Posted tagged ‘psalms’

Blog Post 136 – Papisticall Charmes (More Catholic-flavored Magic)

September 12, 2011

Howdy-do!

Today I’m going to be following along the course of my previous entries on brujeria/curanderismo and Catholic folk magic in general by looking at some specific elements, tools, charms, and spells from within those traditions. I should go ahead and note that while Psalm magic is found within all of these streams, I’m not covering it here because it is a huge topic in and of itself, and one which I’ve already explored a bit in posts 115 and 116. I’ll also only briefly touch on any Saint-specific magic, because that could be its own topic, too (and hopefully will be at some point).

That being said, I would like to point out the presence of a number of folk saints in pseudo-Catholic magical practices. These are not officially recognized saints (even Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II have not been fully canonized yet), but rather people reputed to be intensely holy and capable of performing miraculous feats. They can also be spirits with special powers and areas of influence who do not have a human counterpart, but rather seem to be almost archetypical entities. Some of the most widely petitioned and patronized of these folk saints include:

  • Don Pedrito Jaramillo – healing
  • Teresa Urrea (“Teresita”) – healing
  • El Nino Fidencio – healing & spiritual purification
  • Santa Muerte (“La Santisima,” “La Huesada”) – protection, prosperity, family life, love, and a number of other powers
  • Saint Michael (Archangel) – protection & spiritual warfare
  • Saint Raphael (Archangel) – safe travels, spiritual medicine, & exorcism of evil spirits

(for more information on these folk saints, see Curandero by Cheo Torres and Magical Powers of the Saints by Ray T. Malbrough)

Many people simply burn candles with images of these saints emblazoned on the glass or with picture prayer cards placed nearby. Small votive offerings might be left out for them, including small amounts of liquor, coffee, or tobacco, or specific items might be given to specific saints. For example, Saint Michael’s altar would be decorated by war memorabilia, such as medals, maps, or pictures of soldiers. More explicitly spell-like operations can also be performed, such as this method for creating a powerful “fortune magnet”:

Get a candle or statue of Santa Muerte and put her on an altar by herself (she does not like to share altar space, though she has been known to tolerate St. Michael at times). Place a lodestone beside her, and a glass of water on the other side of her. Put a basket of brightly colored fruit (lemons and oranges, for example) in front of her, and place yellow flowers upon her altar. Light a charcoal in a brazier and burn a holy incense (such as Gloria Incense or even just some frankincense). Add a pinch of soil from your homeland (or even hometown) to the burning coal, and say:

Towards you I inclilne, Holy Lady
I bring you water and yellow flowers,
Incense and the dust from which I am made.
Please make the world to twist and turn,
Allowing luck and fortune to cross my path,
Cutting the bitter ties that bind me.
In your honor I shall please you with scented offerings,
I shall plant trees in forests,
I shall give you fruits
In return for your goodwill towards me.

Allow the candle to burn for at least an hour. If possible, allow the candle to burn out on its own. Let the stone sit overnight, rising before dawn and wrapping it in a dark cloth. Keep this with you at all times, and do not unwrap it in direct sunlight. [Adapted from a spell in an anonymously authored chapbook called The Magical Powers of the Holy Death picked up in a botanica]

How’s that for not dwelling on Saint magic? Moving on, then, let’s look at some other spells from other sources. This one, which I’m transcribing from The Red Church and which comes from John G. Hohman’s Long Lost Friend, is not explicitly Catholic, but the presence of latinate words and Christian symbols certainly allows it to fit right in with the whole “magical Catholic” idea:

A Written Charm of Exorcism

Below is a charm paper entitled ‘Against Evil Spirits and Witchcrafts.’ This charm was given to me by ‘Daisy.’ With the exception of a few minor details it is exactly like the one that appears in Hohman’s The Long Lost Friend

I.
N. I. R.
I.
Sanctus.   Spiritus.
I.
N. I. R.
I.

All this be guarded, here in time, and there in eternity. Amen. +++ (TRC, p. 273-4)

Chris Bilardi goes on to describe several ways in which you might deploy this charm, including folding it into a tight triangle and slipping it into the frames and jambs of doors and windows in your home (but you must use no metal to affix it). He also mentions putting it into a wallet or binding it with a red string if it is intended to be carried.

