Blog Post 77 – Book Review

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 67 – Charms

Whew!  Sorry about that, folks.  Last week was a heckuva beast so I didn’t wind up getting to post all that much.  Or at all, other than the podcast.  I’m hoping that I’ll have more this week, especially considering that after this week, posts will be rather infrequent for the next two months due to grad school.  Anyhow, enough about me; on to the topic!

Today I thought I’d talk a little about charms.  The problem with talking about charms, though, is that it’s hard to define just what a “charm” is.  For some, they’re spoken words used along with other spell components to get results.  Others may take the view that charms are talismans or magical objects, usually fairly small, which are carried like a portable personal spell.  Some think of them as written spells, others mainly include love spells in this category, and some simply think of “charm” as another word for spells.

For my own purposes, though, I’m going to define “charm” thusly:  A spell composed of words, spoken or written.  There, now that’s settled.  So now we have the question, what’s so special about charms?  Well, for one thing, they’re usually simple.  Simple enough, in fact, that ordinary folk who might not otherwise engage in magical practice often work a charm without giving it a second thought.  There are lots of these kinds of little workings to be found throughout the various New World magical systems, but here are a few of my favorites:

Finding Lost Objects

St. Anthony Prayer (Catholic, Strega, Saint-based Hoodoo, Curanderismo)
This prayer is used when an item (or sometimes person) is lost and you need to find it in a hurry. The first version is slightly formal (though not nearly so formal as the prayer on his prayer card).  From the Lucky Mojo site:
St. Anthony, St. Anthony
Please come down
Something is lost
And can’t be found

My own family used a variant of this which was much more informal:
Tony, Tony,
Look around,
Help me find
What can’t be found
I always repeat the prayer at least once out loud and then under my breath as I search for the missing item.  I’d say I have about a 75-80% success rate with this one.  I do know that traditionally if you find your missing item, you should give to the poor in St. Anthony’s name (a practice called “St. Anthony’s Bread”).  This can be as simple as writing “Thank you St. Anthony!” on the edge of a dollar bill and giving it to a homeless person (or leaving it in a poorbox collection of some kind).

Halting a Thief

Three Lilies Charm  ( Pow-wow)
This one comes from John George Hohman’s Long Lost Friend.  I’ve had no reason to use it yet, thankfully, but I like the poetry of this one (or at least, I think it sounds very poetic).  The portions where you see the “+++” symbols indicate making the sign of the cross in the air with your hand as part of the charm:

A GOOD CHARM AGAINST THIEVES.
There are three lilies standing upon the grave of the Lord our God; the first one is the courage of God, the other is the blood of God, and the third one is the will of God. Stand still, thief! No more than Jesus Christ stepped down from the cross, no more shalt thou move from this spot; this I command thee by the four evangelists and elements of heaven, there in the river, or in the shot, or in the judgment, or in the sight. Thus I conjure you by the last judgment to stand still and not to move, until I see all the stars in heaven and the sun rises again. Thus I stop by running and jumping and command it in the name of + + +. Amen.

This must be repeated three times.

Protection

INRI Cross (Pow-wow, Hoodoo, Mountain Magic, most folk magical systems)
This one can again be found in Hohman’s book, as well as many other magical texts.  It’s a written charm, primarily used against harmful magic directed against you, as well as fire.  There are plenty of ways to use this charm, from marking it in a magical oil or water on your door to putting it on a small piece of paper and hiding it in the lintel of your doorframe.  It can also be carried with you for magical protection.  This is the version from Hohman:

A CHARM TO BE CARRIED ABOUT THE PERSON
Carry these words about you, and nothing can hit you: Ananiah, Azariah, and Missel, blessed be the Lord, for he has redeemed us from hell, and has saved us from death, and he has redeemed us out of the fiery furnace and has preserved us even in the midst of the fire; in the same manner may it please him the Lord that there be no fire.

I

N         I          R

I

The simple form of this is to just draw out that last bit, rather than worrying about the prayer before it, but the prayer can also be a powerful addition to the charm.

SATOR Square (Pow-wow, Hoodoo, Mountain Magic, Curanderismo, most folk magical systems)
Another powerful and widely found magical charm, the SATOR square is written out and used much like the INRI cross:
SATOR
AREPO
TENET
OPERA
ROTAS
These words are written out (try to make them as “square” as you can) and again posted or carried to protect you from harm, theft, fire, and any number of other ills.

St. Michael the Archangel (Catholic, Strega, Saint-based Hoodoo, Curanderismo)
This is a common prayer among Catholics facing spiritual struggles, and it’s made its way into magical practice, too.  In the film The Gangs of New York, a priest (played by Liam Neeson) recites this prayer before leading his band of Irish immigrants into battle with another gang.  It’s particularly effective if done in conjunction with the St. Michael medal or candle, but I think you can use it on its own as well.  The main target of this protective charm is evil—if you feel beleaguered by any harmful person or force (and you don’t have a problem invoking this particular spirit), this is a very potent way to deflect that trouble:

Great Archangel Michael Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the
devil.

May God rebuke our enemies, we humbly pray; and
do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of
God, thrust into Hell the Adversary and all other evil
spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of
souls.  Amen.
I like to use all of these protective charms, though the SATOR square is my favorite.  I generally renew these charms once per year in conjunction with a few other key rituals (and a particular holiday, which I’ll get to eventually).

Well, I’m not quite through with charms yet, but there is plenty here to digest, so I’ll save the rest of them for another day.  Thank you all for being patient, and for being such a wonderful readership!  I’ll be trying to catch up with blog responses and emails over the next day or two, so don’t hesitate to keep up the fantastic comments!

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

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