Posted tagged ‘hot foot’

Podcast 19 – Curses & Hexes

November 8, 2010

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 19-


Summary
This episode is all about the controversial topic of hexing and cursing.  We discuss the ethics, methods, and types of cursing, as well as some personal experience with the subject.  Then Laine talks about Goofer Dust in WitchCraft, while Cory looks at Uncrossing in Spelled Out.

Play:

Download: New World WItchery – Episode 19

-Sources-
We cite Peter Paddon’s Crooked Path series on ethics.
Many spells and recipes discussed are in Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells
Lucky Mojo’s page has excellent entries on Hot Footing & the Evil Eye
Cat Yronwode’s Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic contains information on the Live Things in You Curse

Our contest will feature products from our Compass & Key Etsy shop and Judika Illes’ book, The Weiser Field Guide to Witches.


Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Appalachian Witch Doctor Tales
Promo 2 – Pennies in the Well
Promo 3 – Lakefront Pagan Voice

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Blog Post 63 – Black Pepper

May 21, 2010

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!

-Cory

Blog Post 62 – More Ideas for Urban Witchcraft

May 19, 2010

Greetings everyone!

Following on yesterday’s topic of urban conjure and rootwork, I thought today it might be fun to take a look at some spells that have roots in traditional American folk magic, but which use certain modern adaptations to accommodate contemporary life.

Courtcase Spell
In the past, courthouses were often wooden-floored buildings outfitted with spittoons for the convenience of trial attendees with a chaw of tobacco in their mouths.  Hoodoo developed a fairly ingenious way to exert some influence over a case by taking advantage of the spitting habit so prevalent in that day and age.  A defendant would keep a gob of Little John to Chew (the root known as galangal now—readily available in Asian markets) in his or her cheek, and then spit the juice onto the courthouse floor while ostensibly aiming for a spittoon nearby.  This sort of contagious magic would then bring favor in the case from anyone who walked on or near the spit.

Nowadays, spitting in court is probably a good way to lose your case.  Most courthouses are kept fairly secure, and tobacco products are seldom allowed in any government building (not that Little John is a tobacco product, but it’s supposed to look like it is, so either way, it’s out).  But there’s still a fairly simple way to work a spell in your favor:

1)      Get some dirt or water from the courthouse area – This can be dirt from a flower bed, from near the back of the building, or even from a potted plant somewhere on the premises if you can manage it.  Or, if the courthouse has a fountain out front, you can collect water from that, or fill a drinking bottle with water from the drinking fountain in the courthouse (or from the bathroom, etc.).  Barring all of these options, you  can scrape the side of the building and try to gather even just a little bit of dust from it, then mix it with soil from the closest source you can find.

2)      Take some Little John to Chew (galangal root) and work up a good bit of spit.  Spit the juice into the dirt or water, while reciting a petition or prayer appropriate to your situation (such as Psalm 35, “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me…”).  If you have only a little bit of dirt, you can add the dirt to some water and make a sort of “tea” out of it and the spit.  If you have only a little bit of water, you can dilute it with some more water (add a little whiskey to it to give it a kick).

3)      Take the dirt or water and go back to the courthouse.  Sprinkle your mixture in a circle around the building, as close as you can get (if you have to walk a block, sprinkling a little as you go, that’s fine—just make sure the entire building is encircled).  Whenever the judge who tries your case crosses that line, he will be disposed to favor you.

This trick relies on the same contagious magic as the older trick.  Why not just chew and spit at the front steps to the courthouse, you ask?  Well, you can’t be sure that your judge will come up those steps, and you need him to come into contact with your trick.  Unless he or she lives somewhere in the courthouse, your judge will have to cross the ring you make around the area in order to get inside, and so you should be able to affect him or her that way.

Git-Gone! Spell
Hot Footing someone to get rid of them is an old hoodoo trick.  In the past, it was accomplished by either mixing dirt from someone’s footprint with a special mixture of potent spices called “Hot Foot Powder” (see here, here, and here to buy) or by sprinkling that powder where a target would walk over it.  While it’s still possible to work the latter trick in a modern setting without much trouble, getting someone’s footprint-dirt isn’t easy anymore.  Additionally, the older version of the trick requires deployment in running water or throwing it away on a road heading out of town.

To bring a trick like this into the modern age, however, is not difficult.  City dwellers who can’t pick up dirty foot-tracks can work around that requirement by laying hold of a sock or shoe (or any article of clothing from the target, really).  Once you have something of theirs, you simply mix the Hot Foot Powder and wrap it in their clothing (or in the case of a shoe, give the sole a good sprinkling).

Deploying the trick can be done a couple of ways.  The simplest is to return the clothing to the target and hope they wear it without noticing the powder first (this is best with shoes).  Often, in apartment buildings, this kind of work is fairly easy to do because people will leave wet shoes in the hallway to dry out (much to the chagrin of their neighbors on warm days).

If giving the item of clothing back seems like it would cause raised eyebrows, or just doesn’t strike you as the best method, there are a couple of other distinctly modern deployment techniques that might be worth considering.  Since deployment in running water is a traditional method, consider chucking the Hot Footed sock into a sewer (which contains running water, after all, along with all manner of nastiness to help convince your target the time to leave is now).  Or, instead of finding a road out of town, you could go down to a train yard or a bus station and toss the sock onto a boxcar or bus heading out of the city.  In a lot of ways, a bus station is like a modern-age crossroads with the constant traffic coming and going, so sending someone away via outbound bus is actually a pretty smart way to go about your work.  I’d also suggest the same is true of airports, but sneaking things onto planes is a BAD idea, especially right now.  You’d really be asking for more trouble than a trick like this is worth.  Stick with bus stations and trains.