Another home protection and blessing charm comes out of ancient Jewish practice, too. Joshua Trachtenberg’s quintessential text on the topic, Jewish Magic & Superstition, describes an excellent blessing charm which consists very simply of bread and salt either ingested to defeat evil spirits or brought into a new home “as a symbolic of the hope that food may never be lacking there” (JM&S p.161). In my own family, we called this the ‘Polish House Blessing’ and included a penny as well (we were Polish through my grandfather’s family). It’s something I still use when someone mooves into a new house in order to bless their new home. I simply put the salt (kosher, please), a piece of bread, and a penny in a small jar (like a baby food jar) and wrap the lid in pretty paper, often with a Psalm written on the underside of it to provide protection and domestic bliss (Psalms 46 and 61 are both good for this).

One of my personal favorite books of the Bible is Jonah, which is also one of the shortest books in the whole book. It’s read every year on Yom Kippur in synagogues, and it has a bizarre blend of folklore, humor, and philosophy in it that I just find delightful. For a magical practitioner, it can also be a very good source of magical phrases. One very simple spell which Draja Mickaharic lists in his Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets is for abating someone’s anger:

To Turn Away Another Person’s Anger

Required: Only the verse

Spell: In the presence of an angry person, say the verse to yourself three times.

Verse: Jonah 4:4 (“Then said the lord, Does thou well to be angry?”)

NOTE: This verse should be memorized and used for this purpose whenever desired (MSMP, p. 52-3)

There are a number of great non-Psalm verses that can be used for various magical purposes. Most of these are simply spoken, though sometimes they can be written down and carried in pockets, purses, etc. for magical aid. A list (hardly exhaustive) of such verses:

  • Amos 2:13 – Against an Opressor
  • Obadiah 1:6 – To Find that Which Has Been Lost
  • Habakkuk 2:2-3 – For Aid in Automatic Writing
  • Zechariah 4:13-14 – To Learn Who Your Teacher or Guide Is
  • Ezekiel 16:6 – The Blood Verse (for stopping small wounds)
  • Genesis 49:18 – For Protection at Night
  • Deuteronomy 18:13 – Against Wild Beasts
  • Deuteronomy 33:3-4 – For Intelligence

(The above primarily from Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets and Jewish Magic & Supersition)

I’m sure with enough effort, nearly any book of the Bible will yield some magical content, though I’ve not tested that theory.

Finally, I couldn’t reisist including some of the “popish and magicall cures” found in Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft. The following are cures “For direct cure to such as are bewitched in the privie members” (i.e. to deal with impotence, especially impotence caused by witchcraft):

For direct cure to such as are bewitched in the privie members, the first and speciall is confession: then follow in a row, holie water, and those ceremoniall trumperies, Ave Maries, and all maner of crossings; which are all said to be wholesome, except the witchcraft be perpetuall, and in that case the wife maie have a divorse of course.

  • Item, the eating of a haggister or pie helpeth one bewitched in that member.
  • Item, the smoke of the tooth of a dead man.
  • Item, to annoint a mans bodie over with the gall of a crow.
  • Item, to fill a quill with quicke silver, and laie the same under the cushine, where such a one sitteth, or else to put it under the threshold of the doore of the house or chamber where he dwelleth.
  • Item, to spet into your owne bosome, if you be so bewitched, is verie good.
  • Item, to pisse through a wedding ring. If you would know who is hurt in his privities by witchcraft; and who otherwise is therein diseased,Hostiensis answereth: but so, as I am ashamed to english it: and therefore have here set down his experiment in Latine; Quando virga nullatenùs movetur, & nunquam potuit cognoscere; hoc est signum frigiditatis: sed quando movetur & erigitur, perficere autem non potest, est signum maleficii. [Dialect from original text preserved here]

I hope this post has been entertaining and interesting for you. Please also check out the recent posts on curanderismo and Catholic folk magic, as well as our most recent episode on biblical sorcery.

I don’t know if I’ll get another post up before the Salem trip, so if I don’t, I will hope to see some of you there. And the rest of you I’ll look forward to speaking to when I get back!
Thanks for reading!

-Cory

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Podcast 34 – Biblical Magic

September 6, 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 34-

Summary
This episode is the long-awaited episode on “great spells from the good book.” We’re talking about magic both in the Bible and from the Bible.

