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Recipes for Potions Used in Spell-Casting
Practical Tips and Techniques for Spell-Casting
Errata to Herman Slater's Magickal Formulary by John M. Hansen
"The Ancient Book of Formulas," a public domain magical formulary
Magickal Tools and Materials are in alphabetical order. ============================================ ADAM AND EVE ROOT I: USE IN HOODOO Colin Davies wrote: > Does anyone have any information on 'Adam & Eve' root? > I've read about a number of practises using it and was > wondering what properties it is alleged to have. Adam and Eve root (also called Eve and Adam root in the Southern USA) is the root of an orchid, Orchis mascula. You should get two of tem in a pack, one Adam and one Eve. The species is very closely related to lucky hand root (also called salep or saloop or putty root orchid). It is EXTREMELY RARE in the wild at this time and i have found no reliable source for domestically grown or wildcrafted roots. In 1997, one of the leading suppliers of occult goods in the USA was offering Adam and Eve root pairs wholesale very cheaply, but when i bought 100 for resale, i was horrified to find i had been sent 100 pairs of boiled soybeans and balm of gilead buds!!!! I phoned up to complain and was told, "Well, the old Adam and Eve roots are so hard to find now, we use these as our NEW Adam and Eve roots." I was allowed to return the fakes for a refund, but the incident was shocking -- some suppliers really don't give a damn about what they sell. (This same supplier markets chipped fir tree bark -- the kind of stuff used for mulching trees in the city -- as Jezebel Root and sells chicken bones as black cat bones.) As for what Adam and Eve root is used for -- mostly love charms. A pair of these roots used to be the centerpiece of most mojo hands fixed for love-drawing or fideltity. In the 1930s there were Adam and Even perfumes offered for sale as love-drawing scents, too, and they contained actual pieces of the root in each bottle. As far as i know, nothing sold today by ANY occult supplier under the name Adam and Eve -- whether an oil, perfume, sachet powder, incense, mineral crystals, candle, or floorwash -- contains the actual roots. For this reason, i do not manufacture any Adam and Eve products in my own Lucky Mojo Curio Co. -- i would rather not carry the formula than lie about the contents. On the other hand, if someone comes up with a source for responsibly wildcrafteed or domestic Adam and Eve roots, i would love to hear about it! For an example of Adam and Eve Root used to take off a jinx, see my page on the famous hoodoo rootworker Aunt Caroline Dye © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ ADAM AND EVE ROOT II: USE IN EUROPEAN HERBOLOGY AND FOLK-MAGIC There are five specialist nurseries offering cultivated Orchis mascula in the UK as listed in the RHS Plant Finder annual for 1995-1996, the most recent I have. Some of these will export. Expect to pay an arm and a leg. This species is much diminished in the UK though there are still areas where it is locally abundant. It is highly protected and may not be harvested from the wild. In the early nineteenth century an infusion of the dried and powdered O. mascula root was sold at night from stalls in London as drink, and was very popular with the labouring classes in preference to tea or coffee, under the name saloop. By the time Charles Lamb mentioned it, an infusion of sassafras wood was replacing it under the same name. Though its reputation goes back to Dioscorides, it has no aphrodisiac properties apart from its resemblance to a testicle. Save your money for Viagra. Or buy one to grow and let its benign influence grow around you. Priapus is the god of gardens. Bless him. © 1998 Alexander MacLennan ============================================ ALTAR A young person who still lives with parents asked: > what can I use as an altar? Having a space to use as an altar is not necessary to all forms of magic. Here's why: An altar is narrowly defined as a permanent or temporary ritual place set aside for the worship a deity or deities. This may or may not be the same as a ritual space reserved to perform a magical spell because a given system of magic may or may not include worship or even any contact with a deity or deities. However, in common terms, a place reserved to perform a magical spell is also called an altar by many people, even if no worship takes place there. But call it what you will -- an altar or a ritual space -- you still need a place to perform a spell, right? Both the young and the poor may not have a space large enough to set aside as a dedicated altar. Most people in this situation work on top of a bureau drawer or a kitchen table or a nightstand by the bed -- anything with a flat surface. As with the kitchen pot that doubles as a cauldron (see below), your work will go better if you somehow mentally separate the furniture's use as an altar-space from its everyday use. In other words, your concentration and dedication to the spell you intend to cast might benefit if you cover the makeshift altar with a cloth (you can use a scarf or bandana), or mark its four corners with flowers, or fan incense smoke across the surface to clear it off before you pout down the tools you will be using. Likewise, when you are done, you may clear off the altar and wipe it down with the bandana or scarf, or even clean it with a damp cloth and furniture polish, to return it to