northern bayberry was preferred over Southern bayberry simply because its berries
are much larger.
- Hence, bayberry wax was the Colonial American contribution to candle-making. Bayberry candles
became traditional American gifts of prosperity and friendship.
"A bayberry candle burned down to the socket,
brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket."
--New England traditional rhyme
- With the onset of the industrial revolution, many attempted to come up with quicker, cheaper ways of
producing candles. During the late 18th and 19th centuries, other materials were discovered/experimented
with for manufacture of candles: spermaceti wax, Colza oil, stearin, Paraffin, etc. The bluish-white Paraffin
wax created inexpensive candles that burned cleanly and with no unpleasant or little odor.
- Bayberry candles were extremely time consuming to make due to the difficulty of extracting the
wax. Increasingly during the 19th century, time was money. Slowly bayberry candles were used less for
daily illumination and became reserved for special occasions. Eventually in New England, bayberry candles
were especially associated with Christmastime and New Year's traditions. In particular, bayberry candles
were burned on New Year's Eve for prosperity during the coming year. Sweethearts could burn bayberry
candles for love on Christmas Eve, especially if they had to be separated that night. A Christmas legend said
that the holy family sheltered under a bayberry tree during a winter storm.
- Interestingly in the USA South, the custom of burning bayberry candles exclusively for the midwinter
holidays never took root. Bayberry candles and bayberry scented candles might be burned at almost any
time of year--if an appropriate occasion arose. Quite probably the year around use of
bayberry candles may have been related to its use as a medicinal plant.
- In Southern hoodoo tradition, bayberry candles were also associated with prosperity. Indeed, here
are two other versions of the bayberry rhyme.
A bayberry candle burned to the socket
Draws luck to the home and wealth to the pocket.
A bayberry candle burned to the socket
will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.
- In hoodoo, bayberry candles are burned in spells for all sorts of financial needs. Bayberry can work as
a catalyst. A "Lucky Bayberry Candle," which is a bayberry scented devotional seven day candle, can be
burned to unblock winning lottery numbers. The bayberry candles in jars can also be used to remove any
jinxes or hexes. Any bayberry candle can be burned to change luck for the better and draw money to
whoever is setting the light. Bayberry candles can be burned to spur a debtor into repaying a
loan--particularly if he is able to do so and the one burning the candle needs the money. As a single
bayberry is used to attract good luck, it can also be used to attract a lover. A pair of genuine bayberry
candles are said to bring joy and luck to a couple or family.
- Bell Witch
- The "Bell Witch" is an early 19th century legend of a poltergeist spirit from USA Southern folklore, involving
John Bell and his family who had moved to an area later known as Adams, Tennessee, from Edgecombe County,
North Carolina. The poltergeist activity was viewed as inexplicable "witchery" and the story became known as
- In 1817, John Bell, Sr. encountered a strange animal, which had the head of a rabbit and the body of a dog in
a cornfield on his farm. He shot the strange creature, and thereafter the family began to experience poltergeist
activity. They heard sounds of gnawing and knocking. Objects moved about. Family members were assaulted.
Eventually, voices were heard singing hymns, quoting scripture, and speaking to people. John Bell, Sr. died on
December 20, 1820, allegedly poisoned by the poltergeist.
- benne wafer
- Among the Gullah peoples, benne wafer is a cookie made with sesame seeds and
eaten for good luck. These cookies were introduced by slaves from West Africa.
- Bentonite green clay (Aluminum phyllosilicate)
- People from all over the world have used a wide variety of clays for healing, body purification, beauty
- Green clays have historically been known as popular healing or medicinal clays. Montmorillonite green clay
from the Montmorillon area of France is another medicinal clay.
- Bentonite green clay has be used as a cosmetic preparation to treat acne and oily skin. By applying wet clay
topically to the skin as a poultice, green healing clay has been used to treat infections, and other medical problems.
Green clay is said to be especially good at drawing toxins out.
- This absorbent clay was named Bentonite by the American geologist, John Pascal, who discovered it in
Wyoming and Montana around 1890. Pascal apparently coined the name Bentonite after Fort Benton, Wyoming.
It was found in upper cretaceous turf near Fort Benton, Wyoming. The largest of Bentonite deposits come from
Wyoming and Montana.
- Medicinal clay is typically available in health food stores as a dry powder. "Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay" is a
specific brand of 100% natural bentonite clay from Aztec Secret Health & Beauty LTD, P.O. Box 841, Pahrump
NV, 89041. "Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay" is collected from the sundrenched Death Valley, CA, and is an
economical clay that can be used to beautify and refresh skin in traditional recipes, involving rose water or apple
cider vinegar using ceramic, glass, or wooden bowls and spoons.
- The savy spiritual shopper should not purchase clay products that are sold in unsealed containers, as the clay
may be contaminated during shipping and storage.
- Beth Root (Trillium erectum/Trillium pendulum)
- Beth Root is the root of a plant native to the east and north-eastern areas of the USA. This plant is also
commonly known as "Bethroot," "Birth Root," "red trillium," "purple trillium," "Jew's harp plant,"
"rattlesnake root," "Wake-robin," "Squaw Flower," "Indian Balm," "Indian Shamrock," "Ground Lily," and
"Stinking Benjamin." The plant grows well in the shady places, in damp soil. The name "Wake-robin" relates to
the fact that it is spring-flowering plant with a deep red flowers and a stout simple stem bearing a whorl of three
ovate leaves. The plant blooms as early as April in some areas. Hense, "Wake-robin" is like the bird, robin red
breast, which appears in springtime. Yet, these deep red flowers have the smell of rotting meat which relates to
the common name, "Stinking Benjamin." The blossoms are pollinated by flies who attracted by the odor. The
three ovate leaves are probably the reason for the common name "Indian Shamrock." It is a member of the
Lily family which is why this plant is also known as the "Ground Lily."
- Some of the reasons behind some of the common names of this plant eluded me, like "Jew's harp plant."
- The dried root has been used in folk medicine. Beth Root has been used as an astringent and antiseptic. It
was also used as an ingredient in recipes for poultice for ulcers, bleeding, and excessive menstruation. The
common names "Beth Root" and "Birth Root" were apparently related to the root's supposed beneficial effects
on the female reproductive system as well as allegedly treating post-partum hemorrhage. Supposedly, some
"Native American tribes" used this root to "aid in birth." I must state I was unable to find out which "tribes"
- Duncan's Botanical Products stated, "Pregnant women should not take this herb." Star Child Herbs
likewise specifically stated about Beth Root, "Avoid during pregnancy. Do not use continuously." Star Child
Herbs also added, "Pregnancy is a very special time. If chosen wisely herbs can give tremendous support
throughout the entire process. However, due to the vulnerability and sensitivity of the unborn child it is
especially important to make sure that the herbs you are using are safe. (This also applies during the time of
breast-feeding as all substances ingested by the mother are processed and passed on with the mother's milk).
Many herbs may be useful during the latter stages of pregnancy or during labor, but could be dangerous
during the first few months. Inform yourself - don't risk regret."
- The leaves and smelly flowers may NOT be used in any herbal remedies. In particular, the leaves contain
crystal raphide and calcium oxalate crystals, and thus should not be consumed by humans.
- In Southern folk magic, the plant is fequently refered to as "Beth Root." Beth Root has been used for luck,
love, and protection of family.
- A whole Beth Root may be carried for luck or tied in a woman's nation sack. To increase a woman's
enjoyment of her own marital sex-life, a small piece of Beth Root could be tied into a muslin bag and tossed in
the laundry with married couple's bed clothes. As a charm to bring marriage, pieces of Beth Root could be
tied in a red bag with dried violet leaves and/or violet flowers, along with a lodestone and some magnetic
sand. The root of the "Squaw Flower" was believed to be one of the more potent native roots for women.
The dried root could be tied into women's magic to balance a menstrual cycle, draw upon its aphrodisiac
qualities, or for her own general good health. Likewise, Beth Root is a powerful addition in protection charms
to keep away malign energies from a home.
- A piece of Beth Root can be also suspended from a cord so that it can swing freely and thus be used
as pendulum by a women for divination.
- Interestingly, in the USA Southern hoodoo lore, this root is sometimes also known as "Southern John
Root" or "Dixie John Root." In that case, it can be used in mojo bags as a substitute for "Little John"
(Alpina galanga), which is also known as galangal. However, "Beth Root" or "Southern John Root"
(Trillium erectum/Trillium pendulum) is not the same plant as "Little John"
(Alpina galanga). "Southern John Root" or "Dixie John Root" must not be chewed. See Little John.
- Beth Root is now an endangered species in some states and should not be gathered from the wild.
- black-eyed peas (Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata)
- The black-eyed pea is really a type of bean. It is used for prosperity and general good luck. Three
dried black-eyed peas can be tied in a mojo bag with a silver coin, such as a "Mercury" dime, to draw
money. This favorite of USA Southern cooking is traditionally served in the New Year's Day dish, "Hoppin'
John." Black-eyed peas swell when they cook and thus magically represent abundance.
- black river stones
- Black river stones are good for grounding negative energy.
- black sand
- Black sand can be used in protection, grounding, and jinx removing. Sprinkle
just a pinch. It can also be
faintly sprinkled along property lines to strengthen boundaries. (A person told me
about the uses of black
sand. The uses of black sand are similar to the uses of black salt).
- blue jay, jaybird (Cyanocitta cristata)
- The blue jay can be found from southern Canada through the eastern and central USA south to Florida and
northeastern Texas. The "coastal blue jay" (Cyanocitta cristata cristata)
is found on the coastal USA from North Carolina to Texas. The "Florida blue jay" (Cyanocitta cristata semplei)
is found in Southern Florida.
- Blue jays are corvids, or members of the crow family, and like crows and ravens they are intelligent birds with
a bit of the mischievous trickster in them. This bird is sometimes a thief, and will snatch brightly colored or reflective
objects, such as pieces of aluminum foil or bottle caps and carry them around until they lose interest. Reportedly,
they will make off with wooden match sticks that have bright red match heads. The blue jay is sometimes also called
a "jaybird." The avian's name derives from its loud call and bold and vocal nature.
- Blue jays are fearless when it comes to protection and are well known to attack anything that threatens their
nest. I've seen them dive bomb cats, children, and even adult humans. I was told the jaybirds were crying "Thief!
Thief!" when protecting young whenever they spotted a cat.
- In Southern African American folklore, the jaybird was said to fly to the devil's house each Friday. According
to one version, the jaybird goes down to hell on Friday to have his blue crested head combed. In fact for this reason,
it was said that someone was unlikely to see a blue jay on a Friday. Children were cautioned that jaybirds will carry
tales to the devil each Friday about all the bad things that they have done and said during the week. (Interestingly,
the loud and chattery blue jays are known to mimic the sounds of other birds and sometimes even humans.)
- A different bit of folklore said jaybirds once sold themselves to the devil for an ear of corn and now must fetch
something for the devil on Fridays. Different variations claimed he was fetching sticks as kindling, matches, sand, or
a drop of water down to hell. Indeed, he was so chirpy and happy on Saturday as he was relieved to have returned.
- Yet although the blue jay is chattery and extremely foolish, he is sometimes described in the folklore as
benevolent. The drop of water he sometimes fetches to hell is brought to comfort a poor soul, and the grains of sand
are brought to abate the fire.
- Any jaybirds who remain on Friday are checking up on what people are doing.
- I haven't located a specific hoodoo use for blue jay feathers, but as a child I was certain the naturally shed
feathers I found under trees certainly should be used for something.
- Invented in the 1970's, Blu-Tack is a specific brand of a versatile, reusable pliable and semi-elastic adhesive,
which is commonly used to attach papers to walls or other surfaces. The orginal Blu-Tack manufactured by Bostik
was blue colored; many different colored variations have since been made. It is less likely to damage prayer cards
when the cards are temporality attached to the outside of jars, glasses of water, picture frames, etc.
- Boo Hag
- A Boo Hag, also known as known as a Hag spirit, is a type of haint well known throughout
Southern folklore, particularly in the folklore of the islands off of the Carolinas.
- These malicious invisible spirits usually dwell among the trees or in swamps, where they
hide in daylight hours. Reciting Psalm 121 is said to a good protection against a Boo Hag for
someone outside after dark. Sometimes such a spirit will silently drop from a tree attach itself to
a person who is outside in the dark, thus gaining entry to a home to torment its occupants. Still,
almost any favorite piece of scripture could be carried in one's pocket while walking at night as
an effective protection from any Boo Hag. Likewise, fervent and sincere prayer is said to be a
good protection against this haint.
- Sometimes a Boo Hag will hide in clean clothes, if they are left outside on the line overnight,
in order to be carried into the house. Therefore, all laundry should always be taken inside before
- Hag spirits attack a person at night while the victim sleeps by "riding" that victim. This spirit
could enter through the keyhole of a closed door or another crack. Then, the spirit would sit on the
victim's chest and steal her/his life-breath. A person who has been hag-ridden all night wakes up
exhausted and often looks "haggard." If a Hag spirit rides the same person several nights in a
row, the victim may appear gaunt, wasted, or worn.
- To protect people sleeping indoors, many folks set a broom across the door. No Boo Hag
will pass a broom placed by the door. Blue painted window sills and door frames may keep a
Boo Hag out. Boo Hags do not like the smell of asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida) so some
folks wore bags of asafoetida. Others sprinkled salt on the floor. Boo Hags also do not like
sulfur. Thus, if one puts a matchstick in one's hair before going to bed, the Boo Hag will stay
away, because of the sulfur in the match head. Some folks claimed they kept a loaded gun at
the head of their beds at night, because Boo Hags are also terrified by the smell of gunpowder.
Others say that to help keep the Boo Hag out of one's home, one should not disturb any
mushrooms, known as "Hag stools." Supposedly, a Boo Hag may settle down on the
mushrooms to relax and "read the newspapers."
- Boo Hags, likewise, are responsible for stealing horses and riding them at night. If early in
the morning a horse has a lather, or is acting especially skittish and tired, or its tail and mane is
all knotted, those are signs that a Boo Hag has been riding the animal. It has been said a Boo
Hag can keep riding an animal or person until s/he finally drops dead.
- A Boo Hag is sometimes said to be the ghost of an old woman, whose spirit is still here.
Yet, other tales indicate the Boo Hag is something that was never human.
- Sometimes a Boo Hag will move into an empty shack or house and pretend to be human. In
the daytime, this Boo Hag will look like just another person. Yet at night, the Boo Hag peels off
her skin like a corn shuck or a snake shed and travels about as an invisible malign spirit. By
daybreak, the Boo Hag must go back to the skin it has left behind. If someone discovers he that
is living with a Boo Hag that sheds her skin, he can put salt and pepper into the empty skin and
that will be the end of its malevolent activities. A Boo Hag will perish in daylight without its skin.
- Some dogs are said to be able to sense a Boo Hag, whether as a spirit or in
human-disguise. Dogs that sense this haint will bark or howl. Crows are said to recognize a
Boo Hag and cry out whenever one passes.
- Among the Gullah people of the Carolina Sea Islands, it is generally said that Boo Hags
often pretend to be women, but can also pretend to be men. According to Llaila Olela Afrika
in The Gullah: People Blessed By God (2000) "If someone stays in your house, eating
up your food or talking a long time, or seems to be wearing out their welcome, they may be a
Hag." (p. 72) There were tests to determine if someone was actually a disguised Boo Hag.
Sometimes folks would set the household broom behind the door and the suspected Boo Hag
would suddenly make an excuse and leave. Sometimes folks would secretly drop a just few
grains of salt onto the shadow of anyone suspected of being a Boo Hag. If that visitor is really
a Boo Hag, the person will act uncomfortable or nervous because of the presence of
- brown paper
- In hoodoo, spiritual petitions are traditionally written on pieces brown paper,
cut into squares from "kraft
paper." "Kraft paper" is strong and relatively coarse paper, produced from the
chemical pulp of softwood
processed in "kraft pulping." It is usually left a natural brown color, though
"kraft paper" can bleached white. "Kraft
paper" is now used for paper grocery bags, multi-wall paper sacks, and heavy
envelopes. "Kraft paper" is sold in long
rolls. Originally, it was used by merchants and butchers for the purpose of wrapping
items for customers after the
merchandise was purchased. It was also commonly used for wrapping and shipping
packages. Hence, "kraft
paper" is known as "butcher paper," "shipping paper," "brown mailing paper," and
of this brown paper would have been easily obtainable in the late 19th and 20th
century USA, possibly as leftover
scraps, or even acquired specifically for the purpose of writing a spiritual
petition or creating a charm.
- Nowadays, "kraft paper" rolls can be purchased in craft supply and office supply stores. It can also simply be
cut from a brown paper grocery bag or brown paper sack.
- buckeye nut (Aesculus octandra)
- If carried in the pocket, a yellow buckeye nut, also known as "big buckeye,"
or "sweet buckeye," is
said to be a powerful charm for drawing more pocket money. Wild animals do not use them for food because
the yellow buckeye nuts are poisonous. They contain a poisonous glucoside aesculin.
- The term "buttermilk" refers to more than one type of dairy drink.
- Originally, buttermilk was what was left behind after churning butter out of cream, i.e. milk left over from the
butter. This type of buttermilk is known as "traditional buttermilk" or "old fashioned buttermilk."
- The term buttermilk also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks, common in warm climates, including the
Southern USA and India, where unrefrigerated fresh milk can sour quickly. This fermented dairy product produced
from cow's pasteurized whole milk or skim milk is known as "cultured buttermilk." Cultured buttermilk has a
yogert-like or slightly sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria. The formation of buttermilk is caused the fermentation
by the starter bacteria which turns milk lactose or milk sugar into lactic acid. The acidity of buttermilk also explains
its long shelf life in a modern refrigerator.
- Southern USA buttermilk has its place in Southern folk medicine. Christine Muhlke's article
Got Buttermilk? in the NYTimes.com, April 22, 2009, stated: "Like its cousin yogurt, buttermilk
has gastrointestinal benefits." In the same article Cheri Cruze stated, "'It's grandma’s probiotic...'" My own family
believed it was the best cure for a queezy stomach. It's also believed to be good for curing a hangover.
- calamint (Calamintha officinalis or Calamintha nepeta)
- Two varieties of calamint are "common calamint" (Calamintha officinalis) and "lesser calamint"
(Calamintha nepeta). Adding to the confusion, there are actually about eight species in the genus
Calamintha, apparently all of which could casually be refered to as "calamint." (This confusion underscores
the need for using the Latin botanical names.) Other common names include "mountain mint," "mountain balm,"
"mill mountain," and "basil thyme." The "calamints" are native to the northern temperate regions of the USA,
Europe, and Asia.
- The common calamint (Calamintha officinalis/Calamintha sylvatica/Calamintha sylvatica
ascendens) is a low-growing plant with a minty smell and light blue blosoms. Common calamint prefers
alkaline soil. The leaves can be used to make an infusion. Lesser calamint (Calamintha nepeta/Calamintha
nepetoides) also has a minty smell and light blue blosoms. Lesser calamint also grows in very alkaline soil. It
is used in Italian cuisine where it is called mentuccia, nipitella, or nepitella.
- Traditionally, people took calamint for colds with fever and respiratory illnesses. It was believed to loosen
chest congestion and promote sweating. Calamint flower tops make a "pleasant cordial tea," which was formerly
taken for "weaknesses of the stomach" and "hysterical complaints." Neither plant is suitable for use by women when
pregnant, as both common calamint (Calamintha officinalis) and lesser calamint (Calamintha
nepeta) reputably cause miscarriage.
- The name of the genus, Calamintha relates to the magical properties associated with the plant.
"Cala" is derived from the Greek kalos meaning "excellent, beautiful, admirable, precious," relating to
the ancient belief in the herb's power to drive away serpents, including the dreaded basilisk. Hence, calamint is
used as an ingredient in some magical incense formulas to drive away malign spirits.
- calamus (Acorus calamus)
- Calamus, commonly known as "sweet flag." It is a tall perennial wetland flowering plant with scented
leaves and more strongly scented root. Its root is "anodyne" and was once used as an aphrodisiac. It is an
ingredient in some love spells. Because of its scent, calamus essential oil is still valued in the perfume industry.
In 1968, the USA Food and Drug Administration banned the use of calamus and products derived from
calamus, including its oil, as food additives and medicines.
- calendula (Calendula officinalis, Calendula arvensis, or Calendula maritima)
- Calendula is the name of several species of flowering plants in the daisy family. It is known
by the common names "summer's bride," "sunbride," "little clock," "husbandman's dial,"
"ruddes," "roligold," "holigold," and "goldbloom." The bright yellow calendula flowers can protect
against malign magic. Garlands of calendula were hung over entry doors. Petals were
scattered under the bed for protection while sleeping and for prophetic dreams. To dream of
calendula foretold one should receive a large sum of money sometime in the future.