Play:
Download: New World Witchery – Episode 34

 

-Sources-

NWW Posts on Biblical Magic:

1)   Blog Post 135 – The Magical Catholic
2)   Blog Post 122 – Bibliomancy
3)   Blog Post 116 – Cursing Psalms part II
4)   Blog Post 115 – Cursing Psalms part I

Check out Arrow Claire’s blog post on bibliomancy, as well.

Books:
Secrets of the Psalms, by Godfrey Selig
Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets, by Draja Mickaharic
Jewish Magic  & Superstition, by Joshua Trachtenberg
Power of the Psalms, by Anna Riva

And, of course, the Bible (available pretty much anywhere near you)

Don’t forget about the Second Annual Pagan Podkin Supermoot in Salem, MA, on the weekend of Sept. 17th, 2011.  Find out more details about the event and opportunities to come meet us in person at the PPSM2 Website. [Laine respectfully asks that she not be in any photographs, due to privacy concerns—Cory will be happy to wear a wig and pretend to be Laine, however].

During the Supermoot, NWW favorite Peter Paddon will be teaching a class on ritual trance and possession. Sign up here.

I’ll also be at the West KY Hoodoo Rootworker Heritage Festival teaching a course on “Biblical Magic & Sorcery.”

Also, you can now follow New World Witchery on Twitter! Our handle is @NWWitchery, and we’ll be posting about new episodes, blog posts, and contests to those who follow us.

Promos & Music

 
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
 

Incidental Music: “The Peaceful Death of the Righteous,” by Troy Demps, James Robinson, & Frank Spaulding; “Wasn’t That a Mystery,” by Madison County Senior Center; “Babylon Is Falling Down,” by Deacon Dan Smith w/Nick Hallman & the Georgia Sea Island Singers [All from the Florida Folklife Project]

Promo 1 – Pagan in Portland
Promo 2 – Magick and Mundane
Promo 3 – Conjure Doctor Products
Promo 4 – Media Astra ac Terra

Blog Post 116 – Cursing Psalms (part II)

January 20, 2011

Staying on the dark side of things today, I’m going to continue the theme I started in my previous blog post on the biblical Psalms which have been used to curse.  In this post, I’ll be looking at several of the most commonly used Psalms, as well as some of the spells which are built around them.

To begin, let’s look at the spell that prompted this whole topic.  From Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells:

The Cursing Psalm

The power to heal can be the power to harm.  Even something as intrinsically good and sacred as a psalm may be used malevolently.  Psalm 109 has been called ‘the cursing psalm.’  It may be chanted to harm an enemy.

The psalm itself is inherently benevolent.  It’s your emotion and intention that transforms it.  Therefore the fist step is to be in the right mood.  Then start chanting and visualizing.” (p. 575)

This is certainly the most intensive of the cursing Psalms, including the admonitions:

9Let his [one’s enemy] children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

10Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

13Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

Not pleasant stuff, certainly.  This one is powerful enough that merely chanting it while focusing on an enemy should cause him or her some distress.  However, before simply writing this particular Psalm off as evil, I should point out that it also gets interpreted in more positive ways.  Ray T. Marlbrough says it is used “To protect from an enemy, persisting in bothering you” (Magic Power of the Saints).  In this light, it is not so much of a curse as a barrier against harm.  Braucher Chris Bilardi recognizes its power to be used “against a tenacious enemy,” but also says it is useful “for acquiring friends” (The Red Church).  So even the “cursing Psalm” has its upside.

Next, let’s lok at Psalm 70 in a spell from  Hyatt’s books, via the HyattSpells Yahoo! Group:

CUT LIMB FROM A TREE THAT IS WITHERING
WHILE MENTIONING WHICH LIMB OF YOUR ENEMY YOU WISH TO BE AFFECTED, OR WHILE MENTIONING OVERALL WITHERING AS YOUR INTENT;
READ THE 70TH PSALM ON YOUR ENEMY;
BURY WITHERED LIMB WITH YOUR ENEMY’S UNDERWEAR –
– TO HURT BY DRYING THEM UP