its "everyday" function. © 1999 cat yronwode ( ============================================ BIOLOGICAL CONCERNS, BODILY CONCERNS: See PERSONAL ITEMS ============================================ BOOK OF SHADOWS > i would like some decent information on creating my > own book of shadows and / or where i might be able to buy a > nicely crafted book. i'm not having any luck with google. =( A hand-written, permanently bound volume containing a spell collection, magical diary of operations and results, and/or collection of ceremonial rituals is sometimes called a book of shadows, a formulary book, or a personal grimoire. The type of book in which this sort of material is written is generally called a "blank journal" in the book trade. Put the two words "blank journal" in quotation marks as shown here when searching at -- and you will find hundreds of lovely blank journals for sale. My search turned up 2,500 web pages mentioning or selling blank journals. Good luck. © 2002 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ CANDLES I: 7-DAY and NOVENA CANDLES ENCASD IN GLASS a query from e-mail: > Would you happen to have a complete listing of all glass > candles, their names and purposes and intentions (such as > Fast Luck, High John The Conquer). I know there are so > many, especially Saints candles. Do you have any other > listing other than what's on your site. I do a lot of > candle magick and am researching the names of glass candles. > Thank you for your time and help. You don't specify which page of mine you saw, so i can only answer your question in general. The article i have written on candle magic is an introduction to the subject of candle-burning in various cultures; it covers the hostory of offertory, figural, and glass-encased candles and their colour symbolism. There is a long, long list of glass-encased Catholic and Santeria novena candles and 7-day hoodoo candles (also known as vigil candles) which was compiled by Fred Burke and me, with help from Althaea Yronwode (my daughter) and K. Rudin. It is not "complete" because we are still working on it! Any additions to this list are very welcome. It is our desire to produce as complete a catalogue as possible, for the sake of collectors such as ourselves. Please send any additions to me (following the format given on the page) and i will enter them into the database and credit you in the text. If you or anyone reading this have duplicates of any candles not listed on this page, i am open to buying them or trading for them to add to my own collection. The list of manufacturers of glass-encased candles is appended for those who wish to contact candle manufacturers directly. Some of the addresses are no longer valid, as they were taken from old candles; some of these companies only sell wholesale and will not deal with indiviudual customers. When it comes to understanding the spiritual meaning or magical intention of the various glass-encased candles, you will need to do some research of your own. Here are some pointers: You can look up most of the hoodoo names at my site on their own pages. For instance, John the Conqueror has a page at and Fast Luck is described at -- and when any such names are mentioned in the texts of my pages about candles, they are highlighted as clickable links that you can follow right to the root pages on those topics. As for the Catholic and Santeria candles, you can determine their uses by learning about the particular saints or orishas depicted on them. I have a very basic introductory page on this subject at which gives a few popular saints and a list of the "Seven African Powers" orishas. If you want to delve deeper, any good Catholic book of saints will help you a lot, and you can learn more about orisha-worship by following the usenet newsgroup alt.religion.orisha. Good luck! © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ CANDLES II: WHAT ARE "ASTRAL CANDLES"? WHAT ARE "PETITIONER'S CANDLES"? In hoodoo and conjure that has been influenced by European ceremonial magic, an astral candle is a candle deemed appropriate to symbolize a person due to its being coloured and dressed according to the astrological symbolism of the sun-sign of the person whom it is intended to represent. For instance, a blue-green candle might represent a person born with the sun in Scorpio. It would be dressed with Scorpio Oil. The system of using astral or astrologically-based candles to represent the sun-sign of a person was popularized by Henri Gamache in his famous 1940s work "The Master Book of Candle Burning." Candles marketed as astral candles can be purchased anywhere that occult supplies are sold. Often they are simple 6" offertory candles dressed with astrologically symbolic oils or marked with an astrological symbol. You can make them up yourself. The petitioner's candle is the candle that represents the person asking for the work to be done (either the client of a conjure-worker or a person working a spell for him or herself). For example, if i wish to burn candles to draw a man sexually close to me, i might use two candles -- an astral one for his sun-sign (say, blue-green for Scorpio) and a red one (for passion) for me. The red one in that case would be the petitioner's candle, because i am the petitioner. Regular 6" offertory candles are often used for this purpose. Many practitioners of candle work (myself included) never use astral candles -- instead, names are carved on the candles to personalize them. The traditional