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Recipes for Potions Used in Spell-Casting
Tools and Materials Used in Spell-Casting
Errata to the Herman Slater Formulary for Magic Spell Formulas

Tips are in alphabetical order. 




In response to a question about what to do when a visotr
disrepects on'es altar, snuffs out working candles, moves things
around, and so forth, i created the heirarchy of Altar Messers.

People who disrespect your altar work are not good people to have
in your home or in your life.

In my experience, there are several reasons people do this, and i
will take them from the worst-case scenario down to the most
innocent. As you read these descriptions, you can probably figure
out where the person who disrespected your altar falls on the

1) They are psychopathic / sociopathic threats who mess with
everything of anybody's; they will rob, steal, rape, even kill
with no sense of boundaries.

What to do?

Get them out of your life immediately. Do not explain, do not
argue, do not attempt to influence them. Just get away.

2) They are generally okay with folks in society as a whole but
they want to control, rule, or dominate you specifically; they
have targeted you as a victim of mental or physical abuse,
parental control, marital control, domestic battering, etc.; you
will know of other ways in which they are seeking to dominate
you, e.g. through the tyranny of food, through sexual control,
through financial rulership, etc.

What to do?

Get them out of your life as soon as possible; this may require
waiting until you come of age or can get a divorce or find a new
home. Do not explain, do not argue, do not attempt to influence
them. Just get away.

3) They are okay with society and okay with you, but due to
indoctrination by media or an organization, they believe that
either some or all forms of spiritual work are either "wrong" or
"bad" or "not real" or "dangerous" and so they are only seeking
to control, rule, or dominate you in this one sphere of your
existence; they do not mess with your other possessions or try to
dominate you in other ways.

What to do?

Speak directly to them and tell them to stop touching the sacred
things on your altar. If they argue with you, stop the argument
immediately and plan to get them out of your life as soon as
possible; this may require waiting until you come of age or can
get a divorce or find a new home. After your first polite
request, do not engage in further conflict on the subject; do not
explain, do not argue, do not attempt to influence them. Just get

4) They are okay with society and okay with you and they suffer
no indoctrination by media or an organization with respect to
your spiritual beliefs, but they are either mentally ill or they
are intoxicated (with alcohol or drugs) in a way that renders
them incognizant of boundaries and rules; they may have OCD,
ADHD, alcohol or addiction issues, or other social-developmental
problems that blind them to the fact that it is not okay to
rummage through other people's clothing, jewelry, cutlery, books,
electronic equipment, or mess wqith their pets or children; their
focus is not on your altar per se; in the past they might also
have handled or mishandled your cell-phone, your dog, or your
collection of tea-cups.

What to do?

Speak directly to them and tell them to stop touching the sacred
things on your altar. Listen to their temporized excuses (which
might include terms like "oh, sorry, i just couldn't help myself"
and when they are done talking, acknowledge what they said, then
follow with a short, concise statement that you have rules about
your altar which include no one touching it but you, and that you
expect them to abide by these rules. If they agree to abide by
the rules, then wait until they have gone away, cleanse the altar
and re-make it. Observe them the next time they visit; if they
follow your rules, all is well; if they do not, consider moving
them up into category 3 or consider that their mental illness or
intoxication is such that they are not reliable to be around, and
remove them from you life accordingly.

5) They are okay with society and okay with you and they suffer
no indoctrination by media or an organization with respect to
your spiritual beliefs, and they are neither mentally ill nor
intoxicated to the point that they fail to respect the property
of others, but they suffer from a specific form of mentally ill
hypervigilant compulsivity which leads them to believe that
candles are "dangerous" and they will put candles out wherever
they see them; they do this not only at your altar, but if you
observe them over time. you will see them do this in restaurants
as well as in the homes of friends and relatives.

What to do?