When ah want someone tuh dry up, or tuh hurt them, yo’ go to a tree an’ git a tree that’s withered all up, dryin’ up.  Yo’ don’t know the cause of the tree dryin’ up but chure not supposed tuh know how come the tree is witherin’ up yo’self tuh do this.  Yo’ jes’ git the witherin’ tree that’s dyin’, an’ yo’ cut a branch offa that tree, see.  An’ yo’ want that person – whatevah limb yo’ want that person tuh lose when yo’ cut this branch offa this tree, yo’ mention de limb that chew want ’em tuh lose, if it’s the right laig or the right arm.  It won’t work on they haid; it’ll work on a limb, yore arm or yore laig.  An’ then yo’ bury this withered tree wit some of this person’s underwear.  Until it’s found, why they’ll wither away or lose dere laig or lose they arm, whichevah yo’ say, an’ they’ll be lingerin’ from it.  Co’se if yo’ don’t want ’em tuh die like that or lose their laig or arm, yo’ would say, “Let ’em wither as dis tree withers.”  But chew would have tuh read de 70th Psalms tuh do that work.  De 70th Psalms will dry that person up, jes’ wither him up.  De 70th Psalms will dry yo’ up jes’ like a herrin’ – yo’ see, a dry herrin’.  Yo’ read de 70th Psalms on anyone an’ it will dry ’em up.

[Memphis, TN.  Informant #926 and #1538 (this is one informant, two different interview dates); B45:19-B51:1 = 1503-1509 and D96:1-D110:2 = 2779-2793.]

This is definitely a severe curse, in that it aims to cause at least semi-permanent damage to a person’s body.  Both Bilardi and the Curious Curandera also list this Psalm as one to be used for overcoming evil, particularly bad habits—the withering of a limb in this case being the withering of the wicked part of oneself that must be removed.

Some of the other Psalms that may be used in a cursing capacity include:

Psalm 7 – Used to overcome enemies, especially those who plot against one secretly

Psalm 48 – To undo envious enemies; according to Malbrough, it can also be used to “strike fear into your enemies”

Psalm 52 – Used to punish one’s enemies, especially those who use magic against one

Psalm 53 – Which can be used to curse someone who is being stubborn, or to inflict blindness (mental or physical)

Psalm 59 – Henri Gamache has a ritual “to overcome an enemy” using this Psalm and several candles (see Master Book of Candle Burning)

Psalm 93 – Used in legal cases where one has been unjustly accused in order to cross the one who brought the charges

Psalm 100 – According to Bilardi, this Psalm is for “overcoming enemies and obstacles” (TRC)

Psalm 109 – The Curious Curandera recommends this one “to overcome a strong enemy, for the ungrateful people who turn against their benefactors”

Psalm 120 – To stop gossip against one or to cross one’s enemies in court cases

Psalm 140 – Against anyone “evil,” though I think that is a fairly subjective idea.  It is also used like Psalm 52 against anyone who has worked harmful magic against one

In all of these cases, the Psalms themselves are sometimes all you need, though the more one wants to add to the process, the more potent the curse will be.   Muttering the curse over a candle with an enemy’s name carved into it would be a simple and not-terribly-visceral way to do it.  Sewing up one of these Psalms into a doll-baby containing an enemy’s hair or foot track and tossing it into a fire, burying it in the earth, or dropping it into a jar full of baneful herbs and oils would be a pretty big curse.  The mechanics of the curse really would depend upon the practitioner.

Before I finish up today, I thought I’d also look at a few of the other curse verses employed from the Bible.  Just as non-Psalmic verses (like the Blood Verse in Ezekiel 16) and extra-biblical prayers can be employed to do good works, there are a few passages which have some crossing power in them.  These are taken from a very fine book on Old Testament magic called Jewish Magic & Supersition, by Joshua Trachtenberg:

“Against an enemy: Ex. 15:5; 15:6; 15:9; 15:19; Deut. 22:6; Is. 10:14 and Prov. 1:17

To cause an enemy to die: Nu. 14:37

To cause an enemy to drown: Ex. 15:10

Against slander: Ex. 15:7

To cause a man who has sworn falsely to die within a year:  Ex. 15:12

To cause a curse to take effect: Lev. 27:29” (p. 110)

Pretty rough stuff!  All of these curses make me want to up my protection factor quite a bit.  You can’t be too careful out there, where magic is concerned.

I hope this has been useful to someone.  If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me.  For now, blessings upon you for reading this (after all these curses, you might need them!).
And, of course, thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 115 – Cursing Psalms (part I)

January 18, 2011

Several months ago, I received an email from a reader/listener asking about the use of certain biblical texts in the context of cursing.  It said:

“I have been reading Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells and came across Psalms 109 being used as a hex. I did not know that you could use Bible verses as a hex. Can you give me more info of this Psalms 109 hex?”