Send Away Your Troubles
There’s a bit of American folk magic that involves a rather sneaky method for healing common ailments.  The person with the disease (usually something like boils, warts, or corns) creates a small packet and “passes” the disease to the materials in the packet.  Then he or she drops the bundle in a road.  Whoever finds and opens it then receives the disease, and the person who passed the disease is cured of it.  Vance Randolph describes the procedure in conjunction with warts:

“Another way to ‘pass’ a wart is to spit on it, rub a bit of paper in the spittle, fold the paper, and drop it in the road; the wart is supposed to pass to the first person who picks up the paper and unfolds it. Children are always trying this, and one can find these little folded papers in the road near most any rural schoolhouse” (OM&F, p.127).

In the modern age, very few folks are walking along our roads, and few of those are going to stop to pick up a strange packet.  Motorists zooming by at high speeds never see them and people walking through cities for the most part avoid picking up litter from the walkways.  So how can one adapt this sort of spell to work today?

The United States Postal Service processes over 500 million pieces of mail per day (according to their website).  So why not put that big, churning system to work for you?  Here’s what I suggest:

1)      Just like in the old version of the spell, take a piece of paper and rub it against the afflicted part of your body.  If you want, you can even write a short petition on the paper asking that it remove illness from you and carry it far away.

2)      When you feel like you’ve imbued the paper with the disease, put it in an envelope.  Address the envelope, either by selecting a real person to send it to (which I actually don’t recommend—it just seems like an awfully trite way to get vengeance on an enemy and it certainly doesn’t make you any friends) or by writing a “dead letter.”  A dead letter is addressed to someone fictional (like Santa Claus, Professor Moriarty, Xenu, etc.) or someone dead (this could be an ancestor or just a spirit you think might be willing to help you by taking your disease off of you and into the grave).

3)      Don’t use a return address, and post the letter from a public mailbox.  You might, for example, send your disease to:

Mephistopheles
First Circle
Hell, the Universe

This letter will then carry your disease away from you and into a sort of “limbo” space.

The only downside to this method is the same one that comes with the old method:  if someone ever does open up your letter, they may catch your illness.  But all magic comes with risk, so if it sounds like a useful spell to you, please feel free to use it.

That’s it for today.  I’d love to hear from other city witches and urban rootworkers if you have suggestions for tricks that might be traditional-yet-modern.  Feel free to comment or email us.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 40 – Dirt Dauber Nest

March 31, 2010

With warmer days just around the bend, lots of our little insect friends are getting out and about.  One of the insects I least liked before studying hoodoo was the wasp (having wandered into a nest of them once while trying to get newborn kittens out of a barn, I feel I had some justification for my squeamishness about them).  However, hoodoo has given me a new appreciation of at least one kind of wasp:  the dirt (or mud) dauber.

This relatively harmless little black wasp (colors vary a bit, but most of the ones I’ve seen have been dark brown to black) likes to build its nests in long “pipes” from mud it gathers near puddles.  This has earned the wasp the occasional nickname of “pipe organ wasp,” and its nest is usually described as a pipe organ nest.  While the dirt dauber is a keen predator, often hunting spiders which it paralyzes and brings back to its nest for food, it seldom stings people unless provoked.  Though I don’t recommend provoking them.

However, if you can find an abandoned mud dauber nest, it’s well worth collecting it and keeping it in a sealed jar (just in case it’s not as abandoned as you thought) or plastic container.  Often, individual tubes may be abandoned and can be harvested for use as long as you’re careful not to bother any of the more active tubes.

In folk magic, these nests have all sorts of uses.  Once you’ve powdered the nest—an easy task since it crumbles readily—you can add it to hot foot workings, break-up spells, good luck hands, business drawing blends, and lots more.  Harry Middleton Hyatt lists several uses of dauber nest in his work, including:

  • Carrying around a bit of nest in your wallet or purse to draw money and luck (Vol. 2, p.1552)
  • Adding it to a vinegar jar with a couple’s name paper (names written crossing each other, of course) and red pepper and beef gall in order to break them up (Vol. 2, p. 1513)
  • Adding it to a Hot Foot working and placing it someone’s shoe to drive them off (Vol.2 , p. 1505)
  • Mixing it with Graveyard Dirt and Sugar in order to help heal a marriage (the wasps are one of the few where the male wasp stays at the nest to guard it, thus ensuring that the “family” is safe and united, which is probably why the dauber is associated with a faithful marriage) (Vol. 2, p. 1325)
  • Adding Dauber Nest to Graveyard Dirt and throwing it on train tracks to kill someone (there’s more to it than this, of course, but I’d rather not get too into that here) (Vol. 2, p. 1089)

Catherine Yronwode mentions many spells involving Dauber Nest in her book, including spells to destroy an enemy, control an errant husband, and draw new customers to a business.  This last spells involves mixing the nest with Grains of Paradise and sprinkling the powder around the business, as high as you can.  According to Yronwode, because daubers build their nests up high, it symbolizes success.

As a final bit of folklore, if you happen to have daubers building nests on your front porch, leave them there.  They will bring peace and protection to the home, and it can be fun to watch them build their nests on a summer day over a glass of iced tea.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory


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