- The orange-gold blossom has the common name of "marigold." There is southern
European belief that the Madonna wore a calendula on her breast. If a woman rubs calendula
petals on her bare feet, it was said she will understand the language of the birds
- Due to its association with the Virgin Mary, the blossom represented fidelity. The yellow flower was
sometimes carried in bridal bouquets. A powder of dried calendula flowers, marjoram, thyme,
and wormwood could be used supposedly to learn about one's future spouse.
- Calendula (calendula officinalis)was often called "pot marigold" because it was grown in pots to be used as
seasoning. It was a substitute for saffron by those too poor to afford this expensive spice and
to enhance the color of yellow dishes. An infusion made from calendula blossoms is said to
help with digestive problems if drunk as a tea.
- Calendula plants should not be confused with marigold plants from the Tagetes
species. Calendula officinalis is commonly known as "pot marigold," Calendula
arvensis is commonly known as "field marigold." Calendula maritima is commonly
known as "sea marigold."
- Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp in Cassadaga, Florida
- Cassadaga is a small Southern unincorporated community located in Volusia County, Florida, just north
of Deltona. It is home to the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, established 1894, and has thus been colorfully
called the "Psychic Capital of the World." The Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp is one of the older Spiritualist
camps remaining in the USA South.
- In 1875, trance medium George P. Colby came to the wilderness of Central Florida on the advice of
a spirit guide who instructed him to found a Spiritualist community in the South. Colby homesteaded land
here. On January 3, 1895, Colby signed a warranty deed to the newly incorporated Cassadaga Spiritualist
Camp Meeting Association for thirty-five acres.
- Spiritualism is not hoodoo. The official website of the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp specifically stated
that neither "witchcraft" nor "black magic" is part of Spiritualism. Spiritualism is a religion which professes
the "survival of the personality after death." However, the African-American practice of Spiritualism certainly
influenced hoodoo and African-American religious practice.
- cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum)
- Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum) is an ingredient in recipes such as Moses Oil,
Abramelin Oil, etc. Cassia is sometimes used as a spice substitute for "cinnamon"
(Cinnamomum verum) aka "true cinnamon."
- Castile soap
- Castile soap is a vegetable-based variety of mild soap made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide. The
name "Castile soap" is used in English-speaking countries to indicate a style of soap similar to the soap
produced in Castile, Spain. "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps" are a specific brand of Castile soap often sold in
magical shops catering to root workers and such. "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps" product labels are crowded
with statements of Bronner's philosophy, which he called "All-One-God-Faith" and the "Moral ABC,"
doubtless the labels add to the appeal of a family-operated soap company founded in the USA in 1948.
- cat (Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus)
- The domestic cat is viewed with some ambivalence in hoodoo. No doubt this ambivalence is due to the long
and mixed history involving the animal.
- Cats are commonly believed to have been domesticated in Egypt as early as
4,000 years ago. In ancient Egypt, cats were sacred and identified with the deities Ra
and Bast. In the form of a
cat, Mau, the sun God, Ra, slayed his enemy, Apep, the serpent of darkness. Bast
(Ubasti/ Bastet/Baset) was the cat Goddess of fertility, dance, and wine. The Egyptians mummified their beloved
cats for their journey to the Afterlife and sometimes entombed them with mummified mice. They were valued for
their ability to kill vermin. Bast's fertility aspect related to her protection of the grain from mice and rats.
- The dread of cats began in parts of Europe during the middle ages. Even today there are people who view
certain cats, particularly black cats, as unlucky.
- In Islam, mistreating a cat is regarded as a severe sin. The prophet Muhammad was fond of cats. Muhammad
once cut off his sleeve rather than disturb his sleeping cat, Muezza, when it was time for the prophet to attend to
prayers. Before he left for prayers, the prophet stroked his cat three times. It is said that for this reason, cats were
ganted by Allah seven lives as well as the ability to always land on their feet. Hoodoo folklore has been influenced
by small portions of black Muslim lore. Some Muslims are said to view the cat as a lucky animal with seven lives,
and the black cat is credited with magical powers. However, interpreting a cat as an omen or magical charm would
be the sin of "Shirk" in Islamic terms. Attention to "lucky charms" or "talismans" contradict a genuine faith in Allah's
rulership by attributing power to an object or animal to cause good fortune or misfortune.
- In Christian Europe, barn cats, farm cats, ship cats, etc. were still used to effectively control vermin. Yet cats in
late medieval Europe were also identified with witches, sorcerers, and heretics. An unknown, stray cat wandering
around in an area might be either an ordinary stray cat, a witch's familiar, or a witch in disguise.
- The French theologian Alain of Lille, (Alain de Lille or Alanus ab Insulis) (c. 1116/1117–1202/1203) sought to
refute Christian heresies, specifically that of the Waldensians (vaudois) and Cathars (cathares/catharisme). Alain
believed that "Cathar" derived from cat (chat). He explained that origin of the name is Latin "...from the cat [Latin:
catus], because, it is said, they [Cathars] kiss the posterior of the cat, in whose form, as they say, Lucifer appears to
them." Descriptions of Cathars kissing le derriere d’un chat were recycled into descriptions of gathering of
witches and sorcerers, as noted by Jeffrey Burton Russell in Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. In Germany
about three decades later, papal inquisitor Conrad of Marburg dealt with the Luciferan heresy, with the blessing
Pope Gregory IX. According to Conrad, Luciferians worshiped both the Christian Devil and a diabolical black cat.
In the thirteenth century, the German ecclesiastical authority worked in union with the civil powers. (Accused
Luciferians either a) confessed their guilt and their their heads were shaved as a penance, or b) denied their guilt
and were delivered to the secular arm as obstinate heretics to be burnt at the stake.) Gregory IX allegedly issued,
either in 1232, 1233, or 1234, a papal bull which condemns Luciferians and black cats. Known as the
Vox in Rama (Voice in Rama), some controversy exists over this bull's authenticity.
- Eventually, cats were burned with those convicted of the crimes of heresy and
witchcraft. In 1630, King Louis XIII of France halted this awful practice of burning cats.
- To muddy the issue further--parts of cats--like parts of other domestic animals were used as
ingredients in sorcery. The animal's liver, eyes and blood were used in creating some unsavory magical
mixtures in some European magic spells. As late as the 17th century, the head of a deceased black cat
was burnt to ashes, which were sprinkled into the eyes, thrice daily, to cure blindness, infection, and other eye
- There are refernces to a bone, taken from a black cat in an inhumane and illegal method, which allegedly
- Catherine Yronwode in her excellent article BLACK CAT SPELLS and
BLACK CAT SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES wrote:
"The notorious black cat bone charm is a subject with which i [sic] am, frankly, rather uncomfortable. Although it is
strongly identified with African American hoodoo, its origins are actually in European grimoire magic."
- Indeed, here is an example of a European spell from the English translation by Ray Vogensen from the
Portuguese grimoire Antigo Livro de Sao Cipriano:
Cook the body of a black cat in boiling water with white seeds and wood from the willow until the meat is
loosened from the bones. Strain the bones in a linen cloth and, in front of the mirror, place the bones, one by one in your
mouth, until you find that you have the magic to make you become invisible. Keep the bone with the magic property and, if
you want to go somewhere without being seen, place the bone in your mouth.
--Spell of the black cat's bone
- Catherine Yronwode in BLACK CAT SPELLS and
BLACK CAT SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES also wrote: "The African American novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston,
who studied hoodoo in Florida and Louisiana in the 1930s, and Harry Middleton Hyatt, who collected over
13,000 individual spells from 1600 African American informants throughout the South in the same time period,
reported at length on the many root doctors who claimed that every black cat has within its body one bone that will
either grant the owner invisibility or can be used to bring back a lost lover."
- Catherine Yronwode in BLACK CAT SPELLS and
BLACK CAT SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES continued:
To secure this bone, they [Hurston and Hyatt] said, a black cat must be thrown alive into a cauldron of boiling water at
midnight. The animal dies in agony, and the heartless practitioner boils the carcass until the meat falls off the bones. Some
say that the special bone will be the top one left when the water boils away, others say it can only be found by placing each
bone in turn beneath the tongue while an assistant stands by to notify the practitioner that he has become invisible, and still
others swear that if all the bones are thrown into a stream that runs north (uncommon in most of North America), the desired
bone will be one that floats on the water and heads south.
- Though both Hurston and Hyatt recorded this superstition, no cat bone makes a person invisible.
- Most bones sold as "black cat bones" in mail order are actually from other small mammals.
- Catherine Yronwode observed in her article BLACK CAT SPELLS and
BLACK CAT SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES: "In bright contrast to this image of the 'evil' black cat, there is a 'good'
black cat -- the antinomian lucky black cat of the African-American sporting and gambling world. This black cat
does double-duty as a representative of the black arts (including the granting of invisibility and the return of lost love)
and as a bringer of money luck."
- In USA folklore, it has been deemed particularly unlucky for someone to meet a strange black cat or to have
a strange black cat cross one's path. This belief is known among hoodooists.
- In order to break the possible jinx of a black cat crossing someone, that person can turn around
counterclockwise and spit. Another way to reverse the bad luck is for someone to walk in a circle and count to 13.
- A Southern gambler, meeting a black cat on the way to a casino, card game, or racetrack, would have to run
around and retrace his steps to home, and then set out toward his destination again. Nevertheless, a gambler may
"set a light" of a black cat figure candle at home to increase her/his "gambler's luck" while s/he is at a casino.
- Yet on no account should a person kick a cat, especially a black cat. Otherwise, he
a bad case of rheumatism in his leg. It is very black luck to drown any cat, or kittens, especially
black ones; the Devil will come for whoever does so. In the USA, if someone spots a one-eyed cat,
he should spit on his thumb and stamp the palm of his/her hand in order to receive good luck.
- In the USA, cats bring good luck to ships and theatres. Stealing a ship's cat or throwing the
animal overboard would bring misfortune to all. To cure a stye, one should encourage a black cat to
brush its tail against the eyelid with the stye. Stroking a black cat brings health and wealth.
- In the south of France, black cats are now believed to bring good luck to their owners, who respect and care
for them. This belief is related to the folklore of the matagots or mandragots, which are magician cats, magic cats, or
sorcerer cats. See matagots.
- Interestingly, spiritual merchants sell a whole slew of magical cat items which can be used in
hoodoo--including lucky black cat oil, black cat incense, and lucky cat figure candles in a variety of colors.
These may be for countering a jinx or related to drawing on the uncanny power of the magician cat.
See lucky black cat oil. See black cat incense. See lucky cat candles.
- catnip, dried (Nepeta cataria)
- A hot infusion of the dried leaves of the herb most commonly known as "catnip" was drunk for colds,
fever, and bronchitis. This herb was also known as "field balm," and an ointment or salve of catnip was used
on the skin the skin for mosquitos--a remedy that would be quite useful around the wetlands of the USA
South. Catnip was brought to the USA by colonists. It grows well in well drained soil and full sun. "Catnip"
is also known as "catmint," and both names refer to the intoxicating effect the dried herb has on adult cats.
(It does not have the same effect on humans. In fact, "catnip" tea is said to have a calming or peaceful effect
on humans.) Aside from its medicinal uses, catnip is magically used for business success, health, beauty, and
peace. It can be sprinkled outside a business or kept in a glass jar. For purely practical reasons it should not
be tied in mojo bags, herb pillows, or gloves, and then tucked with clean laundry in a drawer. Due to the
effect dried catnip has on cats, almost any household cat will sniff the item out and chew, roll, and play
roughly with it. Some modern practitioners burn catnip on charcoal as an offering to the Egyptian Bast,
Cat Goddess of dancing, mirth, beer, and fertility.
- chia (Salvia hispanica)
- Chia is a mint plant indigenous to Mexico. The seeds of the plant are what people grow in those Chia Pet
Handmade Decorative Planters seen on Television ads. However, the chia seeds were consumed by the Aztecs for
strength. Along with corn and beans, chia seeds were a main staple food. They are still traditionally eaten in the
USA Southwest and in Mexico. In hoodoo, chia seeds can also be buned with slippery elm bark on charcoal to
stop malicious gossip.
- chicken bones (Gallus gallus domesticus)
- Leftover chicken bones can be used to make something other than soup. "Casting
the bones" is an old form of
hoodoo divination. This method seems to be a direct survival of a West African
system of divination which
uses bones. Apparently, there are several different ways in the USA to perform this
practice. Frequently, cleaned and dried chicken bones l have a meaning and
the pattern in which they
fall will be significant as well.
- chicken egg (Gallus gallus domesticus)
- An unbroken raw egg can be rubbed over the body to remove all negativity and stress. An individual
sometimes uses an egg like this to spiritually cleanse her or himself of ties to a
former lover. Afterward the egg is
cracked over the bathroom flush-toilet. Then the person flushes away the inside of the egg immediately. The
eggshell is squashed, broken into tiny fragments and then disposed of in the next flush.
- chicken foot and/or chicken nail/spur (Gallus gallus domesticus)
- Down in the deep South USA, chickens are called "yardbirds." During the day, the birds were often allowed
to move around unrestricted in the family's yard. A chicken coop or hen house would often be provided for nighttime.
In other words, all chickens were what is now referred to as "free-range chickens." The chickens would wander
around all day scratching up tiny seeds, tiny bugs, tiny worms, a few roots, and an occasional yummy, fat slug as
well as being fed some spilled grain, certain scraps from the vegetable garden, and other chicken feed. Most small
farms had only a small free-range barnyard flock.
- Barbara Cozzens in
Adaptations of Chickens, eHow.com wrote about chickens and their feet: "Chickens have developed
particularly strong feet and toes, an adaptation that allows them to scratch the ground, turn over leaves and rake up
dirt to forage for insects and seeds. These strong feet, coupled with flexor tendons in their legs, also allow chickens
to perch on roosts, a behavior that protects the birds from predators, particularly at night."
- Naturally, folks in the rural South observed all the daily scratching that the family fowl did in the yard. It was a
common belief that a frizzled hen, that is a chicken with the feathers turned
back the wrong way, could be employed to scratch up--and thus destroy the potency of--any "trick" or "jinxing
powders" that may have been secretly sprinkled on one's property by an unknown enemy.
- Live frizzled chickens have strong protective power and can "scratch up the goofer" from the yard.
- Chickens were raised for both eggs and meat. In the rural South, it was understood one should waste nothing
of potential value. The bones from cooked chickens could be used in soups or used to make divination tools. The
chicken feet could be dried and used as a charm. The nail or spur could be added to mojo bag.
- Karma Zain in
on chicken foot charms, now and then, has collected a lot of Southern and other folkore
regarding the use of chicken feet.
- Zain wrote about his family folk traditions (Florida, Alabama, Louisiana) which she believed were
"pretty common." She explained, "One was of the sort of protective variety--you could bury a chicken foot in the
backyard to cure what my great grandmother called 'cholera morbis,' which near as I can tell, was a deliberately
fancy-sounding term for any number of minor childhood illnesses. I filed that one in the same mental folder as burying
the apple for warts and similar tricks--you 'put off' the bad stuff on the item, sometimes by rubbing it on the affected
part, and then buried it. (This was the Florida branch of the family)."
- I find that Florida tradition particularly interesting because John George Hoffman's Pow-Wows, or
Long Lost Friend, (1820) explained that to get rid of warts one should "Roast chicken-feet and rub the warts
with them; then bury them under the eaves." Chicken feet are mentioned nowhere else in the little book. In the
case of Pow-Wow healing charms, my speculation has long been that the chicken foot is supposed to scratch up the
wart. Using the magical "law" of contagion/contact or transference, the wart is dug up by the foot.
Then via contact with the foot, the wart is transfered to the roast chicken foot. As the chicken foot
rots in the ground, the wart fades away.
- According to Zain, there is a tradition around New Orleans that dried (preserved) chicken foot charms are
used for protection, luck, and money. In the 1990, Zain learned how to dry and "fix" chicken foot charms from a
Voodoo practitioner in New Orleans. These charms "...enjoyed a period of popularity as car protection charms in
New Orleans." There is also a tradition of wearing/carrying them as part Mardi Gras ornamentation and dressing up.
- Zain provided a 1920 list of ingredients for a hoodoo bag: "...a pinch of salt, a pod of red pepper, a rabbit's
foot, a chicken spur, and some ashes." (Dr. Daniel Lindsey Thomas, Kentucky Superstitions, 1920, p. 284)
A chicken spur is a claw-like growth on the back of the foot. It is used primarily to save their flock by fighting off
predators but roosters will fight each other too. Dr. Daniel Lindsey Thomas, an English professor who was the
founder of the Kentucky branch of the American Folklore Society, published his collection of folklore recorded in
Kentucky. My speculation is that these items tied up in a six by four inches red flannel bag were used as a
protective mojo: salt=protection, pod of red pepper=aggressive protection to burn any enemy, or perhaps strength,
rabbit's foot=luck, or perhaps swift flight from an enemy, a chicken spur=fighting and protection, ashes=used as a
protective barrier. If it was used as a powerful protection against an enemy known or unknown it likely would have
been carried secretly on one's person. Zain speculated that it might have been to cross or jinx someone, in which
case it would have been hidden on the target's property. (Of course, if this bag was to cross someone why
include a rabbit's foot?)
- According to Tayannah Lee McQuillar in her
Rootwork: Using the Folk Magick of Black America for Love, Money and Success (2003) the nail off a c
hicken foot is considered to enhance good luck when placed in a mojo bag for money.
- It is significant that McQuillar refered to a chicken "nail" rather than "spur." As stated above, a spur is used for
fighting. On the other hand, the nails on a chicken's foot are used for scratching, specifically scratching up something
for the chicken to eat. Scratch is an old slang term used to mean "cash money" generally meaning cash that was
scratched up to be spent on something--similar to something scratched up by a chicken foraging for food.
- chicory root, common (Cichorium intybus)
- Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is also known as "blue sailors,"
"blue daisy," and "blue
dandelion" due to the color of its flowers. Also known as "succory," "radicchio"
and "coffeeweed," chicory
root has been used in the USA South as a coffee substitute. To prepare the roots as
a coffee substitute, they are baked and ground and then steeped in hot water.
During the American Civil War, coffee was scarce in the South, and chicory root
infusion was frequently
drunk as a substitute during the American Civil War on both sides. Since it grows
wild on roadsides and fields
across North America, chicory root has sometimes been called "poor man's coffee."
It is caffeine free. Some
people, however, prefer the flavor of chicory root infusion to coffee. It likewise
has long been enjoyed as a coffee additive,
particularly in Louisiana. Chicory is also a coffee additive in the Mediterranean
region, where it is native.
- Those allergic to ragweed or other members of the Compositae should be cautious with
harvesting common chickory. In rare cases, an allergic skin reaction has been caused by contact with the
- "Chicory" is also the common name in the USA of curly endive (Cichorium endivia) and
illustrates the reason for also paying attention to Latin names of plants.
- cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, Cinnamomum aromaticum, or
- Cinnamon can be used to "warm-up" luck and gently stimulate sales and business.
Sprinkle a small
pinch of ground cinnamon outside a shop with a few Florida Crystals (light brown
raw sugar) to sweeten and
draw customers to the business.
- cinnamon, wild (Cinnamomum iners)
- Some claim that wild cinnamon (Cinnamomum iners) was orginally native to the Middle East and was the
original "cassia." However most seem to agree that "cassia" actually denotes Cinnamomum aromaticum
which is sometimes used as a substitute for cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). Once again, this confusion
underscores the need for always using Latin names.
- clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
- Clary sage is native to Southern Europe and some areas in north Africa. It is
commonly known as "clary,"
"clary wort," "common clary," "muscatel sage," "clear eye," "toute-bonne," and
"Oculus Christi." Clary sage has a
long history as a medicinal herb. The name "clary" related to that it was once used to
clear the eyes. It was
recommended for women’s complaints, including menstruation problems and depression.
Clary sage has also
historically been used for insomnia, stress, anxiety, dry skin, insect bites,
circulation, and muscular aches.
- Clary sage is currently grown for its essential oil, which is used widely in perfumes.
- In hoodoo, clary sage essential oil can be used in money spells to enhance clear
sighted wisdom, and give strength to women. The essential oil is sometimes used to draw romance when mixed with the essential oils
ylang ylang and sandalwood when used with magnetic sand to dress a candle. Clary sage essential oil is also said
to bring vivid and clear dreams. If traveling by airplane, cotton balls dipped in clary
sage essential oil and sealed in a ziplock plastic baggie can impart a calming scent.
- Pregnant women should avoid clary sage.
- Cleopatra oil
- "Cleopatra" is a hoodoo recipe for a hair and body oil made with Apricot kernel oil (Prunus armeniaca)
as a base oil. It is an exotic fragrance made with the essential oils of cypress (Cupressus sempervirens),
myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) , frankincense ( Boswellia sacra, Boswellia frereana, and
Boswellia bhaw-dajiana), and neroli (Citrus aurantium ). Some versions use petitgrain
(Citrus aurantium ), which is made from the leaves of the bitter orange tree, rather than neroli which is
water distilled from the blossoms of the same tree. According to Anna Riva in The Golden Secrets of Mystic
Oils, this oil can be worn as a perfume on the earlobes and behind the knees. She also suggests writing a
beloved's name on seven squares of parchment, which can be placed beneath lit candles.