So I thought that today I might start to look at some of the “cursing Psalms,” with an eye to their historical precedents, their place in American folk magic, and some ideas of what to do with them.  Before I get too far into the topic, however, please let me emphasize that using any curse is tricky, and biblical ones can be especially so.  Many of them are based on specific theological ideas about the Old Testament G-d and His will regarding the administration of justice.  If a curse isn’t justified, not only might it not work, it might backfire as according to the theology involved, the curse would go against G-d’s will, and thus invite destruction on the curser.   Basically, as always, be careful with curses.

To look at biblical curses historically, the first hurdle most folks have to leap is the hurdle of modern thinking.  Many who study the Bible are incredibly uncomfortable with the idea that it contains admonitions to do harm to others, yet it clearly does.  Repeatedly G-d tells his chosen people to exterminate tribes, towns, and even civilizations down to the last man, woman, and child (see Deuteronomy and I Samuel).  He inflicts suffering on even his most loyal subjects (see Job).  Some view this all as an historical account, or a gloss for political struggles in a religious context, or as something undone by New Testament theology.  Cursing in the Bible, though, is not limited to cataclysmic events on a national level or a cosmic wager between G-d and Satan—it’s often deeply personal.  There are several accounts in the Bible of G-d’s representatives dishing out curses:

2 Kings 2 – The prophet Elisha curses a group of children for calling him “bald,” and the children are eaten by a pair of bears.

Numbers 5 – A magical ritual is prescribed for determining if a woman has abeen unfaithful.  If she has and she is pregnant from her adultery, the ritual causes spontaneous abortion.

Acts 5 – Peter curses a man and woman who lied to him, and they die.

Acts 13 – Paul curses a man pretending to be an Apostle/sorcerer, and the man goes blind.

(You can read more about magic in the bible here, by the way)

It should be apparent, then, that the Bible doesn’t contain only sweetness and light and the works of a “good” G-d the way many modern people might prefer it.  Rather, it contains a mix of history, folklore, philosophy, and even some occult information straddling the line of morality on all accounts.  Rather than viewing it through the lens of today, when we might not understand why anyone would resort to cursing in the name of a higher power, it is helpful to have a little more perspective.  Theologian Tomas O Curraoin writes about curses in an article for the Irish Catholic digest The Furrow:

“The stand taken by the Old Testament was certainly uncompromising; whereas the contemporary world which influences us all is, to say the least, more accommodating. The maledictions found in the psalms are merely an expression of that fundamental attitude of the Old Testament to evil and to evil-doers. They take their origin in certain human situations, and express an attitude to God, to Life, to the cosmic struggle between good and evil, which is certainly not characteristic of the world-attitude today. In fact there is no question of justifying, in the sense of excusing, the use of curses in the psalms. The psalms are inspired, and do not need to be justified…” (from “The Malediction in the Psalms”).

(Please note here that O Curraoin makes the point that the Psalms themselves, as divine passages, do not need to be justified—I still stand by my point that the use of thes Psalms for cursing must be justified, however).  He goes on to point out that in many cases, the maledictive Psalms are really about justice for those who have no other recourse.  In a tribal system where many legal cases come down to one man’s word against another and where death is on the line for what we might consider minor transgressions, it’s not senseless to call upon G-d to smite one’s enemies before one is destroyed by them.  From a nationalist point of view, the enemy of a faithful follower is an enemy of the people, and thus of G-d, so again, a curse is a-okay.  And in the case of a curse against one who is simply acting immorally to wards his neighbors, well, that is still in line with the whole “G-d’s will” idea because the laws about morality supposedly come from G-d. Or as priest John J. Greehy puts it:

“We must be fair to the Psalmists. They had a keen sense of justice. They realized that there could be no real peace (shalom—the fullness of God’s promise in every sphere of life) unless justice, truth, freedom, even some loving were present in the land. So they invoked the divine justice against unrepentant sinners” (from “The Cursing Psalms” in The Furrow, Mar. 1978).

So, what we have is a system of last resort for someone without other recourse, backed by the most powerful forces he or she can muster.