Speak directly to them and tell them to stop touching the sacred
things on your altar. Listen to their temporized excuses (which
might include terms like "oh, sorry, i just couldn't help myself"
and when they are done talking, acknowledge what they said, then
follow with a short, concise statement that you have rules about
your altar which include no one touching it but you, and that you
expct them to abide by these rules. If they say they cannot abide
by the rules, because "candles freak them out" or some such
excuse, ask them whether they can either control their impulses
while in your home or if all meetings with them should be
confined to rooms in which there are no burnin candles. Let them
explore their options. If they agree to abide by the rules, then
wait until they have gone away, cleanse the altar and re-make it.
Observe them the next time they visit; if they follow your rules,
all is well; if they do not, consider that their mental illness
is such that they are not reliable to be around, and limit their
ability to enter rooms with you in which candles are lit.

6) They are uneducated, ignorant children. 

What to do?

Speak directly to them and tell them to stop touching the sacred
things on your altar. be kind but firm. Use the same tone of
voice you would use on a toddler who is trying to rev up a
chainsaw. "No, honey, that's a tool, not a toy. That's not yours.
Put it down and let's find you some toys to play with." Lead them
out of the room, if possible. Also, if possible, give them
something magical that is appropriate for a child: "Here, honey,
this is a special scared stone from India, and you can keep it.
It's for you. You can make a wish on it at night when you go to

There you have it -- cat yronwode's Six Stages of Altar Messers
and What To Do About Them

© 2010 catherine yronwode (



When you create an effigy-doll to represent a person in
a spell, you have to magically link it to the person whom it
represents, Sewing a hair of the person into it, stuffing
the person's name-paper into its head, or glueing a photo of
the person'd face on the dollie's face are all valid methods
of doing this. Then. once the doll is complete, it must be
told who it is. I was taught how to do this years ago by a
black guy named Luther in Oaklnd, California. He called it
"baptising the dollie."

He held the doll-baby in his left hand on its back, drew
a cross over it in the air with his right index and middle
finger (like a Christian blessing gesture), and then held
his open, slightly cupped right hand, palm down, in the air
over it, but not touching it, as he said:

  [John Doe] you are, 
  			[downward stroke of cross on name]
  And [John Doe] to me 
  			[cross-stroke of sross on name]
  You will always be. 
  			[hand pauses, then over dollie for next part]
  You will think what i tell you to think,  
  Walk where i tell you to walk,
  Talk when i tell you to talk,
  Do what i tell you to,
  Go where i send you, 
  And speak when you're spoken to. 
  In Jesus' name, Amen." 
I typed it out as i did above, because there was a sort of 
rap-like cadence to it and a couple of off-kilter rhymes.

Another time when i asked this man to repeat the spell, he 
baptised the dollie with a different speech, spoken with
more angry conviction:

  [John Doe] you are, 
  			[downward stroke of cross on name]
  And [John Doe] to me  
  			[cross-stroke of sross on name]
  You will always be. 
  			[hand pauses, then over dollie for next part]
  From this time henceforward, 
  You will go where i send you ... 
  And i'm gon' send you to *Hell*
  In Jesus' name, Amen." 

Thus i came to underastand that after the first three
spoken lines with the drawing of the cross, he improvised
or rapped the rest of the baptism depending upon the
circumstances. There was no one set way he would say it, as
there is among the German and British folks with their
carefully memorized spoken rhymes. I have adapted his form
and i use it with success, modifying it on the spot as the
need arises, to baptise both love-dolls and destruction

And speaking of love-dolls -- that's something many
folks don't know enough about, because the books on "spooky
voodoo" focus mostly on sticking pins into dolls. Several
years ago, i was taught a very nice binding love-doll spell
by a young woman. She baptised the dollie by saying:
	You are [John Doe], 
	in the name of the Father, 
	the Son, 
	and the Holy Ghost, 
Then she wrapped it up in her soiled underpants and, as
she did so, she talked very sweetly to it like this,

	"[Johnny], honey, i'm gonna let you in my panties now.
	That's where you're gonna stay. I'm gonna cover up your 
	eyes [covering doll's head with the underwear] so you 
	can't look at no other woman. You just gonna stay in 
	my panties, [Johnny], until i let you loose. "

The underwear was tied in a knot around the doll and the
doll hidden where the man could not find it. At intervals
she would take the doll out, she said, and kiss it,
sweet-talk to it, and rub it on her breasts to love it up.
Then she would re-wrap it in the underwear and put it away.

© 2002 catherine yronwode (


Kristiane ( wrote:
> I started a Crown of Success ritual and I had a
> couple of questions before I take it any farther.  

