Posted tagged ‘cleaning’

Episode 88 – Everyday Magic

February 15, 2016

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Summary:

We look back at the subject of broom closets this time around, and then dive into the uses of everyday and household ingredients in folk magic.

Please check out our Patreon page! You can help support the show for as little as a dollar a month, and get some awesome rewards at the same time. Even if you can’t give, spread the word and let others know, and maybe we can make New World Witchery even better than it is now.

Producers for this show: Corvus, Diana Garino, Renee Odders, Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, Raven Dark Moon, Ivory, The Witches View Podcast, Sarah, Molly, Corvus, Catherine, AthenaBeth, & Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!

CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT! It’s been a while, so we want to do a second round of our Audio Spellbook, so all you have to do is send us the sound of *you* describing your favorite spell which uses everyday ingredients (things you could find in a spice cabinet, grocery store, or backyard, for example). You can either record your spell and email it to us at compassandkey@gmail.com or call us and leave us a voice mail on our official NWW hotline: (442) 999-4824 (that’s 442-99-WITCH, if it helps). You can also get an extra entry by sharing either our Patreon page or our Contest Announcement via your favorite social media (make sure to tag us or get a screen capture you can email to us). What will you be entered to get? Well, you’ll get a NWW Annual Mailer (who can’t use an extra one of those, right?), a couple of bottles of our personally handmade condition oils, a folk charm or two, and a book or two to make it all even better!

Play:

Download: Episode 88 – Everyday Magic

-Sources-

Some of the previous episodes and website articles we mention in this show include:

Cory also mentions his interview on the Witches’ View Podcast, where he talked about cleaning lore and brooms.

Some books worth checking out on the subject of everyday magic include

We mention the awesome site Wolf & Goat as a place for finding really unique magical wares

Laine talks about Brazilian Bahia Bands as well

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter! And check out our Facebook page! For those who are interested, we also now have a page on Pinterest you might like, called “The Olde Broom.”

Promos & Music

Title and closing music is “Pig Ankle Rag,” by The Joy Drops, and is used under a Creative Commons License (available at Soundcloud.com).

The featured song is “Call of the Whip-Poor-Will,” by The Stapleton Brothers. All music is from the Free Music Archive, used under a Creative Commons license.

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Blog Post 162 – Broom Lore

September 20, 2012

I recently helped out on a project for a local folklorist looking for information on broom lore, and wound up with easily twenty pages of notes on the topic from a wide variety of sources. I thought that today I would share a few of the commonly held beliefs regarding brooms, as well as look at some of the most unusual practices surrounding this wonderful household item.

Of course there are many instances of witches riding broomsticks in art and media, but of course brooms were only one of the preferred methods for nocturnal transportation to Sabbat rites. Other mounts included pitchforks, stangs, goats, and eggshells (and even the occasional human being fitted with a magical bridle, in the cases of alleged ‘hag-riding’) (The Historical Dictionary of Witchcraft, Bailey: 23-4). Brooms served magical folk for more than hobby-horses and transport, though. In European culture, broom magic goes back at least as far as Ancient Rome. In that culture, the broom’s sweeping function translated into a purification rite. Eli Edward Burriss notes in his Taboo, Magic, Spirits that the Romans believed a new baby and its mother were in danger of being tormented by woodland spirits—particularly one called Silvanus—and goes on to quote St. Augustine about a three-part, three-tool ritual in which several spirits were invoked to provide protection. Let’s see what the good saint himself says on the subject (from Burriss’ book, and his translation of Augustine):

‘. . . After the birth of the child, three protecting divinities are summoned lest the god Silvanus enter during the night and harass mother and child; and to give tokens of those guardian divinities three men by night surround the threshold of the house and first strike it with an ax and a pestle; then they sweep it off with a broom, that, by giving these signs of worship, the god Silvanus may be kept from entering. For trees are not cut nor pruned without iron; nor is spelt powdered without a pestle; nor is grain piled up without a broom. Now from these three objects are named three divinities: Intercidona from the intercisio of the ax; Pilumnus from the pilum; Deverra from the sweeping (verrere) of the broom; and by the protection of these divinities new-born babies are preserved against the violence of Silvanus.’ (Burriss 28)

Burriss goes on to note that the iron in several of the implements provide the expected protection from evil, but the ceremonial sweeping is what actually drives away the wicked spirit. He also notes that Sir James Frazer observed something similar in his book The Golden Bough, which included sweeping salt out of a dwelling and disposing of it in a churchyard to remove any vengeful souls of the dead from the premises (Frazer 144, Burriss 35). Charles Leland noted that Gypsies used broom straws in spells to protect a mother during childbirth (echoing St. Augustine’s writings) and also says that Romanian Gypsies would use iron and broomstraws interchangeably as protective wards placed beneath pillows at night (Gypsy Sorcery & Fortune Telling, Leland: 47-48, 136).