In that vein, it shouldn’t be surprising that the poor and enslaved are the ones we find using cursing Psalms in history.  Harry M. Hyatt recorded a number of spells involving the Psalms among his Black informants, including some curses.  One particularly interesting example follows:

HOODOO PSALM SCRATCHED ON NEW TINPAN WITH NEW PIN OR NEEDLE OR NAIL TO
CONTROL

9783. Yo’ kin take a tinpan an’ control a person. Yo’ kin take a
brand-new tinpan an’ yo’ kin write – lemme see. Ah got it right heah, de
psalms yo’ find where it says “Vau – v-a-u.” Yo’ kin take that an’ write
that on a brand-new tinplate. (This psalm in which the word “Vau” is
used?) Yes Sir. It’s in psalms [the psalm of a hoodoo book] an’ yo’ kin
write that. But now yo’ don’t write it with a pencil or nuthin like
that. Yo’ take a needle or pin or new nail that’s sharp – anyting that’s
sharp except a pencil – an’ yo’ write that psalm on that tinplate. Then
yo’ kin take that tinplate an’ put it away where it won’t be disturbed
or be handled by anybody else. An’ you kin control that person if yo’
write that psalm fo’ them.

[Waycross, Ga., (1166), 1959:8.]

The Psalm in question is the acrostic Psalm 119, focusing specifically on the Hebrew letter “vau”in verses 41-48 and its portion of the overall Psalm.  From the King James Version:

41Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

42So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

43And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

44So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

45And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

46I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

While this isn’t a particularly virulent bit of cursing, it is certainly not a pleasant spell, as it puts someone under the spellcaster’s control. Hyatt also records Psalms 20 and 93 being used to bind one’s enemies in a court situation, Psalms 35 and 102 being used to get rid of a troublesome enemy, and Psalm 70 to make them wither up and suffer.  I should go ahead and say that, of course, the use of cursing Psalms even in hoodoo is fairly limited compared to using Psalms for things like success, luck, love, and protection.  I generally interpret the large percentage of non-cursing spells in most folk magic practices probably indicates that curses should make up a minority of any witch’s magical work, but that’s just my perspective.

I think we’ll stop there today, as this is already a rather lengthy entry.  In my next post, I’ll be including a list of cursing Psalms and their intended effects, as well as any techniques you might use to bring them to fruition.  Until then, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 78 – More Mojos for Success

August 10, 2010

Back in Blog Post 76, I mentioned that I’d be following up with some other types of success mojos.  Academic success is fantastic, but if you’re not in school it’s probably not going to help you much.  So today I thought I’d take that scholastic success mojo hand and rework it for a few other needs.  I hope it helps!

Building upon the basic Crown of Success mojo, which would generally include a John the Conqueror root in a red flannel sack anointed with Crown of Success oil, you could vary your specific ingredients for particular results:

Better Business – Add herbs like sassafras, five-finger grass, or cinnamon, plus a lodestone and magnetic sand.  Try to use an odd number of ingredients.  Pray Psalm 8 or a similar prayer.

Gentle Judge – A court-case success hand.  Use gravel root, little John to chew/galangal, cascara sagrada  bark, sugar, and tobacco.  Pray Psalm 36 or a similar prayer.

High Rollers – This is a gambling success mojo.  Use Job’s tears, a gator paw, a badger or gator tooth, a raccoon penis bone, a rabbit’s foot, and/or a four-leaf clover charm (primarily use curios for this one).  Pray Psalm 41 or Psalm 62 or a similar prayer.

Lucky in Love – With this success hand, it’s less about attracting a new love and more about strengthening one that exists (say, for example, during the process of courtship and marriage).  Add angelica root, violets, and roses (if trying to court a woman) or vanilla, tobacco, and dragon’s blood resin (for courting a man).  You can use lavender if you’re courting someone of the same sex, as well.  Pray Psalm 139 or a similar prayer.

Make It Rain Money – Add cinnamon, collard seeds, beans or peas, lucky hand root, rice, and/or rose of Jericho (things like seeds, beans, peas, and rice all signify abundance).  Add a lucky penny or a silver dime if you like, or a silver charm like a four-leaf clover.  Pray Psalm 126 or a similar prayer.

There are so many variations on these types of mojos, so please try them out and experiment.  I’ve had a lot of success (and the irony of that is not lost on me) working with these types of hands, so I encourage everyone to give them a try.

I’d like to close this post by sharing something one of our wonderful readers mentioned to me.  Odom of the Evil Eye recently wrote me about an academic success hand he’s working on, and he included an ingredient that struck me as just perfect for that kind of work:  coffee.  He made an excellent point that as a stimulant coffee can help keep one awake and alert, and that the university coffee house is such a ubiquitous piece of the college landscape it almost serves as a shrine to this kind of work.  So good eye for that connection, Odom!