> The most important concerns the tossing of the 
> bath water at the crossroads -- I was so rattled 
> by the unexpected presence of quite a few people 
> that I actually threw the water in the wrong direction, 
> towards the west! Not knowing what else to do, I took 
> another basin of bath water and repeated the procedure, 
> correctly this time.  So, have I irredeemably screwed up 
> or am I okay to continue?

I am not one to say anything as anti-magical as "you
screwed up" -- but you might note that you did let your will
and your concentration be distracted by the presence of

It is my experience that the most successful mages are
those who do not let themselves be distracted. This takes
practice for some people. However, once the spell is
started, i would always encourage a person to complete it.

A spell is not always a yes-or-no thing. Consider sports
as a metaphor for magic: There are degrees of success and
elegance in spell-craft, just as there are degrees of
proficiency in, for example, track and field events.
Sometimes just completing a race is a worthy goal, even if
one does not win the gold or set a new world record. And the
next race may be run in better time.

In my experience as a root worker, one of the most
difficult moments for me to retain full concentreation is
not when i am ritually disposing of remains such as bath
water -- it is during the simple act of lighting matches!

I used to tend to break concentration as i fumbled
around to find where i'd hidden the matches. I tended to
form visual judgments about the artwork (or lack thereof) on
the match boxes or folders as i picked them up. I tended to
worry, very briefly (as a result of my having low vision and
no depth perception), that i would miss the candle wick
completely for several passes until the match went out or
until it burned my fingers, or both.

In order to overcome these tendencies for my will to be
distracted at the moment of lighting candles, i have for the
past ten years made a practice of buying a certain brand of
wooden matches from Peru that are packed in graphically
beautiful boxes. Because they are beautiful, i can leave
them out on the altar where i can find them and i can enjoy
handling them without making negative aesthetic judgements
about the artwork. Because they are wooden, they strike well
and stay lit for a long time so that i can put aside
concerns about the flame dying out or my fingers getting
burned before the candles are lit.

It has taken specific effort on my part to get to a
point where i can sail through the lighting of the matches
without breaking the concentration i wish to develop when
doing spell work.

Just today all that came crashing down:

My husband siva has a very cool red lighter with a
picture of Chairman Mao on it that plays the Chinese
national anthem ("The East is Red") when you open it. We
recently ran out of my Peruvian matches (gotta order more
... maybe i should carry them in the shop???) and we have
been using "The East is Red" to light our ritual candles 
for the past two weeks.

Yesterday evening, while en route to a concert that
Siva, his brother, and his sister were to attend (by a band
called Yes, if it matters), we got stuck in a tremendous
traffic jam on highway 101. What is usually a two hour drive
promised to be a three or four hour drive in stop-and-go
traffic that was piled up for a length of about thirty
miles! To pass the time and set a limit to siva's fretting,
we discussed several methods of spell work that might be
used to extract us from the traffic jam, to break up the
traffic jam, and so on. Eventually i said that rather than
work on the traffic jam itself, i would suggest an ex voto
spell or prayer asking for help so that Siva achieve his
*true* goal, namely, to be at the concert venue and seated
before the music began, regardless of what happened to the
traffic jam.

We discussed which gods or goddesses might "rule" the
condition or situation at hand and i proposed that we
petition two Catholic Saints -- Saint Christopher (patron of
safe travel) and Saint Expedite (patron of speedy results)
-- to intercede with God Almighty on Siva's behalf. We vowed
to light two golden taper candles and to offer flowers
before small statuettes of the saints if they would
intercede on behalf of siva's petition to be at the concert
and in his seat by the time the music started.

Shortly after we spoke aloud our petitions, we took our
designated exit to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and left
the traffic jam behind us on 101 -- and in due time we made
it to the rendezvous point with Ken and June *exactly* as
they were standing on the street about to get into a car to
leave for the concert. I stayed behind with June's daughter
Ariel, as planned, and siva left with them, and he did
indeed get to the concert and into his seat before the music

Thank you, Saint Christopher! Thank you, Saint Expedite!