way is to carve the name in a spiral around the candle -- like a barber's pole. To return to the case of my wishing to draw a certain man close to me, i personally would use two red candles (so that our passion would be equal in intensity) and i would carve his full name on one candle and mine on the other. The fact that he is a Scorpio and i am a Taurus would not be my first chopice in personal symbolism (there are hundreds of millions of Scorpios and as many Tauruses in the world), so i would use other things to symbolize him -- for instance, since through his name he personally is associated with snakes, i would get one of those cute dime-store plastic snakes and place it at the base of his candle. And since through my name i am associated with cats, i might place a small figure of a cat at the base of my candle. Thus, instead of the slightly impersonal symbolism of Scorpio and Taurus, i would be using the name-symbolism of snake-boy and cat-girl. If i wanted (in this example, not in real life!) to completely rule, dominate, and control this man, i know JUST the additional symbol i would use to further that end: it is an ancient Egyption papyrus drawing of a feral tabby cat with a captured snake in her mouth! I have it in a book and i could get a colour copy made of it. I would place that picture on the altar between the two candles and every day draw them closer together until they met atop that image. When they met and touched and burned to the end, the cat would have captured the snake. Hmmmm. Good thing i am not into spells of domination and control. :-) cat-girl (thinking about it, though...) © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ CANDLES III: CAN THEY BE RE-USED? Prisila LA wrote: > What do I do with the candle that I used in previous > rituals? Should I start with brand new candles each > time that I cast a spell or I can use the same candle > to cast different spells for different purpose and > people? In my tradition, hoodoo, i was taught ot use up a candle during the performance of a spell, therefore there would be no candle left over to start a new spell on another person. Long-term or ongoing spells require repeated use of the same candle (for 7 days, 9 days, even longer), but in the end, most candles are let to burn until they go out. The major exception to this is that some candles are deliberately put out, to harm someone. I can see keeping the same large candle as an altar candle through several operations, but it literally make no sense to me to use the same candle for a different purpose or on a different poerson, for instance, to burn half of a red candle for sex magic purposes, blow it out and then relight it for a court case. Even less understandable to me would be to burn half of a black candle to harm an enemy of mine and then to relight it and use the remainder for a peaceful home spell for my sister-in-law. For me to re-suse a candle for a different purpose or on a different person would be the magical equivalent of making Italian pasta and Italian tomato sauce with sausage and mushrooms one night and having left-over sauce the next day with no pasta in the house, so deciding to pour the tomato-sauage-and-mushroom sauce over honey-nut cheerios with cream and eat it for breakfast. Yuck for me. Yum for someone, i am sure. Notice that i am not saying that anyone is wrong in any way or that their magical operations will be less effective than mine if they re-use candles. They are certainly doing right for themselves and some have the experience to back it up. We have different "taste" in magical usage, that's all. Tolerance means not demanding such a tight fit that everyone must be the same. It means leaving room for indivual variation. Some mages, probably coming from European ceremonial, hermetic, or chaos magic backgrounds, have claimed that not only is re-use of candles for different purposes fine, but that people who won't do so have been somehow duped by candle manufacturers, who tell customers that it is "wrong" to re-suse candles because they want to sell more candles. Such is not my experience. I see the difference as one of tradition, with most folk-magicians preferring to burn candles all the way, and some urban chaos and ceremonial magcians favouring re-use of a candle for different purposes. To understand why many folk-magicians believe that candles should be consumed utterly, it is useful to consider how incense burning is regarded by folk-magicians, for this predates candle-burning by millennia. Incense is almost invariably seen as a ritual offering to deity, not as a tool of the magician's. For instance, among the ancient and contemporary Mayans, incense is believed to be a spiritual "food" to be eaten by the gods (they call the smoke from Copal incense "itz"). The major function of itz in any Mayan religio-magical rite is to be consumed. It is not a tool of meditation or power. Likewise, to hoodoo rootworkers, and thus to me, candles, incense, powders, oils, colognes, and the like are not regarded as tools, but as OFFERINGS. And the extent of the offering is a WHOLE candle, though of what size and at what cost is not the issue. In hoodoo the idea of "using up" candles is important, even among the very poor. If finances are an issue, you have two choices: use small or cheap candles to begin with, or cut larger candles down before use. Cutting candles into sections and carving them to expose the wick, thus making a set of smaller candles from them before