Today I thought I’d take a brief look at a magical ingredient which most everyone has on hand: Black Pepper. There are many uses for this dried fruit of the Piper nigrum plant. Of course it’s valued for its ability to enhance food with a bit of heat, but it also has medicinal properties, and is very common in hoodoo practice as well.
Botanical.com lists the black peppercorn’s medicinal properties as being a febrifuge (fever reducer) and a stimulant and carminative. For those with enflamed throats or ailments of the uvula, the site recommends using an infusion of black peppercorns as a gargle, and also suggests using the herb for constipation and urinary troubles.
In Appalachian practice, Granny women would sometimes use an infusion of black pepper to help induce labor in an expectant mother, because of its stimulatory nature. They might also have the mother “snuff” or “quill” black pepper for the same results:
“Snuffing entailed having the mother sniff black pepper…from a plate placed under her nose; quilling involved blowing the same substances directly into the mother’s nostrils or throat with a goose quill, reed, or rolled piece of paper. Either way, the objective was to cause a violent sneezing attack that would induce labor” (Folk Medicine of Southern Appalachia p.130).
In hoodoo, the black peppercorn is used primarily to harm or protect. It’s often added to things like Hot-Foot powders or crossing tricks to facilitate an uncomfortable “heat” in the target’s life. Catherine Yronwode also notes that black pepper can be used to stave off a jinx, particularly one which has been stepped in:
“To shield yourself from anyone doing these things [poisoning you through the feet via powder or other foot-track magic]…sprinkle black pepper powder or a mixture of black pepper and Fear Not to Walk Over Evil Powder in your shoes. It is said that your track will be invisible or invulnerable to harm, and even if someone does throw for you or lift your foot track, they won’t be able to affect you in any way” (HHRM, p.53).
She also mentions that black pepper can be mixed with salt and thrown after someone when they leave your home to prevent them from ever returning or doing you harm. Since salt and pepper are rather easy to come by in most homes, doing a spell like this is simple, and because the ingredients are so common most people don’t think twice about seeing them on the ground. In fact, a light sprinkling of these ingredients would probably go unnoticed even in a busy apartment complex, and would be easily vacuumed up later, which makes a spell like this good for the urban root worker or witch (in my opinion, of course). I’d combine it with the practice of leaving a broom behind the door just to double up the protection from unwanted visitors, too.
There are several potent curses which can be levied using black pepper, too. Catherine Yronwode’s Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic book has an excellent entry on these, so I’ll not rehash everything in her entry here. I will say that the spell she mentions involving a black candle and 99 peppercorns taken to a crossroads sounds particularly nasty, and would be well worth learning, if only to have an idea how to undo it should someone do it to you.
That’s it for today! I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Please don’t forget to vote in our polls, too! They’ll be open through the weekend, and you can find them in Blog Post 61 or at the top right of the sidebar. Thanks for voting, and as always, thanks for reading!