This morning siva got out the golden tapers and the
statuettes and i picked a bouquet of roses and crocosmia
flowers, and we set everything in place on an altar in the
shop. Siva opened "The East is Red" and the music played --
but no flame came out! "The East is Red" was out of lighter
fluid!!!! My old nemesis, the moment of candle lighting, had
struck me again.

Trying to retain my concentration, i stepped into the
lab portion of the shop and got out the box of long wooden
fireplace matches we use for lighting glass-encased candles.

The very first one i touched BROKE in my fingers.

Siva said he would use it anyway, but when he went to
strike it, it broke again, leaving a little stub. This he
struck and lit -- but it burned at his fingers before he
could light even the first candle, and he waved it out
almost at once.

I went and got a second long match, trying very hard to
keep my concentration through all these distractions (and
not succeeding, entirely, truth to tell). Siva was rattled,
too, and spoke aloud in commentary (something i don't like
during ritual), saying "It'll be okay if i hold it up near
the head."

I wanted to respond, "No, that's not necessary -- the
other match was just defective" -- but i didn't open my
moth. However, the thought had intruded, and my
concentration was shot for the moment.

I then stood still and breathed slowly, finally
regaining my concentration as he struck the match and, on
his third attempt, got the candles lit.

I tell this long story for one reason only -- as a
practising mage or root worker, you may be faced with small
moments of distraction almost every time you perform a

Some distractions from concentration may be the result
of your own idiosyncratic mentality, such as your case,
where you were letting the presence of people impede your
disposal of the bath water, or my case, where i decades ago
built up a "charge" around the lighting of matches.

Some distractions from concentration may be the result
of a series of unfortunate coincidences, such as we had with
the lighter and matches this morning.

Some distractions from concentration may be the result
of a combination of those two factors, such as today, when
my personal history of distractions around match-lighting
were compounded by an actual series of failed lighter and
match events.

But no matter what, whenever you lose your way in the
rite, it is in your best interest to pause, re-collect your
concentration, and move onward.

This was not the most graceful ex voto petition i have
performed, but the saints DID come through for siva, and we
DID fulfil our vow to them, and the altar DOES look
beautiful with the flowers and candles and statuettes in

Sometimes that is just good enough.
> What happens if I should miss a day in the 9-day ritual?  
> For example, what if I forget to set the alarm and
> miss the sunrise -- can I simply do the procedure later 
> that morning or will I have start everything from the 
> beginning?

Such "misses" will tell you more about your concentration
and dedication to the ritual than they will augur your
eventual success.

> And when one has to do something "at dawn" does this mean  
> at the precise moment of sunrise (in my case, 6:21 a.m.)  
> or does one get a certain amount of leeway?  How much?

As the old blues song has it, "Soon in the mornin' just
about the break of day."

> I hope these questions make sense because dawn is a very, 
> very desperately bad time for me and I'm not thinking 
> straight...

The reason that many spells are performed at dawn is
because they arose among sun-worshipping people. The sun's
rise is a time of worship. That's all.

> Thanking you in advance for your help,

I hope i did help ... i mostly wanted to reassure you
that, in my opinion, becoming an *effective* spell-caster is
easier to accomplish than becoming a *perfect* spell-caster.

Good luck, 

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice

© 2002 catherine yronwode (



[Another reply to the same query from Kristiane]

When my circle does ritual, if we mix up a direction, or
color association, or some such "rule", as soon as it is
discovered we immediately say "Coyote!" (If you are not
aware, Coyote is a trickster spirit.) This way, the error
is acknowledged, but the "blame" is placed on an
internal/external spirit whose nature is to trick and
distract. Thus there is no break in the flow of the ritual
work and there is no fear that we did something wrong that
would interfere with achieving the intended result.

The inevitable result of making rules is the potential
to break those rules.  This is part of the nature of the
trickster spirit. As Catherine wrote, with a lot of
practice you are less likely to be distracted, but you may
be distracted no matter how practiced you are. (Again, the
nature of Coyote.) We each have weak spots when it comes to
rules, we have to learn how to move past them. So I
encourage you to get in touch with the trickster spirit,
enough so that you can acknowledge the moments of
distraction without letting those moments ruin an entire

The fact that you noticed your error and then repeated
the act the correct way tells me that you empowered your
ritual even more than if you hadn't made the error in the
first place. It shows that you were not going through
robotic motions, that you were paying attention enough to be
distracted (that may not seem to make sense, but I'm
serious) and to notice you were distracted, and that the
trickster did not make you stop what you were doing and end
the working.  Good for you!