Thanks for reading,
-Cory

Blog Post 77 – Book Review

August 6, 2010

For today’s entry, I thought I’d approach two books which share a lot in common and which can be useful to people who really enjoy candle magic.  First up, there’s The Master Book of Candle Burning by Henri Gamache.   This is a classic in many hoodoo circles, and falls into the same category of early 20th-century magical texts as the reprints of Black & White Magic by Marie Laveau and Mysteries of the Long Lost 8th, 9th, and 10th Books of Moses, also by Gamache.  All of these small books (usually only around 100 pages each) contain lots of great information on their particular magical subjects, and all are the source of much debate regarding authorship (Marie Laveau most definitely did not write Black & White Magic, which is usually attributed to “N.D.P. Bivins,” whoever that might be).

Candle Burning, though, holds a special place in my heart.  In its pages, Gamache outlines the “Philosophy of Fire” which he traces through a number of the world’s religions, especially linking it to Judeo-Christian and Zoroastrian practice.  Most of what he describes is pseudo-history, though it offers some good food for thought, at times.  What makes this book so invaluable to a magic worker are its spells.  In its pages, it offers spells, prayers, and psalmic rituals for:

  • Gaining Happiness
  • Overcoming an Enemy
  • Obtaining Money
  • Stopping Slander
  • Healing a Troubled Marriage
  • Getting a Promotion
  • Defeating Feelings of Depression

There are so many wonderful rituals in this book, covering a wide variety of problems, that I can’t help but recommend it.  The prayers (and psalms) are all centered around Judeo-Christian religious philosophy, but in a fairly non-denominational way (emphasizing God as a powerful force rather than as part of a Trinity or some particular theological concept).  One of my favorite spells is the last one in the book:

TO CONQUER FEAR

Light your two Monthly Vibratory Candles [candles dressed to match you astrologically], two Daily Cross Candles [crucifix candles or candles inscribed with a cross], and the following Special Purpose Candle:  one Red symbolizing faith and one Gold to soothe nerves.  Read Psalm 3 giving special attention to verse 3:

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”

Affirmation [prayer]:  “Dear Lord I ask you to help me with my needs in this life and smooth my way.  Protect me so that no one may cause me harm.  In your light, darkness flees.  I fear not, knowing you are with me.”   (p.106)

The book has its issues, of course.  It makes heavy use of “black” versus “white” magic.  It denounces the black magic as a “perversion” but then proceeds to provide numerous candle rituals for things like breaking up a couple or causing confusion.  Still, if one can forgive it these foibles, it’s a great text to have on hand.

Similarly, The Magical Power of the Saints by Rev. Ray T. Malbrough proves itself a useful text full of practical candle burning rituals.  There are many who do not like Malbrough, primarily because he blends hoodoo and Wicca in some of his books without letting the reader know which is which (his Charms, Spells, & Formulas is guilty of this, and apparently his Hoodoo Mysteries is even worse about it).  However, most of the rootworkers who discuss him seem to offer at least some praise for Saints.

Malbrough focuses on the Catholic saints in candle form (and a number of condition candles, which are designed to invite specific conditions into a person’s life—e.g. Anima Sola/Lonely Soul, Just Judge, Lucky Bingo, etc.).  When I picked up the book I thought it would mostly be about the cult of certain saints like Dr. Jose Gregorio or Santa Muerte or the Infant Jesus of Prague.  Instead, I found it’s mostly candle magic focused on specific spells, much like Gamache’s text.  It definitely has a flavor of Catholicism about it, and actually falls pretty close to what I would think of as New Orleans-style Voodoo (though the connections to things like the Seven African Powers are only cursorily glossed).  For comparison, here’s Malbrough’s overcoming fear spell:

TO OVERCOME FEAR

Sometimes fear can be difficult to shake off when it gets hold of you.  Then there are those people who get a thrill from putting fear and superstition in your mind.