- This recipe is inspired by seducitve charm and regal mystery that surrounds Cleopatra VII, the last divine pharaoh
of Egypt. Many beauty treaments have been inspired by the legends and history surrounding the Egyptian queen,
Cleopatra. (Her milk baths--allegedly camel milk--are also famous.)
- Born in Egypt, Cleopatra VII was of Greek Macedonian ancestry from the Ptolemies, who ruled Egypt after
the death of Alexander the Great. The dynasty of the Ptolemies adopted many Egyptian customs. As an Egyptian
queen, Cleopatra was venerated as the living Isis. However, Cleopatra was the only Ptolemic ruler who learned to speak
the Egyptian language. The Ptolemies, throughout their dynasty, spoke Greek. Cleopatra came to power in
Egypt (51-30 bce) at the age of 17. Cleopatra VII was an accomplished linguist,
administrator, and diplomat. She was able to capture the fascination of two powerful
Roman leaders, Caesar and Mark Antony. Cleopatra oil can be used to bring back an
errant lover in the same way she is supposed to have recaptured the attentions of Mark
Anthony after he returned to his wife in Rome. Her life continues to
inspire artists, playwrights, movie producers, perfumers, and cosmeticians.
- cloves, whole (Syzygium aromaticum, syn. Eugenia aromaticum
or Eugenia caryophyllata)
- When whole cloves are tied in a square cloth and hung in a corner of a room, they promote peace
- coffee (Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora)
- Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted seeds of the coffee plant. Coffee
seeds, more commonly
called "coffee beans," are produced by several species of small evergreen bush of
the genus Coffea.
The two most commonly cultivated coffee plants are Coffea arabica and
though there are several other species which can be used.
- Originally coffee beans were roasted over a stove, ground in a mortar and pestle, and then boiled in water
on the stove until done. In the USA south, it was the mark of a good woman that she knew how to brew a
decent pot of coffee.
- James Mason patented the first American coffee percolator in 1865. In 1886,
Joel Cheek named his
popular coffee blend "Maxwell House," after a hotel in Nashville, TN, where it was
served. The American
Prohibition (1920-1933) helped boost the popularity of coffee. Americans became used to drinking coffee
several times a day. During World War II, coffee was sharply rationed in the USA.
- In 1945, Americans happily went back to enjoying a hot "cuppa Joe" several times a day. Drip coffee
makers finally appeared to usurp coffee percolators in the 1960's. American coffee was served in the morning
hot and fresh, either black or with cream and/or sugar. Americans enjoyed midday coffee breaks, as well as
afternoon coffee and sometimes after dinner coffee. Throughout the 20th century, the USA was unquestionably
a coffee drinking nation.
- In New Orleans, Louisiana, coffee is a mixture of coffee and chicory. Known for
its intensely dark color
and thick consistency, Louisiana coffee is called “cafe noir.” It has a distinctive
flavor, and lower caffeine content than regular coffee from a modern drip coffee maker.
- Cajun coffee is often served up hot, strong, and sweet, mixed with molasses, nutmeg, and a dash of
good Caribbean rum. Often topped with a thick dollop of whipped cream, Cajun coffee
is nothing like the French
cafe au lait.
- Among coffee drinkers, coffee's stimulating properties are highly valued.
Medicinally, a hot cup of
coffee was commonly recommended to ease wheezing asthma.
- In some African-American folklore, a woman could supposedly spike a man's coffee in order to
"hoodoo" him, that is to enspell him and keep him from getting interested in other
women. (Although, I was born in the South, I didn't
know any woman who would risk ruining a good cup of coffee by putting dubious substances in it.) Due to its
stimulating qualities, coffee is sometimes claimed to be an aphrodisiac.
- In a New Orleans folktale, a kitchen maid saved everyone in a household in which a robber had lit a
"hand of glory" in order to make all in their beds sleep like the dead. It was clear that after he had bagged all
the valuables he could carry, the robber planned to slit every throat in the household. In desperation, the
kitchen maid tried to douse the cursed light with water, milk, and finally some leftover Louisiana coffee, which
was described as "black as sin and stronger than hell." Only the coffee succeeded in extinguishing the flame
before the robber could murder anyone.
- In Africa, supposedly coffee beans were frequently used in magic and in fertility rituals.
- Due to an aura of magic associated with coffee, there are a number of coffee brands and blends using
descriptive terms like "Black Magic," "Mojo," "Raise the Dead" etc.
- "cola" carbonated beverages
- According to anthropologist Alfred Metraux in his book Voodoo in Haiti, (1959), Haitians
offered "cola" carbonated beverages--such as Coke Cola--to the loa spirits, because they were sweet,
caffeinated, and the Haitians thought the drinks were delicious. It is probably true that Haitians enjoyed
drinking the USA "cola" carbonated drinks, but the key ingredient of such beverages are the kola nuts, which
were used in Africa as an important part of traditional spiritual practices. See kola nut (cola).
- corn kernels, dried (Zea mays)
- Dried kernels of corn, particularly the varieties of corn known as "popcorn" (Zea mays everta)
or "flint corn," (Zea mays indurata), also known as "calico corn," "Indian corn," and "ornamental corn,"
are sometimes used in money spells.
- cubeb essential oil (Piper cubeba)
- The cubeb berry plant is native the Spice Islands, including Indonesia, Java, and other parts of the East Indies.
It is a commonly known as "cubeb berries," "false pepper," "Java pepper," "tailed pepper," "tailed cubebs," and
"cubebs." This spicy berry is also now cultivated for its fruit and essential oil in several other tropical areas, including
Southeast Africa. Cubeb essential oil with its spicy woody scent is used as an ingredient in soaps and fragrances. In
hoodoo, cubeb essential oil is often incorporated into sex charms to draw passion and
love. The cubeb berries have the nickname, "love berries."
- Curanderismo is a system traditional Mexican or Mexican-American folk magic and folk medicine
combining indigenous folklore, Spanish folklore, a knowledge of local herbs, and a strong belief in the curative
powers of the Catholic saints and God. Some aspects of Curanderismo have wandered into USA hoodoo
- cypress, Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- The "Mediterranean cypress" is a medium-sized columnar evergreen tree, a species of cypress that grows
around the eastern Mediterranean region. It is often said to be native to Northern Egypt, Western Syria, Lebanon,
Northeast Libya, and Israel. It is also commonly known as "Italian cypress," "Tuscan cypress," "Columnar cypress,"
"common cypress," "graveyard cypress," and "pencil pine." The species has been and continues to be cultivated as
an ornamental tree in numerous areas, including Tuscany, Italy, Southeast Greece, Crete, Cyprus, Southern Turkey,
and southwest South Africa. In the USA, it is also grown in California, Arizona, and Florida.
- The Mediterranean cypress is a tall, slender, almost pencil-shaped tree, hence the common name "pencil pine."
Its foliage is needle-like and dark green at all times of year. According to George & Audrey DeLange, "It is very
long-lived, with some trees having been reported to be over 1,000 years old."
- The trees is known for its very durable, scented wood, which the ancient Egyptians used to made their
sarcophagi. Perhaps the long life of the tree connected it with the concept of eternity and, thus, the continuance of
the soul after death. In Athens, households in mourning were garlanded with boughs of cypress. Cypress was used
to fumigate the air during cremations. Up through Victorian times, it was associated with funerals and mourning, and
it continues to be planted in graveyards. Hence, the common name "graveyard cypress."
- The ancient Greeks and Romans considered the cypress sacred to Artemis, Hecate, Pluto, and Silvanus.
- Cypress oil is usually made from Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). In aromathereapy,
the scent of the oil allegedly sooths stress and anger. It restores calm and rejuvenates the body and soul.
- devil's shoestring root (Viburnum alnifolium)
- The roots of devil's shoestring are used for protection against malign spirits.
These roots can also be used to
bring luck to gamblers, when carried in the gambler's pocket.
- Dia de la Candelaria
- In Mexico, the “Dia de la Candelaria” (Candlemas) is officially known as the “Fiesta de la Candelaria” (Feast of Candlemas) or “Fiesta de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria” (Feast of Our Lady of Candlemas) which celebrates the appearance of the Madonna as Our Lady of Candelaria in Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the southwest of Spain. Celebrations, which commonly take place on February 2, mark the end of the 40 day period after the Nativity, which was when the Virgin was officially purified after giving birth—as required by the Old Testament law--and also later marks the official presentation of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem in the liturgical calendar.
- In Mexico, there is a custom about the person who found figurine of the infant Jesus, called “el nino,” in the “Rosca de Reyes” cake made for the January 6 celebration of “El Dia de Reyes” (Day of the Kings).
- The person who found the figurine of “el nino” in her/his piece of “Rosca de Reyes” cake incures the duty to provide tamales and atole for a party after the “Fiesta de la Candelaria” church service. As both tamales and atole are corn-based dishes, this Mexican tradition also has been speculated to have pre-Hispanic origin tied into the agricultural cycle involving corn. Many villagers used to bring their corn to church on February 2 in order to get their crops blessed after planting their seeds. February 2 also marked the eleventh day of the first month on the Aztec calendar. See Mardi Gras king cake and Tres Reyes Magos.
- dragon's blood ink (Daemonorops draco)
- According to Tayannah Lee McQuillar in Rootwork: Using the Folk Magick of Black America for Love,
Money and Success (2003) the magical ink made with the red resin, commonly known as "dragon's blood," can
be used to enhance written spells and magic seals. A traditional dragon's blood ink recipe involves 1 part dragon's
blood resin (Daemonorops draco), 1 part gum arabic, and 15 parts alcohol. Magic seals have been used by
rootworkers since the middle of the 20th century as a direct influence from books like the Sixth and Seventh
Book of Moses and other grimoires. There are seals associated with different saints, angels, planetary spirits,
etc from numerous souces. They may be hand drawn onto paper--traditionally with a quill feather pen. The
completed seals are placed into a mojo bag, carried in the wallet, set next to a lit candle like a prayer card, etc.
- dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor)
- It is native to the southeastern USA, from Florida north to eastern North Carolina,
and is one of Louisiana's most widespread native plant species. The dwarf palmetto can be found deep in the
swamp encircling isolated high ground. The dried leaves were made into crosses and placed in the house to
ward off misfortune.
- fairy cross, fairy stone (staurolite).
- These stones are a naturally occuring cross shaped stone. Natural staurolite, which normally forms just a bar
shaped earth colored stone, sometimes fuses two bars together forming what is commonly known as a "fairy cross"
or "fairy stone." These fairy crosses or fairy stones are sold as good luck stones and can be worn on jewelry
(ie charm braclets) or carried around in a pocket.
- A popular Christian tale is that at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, the fairies shed tears that crystallized into
crosses as they fell to earth. The crosses come in three different shapes: Roman Cross, St. Andrew's Cross,
and Maltese Cross.
- According to some practitioners, the fairy crosses are occasionally used in charm or mojo bags in Virginia.
The natural cross shape is viewed as a good luck talisman and is a classic example of "reinforcement."
- "Reinforcement" is when two separate charms/blessings/prayers are used together to "reinforce" and enhance
the effectiveness of the outcome.
- Fairy crosses are one of the few stones, other than lodestones, that are used in mojo bags.
- According to Judika Illes in The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells (2004), the twinned staurolite
crystals allegedly also protect against car accidents, if one is kept in the glove compartment or if it is worn as a charm.
- There is a Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia.
- feather, black chicken
- A feather from a black chicken can be used in a protection spell to dust off
- feather, chicken
- A man can use three naturally shed rooster tail feathers to gain the love of a woman. The color of these feathers
is unimportant, but they must be from a "cock of the walk" barnyard rooster, who has a harem of hens.
- feather, pigeon
- Pigeons (Columba livia), also know as "rock pigeons," "rock doves," or
are found in large numbers in towns and cities all over the world. These birds have
a variety of plumages and
feather colors. Some feathers dropped from these birds can be used in magic. However, the feathers should
be steamed or sterilized in some way to prevent any spread of disease. Pale grey or white feathers from
pigeons can be used in spells for peace.
- feather, turkey
- The modern domesticated turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) descended from the American wild
turkey, also known as the "huexolotlin," (Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo). The turkey bird has
nothing to do with the country of Turkey. There are at least six recognizable subspecies of American turkey
birds (Meleagris) which are all native to North America. The "huexolotlin" (Meleagris gallopavo
gallopavo) was one of the first animals to be domesticated in the Americas. In 1519, the Spanish
Conquistadors discovered the Aztecs in Mexico were raising "huexolotlin"--Mesoamericans having already
domesticated this subspecies. The tail feathers of this large American bird are earth-tone shades of brown,
bronze, and black.
- Magically, the brown, bronze, and black colored turkey feathers are ideal in blessings involving planting
and healing. Some say these dark colored feathers can be used in summoning rain clouds during a dry spell.
Although brown, bronze, and black feathered domesticated turkeys are raised, a great majority of
domesticated turkeys are bred to have white feathers. The white tail feathers can be used in magic for
purifications and to promote peace. Turkey feathers can also be used to fan incense burning on charcoal.
- Founding Father Benjamin Franklin considered the turkey--not the eagle--as a fitting emblem for the
Great Seal of the United States.
- Arts and Craft stores often sell white turkey feathers with the ends dyed black as substitute eagle
feathers. The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits the taking of, transport, sale, barter, trade,
import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles, eagle feathers,
or other eagle parts--without permits. Genuine eagle feathers are used in traditional Native American Indian
spiritual practices. Complicated provisions have been made in the law for Native American Indians. However,
African American hoodoo is not part of traditional Native American Indian traditional practice. Rather than
use dyed turkey feathers as a magical substitute eagle feathers, I personally advise anyone using turkey
feathers in their magical work to use turkey feathers as turkey feathers and recognize the actual
type of American bird they came from--whether these feathers are solid plain white feathers, white feathers
with the ends dyed black, or beautiful, natural shades of brown, bronze, and black feathers.
- feathers, Mourning Dove
- Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) feathers are a light grey and brown, with a muted color. The
birds have a lighter and pinkish hue below. Their wings have black spotting. Mated pairs will often preen each
other's feathers. Both Mourning Dove parents incubate and care for the young. The species is generally monogamous,
which makes them a symbol of fidelity and love. See Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura).
- Florida Crystals (sucrose)
- "Florida Crystals" are a brand of coarse-grained light brown sugar, which is made from juice extracted
from the sugar cane, and then crystalized through evaporation.
"Florida Crystals" are a type of "raw sugar," because
it is a natural, unrefined sugar--unlike white sugar.
- "Florida Crystals," as well as other types of raw sugar, are used in a number
of hoodoo spells to attract or draw something towards a desired end.
- Florida panther (Puma concolor coryii or Felis concolor coryii or
Puma concolor couguar)
- The nocturnal Florida panther is a large, long-tailed, tawny brown cat that grows to six feet or longer.
It is an endangered, unique type of North American cougar which lives in the swamps and forests of southern
Florida. This same species is known as the "mountain lion," "American lion," "mountain screamer," "mountain
wildcat," "deercat," "puma," "painter," "cougar," "caracajou," "sneak cat," "king cat," "fire cat," "ghost cat,"
"shadow cat," or "swamp lion." On the east coast, these large cats were known as "Eastern panther." In
Florida, the cat was known as the "Florida panther" or "panther." Smaller than their western cousins, the
Eastern panther has a smaller bone structure than western cougars and more distinct facial colors.The panther
has been protected from legal hunting in Florida since 1958. The number of living panthers has been
estimated to be between 80 and 100 in Florida.
- In 1982, the Florida panther was designated as the state animal of Florida. Panthers hunt white-tailed
deer, wild hogs, raccoons, and rabbits.
- The spirit of the Florida panther is very elusive and solitary. Much folklore surrounds these seldom-seen,
alluring animals. Its high-pitched scream has earned the animal a place in folklore. The Cherokee in the
USA South referred to this large cat as Klandagi, "The Lord of the Forest." The Creek Indians called them
Katalgar, "Greatest of Hunters." To the Chickasaws, they were known as Koe-Ishto, "The Cat of God."
Images of Florida panthers can be used in magic, but actual pieces of fur, bone, etc. are not used. There is
persistent USA Southern folklore that claims black-colored Florida panthers or spirit cats haunt patches of
trees and underbrush, particularly in Georgia. However, the Florida panther does not have black coloring.
- Florida Water
- "Florida Water" is a 19th century formula for a commercially-prepared type of
known as "toilet water." Toilet water generally contains 1 to 6 ounces of essential
oil per gallon of alcohol.
Florida Water blends an array of floral essential oils in a water-alcohol base and
there are several different
formulas. Most seem to contain some sort of orange citrus scent along with other
floral scents and spices. It is
traditional to dye Florida Water a pale aqua-green. According to Catherine Yronwode, "The name refers to
the fabled Fountain of Youth said to have been located in Florida."
- In hoodoo, Florida Water is used in spiritual cleansing and home protection. Its scent rids an area of
bad spirits. A rub-down with this toilet water is used to refresh those who are
suffering from psychic distress. It can be added to bath water for a cleansing.
Likewise, Florida Water can attract good spirits. Bottles may be set upon altars as offerings. A few drops
can also scent bowls of water set out for the spirits of the dead.
- Florida water is NOT drinkable, and it is not intended for animal or human consumption.
- Frankincense (Boswellia sacra, Boswellia frereana, and Boswellia bhaw-dajiana)
- Frankincense, also called olibanum, is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus
Boswellia which was burned for thousands of years as incense, particularly in religious rites. It was
one of the gifts the three wise men, Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar. It is used to
answer prayers, to gain favor from all good spirits, to create a hallowed atmosphere.
- A gad is a type of protective magic (a "magical shield"), often set up by the front door. The term, "gad,"
may be from the French "garde," meaning guard, protector, or warden.
- galangal essential oil (Alpina galanga)
- Galangal essential oil is a spicy, gingery, oil which is steam-distilled from the galangal root (Alpina
galanga) from Indonesia. Galangal essential oil is used in hoodoo as a protective oil, especially in legal
matters. See galangal oil and Little John.
- galangal oil
- Galangal oil is often sold with pieces of genuine galangal root (Alpina galanga) in the bottle. This root
is also known as "Little John," "Low John," "Lo John," or "Chewing John," and has long been associated with success
in court cases. Thus, the oil could simply be bits of the root floating in a base oil, such as peanut oil. However, the
term "galangal oil" could also refer to an essential oil, "galangal essential oil." Traditionally, galangal oil is rubbed on
one's feet and forearms before court cases, so that the judge will likely rule in one's favor. See galangal essential
oil and Little John.
- gardenia (Gardenia angusta also known as Gardenia jasminoides and
- Gardenias are semi-tropical plants, originating in China. Stephanie Rose Bird refered to gardenia as a
"balenced scent." It is one of the the important ingredients in "All Saints Oil."
- garlic (Allium sativum)
- Though the magical use of garlic to ward away evil originated in European magical practices, the use of garlic
has been absorbed into some African American practices. For example, three slices of garlic is added to a mojo
bag to get hired for a job. Protective, powerful, and delicious, garlic is also added to season some of the Southern
recipes for Hoppin' John. This root is also an ingriedient in Four Thieves Vinegar. In Curanderismo (Mexican folk
magic), fresh garlic or ajo is also viewed as a powerful healing food, which is believed to have antibacterial and
anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic cloves are sometimes mashed and then mixed with honey to apply to open
wounds to promote healing.
- gator foot (Alligator mississippiensis)
- A small alligator foot can be a powerful protection as well being used for
prosperity. According to Aeryck de Sade in his Youtube video Gator and Animal
Curios: Their Uses In Hoodoo and Rootwork, when a small gator foot is used to draw
prosperity often a coin will be tied into the gator foot with red thread. Frequently,
an Indian head penny will be used in such a prosperity charm. On a key chain, a small
gator foot can draw luck for gamblers. Larger gator feet can also be set up on an altar
to draw prosperity, frequently with dollar bills tied into them.
- gator head (Alligator mississippiensis)
- A small alligator head could be set on a shelf near the front door with its mouth open as a protection
for the household. These are sometimes used in Florida and Louisiana. As such, this item is called a "gad."
- gator tooth (Alligator mississippiensis)
- An alligator's tooth is sometimes worn by women and men as a pendant around the neck for protection.
Interestingly, the pendant should not be worn near large bodies of water, such as a river or swamp, as the
pendant will loose its power. The tooth of an alligator may also end up as an ingredient in some mojo bags.
- gator, white or white alligator Alligator mississippiensis
- Like other alligators, white gators come from southeastern USA freshwater wetland areas, rivers, lakes,
and small ponds.
- White gators are very rare in the wild, because they tend to get eatten by predators when still small. The
white coloring is due to a genetic condition. There are two types of white gators,"leucistic alligators"
and "albino alligators."
- Leucistics have electric blue eyes. Albinos have pinkish-red eyes. Leucistics are strong gators, with
nasty tempers. Albinos tend to be more phyically fragile.