In one ritual in a new apartment, a house blessing
actually, the woman whose new home it was set all the
directions 90 degrees off (east in the south, etc).  We
didn't realize this till the middle of the ritual, when we
had a nice fire going in a cauldron in the center of the
circle.  We laughed and laughed and yelled "Coyote!", and
then the fire suddenly got big and set the smoke detector
off. "Coincidence"? Maybe, but we were sure the house was
blessed. We choose to believe that the only reason why a
woman who'd been practicing magick for 15 years would
totally mess up the directions was because she was being
directed by her trickster spirit -- so the house blessing
wasn't ruined, it was confirmed. The spirits were there,
and they were laughing.

© 2002 (mika)



Caramel Amazon wrote:
> I ordered a triple-strength Red Clover Bag a while back. 
> It's gotten  wet recently & has since dried. 
> Has its powers been affected at all? 
> Is there something that I should do with it?
Folks often tell me that they've put a mojo bag through
the wash and rinse cycle, so this is not a new problem, no
matter how it happened :-)

There are two aspects to the issue -- one regarding the
physical integrity of the items contained in the bag, and
the other regarding its power.

In my opinion, the second aspect is conditional in part
upon the first -- and also conditional upon your intention
and concentration with respect to working with the bag.

Physical Integrity:

If it were me, i would open the bag, take out all the
items and check them for integrity. If they just got damp,
that's one thing -- if they were laundered, dried slowly and
the herbs were mouldy, then that's another thing.

Generally speaking, minerals like lodestone and hard
roots like John the Conquer will be okay after wetting --
but fragile herbs, a personal item, or a petition-paper may
decompose. You can replace them if you wish.

If i felt the need to replace certain items, i would
essentially be re-making the bag, but using the same hard /
durable items and the same cloth.

Whether or not i replaced anything, i would assemble all
the ingredients again, breathe into the bag, tie it shut,
smoke it in incense or over a candle flame, and dress it
with oil.

Magical Integrity:

A mojo hand in essentially a magical spell or a paryer
in a bag. Thus, your causing damage to to the bag is
directly analogous to making an error while peforming a
magical ritual.

Depending on how the bag got wet, there may have been a
lapse of thought on your part, a weakening of the will, so
to speak. You don't tell us what happened, but, in my
opinion, knowing the manner in which the event transpired is
important in formulating a response to your question.

For instance, if you put your mojo hand through the
laundry with your clothes by mistake, i would consider that
more dis-empowering to the bag than if you got caught out in
the rain without an umbrella.

My reasoning is this: Rainstorms may happen without
warning, but putting a magical object through the laundry --
which could have been prevented with even modest forethought
-- would signify your loss of attention to the magical work.

If the bag was damaged due to lack of attention to the
magical work, i would seriously consider starting fresh with
a new bag -- but before doing so, i would take a moment to
sit quietly with the ruined bag in my hand and to
contemplate what happened.

I would ask myself if i still really wanted to obtain
what the petition in the mojo hand represented (for
instance, love, money, career success). If the answer was
yes, i would next ask myself if i was willing to engage in
magical acts to obtain that goal. If the answer to that was
yes, i would finally ask myself if i could take this event
as a lesson to improve my attention to details. If the
answer to that was yes, i would then either re-make the bag
or obtain a new one, as i saw fit.


Any part of a mojo bag you do not wish to keep should be
treated as a ritual remain. It may be buried in the earth;
it may be thrown into a fire; or it may be thrown into
running water. For more details on how to dispose of ritual
remains, see my web page:

Laying Tricks and Disposing of Ritual Remains 
   in the Hoodoo Tradition 

Good luck, 

© 2002 catherine yronwode (

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice



[Knot spells are used for all sorts of work, including love,
binding, tying up someone's nature, etc.; this information
can be aplied to any knot-spell, no matter what its purpose.
-- cat]

The kind of knot spells that I do use the nine knot
method... as you are tying the knots chant this...

by knot of one, this spell's begun 
by knot of two, it cometh true 
by knot of three, so mote it be 
by knot of four, this power I store 
by knot of five, this spell's alive 
by knot of six, this power I fix 
by knot of seven, events I'll leaven
by knot of eight, it wil be fate 
by knot of nine, what's done is mine.