In the New World, brooms retain much of their old purifying & protective power, but also begin to adopt new abilities within the new culture. African American folk practices show a strong connection to brooms and domestic bonds. African American cultural tradition (as well as other cultures) have a wedding practice of “jumping the broom” to seal the ceremony. It’s common enough that in 2011 a romantic comedy film about an African American wedding was entitled Jumping the Broom. This connection to marriage and the household also involves a number of superstitions and folk spells centered on weddings and love in association with brooms. Here’s a short collection of such beliefs:

From Harry M. Hyatt’s Folklore of Adams County, Illinois

  • 9614. To sweep under the feet of someone sitting on a table signifies that person will marry before the year ends.
  • 9615. Do not let anyone sweep entirely around the chair on which you are sitting; you will remain single seven years longer.
  • 9616. The person under whose chair you sweep will marry once say some, twice say others — soon after his or her mate dies.
  • 9617. If you sweep your own feet, you will never get married.
  • 9618. Whoever breaks a broom handle will soon break someone’s heart.
  • 9619. For luck in love, a woman may wet the bushy part of her broom and sprinkle the water about the house.
  • 9935. The significance of an engaged girl dropping a broom is as follows: if the handle points to the north, she or her fiancee will break the engagement; if to the south, she will marry him and live a happy life.
  • 10129. It is very unlucky for a bride to see a broom on her wedding day before she goes to church.

From Kentucky Superstitions, by Daniel & Lindsey Thomas

  • 1614. If you let some one sweep under your feet, you will never be married.
  • 1615. If you sweep your feet with a broom, you will never be married.
  • 1619. If the broom falls across the doorway, someone will call.
  • 1620. If two people sweep a floor together, they may expect bad luck.
  • 1621. If you sweep after dark, you will bring sorrow to your heart.
  • 1625. If you sweep the house after the sun goes down, you may expect a man caller.

I should note that these are only a very small handful of the superstitions associated with brooms in these two texts. Hyatt’s book alone has easily five hundred individual entries featuring various examples of broom magic and lore.

Of course, the broom’s protective power and its association with witches also become increasingly complex in the New World. Many sources (Hyatt, Thomas, Randolph, Puckett, etc.) all say that witches will not cross over a broom, and so it can be a powerful protective charm to put one across your doorway. Similarly, one could reverse a jinx or witchcraft by stepping backwards over a broom. Brooms can also be a component of spells to reverse the evil eye, according to curandero lore:

A treatment for mal ojo (the evil eye) – “She got some kind of herb from the garden. I don’t know what kind it was. She made signs of the cross with the herb by his head and all over his body, and his feet. All this time she was saying something in Spanish, but I couldn’t understand what it was. Then she turned  him over and did the same thing on the other side. She got an egg and did the same thing with the egg, holding the egg and making signs of the cross all the way down his body and across. She told me to get a cup with some water. She cracked open the egg and put it in the water in the cup. Then she had me get a broom straw, which she cut, and made a little sign of the cross that she put on top of the egg. She told me to put the egg under his crib at night while he slept, under his head, and the next day he would be O.K. I looked at the egg the next day, and, my God, it was cooked! I was so surprised! The yolk and the white were hard and cooked like a hard-boiled egg. She told me to bring the egg to her and she could tell if it was a man or woman who had done it. If the cross went one way it was a male, and if it went the other way it was a female” (“Mexican American Folk Disease,” Keith Neighbors, Western Folklore, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Oct., 1969): 254).

Here again we have a connection to magical protection, especially for children, much as we saw in the European lore. Brooms can also cure physical ailments, like warts, as well.

One of the most interesting themes in broom lore has to do with relocating a household. If one is moving, for example, one should not take the old broom along. Likewise, when you are moving, you should break your old broom and burn it before leaving the house. The superstitious believe that a new broom should be one for the first things you bring into a new home:

  • 11288. You will be lucky, if before moving out of the old house you send a broom and a loaf of bread to your new home.
  • 11289. To have luck in the new house, take in the broom and a loaf of bread before anything else; the broom first, the bread next. Then sweep with the broom.
  • 11290. A broom and a dish pan should be the first things taken into your new home for luck.
  • 11291. A broom and a dish towel should be the first things taken into your new home for luck.
  • 11292. The woman who takes a broom and a dust pan into her new home first will always be lucky there. (Folklore of Adams County, Hyatt)

A number of superstitions also note that the first thing a person does in his or her new home should be to sweep it with a broom, then throw the ashes out the door to ensure that all bad luck is swept clean of the house before anyone sleeps there. Likewise, a new home can be blessed with good luck by throwing a broom over it.