- Leucistics are like white ghosts in the water.
- Recently a bunch of small leucistic white gators were discovered in Louisiana in 1987.
- According to local Cajun lore down in parts of Louisiana, managing to look directly into the blue eyes
of a live white gator is powerful good luck.
- ginseng root (Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius)
- Both Asian ginseng roots (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng roots (Panax
quinquefolius) are used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the USA can be found in Chinese
herbalist shops, healthfood stores, and even some spiritual supply stores.
- Traditionally, the roots are used to balance the cool and hot energies in a patient. Both Asian ginseng
and American ginseng roots are taken orally. According to Chinese medicine, ginseng boosts the immune
system as well as improves overall health. It is a healthful stimulant and regarded as an aphrodisiac. The
root is often sold dried, frequently as root shavings, sliced roots, or root powder. Other ginseng products
include tea, carbonated bottled beverages, energy drinks, ginseng extract, ginseng capsules, candy, and
- The English word "ginseng" derives from the Cantonese jên shên and the Hokkien
jîn-sim. The Chinese term literally means literally "man root," which refers to the plant's forked
root shape, resembling a human with legs.
- Asian ginseng grows in northern China, Korea, and eastern Siberia.
- Native to North America, American ginseng, commonly known as "sang," grew in full shade in
wooded regions underneath deciduous hardwood species from Quebec to Minnesota and South Dakota
and down into Georgia. It was also found in Louisiana and Oklahoma. The plant root was
definitely used in folk remedies in the Appalachian mountain range [including the Blue Ridge Mountains
(Maryland, Virginia, & West Virginia)] and Ozark regions.
- In American folk medicine the root has been used to make a tonic, as well as a treatment for hives and
inflammation. The root has been chewed to sooth a "tickling" throat.
- Since the 19th century, the roots have been collected by "sang hunters." Harvesting wild ginseng was
called "goin' sangin'." Due to over harvesting, American ginseng (Panax ginseng) is now an
endangered species. In the 21st century, ginseng is available in cultivated form.
- The plant's forked root and leaves were traditionally used for medicinal purposes and/or for sacred
ceremonies by several Native American East Coast Indian tribes. It was used as a natural restorative or as
a love charm. The Pawnee, Delaware, Fox, and the Appalachians, all used ginseng as
an aphrodisiac. The Menominee employed ginseng to strengthen th mind. The Iroquois
used it for upset stomach.
- In Maryland folklore, four cups of American ginseng (Panax ginseng) tea drunk daily will
cure almost anything. The forked root, like mandrake, was supposed to be a potent aphrodisiac and a charm
against negative energies. A Maryland high woman, or root doctor, might use it in a charm bag. Also, it is
used in an herbal cure for inflammation. Much of the wild American ginseng that was harvested from the
Blue Ridge Mountains was actually sold to Chinese or Hong Kong traders for use in Asia. It is now illegal in
Maryland to harvest wild ginseng,--as it is many other states.
- Much of the ginseng, both Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax
quinquefolius), produced in the USA is now cultivated.
- grits (Zea mays)
- Native American in origin, "grits" is a food of coarsely ground corn that is common in USA Southern
cooking. It is sometimes added to a charm to "feed" it.
- The "Gullah" peoples are a group of folks of African descent who live in the Sea Islands and coastal areas
of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida. "Gullah" is also the creolized language of the Gullahs, based
on English and several other African languages and spoken in Sea Island communities.
- High John the Conqueror Root (Ipomoea jalapa)
- This root is carried in the pocket or as an ingredient in a mojo bag. It is a powerful magic root in hoodoo
practice. Women, as well as men, can carry it. However, High John the Conqueror is sometimes considered a
"man's root" and is sometimes associated with male virility and power. High John the Conqueror is a strong
protective root that assures confidence and strength. It is believed to be able to remove obstacles and achieve
goals. High John the Conqueror Root is also commonly sold as John the Conqueror Root, High John Root, and
Hi John. It is sometimes known as John de conker, John Conjurer, High John, or Juan the Conquistador. High
John the Conqueror Root is not edible and it is never eaten or chewed.
- honeysuckle essential oil
- Genuine honeysuckle essential oil has a sweet floral aroma. This essential oil might be made with any of the
varieties of the Lonicera species. Pure honeysuckle essential oil is expensive and often difficult to purchase,
as the blossoms of honeysuckle do not produce large quantities of essential oil. As pure honeysuckle essential oil is
not intended to be used as a perfume straight out of the bottle and because it is so expensive, most references to
"honeysuckle oil" in hoodoo practice do not refer to pure honeysuckle essential oil. See honeysuckle oil,
honeysuckle/trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), and honeysuckle/white honeysuckle
- honeysuckle oil
- In hoodoo, "honeysuckle oil" is said to aid romance, love, and sexual relations between married partners, and
to encourage fidelity in marriage. Rubbed on the cash register, this scent is also said to attract business. A drop can
be rubbed under the eyes to increase intuition, etc.
- The buyer should be aware that several different types of products labeled "honeysuckle oil" are
available on the spiritual supply and aromatherapy market.
- According to Sharon Falsetto, Essential Oils and Honeysuckle, "The Health Care Center website
states that most honeysuckle essential oil is blended with other oils. In addition, what is marketed as honeysuckle
essential oil may actually be an absolute or an infused oil, meaning that additional chemicals or substances have
been added to it. Infused oils or absolutes do not hold the same therapeutic properties for aromatherapy practice
as pure essential oils."
- Most "honeysuckle oil" for sale is likely already blended with a "base oil" or "carrier oil" and can be safely
applied for perfume or massage purposes. Because it is expensive, it usually is sold in a oil blend, sometimes with
other essential oils. For example, jasmine oil is often blended in with a minuscule amount of genuine honeysuckle
essential oil to create a lovely floral scent.
- Some "honeysuckle oil" is a blend of essential oils and absolutes created to resemble the scent of honeysuckle.
One old recipe named "honeysuckle" contains rose, neroil, vanilla, violet, and a bunch of other good smelling stuff in
almond oil, but no honeysuckle essential oil.
- As always, the savy spiritual shopper should read the lables carefully. See
honeysuckle/trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), honeysuckle/white honeysuckle
(Lonicera japonica), and honeysuckle essential oil.
- honeysuckle/trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Trumpet honeysuckle is a species of honeysuckle native to the eastern USA, down into Florida. Common
names of the Lonicera sempervirens honeysuckle include "trumpet honeysuckle," "woodbine honeysuckle,"
or "coral honeysuckle." Its showy, trumpet-shaped flowers are bright red to pinkish-red and are the reason for the
common names "coral honeysuckle" and "trumpet honeysuckle." These coral colored blossoms are a favorite of
hummingbirds (in Spanish, chuparrosa). It blooms mid-spring and intermittently into the summer. Not
surpringingly, the flowers attract bees and butterflies, as well as hummingbirds.
- In USA Southern folk magic honeysuckle vines are used to magically bind lovers together. Its floral aroma is
a popular scent. Dried honeysuckle blossoms, rose petals, and a cherry stone, can be bound in a red cloth to
sweetly scent a romance between two lovers. Other herbs, like red clover (Trifolium pratense) or
Queen Root (Iris fulva), might be added into the packet. This mojo could be with with a suitable oil.
- In USA folk medicine, the Trumpet honeysuckle leaves were traditionally applied to bee stings after being
ground up by chewing. An infusion of the flowers was used to make a "hot tea" for sore throats. See
honeysuckle/white honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
- honeysuckle/white honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
- White honeysuckle is a species of honeysuckle vine native to eastern Asia which has become naturalized in
much of the USA. This fragrant flower with honey sweet nectar often has both white and yellow flowers blooming
on the same plant. Flower production occurs from late April through July, and the vines are glorious around
mid-summer in June.
- Common names of the Lonicera japonica honeysuckle include "white honeysuckle,"
"suikazura," "jinyinhua," "Japanese honeysuckle," and "Chinese honeysuckle." In the USA
white honeysuckle is classified as a noxious weed in Virginia and Texas, and has been placed on the Florida
Exotic Pest Plant Council’s list of invasive species. Since white honeysuckle is an agressive and invasive species,
there are few restrictions against gathering its leaves, blossoms or vines.
- Perhaps because of the creamy golden and white coloring of these blossoms, dried white honeysuckle has
been used to draw prosperity in a business.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, white honeysuckle has several names, including jin yin hua
("gold silver flower"), and is used to release poisons and heat from the body. See
honeysuckle/trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), honeysuckle essential oil, and honeysuckle oil.
- Hoppin' John
- Hoppin' John is a traditional New Year's Day dish with black-eyed peas, rice, red onion, and pork
served throughout the USA South, which is thought to bring luck and prosperity for the new year. The
black-eyed peas are set to soak overnight on New Year's Eve and then the water is poured out. Both
black-eyed peas and rice swell when cooked, symbolizing prosperity and abundance. The pork can be
either the Christmas ham bone, ham hocks, or bacon. Red onions are often used in luck spells. Of course,
there are many variations to this basic recipe. Some call for spicy red peppers or tabasco sauce. Fresh
baked cornbread often accompanies this New Year's meal, as do collard or turnip greens. The greens are
said to symbolize money. Some folklorists have speculated that the name Hoppin'
John relates to the Southern folk
hero, High John.
- Iron is a highly magical substance and the iron
horseshoe has long been
associated with magic and luck. According to Catherine Yronwode, "...the most commonly encountered lucky charm
North America is the horseshoe." As working animals in a rural society, domestic
horses needed extra
protection for their hooves. Certain type of dangerous spirits do not like iron. Miniature horseshoes
made of silver, gold, or another metal have become a gambler's lucky charm, particularly with horse-racing.
- horseshoe nails
- Iron has a long magical history, and it was definitely a symbol of power and
strength. According to
historians, iron horseshoes and horseshoe nails were introduced around 200 bce. The good luck charm of
a ring made from an iron or steel horseshoe nail became something of a fad in the 1970's. Likewise,
horseshoe nail cross pendants, some wrapped with either green, blue, or gold colored craft wire have been
sold to draw luck and blessings. Iron nails may also be added to bags, spell bottles, etc.
- hyssop water/herb hyssop infusion (Hyssopus officinalis)
- Hyssop was known as "holy herb," and was once used to purify places of worship. It does have
antiseptic properties and can be used as a purifying wash. Supposedly, one should steep one teaspoon of
dried hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) in warm water for 10 minutes and then remove the herb.
One can then add the infusion to bath water, reciting Psalm 51:7: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Pregnant women should avoid use of hyssop. Children
should likewise avoid use.
- indigo dye
- Grown on plantations, indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) was a major cash crop for South
Carolina between 1740 and 1790. In the pre-industrial age, the indigo crop was grown for making blue
indigo dye. This dye was historically extracted from plants cultivated by slave labor.
- An "infusion" is obtained by steeping or soaking a substance (usually in water) to extract components
and "infuse" them into the water. Often the goal is to draw medicinal or herbal qualities from the flowers,
leaves, fruit, or stems of a plant into water--scenting or flavoring the water. As the term "infusion" was not
originally used in hoodoo, the "infusions" are often called "waters," "teas," or "herbal teas."
- Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus , also Gracilaria)
- Irish moss is a species of red algae seaweed (Chondrus crispus) which grows abundantly along
the rocky parts of the British Isles, Atlantic coast of Europe, and some places in North America. It is also
commonly known "carrageen moss," "pearl moss," "seamuisin," "curly moss," "curly gristle moss,"
"Dorset weed," "sea moss," "white wrack," and "jelly moss." The substance "carrageenan" in Irish moss is
used as a thickener and stabilizer in dairy products. In Ireland and parts of Scotland, Irish Moss is boiled in
milk and strained, before sugar and other flavorings such as vanilla, cinnamon, brandy or whisky are added.
The finished dish, which is somewhat similar to tapioca, blancmange, or a white pudding, is said to be a kind
of jelly--hence one of the the common names for Chondrus crispus is "jelly moss."
- Irish moss has also been used to make a popular beverage in the Caribbean--which is called "Irish Moss."
The Jamaican drink Irish Moss was made by boiling the Irish moss for about an hour in water. Flavorings
may be added--along with milk or sweetened condensed milk, rum, linseed, and spices. The resulting Jamaican
drink is very thick and is usually served chilled. According to folklore, this traditional rum Jamaican drink has
beneficial aphrodisiac qualities, particularly for men. According to practitioners of Jamaican Kumina
to ensure or increase virility, men drink Irish Moss and linseed.
- A bottled Jamaican-style non-milk, non-alcoholic white thick sweet drink called, "Irish Moss," is available
in speciality food stores in the USA.
- The "Irish moss" seaweed now used in the Caribbean might be from another genus of red algae seaweed,
Gracilaria, which can also be used as a thickener and stabilizer.
- Sun dried "Irish moss" is sold as a good luck plant. Some hoodoo practitioners use it. Irish moss is
carried on trips, particularly across waters, for protection and safety. Some folks place the whitish brown
seaweed under rugs to ensure steady flow of money and luck into a household like waves from the ocean. The
seaweed is also an ingredient in some mojo bags for money with a drop of luck oil to increase its strength. It
can be used in a spell jar in a business to bring in customers. Some say it is an excellent gambler's herb.
- In Trinidad and Tobago, the Jacakalantan is a mysterious light that appears to folks,
then suddenly vanishes after misleading them to a desolate spot far from their intended
destination. See Jacky-my-lantern.
- Jacky-my-lantern is a spirit who is said to haunt the USA southern wetlands. His
tale is told throughout the South and can be heard in Virginia, the Carolinas, and
Georgia. According to the story, the Jacky-my-lantern spirit is condemned to wanter
betwixt and between the worlds. A light from a Jacky-my-lantern can compell a
traveler at night to follow it, causing the traveler to become hopelessly lost.
- Jezebel oil
- Jezebel oil is traditionally made by placing a Jezebel Root (Iris hexagona,
Iris fulva, or Iris foliosa) with jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinenis) and
either sunflower oil or castor oil. This traditional recipe also contains essential oils
of myrrh, frankincense, bergamot, and amyris. Using castor oil is for sterner commanding
spells. To seduce a lover and intensify and relationship, a woman will mix the jojoba
oil with sunflower oil. She will dress a purple candle with the jezebel oil mixture
and roll it in powdered cinnamon and ground rose pedals.
- Jezebel Root/Queen Root (Iris hexagona, Iris fulva, or Iris foliosa)
- Jezebel Root or Queen Root can be the root of one of at least three different varieties of plants of
Louisiana Irises. "Dixie iris" (Iris hexagona) grows in wet spots. Its beautiful blue blooms can found in
ditches, swamps, and slow moving shallow streams in either full sun or half shade in the USA Eastern South. It
is the oldest recognized species from the Louisiana iris group (Hexagonae), having been named by
Thomas Walter in his book Flora Caroliniana (1788). Like other irises in the
Louisiana series, "Dixie iris" inhabits wet spots. It
is found in ditches, swamps and shallow slow moving streams in either full sun or
half shade. The Louisiana iris,
"copper iris" (Iris fulva), is found in wet areas in the Mississippi Valley
and as far north as Kentucky and
Ohio. The wildflower blossoms are usually a rusty red color, brownish orange, and
rarely a yellowish hue. It
was catalogued in the New Orleans area in 1812. The Louisiana iris,
Iris foliosa, also known as
Iris brevicaulis, is commonly found growing in swamps and wet meadows. This species ranges
north into Ohio and west into Kansas.
- In American hoodoo folk magic, Jezebel Root is a woman's root and is used to empower many women's
spells in hoodoo. Small pieces of Jezebel Root may be tied in in mojo bags for several reasons. A small piece
can be tied in a red flannel bag with orrisroot, dried rose buds, sweet flag, catnip, and Adam and Eve Root to
attract a wealthy man as husband. Tied in a green flannel bag, Jezebel Root it can help women get raises from
bosses. A woman's nation sack may or may not contain one large piece or some small, chopped bits of Jezebel
Root. In Southern magical folklore, Jezebel is envisioned as a powerful African queen, capable of commanding
respect and obedience from men, as well as from other women. This magical root is also commonly sold under
the name "Queen Elizabeth Root"--as Queen Elisabeth I of England was also a powerful woman in history.
- Nowadays, "orrisroot," "orris root," or "orris," which is the root of the "Florentine iris"
(Iris florentina or Iris germanica, Iris germanica florentina) is sometimes used as a
substitute for Jezebel Root, although occasionally both will be used together. (Ground orris was used in the
feminine pharmacopeia for making perfumes, makeup, and medicines. Possibly, the roots of the "Dixie iris"
and "copper iris" were more commonly used in the USA South in women's magic, because they grew wild in
the wetlands rather than the root of "Florentine iris," which hailed from Italy.)
- Job's tears (Coix lacryma jobi)
- "Job’s tears" is an annual grass the produces a fruit shaped like a tear drop. It is said that the biblical Job shed
many tears. "Mine eye poureth out tears unto God." Job 16:20.
- This grain-bearing tropical plant has been naturalized in the Southern USA as well the Western hemisphere
tropics. It is a common weed in USA, but is grown for its pearl tear-shapped seeds. It was orginally native to
- The common names of this plant include "Job seed," "seed beads," "Job's-tears," "job's tear beads,"
"tears of Job," "lacrima di Giobbe," "tears of Jesus," "lacrime di Gesu," "tear grass," "larmilles," "Mary's tears,"
"Juno's tears," "lagrima de San Pedro," "tears of Saint Peter," "larme de Job," "larmes de Job," "lagrimas de Job,"
"millet," "Chinese pearl barley," "coix seed," "coixseed," "coix," "coix lachrymal," "coix ma-yuen," "coix stenocarpa,"
"jali," "hanjeli," "yi hato-mugi," "yi yi," "yi yi ren," "dehulled adlay," "adlay," or "adlai."
- In hoodoo, seven Job’s tears may be carried in one's pocket to avoid tears and bring luck. They can also be
strung to together as a good luck necklace, but around Catholic Cajun Louisiana They are most often strung into
Job's tears rosaries. See Job's tears rosaries. See tears of San Pedro memorial rosary
(santo rosario luto de "lágrimas de San Pedro").
- The fruit shaped like tears have been used for beads throughout history. In India, archaeological digs have
uncovered strung Coix lacryma jobi dating back to 2000 bce. They have been used both as beads for
good luck necklaces and rosaries. The grain is a rare natural bead, perfect for stringing. At its tip is a hole that
allows the flower to emerge. When the fruit is picked off the stem, the rounded end breaks off, leaving a hole. The
inside is easily pierced. The seeds when ripe are often a lovely pearly gray.
- The grains were once an important source of food. In the Near East, Coix lacryma jobi ranked along
with wheat and barley. In the Americas, it ranked beans, corn, squash and pepper. In Asia, it was one of the earliest
domesticated plants, along with rice. The seeds, called "adlay," are still eaten as a cereal in parts of Asia.
- In Africa, under the pillow, these seeds would promote children's sleep. West Indies a decoction of crushed
seeds is used in cases of measles for its diuretic properties. The leaves have long been chewed to soothe toothaches.
The pearly gray seeds are used in teething necklaces (le collier de dentition). The teething necklace is believed to be
most effective at relieving or suppressing a baby's tears due to a first tooth appearing.
- Job's tears rosaries
- According to Keagan LeJeune, Job's tears rosaries are traditional in Catholic Cajun Louisiana. These roseries
are often given and received in connection with kinship ties and important family events/rites of passage. LeJeune
wrote in Binding a Family: Examining Job's Tears Rosaries as Artifacts of Kinship, (1999-2012): "For many,
rosaries are common gifts for first communion, confirmation, and marriage. People often pray the rosary for an
expectant mother and her child. The saying of a rosary holds an important position at a funeral wake, and often
someone, an established member of the church parish who is noted for their particular skill at saying the rosary, will
be called in to lead the prayer."
- The seeds of the grass species, Coix lacryma-jobi, are idealy suited to stringing as beads or roseries,
because of the tear-like shape of the seeds. In English, the seeds are called "Job's tears" because few have shed as
many tears as the biblical Job. ("Mine eye poureth out tears unto God." Job 16:20.) In French, they are called
Larme-de-Job (tear-of-Job), larmes de Job, larmilles, or graine chapelet
(seed rosary). The seeds ripen in late September and the plant is cultivated by Cajuns specifically for the purpose
of getting seeds to make rosaries. The rosary makers whom LeJeune interviewed "...consider the uniqueness of the
plant and the specificity of its use as an example of God's divine planning....The holes present in each seed, the
varnished look the seeds gain after being prayed, and the variety of colors indicate an amazing, divine design for
many rosary makers."
- jojoba oil (Simmondsia chinenis)
- "Jojoba oil" is a botanical extract of the seed of the jojoba tree. Technically, "jojoba oil" is not an oil, but rather
a liquid wax with a golden hue. The jojoba tree is a small shrub native to Arizona, northern Mexico, Southern and
Baja California. Jojoba has long been used as an ingredient for beauty hair and skin products. Thus, jojoba is also
used in a number of hoodoo reciepes.