The knots I tie in a specific order, always tying the center
of each division, for instance...


© 1998 Lord Dracoth (



Obviously there is no one absolutely set wat to tie knots in
a knot-spell. For instance, i was taught by one person to
tie a 7-knot love spell in this order:


-- but less than a year later another person, equally
proficient, told me to tie a similar 7-knot love spell in
this order:


Once i tried the second method, i found it so much easier to
remember and perform (especiallly if the knots are to be
made on successive days), that i now prefer it. According to
this method, a 9-knot spell would be made as follows:


The chant given above by Lord Dracoth is, of course,

© 1998 catherine yronwode (



Derrick wrote:

> Can I do a series of spells for the same purpose until I
> get what I want, or will that mess things up? I was planning
> on doing a different 7-day spell every week to reach my
> desired goal, but someone told me that it is better to
> perform one spell and then just wait to see if it works out.
> Which method do you recommend?

First, you are looking at the issue of "spells" from a
perspective that assigns time values to all spells. This is
not the case in hoodoo. Yes, there are spells that require
certain amounts of time, and do take place at an altar (thus
"booking" the altar space, so to speak) -- but a great deal
more of hoodoo rootwork is accomplished on the fly, as
opportunity presents, than at the altar, and such works
cannot be categorized as a "7-day spell." So i shall not
limit my response merely to jobs performed at an altar.

That having been said, it is my opinion, based on personal
experience, that -- for some situations, but not all
situations (see examples maked "A" below) -- it can be
advantageous to run two spells simultaneously, one "hot" and
one "cold," one "carrot" and one "stick," one "sweet" and
one "sour."

Also -- again, for some situations, but not all situations
(see examples marked "B" below) -- it is my opinion, based
on personal experience, that it can be advantageous to "pile
up" cumulative spells on one altar. Aside from those
specific situations -- and those only! -- i would not do
"multiple spells" in the way that you describe.

I was taught, and have learned through long experience, to
abide by the old conjure axiom to "lay your trick, walk
away, and don't look back." In other words, i have seen that
constant fussing can cloud the mind to the inner nature of
the work and can muddy the results. My best spell-work is
done by setting a job on the altar and then working small
auxilliary tricks on the fly, when i can.

Furthermore, it has been my observed experience that
professional root doctors never fuss over their altar spells
in the manner you propose -- and that amateur workers who
impatiently run from spell to spell are often chasing a goal
that they cannot and will not win. In my opinion, an
amateur's ceaseless mucking about with spell after spell
after spell may signify a spiritual denial of the fact that
the case is hopeless.

And now, for the two examples cited above:

"A": I have found that it is almost always best to run two
spells, hot and cold or carrot and stick, in court cases --
sweet for the judge and jury with you and your legal team,
sour for judge and jury versus the opponent and his or her
legal team. Run two bottle spells (honey jar and vinegar
bottle) simultaneously or run a honey jar and a hot-sour
freeze-out beef tongue spell simultaneously. Start the sweet
at dawn and the sour at dusk, and work one at the East for
gain and the other at the West for loss. In addition to
these altar works, i would always keep the eye out for
non-altar spells, such as dressing court papers with
powders, chewing the root, etc. Similarly, a Reconcilliation
with one's lover and a simultaneous Break-Up against one's
lover's other lover can be run in the same manner.

"B": When drawing in a lover, i personally like to double up
and run a sexual attraction spell plus a love spell -- such
as moving lodestone pairs plus a honey jar. The two jobs can
be combined on one altar, since both utilize a candle. The
way i teach it, the honey jar provides the base for the
lodestone spell's candle, a single candle serving for both
jobs. Bathing in love and sex herbs and dressing the bed,
bedroom, doorknobs, and oneself with love and sex oils are
small separate works, somewhat in the nature of side-spells
-- as is feeding the target prepared meals with your
personal concerns or dressing his or her clothing -- and all
of those could be run as opportunity presented, in addition
to the altar work, in an ongoing, daily way. Similarly,
Money Drawing spells can be doubled up in this way on the
altar and then accompanied by numerous small side-tricks.