While there’s much, much more that could be said on the topic of brooms, I’ll finish up today with a small grab-bag of the more unusual beliefs and practices involving these wonderful magical tools:

  • If a bunch of straw comes out of a broom when sweeping, name it and place it over the door, and the person named will call (“Kentucky Folk-lore,” Sadie F. Price, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 14, No. 52 (Jan. – Mar., 1901), 34).
  • 12368. If you sweep on New Year’s Day, your house will be dirty all year; but if you leave the dirt in a pile on the floor until the next day, clean all year.
  • 12369. To sweep on Monday causes bad luck; all week say some.
  • 12370. The bad luck that comes from sweeping on Monday can be warded off by keeping the dirt in the house until the following day.
  • 12371. The bad luck that comes from sweeping on Monday can be warded off by sprinkling salt over the dirt and burning it.
  • 12372. Sweep on Monday and you are sweeping away all your company that week. (previous five from Hyatt)
  • To draw your enemies to you (so that you may know who they are), clean out your stove, all the time keeping your wish in your mind, but don’t speak it. Then break a stick into four pieces, all of them the  Same length, and pin them together in the middle like this and set them afire in the middle. Then go to the four corners of the room, with your wish in your heart and mind, (but don’t say it), and sprinkle salt. Then, when you see your enemies coming, go outside your door and throw your broom down careless and step over it into the house and talk to them across it and they can’t come in, but they can’t help  from coming to your gate. (“Hoodoo in America,” Hurston:  393).
  • It is bad luck to sweep the dirt out of a house at night; sweep it up into a corner and sweep out in the daytime. If obliged to sweep it out at night, take a coal of fire and throw it first in front of you (“Superstitions & Beliefs of Central Georgia,” Roland Steiner, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 12, No. 47 (Oct. – Dec., 1899), pp. 261-271).
  • To make a guest leave, place a broom upside down behind the door (Puckett 317).
  • If a very young child, without being told, picks up a broom and starts sweeping the house, you might as well prepare for a visitor, the idea apparently being that an innocent child can see things in the future that grown-ups cannot, and knows that the house must be tidied up for the company. (Puckett 444).

And just for fun, you should listen to blues legend Robert Johnson singing “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.”

Some of our own NWW posts which have featured other broom lore:

Blog Post 113 – Spiritual House Cleaning
Blog Post 126 – Walpurgisnacht 2011
Blog Post 137 – Curandero Spells, part I

So there’s my brief take on magical brooms. The short, sweet version is that they’re not just for riding up to unholy Sabbats upon anymore. I hope this information is useful to you! Until next time, thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 27 – Spring Cleaning

April 1, 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 27-

Summary:
In this episode, we move away from the philosophical topics and back to the practical necessities of life, namely, Spring Cleaning!  We discuss various magical cleaning methods, then Laine looks at coconuts and Cory talks about floor washes.

Play:

Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 27

-Sources-
Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells, by Judika Illes
Spiritual Cleansing, by Draja Mickaharic
Floor Washes” on the Lucky Mojo site
Blog Post 113 from our own blog

Promos & Music:
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Druidcast
Promo 2 – Radiolab
Promo 3 – The Infinite & the Beyond

Blog Post 113 – Spiritual House Cleaning

January 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home, by Douglas William Jerrold (via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s always nice to start the New Year off with a clean, well-appointed home.  In some traditions, this is not mere vanity or hygiene, but a spiritual necessity that must be done on New Year’s Eve to ensure that the home is clear and ready for the coming year.  Today, I thought I’d look at a few of the magical methods for housecleaning, as well as some of the most common cleaning agents with a magical touch.

Sweeping & Vacuuming – It has to be done.  There’s just no way of getting around it.  The floors must be kept clean, at least within reason, and usually a broom or a vacuum is employed to that end.  Workers in the conjure and hoodoo traditions tend to have specific techniques for sweeping, often going from the topmost floor of the house to the bottom and working from the back of each floor towards the front (though I’ve seen variations on that, often depending on specific needs—getting rid of a bad spirit might involve sweeping out the back door, for example).  While floor washes are the go-to method for spiritually cleansing a house and adding specific magical vibes to the area (see Mopping & Floor Washes below), you can add a degree of magic to the sweeping and vacuuming process, too.  Various powders can be sprinkled on floors and carpets and left there for a bit before sweeping.  These will absorb some spellwork and leave other magic behind.  Some good ones to try out (available at Lucky Mojo):

  • Fear Not to Walk Over Evil – A powerful anti-hex and anti-foottrack magic powder.
  • House Blessing – A simple, very peaceful powder.
  • Crown of Success or Fast Money – To encourage prosperity and abundance.
  • Chuparosa/Hummingbird – To create love and attraction between partners in the home.