- king cake
- See Mardi Gras king cake
- King Solomon Wisdom Oil
- This traditional hoodoo formula is often made with Solomon Seal Root (Polygonatum multiflorum, Polygonatum odoratum), or Solomon's Seal Root, American (Polygonatum biflorum), Hyssop, and Rose. See Solomon Seal Root.
- kola nut (cola)
- Kola nut is a nut-like seed that grows on one of several evergreen kola tree species in the genus
Cola. These seeds are also known as "cola seed," "cola," "cola nut," and "guru nut." Kola trees
(Cola vera, Cola acuminata, Cola nitida) are native to the tropical rainforests of Africa. The kola
tree bears fruit that is shaped like a star. Inside the fruit, about a dozen round or square seeds can be found in
a white seed shell.
- Kola nuts are chewed in many West African cultures to restore vitality, combat fatigue, and ease hunger
pangs and and thirst. The kola nut has a bitter flavor and contains a high amount of caffeine Kola nuts and kola
extract are the key ingredient in "cola" carbonated drinks. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two of the most
well-known "cola" carbonated beverages.
- Many Africans consume kola nuts on a regular basis for their medicinal effects: stimulant,
anti-depressant, digestion aid, and, allegedly, an aphrodisiac.
- When fresh, kola nuts are pink, red, or white, but become brown and hard once they have dried.
- Kola nuts have long been an important part of the traditional spiritual practices in West Africa,
particularly Nigeria. Kola nuts are used in a traditional divination system. Kola nuts are also offerings during
prayer, honoring nature spirits, and ancestor veneration. They are used as gifts at significant life
events--including naming ceremonies, weddings, and funerals.
- Apparently the traditional divination system using kola nuts, called Obi divination, is presently increasing
within parts of the USA and the Caribbean. Kola nuts are an acceptable offering for many of the orishas. See
"cola" carbonated beverages.
- Kumina, also known as Cumina, is a creation of the rich culture of Jamaica. Jamaican "Kumina" refers
to a type of Afro-Jamaican syncretic religion. "Kumina" also refers to an art form of music and folk dance. Within
the religion of Kumina there are apparently two different forms, Obeah and Myal. Apparently, Obeah relates
more to the practice of folk magic, sorcery, and spirit work, and Myal relates more to dance, music, and
spirit possession. Some Jamaican folklore seems to have influenced some USA East coast Southern hoodoo
folklore. Some Kumina or Obeah folklore involving roots and herbs seems to have been absorbed into USA
East coast Southern hoodoo. Tales of Jamaican "duppy" and the USA South "Boo Hag" may have had some
influence on each other.
- lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- In European magic, the calming scent of lavender is used for love and friendship. Lavender is an ingredient in
one of the the hoodoo formulas for "All Saints Oil." However, lavender water, perfume, and scented oil was
considered an aphrodisiac by some Western herbalists. According to Stephanie Rose Bird, lavender essential oil was
used by some hoodoo practitioners to attract the attentions of those of the same gender.
- lily essential oil (Lilium candidum)
- The white lily, commonly known as the "Madonna lily," grows throughout Mediterranean regions and western
Asia. White lilies bloom from May onwards. Although often cultivated as a garden plant, it can be found
spontaneously growing in the fields around gardens and country houses. The essential oil is used in the perfume
industry. Parts of the white lily plant have been used in healing cream recipes to treat
skin wounds. Mixed with olive oil or another base oil, the essential oil from the Madonna lily can be dedicated to
- "Blessed Mary oil," according to Anna Riva, can be applied to the inner wrists and temples prior to prayer:
"Blessed Mary, Mother of God in my hour of need I call upon you. Enfold your humble child into your love;
strengthen me so that I might conquer this harmful and burdensome condition."
- Little John, Low John, Lo John, Chewing John (Alpina galanga)
- This root is also known as galangal. It is chewed as part of spells for justice and seeking victory in court, as
well as magic that is intended to protect against hexes and jinxes.
See galangal oil and galangal essential oil.
- lodestone (magnetite)
- A lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet. Lodestones, or naturally magnetized pieces of magnetite,
attract small pieces of iron. Interestingly, only a small amount of earth's magnetite is found to be naturally
magnetized as lodestones. Lodestones were viewed as marvels by various ancient cultures. In the 6th century
bce, they were studied by the Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus. The ability of a lodestone to attract iron
likewise intrigued the ancient Romans. In modern folk magic, they are used to "attract" or "draw" love, wealth,
etc. According to Catherine Yronwode, lodestones are a "vital ingredient in African-American hoodoo
practice." Lodestones are used to "charge" magical oils. They may be placed singly, or in pairs, in mojo bags.
Lodestones are supposed to attract power, favors, and gifts. They are often "fed" ground iron filings, known as
"magnetic sand." Lodestones can be used to attract just about anything you want. Lodestones are often
blessed in hoodoo with Psalm 23 (KJV)
- A 21st century word of caution about lodestones: keep lodestones away from computers and
magnetic storage media. Their magnetic fields may be strong enough to damage your equipment.
- Louisiana magic lamp
- The Louisiana magic lamp was an 18th century style hurricane lamp, kerosene lamp, or oil lamp. The lamp is
fueled by castor oil, olive oil, and/or kerosene. These magic lamps are used in spellwork, spiritual petitions, and
divinations. In lampadonmancy as well as other lamp work, attention is paid to the shape of the flame--whether it
burns high, bright, low, dim, smokes, etc.
- The Louisiana magic lamp is still used by some practitioners of hoodoo today. Some prefer using the magic
lamp, rather than the more well known candles.
- Lucky Black Cat oil
- No felines are harmed in the making of this oil. Lucky Black Cat oil, also known as
Black Cat oil, is a traditional hoodoo recipe combining the essential oils of
bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), and clary sage
Salvia sclarea) in a base oil of either castor oil or sweet almond oil with steel wool and iron shot.
Traditionally this oil is used to break hexes and other negative conditions, as well as protection if castor oil is the
base oil. It can be sprinkled at entrances to the home to reverse and remove malign
influences. However, if it is to be used to draw luck, especially in attracting the
opposite sex, the base oil is sweet almond. See cat. See Lucky Cat candles.
- Lucky Buddha Candles
- Spiritual supply stores frequently sell candles in typical devotional glass jars labeled
"Lucky Buddha," depicting a laughing, bald, seated Asian figure in an oriental
monk's robe. (I spotted these
back in the mid 1980's). This image is sometimes said to be Maitreya, the
"Buddha-yet-to-come who brings
prosperity." According to Judika Illes, Encyclopedia of Spirits: the Ultimate Guide to the Magic of
Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods and Goddesses, the Future Buddha, Maitreya,
is the essence of compassion and loving kindness.
This image is known as the "Lucky Buddha," the "Laughing Buddha," the "Fat Buddha," or "Budai." This
Chinese figure is a spirit of luck, happiness, laughter, and the wisdom of
contentment. He is usually depicted
seated, but sometimes standing, always with a laughing facial expression and large ear lobes--carrying a linen
bag which may contain rice, coins, candy, or other wonderful things. He is
frequently carrying children. His big belly
is a symbol of abundance, luck, and generosity.
- This symbolic Chinese representation of the forthcoming Buddha is well known in
the USA. There is a belief
that if you rub his belly, it will bring good luck and wealth. Small figurines are sold in Asian shops. Larger
representations are seen in Chinese restaurants and businesses in Chinatown. His image is found in numerous
amulets. He is sometimes depicted riding on a magical creature, such as the Dragon Turtle. Many Asian
people also believe that this image is useful in the practice of Feng Shui, as the proper placement of an
auspicious symbol may bring good fortune.
- Budai is a Chinese folkloric deity and, according to legend, was an eccentric Zen Buddhist monk in
China (907--923 ce). He is depicted wearing a voluminous robe and carrying, or wearing, prayer beads.
The name "Budai" means "Cloth Sack," referring to his bag. As a wandering monk, Budai is said to travel,
sometimes giving candy to poor children. He has also been incorporated into a number of Chinese Taoist
folklore traditions.This same Buddha depicted standing with arms raised is probably the Japanese, Hotei.
Hotei is one of the Shichi Fukujin, the seven Japanese Shinto-gods of luck. (Budai is not the founder of
Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, the Supreme Buddha, who was a spiritual teacher from ancient India.)
- In any case, since the practice of hoodoo has never operated in a cultural vacuum, African-Americans
watch Asian movies, eat Chinese food and fortune cookies, etc. Hence, the Chinese spirit of luck and wealth
has manifested the hoodoo practice of calling upon the "Lucky Buddha" for favors Supposedly gamblers
would set a light that they win by the help of God with a "Lucky Buddha" candle. Alternatively, one might
speak aloud the petition, "With the blessing of Old Buddha, I'm going to be lucky tonight," while lighting the
- Spiritual supply stores now sell "Lucky Buddha" figure candles in a variety of colors and sizes.
- The green "Lucky Buddha" candle is for family, harmony, health, longevity, peace, and well being. The
gold/yellow "Lucky Buddha" is lit to draw wealth, prosperity, and strength. The pink "Lucky Buddha" candle
is burned for love, reconciliation, and romance between husbands and wives.
- According to Buddha: "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the
candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
- Lucky Cat candles
- Figure candles in the form of cats are popular items sold at spiritual merchant shops.
They can often be purchased in a variety of colors. Dressed with the proper oils, red
cat figure candles are used in romance and sex. Green cat candles can be used to draw
luck and specifically money. The black cat candles are used for a variety of purposes
to draw powerful good luck, as well as repell jinxes, hexes, bad luck, and evil intent.
Gamblers, for example, may dress a black cat candle with Lucky Black Cat oil,
galangal root oil (Alpina galanga) or a similar luck drawing oil.
- Lucky Rice/green rice/fixed rice
- Rice (Oryza sativa) is the staple food of more than half the world's population. It symbolizes
sustenance in Asia; the word for rice is the same as the word for "meal" in China, Japan, and Vietnam. Rice
has come to symbolize prosperity and happiness in many parts of the world. In the USA, handfuls of white rice
are thrown at newly wed brides and grooms. Rice which swells when it is cooked is part of the USA South
New Year's dish, Hoppin' John, symbolyzing adundance for the coming year.
- Though rice is not native to the Americas, it was introduced to the Caribbean and South America by
Europeans. It was a traditional food plant in Africa, and was recognized by those brought here during the
African Diaspora. Rice grows best in wetlands and swamps.
- Because of its association with prosperity and happiness, all rice could be considered "lucky."
However spiritual supply stores sell packets of green-dyed rice known as
"Lucky Rice," "green rice," or "fixed rice." This green colored rice is used in money drawing magic
and is not intended for human or animal consumption. It is generally made
with white rice, rubbing alcohol, water, and green food-coloring. In modern Southern spiritual traditions,
green tinted rice can be used in a number of ways. It can sprinkled in front of one's business to bring in trade.
It can be stored in a tightly lidded glass jar with coins to draw prosperity. It can be displayed in small packet
on the wall with a green stone. Some practitioners claim that to be really effective
"Lucky Rice"/"green rice" "fixed rice" ought to have a shredded dollar bill stored with it.
Others claim that a variety of different coins is sufficient.
- Mardi Gras king cake
- In New Orleans, Louisiana, people bake ring-shaped cakes which are served as part of the Mardi Gras
celebration. They are called "king cakes." Traditionally, each cake contains a figurine of an infant, hidden
inside. The one who finds the small infant figurine in her/her slice receives good luck, but traditionally incurs
Mardi Gras duties for the next year. In 21st century king cakes, the figurine is usually replaced by a tiny
- In Mexico, people bake ring-shaped cakes in honor of the "Tres Reyes Magos" who brought gifts to
the Christ Child. These cakes are called "Rosca de Reyes" and they are served as part of the celebration
of "El Dia de Reyes." Traditionally, each cake contains a figurine of the infant Jesus, hidden inside. It is
considered good luck to be the one to find the figurine. Whoever gets the figurine in her/his slice is supposed
to take the figurine to the local church. S/he will provide the tamales and atole for the Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) feast in February. See Tres Reyes Magos.
- marigold (Tagetes erecta)
- The marigold, which is also known as the "Mexican marigold," "Aztec marigold,"
"cempasúchil," and "Flor de Muertos" (Flower of the Dead), is native to Mexico
and Central America. The blooms are naturally bright yellow, golden, or orange colors.
The Spanish name cempasúchil or cempazúchil is dervived from the name
from the Aztec language, Nahuatl. The Nahuatl name "zempoalxochitl"
for this plant literally translated as "twenty flower."
- This plant was regarded as the flower of the dead in pre-Hispanic Mexico. The flower is
commonly planted in Mexican cemeteries. The yellow blossoms are used during Los Dias
de los Muertos (October 31, November 1, and 2) and are said to be sacred to La Santa
- This marigold may help protect garden plants from certain pests, as will some of the other
marigold plants from the Tagetes species.
- The plant has long been gathered and cultivated for numerous purposes. Its petals are
used as natural dye.
- Because of the flower's coloring, it's often used in magic to draw wealth. The common English
name, "marigold," derived from "Mary's Gold," due it association with the Virgin Mary. If the dried
petals are burned on charcoals, they can be used for clairvoyance or to communicate with
spirits. Divination items can be consecrated in the smoke.
- The Tagetes erecta marigold is only one of several varieties including Tagetes
lucida, Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, and Tagetes minuta.
- Marigold plants from the Tagetes species should not be confused with
"pot marigold" also known as "calendula" (Calendula officinalis).
- In the south of France, black cats are now believed to bring good luck to their owners, who respect and care
for them. This belief is related to the folklore of the chat d'argent, matagots or mandragots,
which are magician cats, magic cats, or sorcerer cats.
- The chat d'argent is the "silver (coin) cat" or "money cat." This creature of French folklore is apparently an important influence
in the hoodoo Lucky Black Cat. Legends involving the money cat, chat d'argent, matagots or mandragots,
are also tied into sorcellierie, witchcraft and superstitions regarding the black cat.
- The money cat [chat d'argent/silver cat/silver (coin) cat] or matagot is always black. This cat is often in service to either a sorcerer or witch. Stroking a money cat/matagot brings health and wealth.
A money cat should be fed with the first bite of the meal at dinner. A suitable box
should be provided for the money cat to sleep in. Finally, the cat must be given on to
someone else before his master's death.
- In Gascony, the money cat (le chat d'argent) is called a "mandragot." In Provence,
the money cat is called a "matagot." The name "le chat d'argent" is mostly used in
Brittany. An interesting connection to USA hoodoo lore is the mention of crossroads as
the place to go get a money cat, (le chat d'argent), matagot or mandragot. It is likely
that Francophone folkore brought stories of this creature to Louisiana. A more detailed
account of the money cat folklore is at Matagots.
- mimosa oil
- "Mimosa fragrance oil" is described as having a delicate floral scent which lifts the spirit and sooths worries.
Nine drops of mimosa fragrance oil, added to a warm bath soak on a Friday night, will help someone find the
answers regarding romance during dreams. What is often sold as "mimosa oil" is a "fragrance oil."
- It is also possible to purchase "mimosa essential oil" (Albizia julibrissin) which is used by
aromatherapists for "protection, purification, and prophetic dreams." See mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin).
- mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin)
- The beautiful mimosa tree has many common names: "silktree," "powderpuff tree," "silk acacia,"
"Lenkoran acacia," "pink siris," "Japanese mimosa," and "bastard tamarind." This tree is NOT the same plant
as "flowering mimosa" (Acacia dealbada) in spite of the confusion caused by similar names
"silk acacia" (Albizia julibrissin) and "flowering mimosa" (Acacia dealbada).
- Originally from China, the lovely mimosa was introduced to the USA in 1745. It has been cultivated
since the 18th century primarily for use as an ornamental tree, due to its attractive fern-like leaves and
fragrant and "pom-pom" silky-looking thread blossoms, which range in color from deep pink to pale pink
to white. The tree flowers in June and July. The blossoms grow in dense clusters arranged on stems on the
branches in a tight cluster of stamens 2–3 inches long. These delicate flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees,
and hummingbirds. Not surprisingly some people still grow an ornamental tree for its beauty.
- Unfortunately, the mimosa tree has become an "invasive plant species" or "weed" in the USA. Mimosa
adapts to almost any well-drained soil. Mimosa has a tendency to readily establish itself in the wild after
escaping from cultivation. It grows rapidly. The tree is often seen along roadsides and open vacant lots in
suburban and urban areas. It can become a problem along banks of waterways, where its seeds are easily
transported in water. Mimosa is a strong competitor in open areas or forest edges due to its ability to grow
in various soil types, its ability to produce large amounts of seed, and its ability to re-sprout when cut back
or damaged. After the flowers fade, the tree grows hundreds of 6-inch long, bean-like, brown seed pods,
which hang on the tree through winter. These pods almost look like tamarind seed pods, hence the name
"bastard tamarind." The seeds have impermeable seed coats that allow them to remain dormant for many years.
- Mimosa is now considered an invasive plant species that is disrupting native plant communities in most
of the USA Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, and as far west as Texas.
- I recount all the above information so that folks will understand that mimosa is not an endangered plant
nor is it legally protected in the wild in the USA South. Hence you can cheerfully gather all the seed pods for
magical purposes. Magically, the seed pods are used in spells for abundance and psychic dreams, and relates
to the ethereal beauty of the tree and its blossoms. It is said that mimosa aids someone to
find the answers s/he seeks.
- These pods can be tied in bags, stored in jars, etc. I
remember playing with the seed pods in Florida as a child. The red bean-like seeds are extremely poisonous
to animals and should not be ingested by either human or animals. The pods should not be buried as part of
any spell, same with the seeds.
- The Chinese name for the mimosa tree is hehuan. Hehuan translates as
"shut happy." At night on cool evenings, the leaves of this tree fold up. The name supposedly
symbolizes a happy couple in bed.
- In Spanish, the word mimosa (feminine)/mimoso (masculine) means
"affectionate." The feminine form, mimosa, also has several shades of meaning
including "beguiling," "playful," "snuggly," "coquette," frolicsome," "pleasing to touch (hug),"
"cuddly," and "endearingly soft." Hence, the pink mimosa tree blossoms and green leaves
are especially used in ingredients for mojo bags involving love and romance.
See mimosa oil.
- mojo bean
- Sicilian immigrants brought the March 19th tradition of St. Joseph's Day altars to New Orleans,
Louisiana, USA. A "mojo bean" is a dried fava bean (vica fava). Fava beans are traditionally
placed on St. Joseph's Day altars and given to people as good luck charms. Supposedly, carrying a dried
fava bean ensures that one will always have the essentials of life. In light of this tradition, fava beans have
become one of the items found in the contents of mojo hands/mojo bags. Mojo beans are
also called St. Joseph beans.
- mojo bag/mojo hand
- A "mojo bag" or "mojo hand" is also known as a "hand," "conjure hand," "lucky hand,"
"conjure bag," "prayer bag,"
"trick bag," "root bag," "gris-gris bag," "gri-gri," "charm bag," or even more
euphemistically as a "sachet." ConjureMan Ali in The Conjurer's Secret Weapon commented:
"I was raised calling them conjure hands, prayer bags, and spirit bags." A mojo hand or mojo bag is a
containing one or more magical items in African-American hoodoo magic. It is very similar to the
Caribbean "oanga bag" or "wanga bag." The mojo is most probably an African-derived practice.
- Many "Southern style" conjure bags or mojo bags are made of red flannel. (Interestingly, red flannel
charm bags are often used in the Blue Ridge Mountains' folk magic.) However some practitioners use
certain colors of cloth for the bag, relating to the bag's specific purpose. Green flannel cloth might be used
to make a "money mojo" or "money charm." Blue flannel cloth might be used to make a "peaceful mojo." Etc.
- What items a mojo hand contains will depend on the purpose of the bag. According to Catherine
Yronwode, a mojo hand to draw money might have a John the Conqueror root wrapped up in a $2 bill,
a silver "Mercury" dime, a lodestone, and a pinch of brown sugar, all tied in a flannel bag. Someone
might also add three black-eyed peas or a "mojo bean" to the contents. This bag will need to be rubbed
(anointed with) with lemon oil or Van Van Oil from time to time.
- There are similar practices in traditional European and British folk magic which may have grown up
independently of each other. Likewise the "mojo bag" and Native American "medicine pouch"/"medicine bag"
are similar practices, but likely grew up independently of each other. African-American "mojo hands" are
usually made of cloth. Native American "medicine pouches" are usually made of leather.
- Moses Incense
- "Moses Incense" is sometime called "Holy Incense." According to Catherine Yronwode, "Moses is an old hoodoo formula for oil, incense, sachet
powders, and bath crystals that are intended for the use of those who wish to work with the spirit of Moses for protection, justice under the law, and
freedom from oppressive conditions." Naturally there exist several versions for the powdered incense recipe for this old hoodoo formula. For
example, Lucky Mojo Co. sells Moses Powdered Incence which is Catherine Yronwode's own secret blend of this old hoodoo formula. Victorie Inc.
also manufactures their own blend which they dubbed "Holy Incense."