I hope this helps you.

catherine yronwode

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice

© 2006 catherine yronwode (



AbriL wrote: 
> Hi!! I hope that you understand my poor
> English, i use a translator program.

The translator program worked very well -- i understood you

> I was wondering.  Does it exist a period of time in the
> one which, past this, is considered that the spell failed?
> If it is this way, generally, in what time?

I was taught -- in the African-American hoodoo system of
folk-magic -- that after performing a spell (called a
"job"), you could watch and wait for 3 days. During that
period of time you might receive a sign or omen. It may come
in a dream, or it may be in something you read, or it may be
something someone says to you or near you. That sign will
let you know if the spell will work or if it will fail.

Here are some examples of good signs:

Let us say that you wish to make a love spell on a man named
Bryan. You burn a red candle for him and do some other
things in the spell and then you watch and wait for 3 days.
On the first day, nothing happens, but that night, you dream
that Bryan is kissing you -- a good sign! -- the spell is
working! The next day, you are watchying a movie and the
credits at the end just JUMP out at you -- "Special Thanks
to Bryan" -- and that's another good sign! Or, perhaps, on
the third day, your best friend comes up to you and loans
you a book. She says it is a great novel, and hopes you will
like it -- and when you look, the name of the hero in the
novel is Bryan -- a third great sign! You can be pretty sure
the spell is working if you get fabulous signs like those.
Even one of them would be enough; three is fantastic!

Now let us look at signs of failure.

This time let us say you made a spell to get some unpleasant
neighbors to move out of your apartment building . And let's
say their names are Eddie and Helen Jones. You burn a black
candle and sress it with "Hot Foot" oil. The day after you
do the spell, you turn on the radio and old rock-and-roll
songs are playing and the first one you hear is "Along Came
Jones" by the Coasters. That's a bad sign -- you wanted the
Jones family to go away, but this song is about someone
named Jones coming toward you! The next day you turn on the
tv and the first thing you hear is a commercial with the
words "Eddie, come here!" Bad sign. Eddie is not leaving.
And to make things worse, the program you watch next on tv
features an actress named Helen in it and the story is all
about Helen and her neighbors in their apartment building!
Bad signs -- Helen is NOT going to leave the aprtment!

> I know that a charm can work on the following day of been
> done, or more. But I don't know what is the 'limit' of 
> days that it has to work.

3 days to wait for a sign, i was told, is the limit ... with
a few exceptions. One major exception is that if you are
doing a banishing spell and you start it while the moon is
waning (decreasing in size), you ought to wait until the New
(dark) Moon, even it that is almost 2 weeks, before you give
up on the spell working.

After the sign, you may have to wait a bit more for
"movement" but it if it is to be, it should come within a month. 
If not, give up on that spell ... or wait for three months for
completion of the work, if you prefer, but then, if it fails, 
let it go. 

One last thing -- others have said this too, but it is a
good piece of advice to repeat: if a spell does not work for
you, do not repeat that same spell for the same purpose. Try
another spell. The same spell may work at another time or
for another person, but don't do the same spell twice in a row 
for the same situation if it produced no results the first time.

> Thanks in advance for your help, and, if you don't 
> understand what i mean, please be patient with me :( 
> and let me know.

Well, now we'll see if your translation program could make
sense out of what i wrote!


cat yronwode

© 1999 catherine yronwode (



nagasiva yronwode ( wrote:

> while rituals will sometimes have required timings, from
> what I have heard spells don't usually have them. sure,
> there are times that INCREASE the chances of a spell
> working, but the time seems more often to be less
> important than the acts themselves.