  1. Controlling candle, dressed with Controlling oil.  Write your name nine times.
  2. St. Dymphna candle, dressed with Peace oil.  Write your name nine times.
  3. Guardian Angel candle, dressed with Peace oil.  Write your name three times.
  4. Psalms 11, 31, and 141 [to be read aloud]
  5. Take an Uncrossing spiritual bath made with sweet basil, boneset, elder, and bay leaves.  To this tea add ¼ cup of John the Conqueror bath and floor wash.  Immerse yourself three times in the water, and soak twenty minutes.  Take this spiritual bath every three days until you have taken twenty-eight baths.  Cary a mojo/gris-gris made with herbs for courage.  This gris-gris must also contain a stone for courage such as agate, amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, carnelian, diamond, lapis lazuli, sardonyx, tiger’s eye, red tourmaline, or turquoise.  (p. 134-35)

As you can see, Malbrough is much more complicated than Gamache, and he definitely infuses his rootwork with some more Wiccan ideas (such as the “stones for courage” he mentions for the mojo hand, none of which show up in any of the African-American hoodoo sources I’ve found).  So long as you can separate the wheat from the chaff, though, this is a pretty solid little book with good candle burning rituals.  If you have this and Gamache’s Master Book of Candle Burning you will cover most of your bases as far as hoodoo candle magic goes, so I certainly recommend picking up both.  If you can only do one, I’d start with Gamache and try Malbrough once you’ve gotten the hang of a few of these rituals, though (perhaps an Obtaining Money burning so you can afford to buy the book?).

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 76 – Making an Academic Crown of Success Mojo

August 5, 2010

Today I thought I’d share some of the nuts and bolts (or roots and herbs, rather) I used in my recent Crown of (Academic) Success mojo bag.  The hand I made was specifically designed for help with schoolwork, and focused on memory, hard work, a strong will, and a little bit of luck.  After I go over this basic bag, I’ll try to offer some alternatives for various situations not related to school, but which could use a shot of success.

The ingredients:

  • High John root (a whole one, but you could use chips if that’s all you’ve got)
  • Gravel Root
  • Rosemary (dried)
  • Sage (dried)
  • Frankincense tears
  • Small psalm scroll*
  • Red flannel square
  • Twine
  • Crown of Success oil

(*In most general Crown of Success workings, I use a passage from Psalm 65: “You crown the year with success; your paths drip fatness,” which would be fine.  But after discussing it with commenter Odom the other day, I’m reasonably sure I used Psalm 119, specifically the verses “I have declared myself and you heard me; teach me your statutes/make me to understand your ways so I may tell of your wondrous works”)

The herb and root ingredients all relate to success (gravel root, High John, Crown of Success oil), focus and concentration (sage, frankincense, rosemary), wisdom (sage, frankincense), luck (gravel root, Crown of Success oil), memory and calm (rosemary), and study (sage).  I know that some folks out there would chide me for using rosemary as a memory herb when Cat Yronwode’s book doesn’t provide that association, but its longstanding folk association with that quality made me comfortable with using it in that capacity.  And since I spent a good deal of time studying Shakespeare over the summer, I’ll back up my claim by quoting Ophelia in Hamlet, Act IV, scene v: “There’s rosemary; that’s for remembrance.”  So, yeah.  That’s that.

When I did this spell, I dressed a small candle with Crown of Success and burned it while I combined the ingredients in the center of the red flannel square.  Once I had the herbs and roots together, I wrote out the psalm scroll and added it to the ingredients.  I bundled it all up and wrapped the bag’s “neck” up with the twine.  I prayed Psalm 119 over it three times (that’s an acrostic psalm, so I only read the pertinent section of it), then singed the ends of the twine in the candle flame.  I dressed the bag with the Crown of Success oil and blew out the candle, and voila!  One back-to-school mojo!

I fed the bag every day I had class, just before leaving my room.  I alternated using Crown of Success oil and whiskey to splash the bag, and I recited Psalm 65 every time I did it (mostly because that’s the one I remember better—you may have more luck with Psalm 119).

Now that I’m done with it for this year, I’ve got it sitting by my bedside (though I should probably put it in my altar desk instead).  I’ll bring it back out next year, or if I do some intensive studying (as I’m prone to do every few months), I may use it again, then.  When my time at school is done, I’ll probably bury it somewhere on campus.

So that’s the Scholar’s Success bag.  I hope that was of some use to someone out there—well, other than me, of course.  If you do this spell or something similar, post a comment and let us all know about it!  I know I’d like to hear any tips for succeeding in education, especially before next summer when I go back to school!

Thanks for reading!

-Cory


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