- A description of this incense can be found in Exodus 30:34-37. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and
onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:: And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection
after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the
tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not
make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Exodus 30:34-37 (KJV)
- Below are comments and speculations the ingredients likely used in a Moses Incense recipe.
- Frankincense: Frankincense resin (Boswellia sacra, Boswellia frereana, and Boswellia bhaw-dajiana) is frequent still used as a
"church incence." It has been burned as a holy offering to sundry deities for thousands of years. Frankincense resin is also known as levonah zach
(Hebrew), olibanum, and dhoop.
- Galbanum: Galbanum was the aromatic gum resin, from Ferula gummosa and Ferula galbaniflua) In Hebrew, both the gum resin
and plant was known as khelbanah, and it was imported from Persia by Arab traders who called it helbane. Galbanum resin has an earthy aroma,
"a very strong green, turpentine scent." In incence galbanum is manily used as a fixative. The gum resin has been also used as a celery-like culinaray
- Onycha: Some have deduced that "onycha" meant the "operculum" of a sea snail found in the Red Sea. The Victorie Inc webpage explained that
operculum was used in ancient perfume and incense formulas "as a fixative to help amplify the overall fragrance of a compound or formula." However
not all agreeed that "onycha" meant the operculum mollusks were considered unclean creatures. "Shecheleth was the orginal Hebrew word for onycha.
Some claim that "shecheleth" actually referred to "labdanum," a resin from hoary rock-rose (Cistus ladaniferus, variety Cistus creticus).
- Stacte: "Stacte" was the Greek term used for the Hebrew word "nataf." Stacte is likely either Styrax
(Styrax officinalis) or Benzoin/Gum
Benjamin (Styrax benzoin). Styrax (Styrax officinalis)is typically used as a fixative in in fragrance compounds. Others think it could have
been storax resin from the Turkish sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis). Others suggest stacte is "stacte myrrh" which could be a form of myrrh
extract, which has been extracted from myrrh resin heated over fire.
- Sweet Spices: The sweet spices are not specifically named in Exodus but could have been myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and calamus. A modern recipe might use essential oils of myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and calamus.
- According to Chanan Morrison, Jewish oral tradition stated there were eleven ingredients in the "ketoret" (incense) .
- 70 maneh each of the "balsam"(nataf ), "onycha" (shekheleth), galbanum" (khelbanah), and "pure frankincense" (levonah zach).
- 16 maneh each of myrrh, cassia, spikanard, and saffron.
- 12 maneh of costus.
- 9 maneh of cinnamon.
- 3 maneh of cinnamon bark.
- See Moses Oil.
- Moses Oil or Oil of Moses
- This oil mixture is usually called the "Oil of Moses." There is another mixture "Holy Oil of Moses" which is
probably more or less the same reciepe. "Oil of Moses" is a holy oil.
- Moses was a man of God and the greatest magician in the bible. Hoodoo practitioners recoginze him as a
mighty hoodoo mountain man. His oil is a very powerful oil and used in many forms of spiritual and magical work.
It can consecrate altars, utensils, and items for working. It can be used to anointing positive talismans, blessing,
prophetic work, and spiritual insights.
- The recipe for this oil was dervived from Exodus 30: 22-24 "Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses,
saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon
half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of
cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin..."
- One modern interpretation for this reciepe was: Take about five liters of olive oil and add about six kilograms
of cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum), six kilograms of myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), three
kilograms of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), and three kilograms of calamus (Acorus calamus).
Biblical scholars debate what are the correct amounts. Besides individual hoodoo doctors and conjure men probably
have their own "secret" reciepes for the Oil of Moses.
- Another modern Moses Oil recipe used modern essential oils mixed with olive oil: one teaspoon cassia
(Cinnamomum aromaticum) essential oil, one teaspoon myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) essential
oil, one half teaspoon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) essential oil, one half teaspoon calamus
(Acorus calamus) essential oil, and three and one half ounces of olive oil.
- Moses is famous as the spiritual leader who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and to sweet freedom in
the Promised Land. Moses is famously known as the "Law Giver" because the Ten Commandments were revealed
to Moses when the LORD made a covenant with his people in Mount Horeb.
- Biblical tradition stated Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, "The Five Books of
Moses"--Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers. (The Pentateuch is more properly
known as the Torah in Judaism. The Torah is the most sacred book in Jewish scripture.) Moses was also the
reputed author of several works of magic, including the infamous Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses,
which is a venerable magical text in hoodoo practice.
- According to Cat Yronwode in MOSES SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES IN HOODOO ROOTWORK,
"Moses" is not only a name for an old hoodoo formula for oil, "Moses" is the name of "...incense, sachet powders,
and bath crystals that are intended for the use of those who wish to work with the spirit of Moses for protection,
justice under the law, and freedom from oppressive conditions."
- The recipe for Moses Oil is somewhat similar to Abramelin Oil because they are both dervived from the same bibical
passage in Exodus 30. See Moses Incense.
- Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
- The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a small-headed, slender-tailed dove. This bird is also
known as the "American Mourning Dove," "Eastern Mourning Dove," "Rain Dove," "Turtle Dove," "Carolina
Turtledove," or "Carolina Pigeon." Their plaintive call woo-OO-oo-oo-oo has a distinctively sorrowful
sound, and is the reason for the name "Mourning Dove."
- Both Mourning Dove parents incubate and care for the young. The species is generally monogamous, which
makes them a symbol of fidelity and love. Mated pairs will often preen each other's feathers.
- The range of this species includes the continental USA, most of Mexico, and even up into southern Canada.
These birds are one of the most widespread and adaptable North American birds, and they occupy a wide variety
of open and semi-open habitats, including urban and suburban areas, farms, fields, and lightly wooded areas. They
avoid thick forest and swamps. Mourning Doves feed on seeds almost exclusively. Seeds make up about 99% of
their diet, and bird watching enthusiasts set up bird feeders in their yards to attract Mouring Doves.
- Spring migration north runs from March to May. The voice of the Carolina Turtledove in the USA South was
employed in divination of a forthcoming marriage. When a Georgia girl heard the plaintive call
woo-OO-oo-oo-oo, she ought to take nine steps forward and nine backward, then take off her right shoe.
In that shoe, she will spy a hair which is the same color of the hair of the man whom she is destined to marry. In part
this folk practice related to Song of Solomon 2:11-12, "For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our
- However, other Georgia folklore claimed a Mourning Dove (aka "moanin' dove") cooing outside a bedroom
window of a sick person could be a death omen. In this case, the Mourning Dove might be lamenting the
forthcoming death. See feathers, Mourning Dove.
- mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
- According to Catherine Yronwode, "Mugwort brings success to those who engage in psychic and visionary
work. If kept in a red bag under one's pillow, it aids in the production of clairvoyant dreams." As such, it has been
used by Spiritualists. Mugwort can draw protective and benevolent spirits when burned on charcoal with star anise,
and resin incenses like Frankincense and myrrh. Mugwort is an ingredient in "All Saints Oil." See Spiritualism.
- Mustard seed (Sinapis alba, Brassica alba, or Brassica hirta, also Brassica nigra)
- A mustard seed usually refers to the small round seed of a plant commonly known as "white mustard"
(Sinapis alba, Brassica alba, or Brassica hirta) which grows wild in North Africa, the
Middle East and Mediterranean Europe. It can also refer to the seed of the "black mustard" (Brassica
nigra) plant which is believed to be native to the southern Mediterranean region of Europe. The small
seeds are used as spices. When ground up fresh they impart a powerful flavor. Mustard seeds symbolize courage,
endurance, and faith. They are sometimes used in hoodoo charms. Mustard seeds bound in a bag guard
against injury. A single mustard seed in a glass charm bestows faith and success. According to
Matthew 17:20, "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have
faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall
remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
- myrrh oil (Commiphora myrrha)
- A perfume created from reddish-brown resinous material collected from the dried sap from myrrh
trees on the African continent. Among hoodoo practitioners, it is used in blessing and anointment oils. It is a
component of a regal "oil of gladness" along with cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum) and
aloe (Aloe perryi). Myrrh has been used to honor Asherah, Astarte, and Isis.
- nation sack
- A "nation sack" is similar to a mojo, but it can only be prepared by a woman for herself, or by a woman
for another woman. It is woman's magic. Men should not open a nation sack.
- Neroli oil (Citrus aurantium )
- "Neroli" is a plant oil produced from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree.
- nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
- Nutmeg is the oval shaped seed inside the fruit of the tropical evergreen nutmeg tree
(Myristica fragrans). It has a characteristic, pleasant fragrance and slightly warm taste. As a spice,
nutmeg is usually used in powdered or grated form.
- Because of its pleasant aroma, nutmeg oil is used to scent soaps and perfumes. An ointment of nutmeg
butter has been used as a counterirritant and in treatment of rheumatism. The nuts were carried to ward off
sickness in 17th century Europe, and were occasionally associated with being lucky in love. They were also
associated with male virility.
- Nutmegs are used in magic associated with luck, attraction, meditation, and money. In fact, this spice
was sometimes called the "lucky nutmeg." Whole nutmegs were magically often used to "draw" or "attract"
something to the practitioner. In American folklore, whole nutmegs could be carried for general good luck.
One traditional hoodoo charm involved tying a nutmeg in a green flannel mojo bag with sundry money
drawing herbs. Another Southern magic charm to draw prosperity involved binding a folded dollar bill with
red thread to a whole nutmeg. Gamblers often carried a "fixed" nutmeg which had a small hollow drilled in it.
This hole was filled with mercury and sealed with wax. The Church of Good Luck advised against having
mercury-filled nutmeg: "With what we know about Mercury today, this type of Fixed nutmeg is considered
hazardous." Incidentally the Church of Good Luck explained that nutmegs can be "fixed" using items such
as tin foil, green wax, Hoyt's Cologne, along with a ritual involving a mercury head dime, a lodestone, and
- Powdered nutmeg is sometimes rubbed on green candles for prosperity. It can also be a good incense
to burn on Thursdays. According to 19th century Creole folklore,
a man could sprinkle a little powdered nutmeg into a woman's left shoe at midnight in order to draw her
steps back to him later. He might also recite, while adding the powdered nutmeg,
from the Song of Solomon 6:13, "Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that
we may look upon thee."
- Oil of Moses
- See Moses Oil.
- onion, bulb onion (Allium cepa)
- The bulb onion is also known as the "garden onion." It is a close relative to garlic. The bulb of the onion
grows underground. Onions come in three colors: yellow, white, and red.
- Medicinally, onions were known for their strong antiseptic qualities. For example, an application of raw
onion was said to be helpful in reducing swelling from bee stings and other inflammations. It is also believed that
the sweet Vidalia onion, grown in Georgia, could keep away colds in winter--if it was sliced and eaten on a
sandwich instead of meat. Folk belief claimed that one half of a cut onion placed on the windowsill in the
kitchen would guard the home from sickness. A quarter of an onion could be placed under a bed of someone
who was ill to banish the sickness. In South Carolina, a necklace of small onions could be worn around the
neck of a child with a low fever, sore throat, and upper respiratory tract infection to overpower the disease.
- In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, the red onion specifically was used in hoodoo charms
involving luck, money, wealth, healing, dreams, and protection. Among African-Americans in Georgia, the
peeled skin of a red onion could draw luck and prosperity by burning it in the fire. To throw the onion peelings
on the ground, would throw your prosperity in the dirt. In other parts of the USA South, folks carried a small
red onion in the left pocket as a protective charm.
- Red onions have a deep color sometimes more purplish, than red. There are presently numerous varieties
of red onion, including the "Tropea red onion," and "Italian red onion" and "creole onion." The "Tropea red
onion" was introduced to Italy around 2,000 years ago by the Phoenicians. On the other hand, the "creole
onion" was released to market in 1962 and is a vintage variety developed by the Dessert Seed Company in
- Cultivation of onions in Egypt can be traced back to 3500 bce. According to written Egyptian records,
onions were a staple food, enjoyed along with bread and beer. Numbers 11:5 referenced the abundance of
onions in ancient Egypt. "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the
melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick." Onions were apparently eaten by the poor and rich
- Many paintings of onions appear in Egyptian art. Onions were depicted on the banquet tables of the
great feasts. They were represented in the tombs of both the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom and on the
inner walls of the pyramids. Onions were used in Egyptian burials and wrapped in mummies. They were also
depicted as offerings upon the altars of the Gods. The Egyptians venerated the onion, believing that its
spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternity.
- onions, Egyptian onions (Allium cepa var. viviparum)
- The "Egyptian onion" was actually unknown in ancient Egypt. Indeed, some state the Egyptian onion
may be a cross between Allium cepa and Allium fistulosum. "Egyptian onions" are also
known as "tree onions," "top onions," "topset onions," or "walking onions." The "Egyptian onion" is an unusual
bulb plant. Aside from a bulb down under the ground, small onion bulbs, or "bulbils," also appear at the top
of the plant's stalk. This feature explains the common names, "tree onions," "top onions," and "topset onions."
The "bulbils" grow up to 3/4 of an inch in diameter while still on the original stalk. The stalk may bend under
the weight of the new growth "bulbils" which may then take root, sprouting a new stalk. This feature gave
rise to the common name, "walking onion." The formation of "bulbils" instead of flowers is similar to other oney (Citrus sinensis)
- The honey made by bees from sweet orange blossoms (Citrus sinensis) is mild and delicious.
As orange blossoms are a favorite flower for Southern weddings, the honey is magically used to keep the
love in a relationship sweet.
- orange flower water (Citrus aurantium var. amara or Bigaradia)
- "Orange flower water" or "orange blossom water" is a natural perfumed clear distillation of fresh
bitter-orange blossoms. Food grade "orange flower water" is used in Middle Eastern cooking in both
savory and sweet foods. (A home-made "sun tea" infusion, using clean petals, can be made by placing the
petals in a large glass jar with lid and covering them with distilled water. This jar should stand in the full sun
for a couple of weeks.)
- The white orange blossoms are a traditional bridal flower in the USA south and symbolize marriage and
prosperity. The fragrant orange blossom is traditionally associated with good fortune. It has long been popular
in bridal bouquets and head wreaths for weddings. Thus, orange flower water can be used as an offering to
attract good spirits or to attract marriage and luck.
- orange peel, dried (Citrus sinensis syn. Citrus aurantium, dulcis or Citrus aurantium)
- The bright orange color of the peel of the sweet orange fruit magically draws wealth. Powdered sweet
orange peel mixed with a little vanilla oil can be sprinkled around your home to bring luck, reverse unfortunate
circumstances, and ease poverty. Used medicinally, dried orange peel is a source of vitamin C. When steeped
in a tea, dried sweet orange peel can be useful in preventing colds.
- orrisroot (Iris florentina or Iris germanica, Iris germanica florentina)
- This root is from an Iris plant native of Southern Europe that is commonly called "orris root,"
or "orris." Finely powdered orrisroot was used in the feminine pharmacopeia for making
perfumes, makeup, and medicines.
- Magically, ground orrisroot can be worn to attract the opposite sex. Orrisroot powder is sometimes
called "Love Drawing Powder." Some recipies for love drawing powder suggest mixing ground
orrisroot with rice powder or talcum powder. Pieces of orrisroot can be used in love
spells, mojo bags, or nation sacks.
It is said that ground orrisroot placed in each corner of the home will draw a new lover.
- The plant's flower, the fleur-de-lys, is the emblem for the USA city of New
- patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- Patchouli is useful in reversing spells. Dried patchouli is burned on charcoal with violet roots and
sandalwood oil to assist in spirit communication. It is also associated with money and abundance. (With its
fragrant, earthy smell, patchouli likewise is an important herb in Wicca.)
- Peaceful Home oil
- "Peaceful Home" oil is a traditional hoodoo formula which involves sweet almond oil
as a base with ground bee pollen, orrisroot (Iris florentina or Iris germanica, Iris germanica
florentina), peppermint (Mentha piperita), and rose (any of the blossoms from the genus
- Numbers 6:24-26 can be recited when using this oil: The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD
make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give
- peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Suposedly peppermint, as with other mints (spearmint, watermint, and lemonmint), was used in some traditional
African American medicine. Often, it was an ingredient in hot drinks to treat colds and congestion. In hoodoo,
peppermint has been primarily used for uncrossing work, to break jinxes, and to gain mental clairity during difficult
times. Peppermint is one of the ingredients in "Peaceful Home oil" and can help clear a space from unsavory energy.
Fresh peppermint is also an important ingredient in Peppermint Iced Tea and Southern Mint Juleps.
- Petitgrain oil (Citrus aurantium )
- "Petitgrain" is a plant oil produced from the leaves of the bitter orange tree.
- potato (Solanum tuberosum)
- Grated potato mixed with glycerine and made into a poultice will draw out the inflammation in bruises and
reduce swelling in painful joints. To make a wart disappear, cut a raw potato in half and rub in on the wart.
Take the other half of the potato and plant both halves in ground.
- queen's delight root (Stillingia sylvatica)
- "Queen's delight root" is a perennial herb native to Florida, to South Carolina, and west to the
Mississippi. It was also commonly known as "queensroot," "yaw root," "silver leaf," "cockup hat," "marcory,"
"nettle potato," and "stillingia." Found on poor to moderately drained sandy soils of drainage ditches, canals,
and pine flatwoods, often in standing water. A single brown stem with earthy, elliptical alternate leaves and
spike green, yellow, and red petal-less flowers. The rootstock is large and woody.
- In the late18th century USA South, the plant was used as a common slave remedy for skin
conditions. In particular, it was used for yaws, hence the common name "yaw root." Yaws was a common
infectious skin ailment at that time, which is now treated more successfully with antibiotics. A fresh root was
required for medicinal use. It was also used as a purgative, and to treat lung diseases, and syphilis. If ingested
for medicinal use, it gave a burning sensation in the stomach and bowels.
- Legends claim that a married woman could drink an infusion of queen's delight root to become
pregnant. Supposedly, taking a bath in water with a bag containing chopped up dried queen's delight root
would help a woman get married. Apparently, these magical applications are the reason for the common
names of "queensroot" or "queen's delight root."
- Allegedly, burning a small piece of this dried root in a fireplace could magically help locating some lost
- Yet, Drugs.com stated "Classical use of queen's delight called for 2 g of the root, however the
documented presence of irritant and tumor-promoting phorbol esters in this plant contraindicates therapeutic
use."..." Do not ingest or use topically in human medicine. Observe particular caution with the fresh root,
which appears to be more toxic than the dried product. Stillingia root is a purgative and irritant product that
should be avoided because of a high likelihood of tumor promotion and documented severe irritancy to
skin. There are reports of sheep poisoned by Stillingia in Florida. Because of the reported phorbol esters,
this plant should not be ingested or used topically in human medicine." Pregnant or lactating women should
NOT bathe in water in which dried queen's delight root (Stillingia sylvatica) has been soaking,
even though the dried root is considered to be less toxic than the fresh root.
- Personally, I advise anyone against washing in any bathwater with "queen's delight root" (Stillingia
sylvatica)--and/or against ingesting any liquid made with "queen's delight root" (Stillingia
sylvatica)--even though it was used for that in 19th century hoodoo practice.
- I'm including a description of "queen's delight root" and "queensroot" (Stillingia sylvatica)
because "Jezebel Root" (Iris hexagona, Iris fulva, or Iris foliosa) is sometimes referred
to as "Queen Root."
- These two roots come from entirely different plants and the common names illustrate the reason for
also paying close attention to Latin names of plants. Nevertheless, it is quite probable that the roots from
these two different plants were used in magic, as a substitute for each other, particularly in hoodoo bags.
- Likewise, I recall having read discussions in which practitioners discussed whether "Queen Root"
or "queensroot" was the same root as "Adam and Eve Root." "Adam and Eve Root," as you read the
entry in Roots and Stuff is Aplectrum hyemale which is a different plant than
"Queen Root" (Iris hexagona, Iris fulva, or Iris foliosa) or "queensroot"/"queen's
delight root" (Stillingia sylvatica).
- Queen of Sheba oil
- Queen of Sheba oil is a traditional hoodoo formula associated with the biblical
Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10:1-14. According to hoodoo tradition, she was the powerful
African ruler of the fabulous land of Saba, believed to have been in Ethiopia and Yemen.
She brought King Solomon precious gifts of spices, gold, etc.
- And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious
stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
(1 Kings 10:10)
- The traditional recipe involves an abundance of essential oils of spices,
including amyris (Amyris balsamifera), myrrh (Commiphora myrrha),
Frankincense (Boswellia sacra, Boswellia frereana, Boswellia bhaw-dajiana),
spikenard (Nardostachys grandiflora or Nardostachys jatamansi),
Rose (Rosa carolinae, Rosa caninae, or possibly any of the blossoms from the genus Rosa),
and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum ), mixed into a grape seed oil base.
- And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that
which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
(1 Kings 10:13)
- There is a tradition that the imperial family of Ethiopia descended from the
Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. According to this tradition, Menelik I, also known as
Ebna la-Hakim or Ibn Al-Hakim, the first emperor of Ethiopia, was the son of the Queen of Sheba.