Likewise, you might also opt for simple, household items to do some of your mojo work during sweeping and vacuuming.  Many spices make great conjure sweeps (and smell wonderful when taken up by a vacuum and slightly warmed by the machine’s motor—an added aromatic energy).  Some that I like to use:

  • Cinnamon – Creates a sense of prosperity and joviality.  Some use it for business success, but I find it creates more of a personal confidence and comfortability than anything purely financial.
  • Allspice – Another success spice, but also good for stimulating conversation.  I like to vacuum with cinnamon and allspice sprinkled on the carpets before guests come over to encourage a warm, friendly atmosphere.
  • Pine Needles – Good for uncrossing and refreshing a home.  Not a kitchen spice, of course, but still easily accessible.  Be careful though, as too many pine needles can gum up machinery (like vacuums) quickly!
  • Rosemary – Good for domestic bliss, as well as helping those who smell it focus and think clearly.
  • Oregano – Keeps meddlesome influences from interfering in your life.  Makes a nice “law-keep-away” substitute, and discourages nosy neighbors.
  • Garlic Skins – Kills off evil, but it will leave a distinctive odor in the air.
  • Rose Petals – Encourages love and passion when crumbled around the home and left for a bit before sweeping/vacuuming.
  • Salt – Great for stopping any hexes put upon you and removing unwanted spiritual energies from your home.  I use baking soda (a type of salt) sprinkled on carpets before vacuuming to both absorb odors and remove pesky curses.  Jim Haskins records a method of preventing unwanted guests from returning which simply involves sweeping salt after them when they leave.
  • Sugar – A little of this will add a sweetness to your home, though make sure you get it all and don’t use too much—a little sweetness may be great, but a lot of ants aren’t.

The basic method here is to sprinkle everything, let it sit for a bit (if you can stand letting it sit for 24 hours, that is lovely, but probably a little excessive—30 minutes is often plenty of time, and even a 5-minute wait will give you a quick dose of magic).

Mopping & Floor Washes – This is probably one of the best known hoodoo methods of cleansing, blessing, and enchanting a home.  Using a prepared magical floor wash to clean anything that can handle getting wet (including the walls) still makes for great spellwork.  Some of the most famous floor washes are (again from Lucky Mojo):

  • Chinese Wash – An old school formula which reputedly came out of Chinatown (though which Chinatown is not particularly clear).  It’s made from several powerful ingredients, many of which are found in Van Van (see below), with broom straws added for extra oomph.  Good for knocking out any hexes and doing purification work.
  • Van Van – We’ve covered this in Blog Post 81, but briefly this is a blend of several Asian grass extracts, chiefly lemongrass and vetiver root.  It, like Chinese Wash, cleanses and purifies.
  • Peace Water – When made in its most interesting form, peace water is beautiful to look at, with layers of blue and white/clear liquid on top of one another in a mesmerizing stasis.  When mixed up and sprinkled into a floor wash, this helps create feelings of calm, quiet, and tranquility in even very turbulent homes.
  • Rose Water – This very basic addition to a floor wash can be found in many ethnic grocery markets.  It’s not much more than a strong rose tea stabilized with alcohol, so you could easily make your own, but it’s also fairly cheap to buy.  When used in a floor wash, it helps promote feelings of love and agreement.

In addition to these specialty formulas, there are lots of common household cleaners you can use with a magical bent:

  • Pine-Sol – This commercial floor cleaner basically evolved out of hoodoo floor washes.  Cat Yronwode even suggests adding a little Van-Van to a bottle of Pine-Sol and using it as a simple substitute for Chinese Wash.  Traditional pine scent is great, of course, or you can go with…
  • Lemon Pine-Sol – Or any lemon-scented cleanser like it.  Lemons have a cut-and-clear effect on a space, and have long been associated with destroying curses and breaking hexes.  Charles Leland’s Aradia records an anti-evil-eye charm which is fundamentally a pomander made of a lemon and pins.  It leaves a lovely clean smell, too, though a fairly artificial one in most cleansers.  Feel free to add some fresh squeezed lemons to your mop bucket for a rootsier version of lemon-cleanser.
  • Ammonia Draja Mickaharic recommends a simple floor wash of ammonia and salt added to mop water, and it really makes a wonderful cleansing and protecting wash water.  It can really neutralize almost anything thrown at you, magically speaking, and it disinfects beautifully.  Mickaharic also recommends a little ammonia down every drain when you finish cleaning (just a teaspoon or so), to finish off your magical housecleaning.
  • Vinegar – Four Thieves Vinegar is popular as a counter-curse wash, and as a protective mix-in for a mop-water.  But really, any vinegar will help get rid of unwanted energies and protect the home from invaders and malicious forces.  If the scent is strong enough, it may protect you from visitors altogether.
  • Urine – This one is very traditional in hoodoo, though much frowned upon in modern use.  It has, however, been long used as a cleaning agent, and a little urine diluted in some mop water can be very powerful for “marking your territory” and protecting the home.  It can also instill a sense of good luck in the place, and ensure fidelity in your mate and passion from your lover.  If they don’t catch you doing it, of course.

