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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by catherine yronwode
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DEVIL'S SHOESTRING

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Devil's Shoestring is the common name for several plants that grow in North America. When found as an ingredient in mojo hands made by African-American hoodoo doctors, the name refers to various species of Viburnum, usually Viburnum alnifolium (alder-leafed viburnum or hobblebush), but sometimes the related species Viburnum opulus (cramp-bark) or Viburnum prunifolium (black haw). These plants are in the honeysuckle family and all of them grow in the woods. The roots of all three are used medically as anti-spasmodics, especially to ease menstrual cramps. All three species are more or less interchangeable medically and magically, as far as i know, but if you order cramp-bark from a medicial herb company, you'll probably get cut-and-sifted chunklets of root bark, and for hoodoo you want the whole long roots, so you will probably have to order Devil's Shoestrings from an occult supply company.

The "strings" of Devil's Shoestrings are not string-like at all, rather they are long and flexible, sort of like rattan or honeysuckle vine, only they are roots, not canes. The big ones are smooth and thicker than pencils; the little ones are wiry and thin, like St. John's wort roots. In old oral histories of hoodoo, some folks call them "twigs," because they somewhat resemble sucker growth on a fruit tree ... only without the leaf-buds. Many spells call for nine pieces, so when buying, you should try to get nine pieces that match in size and length, no matter whether they are thick or thin.

Devil's Shoestrings are used for protection, to "trip up the Devil" or "hobble" him so he can't get in a house. They are also carried for gambling luck and for job-getting. Some folks drive them into the ground around the front door or place a bundle of them above the door lintel or mantelpiece. In past days, it was not uncommon for folks to wear an ankle-bracelet made with nine pieces of Devil's Shoestring and a silver dime to prevent being "poisoned through the feet" by stepping in Goofer Dust. I put them in several of my formulas, such as Law Keep Away, which is traditional, and i sell them in nine-packs for use as gambling charms and to stick in the ground to keep evil people off the path or to tie around the ankle to protect from being crossed or goofered.

Here's a popular recipe for a spell that uses Devil's Shoestrings for good luck:

Get nine Devil's Shoestrings roots and wrap them nine times around with white thread and each time you wrap the thread around, tie a knot, so you end up with nine knots. Put the bundle in a tall narrow medicine bottle and fill it with whiskey or Hoyt's Cologne. Leave the bottle to sit for nine days, and after that when you go to gamble, apply for a job, or do anything that requires luck, dip your fingers in the liquid and run them through your hair nine times, like you would with hair oil. You can also use this liquid to dress a mojo hand or lodestones. Keep the Devil's Shoestrings in the bottle topped up with whiskey or Hoyt's Cologne and use the liquid as a dressing any time you want more luck.

Many more spells utilizing Devil's Shoestrings can be found in the book Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic.


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DEVIL'S SHOESTRING ROOTS, WHOLE
To tie down and restrain the devil and also human enemies.
$3.00
HER-DEV-ROOT

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by catherine yronwode
Many more folkloric magical spells utilizing DEVIL'S SHOE STRINGS can be found in the book "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic" by catherine yronwode. Soft cover.

$14.95
BOO-GRI-HHSC

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by catherine yronwode
Many more folkloric magical spells utilizing DEVIL'S SHOE STRINGS can be found in the book "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic" by catherine yronwode. Hard cover.

$39.95
BOO-GRI-HHHC


The following documentation on the use of Devil's Shoestrings for luck and for protection comes from "Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft - Rootwork," a 5-volume, 4766-page collection of folkloric material gathered by Harry Middleton Hyatt, primarily between 1935 and 1939.

IMPORTANT: If this is the first time you have encountered Hyatt material
at this web site, please take a moment to open and read the supplementary page called
"Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft - Rootwork" by Harry Middleton Hyatt.


DEVIL'S SHOESTRING

1829. All right, yo' kin take Hearts Cologne {Hoyt's Cologne}. Yo' git chew Hearts Cologne {Hoyt's Cologne} an yo' go to de -- y' know, de devil's-shoestring. You get de devil's-shoestring an yo' cut it in fo' pieces to a inch -- one inch long, and yo' put it in yo' little sack [a mojo bag] an' yo' keep dat devil's-shoestring. Wear it in dat Hearts Cologne {Hoyt's Cologne}, keep it where it'll smell loud, and whensomevah yo' go to gamble why yo' renew it ovah wit dat Hearts Cologne {Hoyt's Cologne}. Keep it where it will scent -- where everybody kin git de scent of it. Dat's lucky in gambling.

[Waycross, Ga., (1161), 1936:8.]


1830. Dey say if yo' git some devil's-shoestring and nine shots out of a shell -- nine shots and three lengths of devil's-shoestring. Yo' supposed to keep dat with yo' an' yo' kin put most any kind of perfume on it. An' yo' have a piece of lodestone with it -- dat makes it bettah. Dat's whut ah hear a man say he wus doin' -- ah seen some of it.

(How did he carry that?)

Jes' put iut in a little bag {a mojo bag} an' put it in yo' pocket.

Florence, S. Car., (1293), 2194:7.)


1831. Fo' a gamblin' han' yo' git chew some blacksnake root {black cohosh root, also known as snake root} an' some devil's-shoestring and some John the Conker {John the Conqueror root}, an' some cinnamon, an' a van van perfume. An' yo' git chew a piece of shammy {chamois leather}. Yo' put these ingredients in dere wit' de silver dime, an' yo' takes dat perfume an' yo' dresses it an' yo' wears dat piece in yore pocket.

(What will that do then?)

That's supposed to be a gambin' han' -- what dey call it.

Algiers, La., (1577), 2905:5.]


1832. An' yo' know dey tryin' harm you. Well, all you got'a do -- git chew a piece of devil's-shoestring and git chew some of dis salt and red peppah, see, and take an' make a belt out of it, out of de shoestring, see, and wear it around your waist. But chew use a little piece of copper wire, you understand, mix {twist} a little piece of copper wire in it. If you ain't got devil's-shoestring, spread it [copper wire] out round your waist -- see, you kin just ball de little piece of copper wire up and put it in dere amongst de red pepper, see. And then when you do that, you take and wear it around your waist. That would stop anybody, they couldn't do anything. They can't do nothing to you but put {poison} in your stomach, if dey goin' get cha. That's the only way they kin get cha.

[Charleston, S. Car., (?), 640:2.]


742. They're tryin' tuh run yo' {out of the neighborhood}. Well, yo' take something dat chew wears next to yo' and bury it right undah de steps and if yo' bury dat undah yore steps you won't have to go nowhere. Den, if dat don't do, well, den you go -- if you kin git, think of it, dere's a kinda weed dey call de devil's-shoestring. Ah used to use 'nuff [in my] time. Take dat and pound it up and put it some place ovah a pitchure somewhere about chure fireplace. Dat's de best. Now, dose things is very good. Ah used to use them years back.

(Well, now what will this devil's-shoestring do then?)

Well, that devil's-shoestring is a kind of string -- it always called de boss weed in de woods. Used to use it when ah was gambling.

Well, if I put this over the mantlepiece, what will that do?)

Well, dat always will keep yo' mind togethah -- put a little whiskey on it sometimes, dat will keep yore mind together.

(Is it to keep people from harming you or what?)

Yeah, keep your home [safe].

[Mobile, Ala., (691), 920:5.]


For more information on devil-related folk-magic, see these illustrated pages:

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