- Numerous traditions aboud about the Queen of Sheba. The Ethiopian tradition mentioned
above claimed her name was "Makeda." In Islamic tradition, she was called "Bilkis" or "Bilqis."
A Nigerian tradition claimed that the Queen of Sheba's name was Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo and was actually a member
of a Nigerian noble or royal family.
- Queen of Sheba oil can be worn as a perfume. This oil is also sometimes mixed with water and used as a
spray for work place or home. This hoodoo formula is tradtionally used in gaining the favor of others, just as the
Queen of Sheba gained the favor of King Solomon. It is also used to attain love or wealth.
- rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)
- The Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) is a New World rabbit. The
Eastern Cottontail was originally found in the meadows and shrubby areas in the eastern and
south-central USA. It is also found in eastern Mexico and Central America and northern and
central South America. Cottontails do not burrow under the ground. These rabbits rest in a
shallow, scratched-out depression in a clump of grass or under brush called a form.
Predators include owls, hawks, eagles, bobcats, red foxes, coyotes, weasels, and domestic
dogs. In the USA South, humans have also hunted rabbits for meat and fur. The Eastern
cottontail rabbit is an extremely prolific animal, hence the phrase "...breed like rabbits."
Predation and hunting help keep the rabbit population in check.
- When pursued, the Eastern
cottontail will run in a zigzag pattern to confuse the predator. The rabbit also
will make a lightning quick dash for cover and freeze in a clump in an attempt to
confuse and allude its pursuer. In USA Southern folklore, the
rabbit was often depicted as a trickster--such as "Brother Rabbit" aka "Brer Rabbit,"
"Br'er Rabbit," "Bre'r Rabbit," or "Bruh Rabbit." As is not surprising for a trickster spirit, the
African American rabbit folklore figure has roots in both storytelling traditions from Western,
Central and Southern Africa and from Native American Cherokee and Algonquin Indian in
Eastern North America. (It must be noted that the animal in African tales is a hare,
although sometimes the word was translated as rabbit.) The rabbit, as well as the African hare, is
also associated with sudden swiftness and agility. Rabbits are fast sprinters. Rabbits can run anywhere from 25 to
45 mph, depending upon the age and health of the individual rabbit.
- Many claim a rabbit's foot brings good luck. Some hoodoo practitioners
said that the most potent rabbit's foot was the left hind foot on a graveyard rabbit,
which was caught at midnight--ideally on Halloween.
- Rosca de Reyes
- See Mardi Gras king cake and Dia de la Candelaria.
- rue (Ruta graveolens)
- According to Tayannah Lee McQuillar in her
Rootwork: Using the Folk Magick of Black America for Love, Money and
Success(2003) dried leaves of the rue plant can protect a person from
the "eye" (evil eye) when placed in a mojo bag.
- rue oil (Ruta graveolens)
- Rub rue oil on candles for money, as well as protection from negativity and hexes.
- sandalwood oil (Santalum album)
- Sandalwood is a calming scent with spiritual undertones. Yet, sandalwood oil also has a sensuous
side to its nature, perhaps because some of the best sandalwood comes from India, which is both a deeply
spiritual and serenely sensual place.
- Rub sandalwood oil onto the pulse points of one's own wrist and throat to order to arrest the attention
of the opposite sex.
- Incidentally, sandalwood essential oil, like other essential oils, should be
"cut" or diluted with a base oil--like olive, almond, sesame, peanut, etc.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and some can irritate the skin.
- sandalwood incense (Santalum album)
- Sandalwood incense is used in high spirituality.
- salt, black
- Black salt is sometimes labeled "Sal Negro" or "Drive-Away Salt." Traditionally, it was composed of iron
pot scrapings and regular table salt, sometimes with charcoal. Black salt is used for purify effects, jinx
removing, as well as keeping away evil forces and bad neighbors. Some people use
"Hiwa Kai," black Hawaiian sea salt, or "Kala Namak," Indian black salt, which is an unrefined mineral salt
which has more of a purplish hue.
- salt, blessed
- "Blessed salt" is some form of salt which has been prayed over. In truth, any salt may be blessed by
- One Christian prayer for blessing white salt is: "O Lord God, Creator and Preserver of all things, in
whose hand is the vital principle of every living being and the spirit of all flesh, hear we beseech Thee, the prayers of those
who believe in Thee. Pour out Thy blessing on this salt and fill it with the benefits of Thy invisible power. Amen."
- salt, Dead Sea
- "Dead Sea salt" is a naturally formed salt from Israel. It can be used in a bath to reduce tension and
encourage relaxation. It is used in some forms of spiritual cleansing.
- salt, Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate)
- Epsom salt is well known as a component of bath salts and warm water soak for aching feet. Epsom
salt is said to draw toxins from the body and sooth the nervous system. Thus in hoodoo, Epsom salt can be
used to purify, bless, and cleanse. Epsom salt is used in spells and charms for love, money, and breaking
jinxes. It is sometimes added to floor washes.
- salt, white (sodium chloride)
- Common salt has a long magical history, as well as being used in cooking and preserving food. All salt can
magically be used for grounding, purification, consecration, and blessings. Most
table salt is a white fine-grained
salt. Iodized salt is also a white fine-grained salt. It is table salt mixed with
a minute amount of various
iodine-containing salts, to prevent iodine deficiency.
- Rock salt is coarse-grained salt in a natural form composed of large salt
crystals. It is generally white in
color. Kosher salt (additive-free, coarse-grained), aka Koshering salt, is a white
salt, specifically approved for use in Kosher meats by a Jewish rabbi. Some consider
Kosher salt to be to be magically superior by virtue of a rabbi's approval. In
Leviticus 2:13 there is a reference to the use of salt in offerings. "Season all
your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God
out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings."
Kosher salt has a slightly distinct flavor from table salt.
- Some magical practitioners (including some Wiccans,
some magicians, and some hoodooists) consider Kosher salt to be to be well suited
consecration, and blessings. Its coarse-grained texture has an added appeal as well.
- It is said that if you place a pinch of any kind of salt, even table salt,
under each corner of the bed, it
will banish nightmares.
- Any type of salt will smother a grease fire in the kitchen.
- salt, sea salt
- Salt harvested from seawater is called "sea salt." Some sea salts are white. Others have different hues
and shades of color depending upon where the salt has been harvested. Sea salt is often sold as
coarse-grained salt, but it is also sold in white fine-grained form. (Some Wiccans prefer using coarse-grained
sea salt in their rituals.)
- slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra)
- The slippery elm is a deciduous tree native to North America. It is found from Canada to Florida, west to the
Dakotas and Texas. It is commonly known as "American elm," "Indian elm," "red elm,"rock elm, "gray elm,"
"sweet elm," "winged elm," "soft elm," and "moose elm." The name, "slippery," refers to the consistency the inner
bark assumed when it was mixed with water or chewed. The brownish red inner bark has antiseptic and
anti-inflammatory properties, It was called "Indian elm" because many Native Americans tribes, including
Cherokee, Iroquois, and the Ojibwa, used slippery elm in healing salves for burns, wounds, boils, ulcers, and
skin inflammation. In the USA Southern and Appalachian folk medicine, it was dried and powdered to make
washes, ointments, poultices, etc. An infusion made with the powdered bark was used to treat sore throats.
Traditionally, Appalachian herb doctors also burned the slippery elm inner bark to stop gossip. In Southern
hoodoo, it was said to make whoever carried a piece impervious to gossip, lies, and slander so that none of the
talk will stick.
- Solomon's Seal Root, American Polygonatum biflorum
- American Solomon's Seal Root has characters and constitution similar to the European and has often used in in place of the European varity. See Solomon's Seal Root, European and King Solomon Wisdom Oil.
- Solomon's Seal Root, European (Polygonatum multiflorum, polygonatum odoratum, etc.)
- Solomon's Seal Root is a medicinal herb which was formerly classified in the lily family, Liliaceae, and is similar to the Lily-of-the-Valley in appearance. This plant grows well in shade and has gently arching stems and dangling white bell shaped flowers. These white flowers produce red or black berries, however the plant is harvested for its roots in the fall. It is also commonly known as “King Solomon's-seal” or “Solomon's seal plant,” “Lady's Seals,” “St. Mary's Seal,” “Sigillum Sanctae Mariae,” “Scean de Solomon” In German it is known as “Weusswurz.” There are couple explanations for the derivation of the common name "Solomon's Seal Root." One explanation is that the cut roots of the plants resemble Hebrew characters. Another is that the roots bear depressions which resemble royal seals.
- Polygonatum uniflorum, now known as Polygonatum officinale, is said to be no longer used. American Solomon's Seal Root Polygonatum biflorum, has characters and constitution similar to the European and has often used in in place of the European variety..
- False Solomon's Seal, Smilacina Racemosa is a different plant and should NOT be used.
- See Solomon's Seal Root, American and King Solomon Wisdom Oil.
- Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
- Spanish moss is also known as "air plant." It grows in wet, humid areas in the USA South, including
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Eastern North Carolina, South Carolina, southeastern
Virginia, etc. The Spanish moss plant is neither a moss, nor is it Spanish. Early French travelers dubbed this
grey curly hair-like or chain-like festooning plant, Barbe Espagnol, meaning "Spanish beard." Spanish
moss absorbs nutrients (especially calcium) and water from the air and rainfall. It prefers to grow on Southern
Live Oak trees, but can be found on cypress and some other trees. This plant is not a parasite and does no
harm to the trees on which it hangs. Spanish moss creates a home for several of creatures, including three
species of bats and rat snakes. Sensitive to air pollution, Spanish moss can be used as an indication of air
quality. In hoodoo, Spanish moss enhances money charms, and is used to bring good fortune. It
is used in rituals to banish poltergeists and some other haints. Likewise, it can be used in spell jars to entrap
- Some claim it can be used for more sinister
work, probably due to is association with old Southern gothic ghost stories.
- spikenard essential oil (Nardostachys grandiflora or Nardostachys jatamansi)
- Spikenard has also been called "'nard," "nardin," and "muskroot." The pungent rhizome root of spikenard
was used to make perfume. Nard oil was obtained from an Indian plant, found in the Himalaya mountains. This
expensive sweet smelling oil, spikenard was used by a woman to anoint the feet and head of Jesus Christ. It
was a relaxing and soothing oil for the skin. Nard oil was hightly prized in early Egypt and though out the
Mid-East. It has been is used as a perfume, a sedative, and an incense. In Rome, the oil was the main
ingredient of the perfume nardinum. Its scent was believed to fight insomnia and other minor
ailments. There are five verses in the King James Version which mention spikenard. Spiknard apparently
links Christ with the heavenly bridegroom of the spiritual marriage supper.
- While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell
thereof. Song of Solomon 1:12
- Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire,
with spikenard, Song of Solomon 4:13
- Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense;
myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: Song of Solomon 4:14
- And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there
came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and
she brake the box, and poured it on his head. Mark 14:3
- Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the
feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the
odour of the ointment. John 12:3
- The religion of Spiritualism is not hoodoo. The practice of hoodoo is not Spiritualism.
- Yet, the Spiritualist movement certainly influenced some African-American practices, and enhanced
others. There were already African-American practices connected to paying respects to the spirits of the
dead, some of which had their roots in Africa.
- Ancestor worship was very prevalent throughout Africa. In West Africa, families maintain an ancestral
shrine to honor the spirit of the founder of the lineage, who inhabits the shrine. Even though other religions
such as Islam and Christianity have made inroads into several cultures, ancestor veneration still remains
common among many Africans. It is sometimes practiced alongside other religions, including Islam and
- Spiritualism flourished in the USA South in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Briefly,
Spiritualism is based on the belief that the "spirit" or "soul" (a.k.a. consciousness, individual personality, etc)
continues to exist as it was after the death of the physical body. Spiritualism also maintained that it was
possible for the living to contact the dead, usually through a Spiritualist medium.
- In other words, Spiritualism provided just one more method to contact the spirits of the dead, or
one's deceased family or ancestors.
- Frequently, Spiritualism also had a practical emphasis involving healing. Spiritualist faith healing
involved a technique of directing healing energy to the sufferer from a higher source. The idea was similar
to the faith healing practiced in Southern charismatic Christian churches. It also somewhat resembled
Christian healing through prayer and the Psalms--a technique used in hoodoo.
- Healing practiced by Spiritualists might include "contact healing" (the medium lays hands on the head
of the sufferer directing energy from a higher source), "magnetic healing" (the medium sends magnetic
energy into the sufferer), "absent healing" (healing sent to sufferer at a distance), and/or "spirit healing"
(healing energy sent directly by the spirits to the sufferer with no physical human medium).
- African-American Spiritualist churches were sometimes known as "Spiritual Church Movement
churches." In their worship services, the Spiritual Church Movement churches incorporated aspects of
Spiritualism, including "spirit guides," also employing variations of iconography from Catholicism and/or
imagery from Protestantism. For example, the Indian spirit guide, Black Hawk, became part of
African-American Spiritualist churches.
- In any case, some professional hoodoo practitioners decided to take advantage of the popularity
of the Spiritualism craze and also hung up shingles as "Spiritualists." There were many advantages to a
hoodooist embracing the label of "Spiritualism." The practice of hoodoo doctors always had a dubious
relationship with the law. Spiritualism was simply more "respectable."
- spirit work, spiritwork
- In hoodoo traditions, spirit work often involves enlisting or petitioning the aid of an incorporeal being (e.g. a
spirit) in order to accomplish one or more specific goals. These goals may be be related to either one's spell work,
prayer work, or one's personal spirituality. The spirits who are involved can be angels and archangels, Catholic saints,
ancestors, deceased relatives, deceased holy men and women, the honored dead, folk saints, guardian spirits,
personal spirit guides, other spirits of the dead, spirits of animals and plants, as well sundry other spirits and deities.
- Practitioners who work with and petition their ancestors, the dead, Catholic saints, or spirit guides may set up
specialized altars to honor those particular spirits. The practice of spirit work is very diverse. Yet, hoodooists who
practice spirit work may work with spirits, such as the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Another
famous spirit, Black Hawk, the patron "saint of the South" who is venerated in the New Orleans "spiritualist" churches
is also honored by some hoodoo spirit work practitioners.
- The word, spook, is used in Southern USA folklore to describe a ghost, haint, or
some similar, frequently invisible, supernatural being. The term apparently came into
common use in the 19th century in America as it was first recorded in 1801. The word
is borrowed from Dutch spook, from Middle Dutch spooc meaning "spook,
ghost" and apparently derived from the Germanic spuk, "ghost, apparition."
An American English innovation was to use the word as a verb, "to spook," as in
"to frighten or scare" as in "Loud noises will spook the horses." The word "spooky"
was first recorded in 1854.
- I defined this word, "spook," because I have seen it in Southern folklore. I'm
aware that it has other meanings in American speech which are outside the scope of
this website. See Spook Hill.
- Spook Hill, Florida
- Spook Hill is a hill in Lake Wales, Florida, where cars appear to roll uphill due to an optical illusion.
Geographical locations with this type of optical illusion are commonly called "gravity hills." The spirits responsible
for this event in Florida--according to a sign marking the spot--are an Indian chief and alligator spirit. Variants of
this local legend claim that the Indian chief is Chief Cufoowellay of the Seminoles. His tribe settled on Lake Ticowa,
which is now Lake Wales. The chief drove a powerful alligator spirit from the area for the safety of his people. This
legend is probably not true, as it doesn't seem to fit known historical facts. According to this legend, which may be
fakelore, white settlers around the lake later named the area Spook Hill when their carts would be pushed up hill.
- Another version of the story involved an old man planning to do some fishing in the lake. Forgetting to set the
handbrake, he had parked his old truck on the very spot where the spooky phenomenon takes place. He unloaded
his fishing gear and turned smiling towards the water. Then, he turned back to get his bait, which he left in the truck.
To his surprise, his truck seemed to be rolling uphill--apparently pushed by some invisible force. He is reported to
have yelped, "Spooks!" as he scrambled to hop in and pull the handbrake. Supposedly, this took place in the early
1950's and thereafter folks started calling the area Spook Hill.
- One variant of this version of the legend with the old man is preseved on a vintage post card which can be seen
- It is unknown if the version of the legend of the elderly fisherman was genuine folklore. Ultimately who and
when this spot was dubbed "Spook Hill" remains a mystery.
- Interestingly, there is a Spook Hill Elementary School in the area, which has a friendly ghost as its mascot.
See spook and Spook Hill/Gravity Hill, Maryland.
- Spook Hill/Gravity Hill, Maryland
- Gapland Road in Burkittsville, in central Maryland, leads to the outskirts of the center of town. Spook
Hill/Gravity Hill is on Gapland Road near the intersection with Mountain Church Road. If a vehicle is placed in
neutral, it will appear to move uphill, due to an optical illusion. Geographical locations with this type of optical illusion
are commonly called "gravity hills," and this site is just as well known as Maryland's "Gravity Hill" as "Spook Hill."
- According to local legend, ghosts of dead Civil War soldiers are responsible for pushing wheeled vehicles
uphill. Just prior to a battle, the soldiers had to transport canons into a position on high ground. Before all the artillery
were set in position, however, the opposing forces charged out of the woods, killing many. It is said the spirits of
these soilders remain, still trying to complete their mission.
- The area surrounding Burkittsville is rich with Civil War history. Large numbers of Confederate and Union
soldiers occupied and moved through the town during the campaigns of 1863 and 1864, marching to and from
Crampton's Gap in South Mountain.
- On January 12, 2011, the Crampton's Gap Historic District was designated, comprising the mountain around
Crampton's Gap and Brownsville Gap, the town of Burkittsville, and surrounding landscape in honor of the
"Battle of Crampton's Gap" aka "Battle of Burkittsville." During this battle for Crampton's Gap, many houses were
used for cover, bombarded by shells, and were converted into field hospitals for the wounded.
See Spook Hill, Florida.
- spook lights, ghost lights
- "Spook lights" are the modern Southern USA name for the phenomenon of mysterious lights resembling a
flickering lamp carried by an unseen hand in the dark. They have been called "spook lights" and "ghost lights," since
at least the 1950s. One case of well known Southern folklore involving spook lights are the Brown Mountain Lights
in North Carolina. They are said to appear over the low-lying ridge of Brown Mountain in the Pisgah National
Forest, near Morganton, North Carolina. Sometimes the lights are described as having a bluish or a reddish hue.
The first printed article describing these North Carolina spook lights was printed in the Charlotte Observer
in 1913. There are no marshes near the area where the lights appear.
- These North Carolina ghostly lights gained fame through Tommy Faile's 1960's bluegrass recording, "Brown
Mountain Lights." See spook.
- St. Jude Oil
- Usually, St. Jude Oil is a pure olive oil which has been blessed at one of the shrines of St. Jude. There
are a number of well known shrines to St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago IL, New York, NY, and San Francisco,
CA. The largest shrine in the USA dedicated to St. Jude is the "Saint Jude Shrine" in Baltimore, MD. St.
Jude Oil can be used in severe cases when all else has failed. If a petitioner needs help for a difficult problem,
s/he can turn to St. Jude, "the saint of the impossible." This oil is often annointed on candles to St. Jude or
petitions written on brown paper. Some petitioners will also use the oil to annoint an image of the saint when
asking his help. Sometimes three drops of St. Jude Oil are added to water for a purifying wash.
- sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)
- This plant with sweet tasting tuberous roots was useful for more than yummy "sweet potato pie." Its raw
roots could be laid over tired, irritated eyes to draw out the inflammation. The leaves from the sweet potato
vine plant could be dipped in boiling water, and then when cooled enough, placed on a stone bruise on the
foot to the reduce the severity of the injury. Recite Psalm 6:2: "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak:
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed."
- tea (Camellia sinensis)
- The beverage "tea" is an infusion of the leaves of the Camellia sinensis. Other ingredients may be added
to the infusion for flavoring and other purposes.
- Tea contains caffeine and can be drunk, hot or cold, as an afternoon or morning pick-me-up, but it has less
caffeine than coffee.
- There are many varieties of tea, including black teas, oolong teas, and green teas. The tea leaves are processed
differently. Black teas have black colored, fermented tea leaves. Oolong teas have only partly fermented leaves.
Green teas are unfermented.
- Unsweetened black teas are heplful when dealing with diarrhea and digestive complaints. Also black teas are
highly astringent, and can be an ingredient in a hair wash. Oolong teas can be soothing and may lower blood pressure.
Green teas are reputed to enhance the natural immune system.
- Tea is drunk throughout Asia as a delicious beverage and for its health giving properties. The USA still drinks
more coffee, than tea. Coffee ranks third in the order of most popular beverages, right after water (no.1) and soda
and other soft drink beverages (no.2). Tea ranks as the sixth most popular beverage in the USA, right after beer
(no. 4) and milk (no. 5).