Timing is important in both African-American and
European-American spell-craft -- but not ALL spells include
timing. I am not going to give multiple examples, because
this is the stuff of ddoctoral dissertations, but, in brief:

European folk magic sometimes includes the CALENDAR DATE as
part of a spell. For example, there is a class of spells
used by young women to see a vision fo their husbands-to-be
-- and these spells (which involve performaces such as
paring an apple in one pass, sleeping with certain things
under the pillow, etc) often are said to only be effective
when performed on the preper caledar date (e.g. New Year's
Eve, Saint Agnes' Day, etc.). If this is unfamiliar to you,
please see me about some books that contain references; i
have noting on the subject online, but my library contains
many examples.

European magical traditions also often emphasize MOON
position (waxing or waning, full or new, or, in Medival
magic, lunar sign) with regard to timing a spell. This is so
familiar that it is a convention of "witchy" fiction that
much European miagic is performed at midnight on a full moon
-- that is, when the solar power is the weakest and the
lunar power is the strongest. See below for an example of
lunar timing in refard to the magical aspects of hair cuts. 

African-American folk-magic (hoodoo) incorporates some
European moon-lore, but also places particular emphasis on
SUN position -- especially the time "'fore day" or "soon the
in the morning"  -- that is, just before dawn. Many hoodoo
spells require the work to be done soon in the morning and
completed precisely at dawn, at which point there is
performed a vestige of African religious ritual -- a salute
to the rising sun -- which is often reduced to a formulaic
"closing" action such as, "...then you take the water that
you washed in [as part of the ritual or spell] and go to a
crossroads and throw it out of the basin over your left
shoulder toward the rising sun and walk away and don't look

Cordially, catherine yronwode

Lucky Mojo Curio Co: 

© 2000 catherine yronwode ( 



Timing one's haircuts by the moon's phases is something that
most folk-magicians know about. Basically, the rules are

If you want your hair to grow in thicker or faster, get it
trimmed each time only right after the new Moon so that as
the moon grows in size, your hair grows thicker and faster.
Some people say that if the cut is made when the moon is in
a water sign, it will be even better for hair growth.

On the other hand, if you want a hair-do to last longer by
slowing down hair growth, have the hair-cut made right after
the Full Moon so that as the moon decreases in size, your
hair grows in more slowly.

Christopher Warnock ( wrote:
> Here is some traditional, i.e. pre-Enlightenment, 
> electional astrology from William Ramesey's 1653
> Astrologia Restaurata, for picking a time to cut hair.
> Containing the Rules of Election in the Cutting of Hair
> Always place the Moon in common [mutable] signs, well
> dignified, but especially in earthy signs...some say Virgo
> is not to be chosen; I conceive the reason was because it
> was a barren sign; therefore in the cutting of hair, that
> you would not have to grow suddenly, place the Moon in
> either Virgo, Gemini or Leo, decreasing in light and
> motion, and afflicted by Saturn. But if you desire your
> hair to grow speedily, let the ascendant be one of the 
> fruitful signs; as also the Moon, viz. in Cancer, Scorpio 
> or Pisces; but let the Moon be increasing in light and
> motion, and let her be in Sextile or Trine of the Lord of
> the Ascendant or the party's Nativity, but have special
> regard the Moon be free from the malevolent impedition of
> Saturn or Mars for they will cause much scurff and
> dandriff at the roots of the hair. But if you desire it be
> thick, let the Moon be in Opposition of the Sun and the 
> ascendant and the Moon free from aspects of the malevolents.

Be sure to eat lots of protein and vitamin A for normal,
healthy hair growth. Some people also take gelatin to
strengthen their hair and nails.

Also consider your genetic background. A person who is from
a scanty-haired family is unlikely to grow a full, bushy
afro and a person with tightly kinky hair may find it
difficult to grow it to a great long length, especially if
resort is made to lye-based products, dyes, or red-hot
irons, which can damage hair and make it very fragile. Be
reasonable in your expectations, because the moon sign will
not change your hair texture or be able to cover up for your
mis-use of your hair with harsh chemicals.

Finally, it is said that if you throw out your hair where
birds can pick it up and build nests from it, you will get
headaches. I know this to be true from personal experience.
All my life i have always placed my hair combings and
trimmings outdoors where birds can find them and i now
suffer from migraines.

catherine yronwode

The Lucky W Amulet Archive:

check out news:alt.lucky.w for discussions on folk magic and luck

© 2000 catherine yronwode ( 
© 2000 Christopher Warnock ( 


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