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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by catherine yronwode
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"Don't let bad, ill, or ugly house odors spoil all your Success, Love, Happiness, and Good Times. Do you want Folks to come to your house and stay with you? Do you wish to rent out rooms? Do you want to keep your Husband at home? Many times when people find their loved ones running off it seems to them as if someone had put a Jinxing Condition on the Home. Maybe the house was not kept Spiritually Clean. Don't take a chance with foul, Evil Smelling Messes around. Get a Fresh New Start. Attract and Hold your Family at Home. A sweet smelling House should help do it. Get rid of Unpleasant Odors and wash away any Bad Stuff around the house. Just pour a few drops of Chinese Wash in the scrub water and wash your Floors, Doorsteps, Corners of Rooms, and Closets. Spray a little on the Beds, Furniture, Curtains, and Walls. Use it in Washing Clothes. When it is properly diluted, our Lucky Mojo Brand Chinese Wash is safe to clean most household surfaces. It is made according to the Old Original Formula with genuine Oriental Grasses and Gums. Get a bottle immediately and note the improvement. Never be without it."
-- The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. catalogue
As with Hoyt's Cologne, the original Young's Chinese Wash was a standard commercial product that acquired an occult and magical reputation among African-American root workers. Chinese Wash is used in rites of protection; in spiritual house-cleansings; to clean away messes left by enemy root workers; to open the way for new beginnings; and to purify the home in the interests of maintaining marital fidelity and a peaceful home, keeping rooms rented, or attracting customers to a bawdy-house or private gambling den.
Today, the name Chinese Wash is taken as a sort of generic term for spiritual floor wash, and there are a number of faked-up formulas for it, but the authentic recipe used by the original makers of Young's Chinese Wash was labelled, circa 1920-1945: "A Detergent Preparation with the Delightful Aroma of Oriental Gums and Grasses" and the label was decorated with a smiling Chinese man in a tunic looking down on a group of fleeing devils. The "Oriental Grasses" are the same used for compounding Van Van Oil (e.g. citronella grass, lemon grass, ginger grass, etc.).
The addition of broom corn straws to Chinese Wash, although not part of the original Young's formula, was done at home by root workers and hoodoo practitioners. Many contributors to Harry M. Hyatt's 1930s oral histories of hoodoo mention the efficacy of broomcorn straws for spiritual cleansings. This seems to go back to African usage and to be related to African foot-track magic and thus to the African idea of purification of the doorstep by sweeping and ritual washing down of the path to the home with herbs and liquids.
One 1940s-50s competitor to Young's Chinese Wash was Temple Fragran (no, that is not a typo -- it is Fragran) and the makers of that spiritual cleaning product included the broom corn straws right in the bottle, with instructions that when you were finished with the liquid soap, you were to take the broom corn straws and scatter them in your yard. This accords with African folk magic traditions.
At the Lucky Mojo Curio Co., we too add broom corn straws to our bottles of Chinese Wash because many of our younger urban customers are not familiar enough with the tradition to know that they should add them when they first receive the bottle. Thus we try to keep alive the traditional ingredients and usage of Chinese Wash.
Always dilute Chinese Wash in water before use as a floor wash, of course. Old instructions tell you to use one, two, or three teaspoonsful per pail of warm scrub water, depending on the strength of the job you need to do. You may also add a dash of ammonia to the pail-full, if you like. It is also a common pactice to strengthen the scrub water by adding a few drops of hoodoo oils for your own specific protective and cleansing needs, such as Fiery Wall of Protection, Uncrossing, or Rue Herb in Oil
Wash the house from the top floor to the bottom floor, and from the back of each floor to the front, ending at last at the front doorstep. To dispose of the left-over wash water, throw it out the front door or into the front yard, toward the East, if possible.
After cleaning the premises outward with Chinese Wash, it is also customary to wash the path and front door entryway inward with a small amount of water in which you have stirred some herb-based hoodoo oils for various luck-drawing conditions, such as Attraction, Money Drawing, or Fast Luck spiritual supplies, or a home-made mixture such as cinnamon (for wealth), sugar (for sweet things), and urine )to mark your place for yourself alone).
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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
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