There are lots of other cleaning agents out there that you can use, of course.  Almost anything scented probably has at least some tenuous connection to a magical formula, so a little homework can help you transform that bottle of Mop-N-Glo into a powerful apothecary’s potion.

Windows & Doors – You don’t do windows, you say?  Well, you should at least open them up!  Whenever you do a good house-cleansing, throwing up the windows and letting some fresh air circulate is vital to getting everything “right.”  It helps balance out all the forces in the home, allows bad spirits to leave, and refreshes the air in the house.  It’s cold to do this in winter, of course, but turning the heat off for 10 minutes and letting a little fresh air in can make all the difference in getting a home feeling good and happy again.  Likewise, the doors should be opened for a bit to let the air circulate.

When it comes to washing doors and windows, you can really use any of the same washes I talked about above in the Mopping & Floor Washes section.  You can also use a variety of other ingredients to get things right at all your entrances and exits.  For example, many folks take a little olive oil (or holy oil, which is basically blessed and sometimes lightly scented olive oil) and make a little sigil in the corner of every window, to seal that entrance against evil intrusions.  Some folks put blue bottles in the windows, or jars full of sand or marbles, in the hopes that any witches who might try to get in will be forced to count the contents of the container and be unable to do so before daybreak (when their power ends).  You can make a wash water of red brick dust, urine, and salt in warm water and use it to scrub your door to add a powerful layer of protection.  You can also sprinkle salt or brick dust lines down at the threshold and in the sills of every window to keep out unwanted spirits and spells.

Clearing the Air – Once the house has been aired out and all the windows and doors cleaned and opened for a while, some folks like to light some incense, use room sprays, or even just make a little something in the kitchen to add an element of magic to the home.  I’ve covered some of the holiday scents and their uses in Blog Post 108, and I’ve already mentioned pine and citrus scents as powerful agents for spiritual and physical cleansing.  Other odoriferous offerings to your home can include:

Fresh Bread – One of the best symbols of abundanace and prosperity.  Bake a loaf in your oven and let the scent fill the home.  Cookies are also good for this.

Floral Scents – Like jasmine, rose, or lavender.  All of these have specific uses, and add specific magical “vibrations” to an area (rose fragrances inspire love to many, for example), so look into the flowers you like and figure out what note they will set in your newly cleaned domicile.

Sweeteners – I did mention this in Blog Post 108, but I also said it’s a bit strong when burned.  If you are airing your house out, however, a little honey, brown sugar, molasses, or even table sugar might be a good thing to burn or warm on the stove, as it will provide a sublimely “sweet” feeling to the area.  Draja Mickaharic highly recommends this, and I can’t say I’m against it either.

Nailing It Down – This is a practice particular to conjure and hoodoo, though there are likely variants or similar practices in other magical systems.  The basic idea is that by pounding nails into your home’s corners (and the corners of your property), you fix it there and create a stable environment.  You also assert your ownership of the place, and help to guarantee your continued residence there.  The most commonly used nails for this are the “square-cut” kind, usually sold cheaply at hardware stores.  For doing the corners of your property, you would want to use something bigger, like old railroad spikes.  The basic idea is that you simply nail them into every corner of your home, particularly the ones along outside walls.  You can bless them with oil or holy water or anything else you feel is appropriate, or simply nail them down while saying a little prayer that you remain safe, happy, and comfortable in your home as long as the nails remain in place.  Remove them if you ever have to move away for any reason.

That’s a lot of cleaning!  But it’s always good to have a clean home, for both practical and spiritual reasons, so give some of these a go and see how they work for you!  And if you missed your New Year’s cleaning deadline, well, you can always do these things during your Spring cleaning, too.

I hope this has been useful!  Thanks for reading!

Oh, and Happy New Year!

-Cory


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