- "Southern Sweet Tea" is a very sweet iced beverage, now often made with black tea. In the early 18th century,
this sweet iced tea was often made with green tea and white sugar. Due to the expensive nature of the
ingredients--ice, imported tea, and sugar--in 19th century USA, it was a luxury item enjoyed by the Southern
genteel class. As the ingredients of iced tea became less expensive, the beverage became more widely served, with
black tea becoming more popular than green tea during WWII. "Southern Sweet Tea" is now enjoyed by lots of
folks on hot summer days throughout the South.
- "tears of San Pedro" memorial rosary (santo rosario luto de "lágrimas de San Pedro")
- The "tears of San Pedro" (lagrima de San Pedro) are the seeds of a tropical grass (Coix lacryma jobi)
which produces a fruit shaped like a tear drop. In Spanish, these seeds are named after San Pedro, who shed many
tears during his repentance after he denied Christ three times. In the sixteenth century, San Pedro or Saint Peter,
founder of the holy church in Rome, was depicted with hands at chest level with his eyes full of tears raised towards
heaven, begging forgiveness. He was dressed wearing a dark robe and yellow mantle--according to the conventions
repentance and mourning in the Italian Renaissance.
- In English these seed beads are most commonly known as "Job’s tears." As the fruit (grain/seed) is a natural
bead, it is perfect for stringing into rosaries and is viewed as a bead from God.
- This memorial rosary is used in finding strength through faith and prayer in times of mourning. The lagrima de
San Pedro will strengthen those in sorrow. See Job’s tears (Coix lacryma jobi). See Job's tears rosaries.
- Three Kings Oil
- Three Kings Oil is an oil blend of three oils: Frankincense (Boswellia sacra, Boswellia frereana,
and Boswellia bhaw-dajiana), myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), and spikenard
(Nardostachys grandiflora or Nardostachys jatamansi) in a base such as olive oil or
sesameseed oil. The name "Three Kings Oil" obviously refers to Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, who were
the wise men bearing gifts for Christ child. Three Kings Oil is frequently rubbed on candles in certain magical
operations in which the power of the magi or Tres Reyes Magos is desired when working with angelic spirits.
Three Kings Oil is used in magic involving wisdom, truth, and honesty. See Tres Reyes Magos and Three
Kings Resin Incense.
- Three Kings Resin Incense
- Three Kings Resin Incense blend is a brand of incense which contains a combination of frankincense
and sandalwood. It is sold as a "church incense," although some practitioners will use it in some healing and
blessing rituals. The name "Three Kings" obviously refers
to the "wise men" or kings from the east who presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus in Bethlehem.
- The "Three Kings" are traditionally known as Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Below is an example of a
healing charm, frequently written with red ink:
Gaspar with his myrrh began
These presents to unfold,
Then Melchior brought in frankincense,
And Balthasar brought in gold.
Now he that of these holy kings
The names about shall bear,
No falling ill, by grace of Christ,
Shall never need to fear.
- The individual folk traditions vary about which of the "Three Kings" present which gift to the
Christ Child. See Treys Reyes Magos and Three Kings Oil.
- tomb of Marie Laveau
- The tomb of Marie Laveau is in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the Roman Catholic St. Louis Cemetery.
The tomb continues to attract visitors who leave offerings of 7 day candles, flowers etc. To make a petition
to the powerful spirit of Marie Laveau, one should mark three Xs with chalk on its side, and then knock/tap
three times on the stone to ask her for a favor.
- Tres Reyes Magos
- In Spanish Christian tradition, the Magi who brought gifts to the Christ Child in the Gospel of
Matthew 2:1-12 are referred to as "Los Tres Reyes Magos" "Los Reyes Magos de Oriente," or
"Los Santos Reyes." These Magi or Magos from the East are not named in Matthew. Tradition in Ethiopian
Christianity gives their names as "Hor," "Karsudan," and "Basanater." Catholic and Western Protestant
traditions name them as Gaspar/Caspar (Kaspar, Jaspar, Gathaspa), Melchior (Melichior, Melchyor), and
Balthasar (Balthazar, Balthassar,Bithisarea). It is by the names from Catholic and Western Protestant
traditions that they are known as in most USA Latin American communities and in African American
- Identifying the Magi as "reyes" or "kings" is linked to Old Testament prophesies in Isaiah 60:3,
Psalm 68:29, and Psalm 72:10 that have been interpreted to mean the Messiah would be worshipped by
the kings of the Earth.
- Isaiah 60:3: And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
- Psalm 68:29: Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.
- Psalm 72:10: The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba
shall offer gifts.
- In recent Christian tradition, the Magi are often portrayed as three kings of different lands. In Spain,
each one of the Reyes is supposed to represent a different continent: Asia, Europe, and Africa. The swarthy
skinned king, sometimes Arabian or Chinese, represents Asia. The pale skinned king represents Europe. The
dark skinned king represents Africa.
- The Tres Reyes Magos brought three symbolic gifts for the Christ Child: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
In Spanish these are oro (gold), olíbano (frankincense), and mirra (myrrh); in Latin, aurum (gold), tus (frankincense), and myrrha (myrrh); in Hebrew,
zahav (gold), levona (frankincense), and mur (myrrh).
- Gold representing a crown is a symbol of kingship on Earth. It is also a symbol celestial or heavenly
rulership via the association of gold with the sun. Frankincense is an aromatic resin which was burned for
thousands of years as incense, particularly in religious rites. This sweet smelling incense is a symbol of both
priestship and divinity. The myrrh is generally assumed to be myrrh oil, a perfume created from reddish-brown
resinous material collected from the myrrh tree. The holy oil traditionally used
by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments of chrismation and unction is traditionally
scented with myrrh. Throughout the Mid-East, myrrh oil was used as beautifying oil and perfume. Yet,
myrrh oil was also used as an embalming oil and is therefore as a symbol of mortality and death.
- Individual traditions vary about which the Reyes presents which gift. Often the Asian king is depicted
as presenting the myrrh. The European king is depicted as presenting the gold. The African king is depicted
as presenting the Frankincense. Tradition also varies as to which of the names are signed to the Reyes.
However, Gaspar/Caspar is often Asian; Melchior is often European; Balthasar is often African.
- The account in Matthew does not state that Tres Reyes Magos arrived on the night of the Nativity. As
Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem until circumcision of the infant Jesus at the Temple, the
kings--according to Catholic and Western Protestant traditions--arrived on January 6.
- In Spain, Mexico, and Uruguay, it is customary for children to receive gifts on the morning of
January 6, "El Dia de Reyes." These presents are brought by the Tres Reyes Magos during the night of
January 5, which is the Eve of the Epiphany. On January 5, children set out a drink for each of the Reyes.
Some also set water and/or grass for the kings's camels. The whole celebration is known as "la festividad
de los Reyes Magos." This same celebration is found in some USA Hispanic communities.
- A protective charm used in the USA was to put the letters "C. M. B." over the doors to the outside
before dawn on the January 6. These letters represent Gaspar/Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the
Tres Reyes Magos. See Three Kings Resin Incense and Mardi Gras king cake.
- True Bay Rum, bay rum (Pimenta racemosa)
- "True Bay Rum" is the name which is a recipe of traditional Jamaican magical formula used for luck, gambling,
cleansing, and healing and a well known men's cologne. "True Bay Rum" is made from mixing certain spicey essential
oils into a liquor base of fine dark Caribean rum. The key ingredient is the essential oil from the leaves and/or berries
of the Jamaica bayberry tree (Pimenta racemosa) commonly known as the "West Indian bay tree" and
"bay rum tree." Other ingredients may include essential oils of petigrain (Citrus aurantium), allspice,
cardamon(Elettaria cardamomum), cloves (Citrus aurantium ), and/or lime (Citrus limetta). Orange
zest (Citrus sinensis) may be subsituted for petigrain.
- Aside from being a men's cologne, "True Bay Rum" is also used as as a general astringent and is a fragrance for
shaving soap. Although "True Bay Rum" is essentially rum, the Jamaica bayberry tree (Pimenta racemosa) is
toxic and renders the mixture completely unfit for internal consumption by humans or animals.
- turkey bones
- In Maryland, the collar bone of the domesticated turkey(Meleagris gallopavo) has been used for
more the well known tug of war wishing game. An unmarried woman or girl might place a whole turkey wishbone
over the doorway. The first single man to walk under the turkey bone will be the one she marries. See feather,
- turtle bones
- In the USA south, it was believed one should waste nothing of potential value. Turtle bones, especially
left over from soup, were thought secure good luck, if kept in the pocket. Turtle soup is an old Louisiana
favorite. Common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are still caught locally. (Turtles can carry
salmonella in their intestinal tract, so the cook preparing the dish had better know what s/he is doing when
butchering a live turtle.) Common snapping turtles are among the more abundant freshwater turtles. Common
snapping turtles, or "snappers," are known to bite. At one time, "snappers" were considered a dangerous pest,
as well being an inexpensive protein source. In the late 20th century, it was noted that over-collecting had
seriously reduced many populations of common snapping turtles, and in some places laws have been enacted
involving collection, hunting, or harvesting. Always abide by any regulations involving hunting/harvesting of
freshwater turtles in any area. Remember, it is very unlucky to kill a turtle, if you do not intend to eat the meat.
- vanilla-bean pod (Vanilla planifolia, syn. Vanilla fragrans)
- A vanilla-bean pod can be used to make sensuous love last. On a Friday evening,
three 15 inch cloth ribbons,
colored white, rosy-pink, and lavender/lilac purple are braided together and knotted at both ends. Then, the
braid would be wrapped around the vanilla-bean pod several times and tied fast. This charm can be tucked
inside a pillow case, and it will scent the bed.
- vetiver essential oil (Vetiveria zizanoides or Chrysopogon zizanioides)
- Vetiver or khas-khas is a type of tropical grass native to India, and is also cultivated in Haiti and Java. Vetiver
is mainly grown for its fragrant essential oil distilled from the plant roots. The essential oil is also known as "khus oil"
or "Oil of Tranquility." This oil has an earthy, woody, erotic, sweet scent. It is said to repel insects and reduce stress.
In hoodoo, this steam distilled oil is primarily used in love, protection, and money spells.
- violet (Viola spp. Viola sororia, Viola odorata)
- A hoodoo charm to bring marriage used dried heart-shaped violet leaves and/or sweet-smelling violet
flowers, tied in a red bag with pieces of Beth Root (Trillium erectum/Trillium pendulum), along
with some magnetic sand and a lodestone.
- Violet roots burned with dried patchouli and sandalwood oil on charcoal are said
to assist with astral travel and spirit communication.
- "Vodoun" is an archaic spelling of Voodoo and was once used to indicate New Orleans Voodoo (NOLA),
one the African American religions which developed within the cultural mix of the French, Spanish, and Creole
speaking African American population in New Orleans. This archaic spelling is French and was supposed to be
pronouced as "vodu." The spelling was Francophone adoption of word "vodu" in which was the words for "spirit" in
the Ewe and Fon languages. In Ewe "vodu" or Fon "vodun," it is pronounced "vodu" with a nasal high-tone. See
"West African Vodun."
- The anglized spelling of "Voodoo" in now prefered by Voodooists practicing New Orleans Voodoo (NOLA)
and Louisiana Voodoo for two reasons. The spelling Voodoo is Louisiana Creole and differents New Orleans
Voodoo (NOLA) and Louisiana Voodoo from the practice of Haitian Vodou and Dominican Vudu. Also spelling it
as "Voodoo," rather than "Vodoun," keep visitors to these areas from pronoucing the "n" which is silent in French.
- water, Gregorian Water
- "Gregorian Water" is Catholic holy water mixed with wine, salt, and ashes.
- water, holy water
- "Holy water" is some form of water which has been prayed over. In areas of the
USA South where
Catholicism is widely practiced, "holy water" generally means water from a Catholic church which has been
formally blessed by a priest. In areas where sundry Protestant sects are more numerous, most hoodoo
practitioners recite over the water something from Psalms. Psalm 26:6 "I will wash mine hands in innocency:
so will I compass thine altar, O LORD." Psalm 51:2, "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me
from my sin." Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Perhaps
recite all of Psalm 118. Another prayer to create holy water is not found in the KJV bible, "By Thy Precious
Blood and by this Holy Water, cleanse me/her/him from my/her/his affliction, O Lord. Amen." In truth, any
water may be blessed by sincere prayer.
- water, Jordan River Water
- Jordan River Water is water from the Jordan River in Africa. The Jordan River appeared in the bible as the
scene of several miracles. In particular, John the Baptist baptised many with the waters of the Jordan, including
Jesus Christ. Medieval Christian pilgrims from Europe visiting the Holy Land would return with a bottle of this
water. It would be reserved for baptims and special blessings. In the 21st century, Jordan River Water can be
purchased via the internet.
- water, lightning water/thunder water
- "Lightning water," also known as "thunder water," is collected during a thunderstorm.
Lightning water can bring swift and dramatic change to a situation.
- water, Marie Laveau Water
- This traditional formula is named after the famous Vodou/Voodoo Queen of New
Orleans, Louisiana. According to folklore, the formula was used by her and/or her
daughter. To make Marie Laveau Water, mix together five different cups of water:
one cup spring water, one cup rainwater, one cup rose water, one cup lavender water,
and one cup holy water. Marie Laveau Water can be used in cleansing work, psychic
work, or protection.
- water, peace water
- "Peace water" brings peace and harmony to a household when used as a floor wash
or simply sprinkled
in the corner of the rooms. It will banish noxious spiritual influences. Supposedly,
it can be sprinkled across
one's outdoor walkways so that those who trod across where it has been spread will feel compelled to be
kind, gracious, and respectful. There is more than one recipe. Some insist one of
the ingredients is holy water
from a Catholic church. Others claim water blessed by the practitioner is
acceptable. Others prescribe pure
spring water. Often it involves three cups of some sort of special water with one
half cup of "Florida Water."
Basil leaves may be steeped in the water like an infusion and then removed before
the "Florida Water" is added.
Catherine Yronwode stated the mixture ought to have a few drops of olive oil.
- water, rainwater
- Rain is a gift from the heavens. Collect some by placing a container outside during a shower. Fresh rain
water collected during a rain (in a rural area with little air pollution) can be used in a floor wash. It can be used
to wash stones, crystals, and rocks.
- water, river
- Sometimes river water was used to bless certain objects. River water was "living water." Among the
African-Americans, river baptisms were common, and there was usually a special prayer addressed to the
river asking that the sins of those being baptized would be carried a way with the flood tide.
- In part, this practice was due to the biblical precedent of baptisms in the
River Jordan by St. John the
Baptist. However, rivers had been considered divine by African peoples for ages.
For example, the sacred
Osun River in southwestern Nigeria is presided over by Osun, the Yoruba orisa
(divine spirit). Invocations to the
Yoruba orisa, Osun, are held on the banks the river bearing her name. There is a
Nigerian religious festival,
"Osun-Osogbo," specifically honoring the female spirit of the river, held each August.
- water, saint water
- Some practioners create saint water by placing a saint statue in a bucket outside during a rain. The water from the heavens which collected in the bucket can then be saved and used as blessed water.
- water, spring water
- Spring water is underground water that flows naturally to surface of the earth from below. Water from
different springs may have absorbed different minerals from moving through the underground rocks. Some
minerals dissolved in the water may give that spring water a unique flavor or purported therapeutic benefits.
On the other hand, sweet springs have water with no detectable salt or sulphur content.
- Some spring water has special folkloric or religious significance relating to legends of the area where the
spring is located. Potable water, clear and cold, bubbling up from the earth, must often seem to be miraculous.
- Ponce de León searched for the restorative spring waters of the Fountain of Youth in Florida.
- Sometimes, a spring is said to have been manifested by the action of a holy man or woman. "And Moses
lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the
congregation drank, and their beasts also." Numbers 20:11 A number of Christian saints have been credited
with the miracle of drawing forth holy or blessed springs, which supposedly have healing qualities.
- Other times the sacred nature of a spring is due to its presiding guardian or indwelling spirit. Springs can
be an important focus of veneration of water and water spirits. Sacred springs were enshrined by the ancient
Romans. In Nigeria, a sacred spring feeds the river of the orisa, Osun.
- Unpolluted spring water, collected pure at its source, could be viewed as having a mystic quality. Thus,
it is valuable for use in making spiritual washes, baths, or charms. Spring water is
considered to be superior to well water. Spring water is known as "living water."
- According to some hoodoo practitioners, if a glass jar of spring water is set in the light of the full moon, it
can be used to wash hair in order to stimulate hair growth.
- water, tap
- "Tap water" from an indoor plumbing faucet became available in some parts of the USA the last quarter
of the 19th century and became more common during the mid-20th century. The availability and public health
benefits of tap water are sometimes under appreciated by folks who grew up with it. Local government and the
EPA oversees the USA's potable water supply of tap water. This website describes special types of water
collected from different sources . It should be pointed out that these special waters
are often mixed with
ordinary tap water when used for magical purposes. Tap water can be used just as
effectively as the other types of waters in many magical jobs.
- water, Three Kings' Water or Holy Triple Kings' Water
- Three Kings' Water is holy water that was blessed on January 6, known as "Three Kings' Day" or
"El Dia de Reyes." This special holy water allegedly has certain properties, due to the day on which it was
blessed. The "consecration with holy triple king's water" is mentioned in The Sixth and Seventh Books
of Moses. The use of this water is apparently part of a purification ritual in which angelic presences are
invited in anticipation of defeating demonic or negative forces. Author C.R. Bilardi stated that the text was
probably referring to "Three Kings' Water" blessed on the holy feast day of January 6.
- water, war water/iron water
- Traditionally, "war water," is created by putting nine iron nails in a glass jar
of water, particularly water
gathered during a thunderstorm, and allowing the nails to rust. If the "war water,"
is to be used to place a hex,
Spanish moss is sometimes added to the concoction, giving the mixture an unpleasant
"swamp water" smell.
If spilled with malign intent, "war water" supposedly causes everyone in the
household quarrel and fight after
people have passed over this hoodoo "trick."
- "War water" is sometimes associated with the Vodou lwa of war, Ogun, as well as the Santeria orisha
of war, lightning, and thunder, Chango/Shango. Both are associated with iron.
- Water in which iron nails, or other pieces of iron, have been allowed to rust is less commonly known
as "iron water." Iron water" is sometimes associated with protection and healing. No other ingredients, other
than iron nails, are used in "iron water." According to Judika Illes
in the Encyclopedia of Spirits, the Dominican Vodo lwa Ogun Balendjo, who is the patron of
physicians, is associated with "iron water."
- West African Vodun
- The term, "West African Vodun," has also been spelled as "West African Vodu, "West African Vodon, "West
African Vudun, "West African Voodoo." It is sometimes refered to as "West African Dahomeyan Vodun." The
orginal word, "vodu/vodun" meant "spirit" in the Fon and Ewe languages. In Fon and Ewe, it is pronounced "vodu"
with a nasal high-tone.
- The term, "West African Vodun," now designates an indigenous organized religion of coastal West Africa. This
religion is practiced in Africa by the Ewe people, Kabye people, Mina people and Fon people of southern and
central Togo and southern and central Benin. It is distinct from Haitian Vodou, Dominican Vudu, New Orleans
Voodoo (NOLA), and Louisiana Voodoo. Yet this West African indigenous religion is the root for several religions
brought across the Atlantic in the African Diaspora, including Haitian Vodou (Haiti), the Dominican Vudu in the
(Dominican Republic), New Orleans Voodoo aka NOLA (USA), and Louisiana Voodoo (USA).
- white sage tea/white sage infusion (Salvia alpine)
- Though it is a culinary herb when taken internally as a tea, white sage has also been said to decrease
lactation in women. White sage tea is believed to have cleansing medicinal properties and is used as a
- wild cinnamon
- see cinnamon, wild
- willow bark (Salix alba and other salix)
- Chewing a bit of willow bark was a headache cure used by African-Americans in the 19th century, but
its medicinal use goes back much further than that in both Europe and the Americas. It was
used by sundry Native American Indian tribes to ease the throbbing pain caused toothache and arthritis,
and to reduce inflammation.
- Willow trees contain salicin, a substance that chemically resembles aspirin. "Willow bark
extract," called salicin after the Latin name Salix, was isolated to its crystalline form
in 1828. Pure salicylic acid can sometimes cause digestive upset. Willow bark extract can still be purchased
for medicinal purposes as can "willow bark tincture" which is prepared from willow bark and ethanol.
- Aspirin was created in 1897 by Felix Hoffmann as a synthetically altered version of salicin.
Hoffmann derived the well known anti-inflammatory drug, aspirin (Acetylsalicylic acid) from
meadowsweet (Spiraea ulmaria or Filipendula ulmaria).
- People with "salicylate sensitivity," also known as "salicylate intolerance," should avoid use of willow
bark, as well as avoiding the use of aspirin.
Disclaimer: The creators of "That Hoodoo..." accept no responsibility for effects or consequences of casting
spells or making magical charms found on this website. One should not consider any of these traditional charms,
remedies, or folklore a substitute for modern medical care nor a substitute for visits to a licensed medical
practitioner. Create your own magic responsibly.
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