beginning a spell, is perfectly acceptable where i come from. In fact, for some reversing spells, you have to do that anyway and burn both ends. Cutting costs by using small candles is also fine. In spell kits i have imported from Mexico and Vemnezuela, where people have lower incomes than in the US, the candles included with the other materials in the kits are about the size of US birthday cake candles. Whole candles are consumed in each spell, but they are very small ones. To put the issue of cost in perspective as far as the hoodoo tradition goes, in the 1930s, when Harry Hyatt interviewed 1,600 African-American root workers and hoodooists in the South, very few of those who lived in rural areas or far from New Orleans (with its Catholic Church influences) used any candles other than the standard white 3/4" x 6" paraffin household candles carried at hardware and general stores around the country. These are very cheap candles, and many rural people would have had them on hand for lighting purposes anyway. Urbanization, rural electrification, and the influence of Henri Gamache's 1942 "Master Book of Candle Burning," has led to the use of various symbolic colours and figural shapes in contemporary hoodoo practice, but most of my customers ask for their coloured candles in the same simple "household candle" size and shape that their grandparents used in the old days when the only colour available was white. We're not talking about some New Age raffia-wrapped speckled-wax aromatherapy pillar candles with flowers pressed into them that cost $15.00 each -- we're talking about standard 6" offertory candles that cost 50 cents each on average (i sell them for $5.00 a dozen, as a matter of fact, and the customer can select any mix of colours per dozen). These candles are not really very costly and acquiring them should not be an impediment to the performance of a spell. The implication has been made elsewhere that requiring that candles be burned to the end is an idea fostered by candle retailers and manufacturers, for commercial purposes, and has no sound basis in magical theory. The idea that those who taught me to burn my candles to the end were somehow influenced by money-grubbing retailers or manufacturers may not have been inteded to offend, so i shall take it with a grain of salt and assure then that i mean no offense to those who wish to re-use candles for different purposes or on different people when i say that their idea of reusing a candle for more than one purpose sounds really uncomfortable to me. In other words, your mileage may vary. FInally, although you did not specifically ask for instrcuctions about disposing of any remnants of candle-wax from spells, i would like to add that in most magical tradtions, this is done in a ritual way, and in hoodoo, such ritual disposal applies not only to left-over candle wax, but also to incense ashes, sachet powders, bath-water, etc. I have written a detailed article on how disposals are accomplished in the hoodoo tradition, including disposal in earth, in running water, under floorboards, in fire, at a crossroads, etc. -- the different places and forms of disposal being indicated for different typoes of spells. The name of the article is "Laying Tricks and Disposing of Ritual Remnants in the Hoodoo Tradition" and the URL is This article is actually a chapter of a full-length book i am writing on magic called "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice." Many chapters are now online for free and you can access the table of contents to read all the chapters at Good luck, © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ CAULDRON A young person who still lives with parents asked: > Can I use an ordinary pot as a cauldron? Yes, you can. Among members of the Wicca religion, there is sometimes a feeling that the cauldron must be a "proper" cauldron made of iron, but poor people all over the world use cooking implements in magical rites, and generally, if they don't have a cauldron, they will use anything handy, such as an enamelled coffee pot or even an iron frying pan. You can easily buy such an item in a used-goods shop. Pick one that you like the looks of. Setting one pot aside for magical workings is probably going to help you keep your mind focussed on the difference between "casting a spell" and "ordinary life," but if you live at home with your folks and have no pot of your own, then simply take a moment when you borrow one from the kitchen and consecrate it to your use as a magical tool. One way to do this is to brush it all over with your hands, and then smoke it briefly with incense, inside and out. When you are ready to return it to the kitchen, be sure to wash it well to remove both the physical and the mental traces of your work. © 1999 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ HERBS I: READY TO USE, OR PREPARED? SilverLD42008266 wrote: > > I am just beginning to do herb spells, and would like to > know how do you prepare the herb for spells? Also, the > herbs that i purchase -- would they be ready to use or > do I need to prepare them? thanks. There are different traditions of thought on these questions. In hoodoo -- African-American folk-magic-- and brujeria -- Mexican folk-magic -- most practitioners use either fresh or dried herbs which they buy from a spiritual supply store or botanica. There is no special emphasis placed on how the herbs were gathered (other than that they be correctly named and clean). However, advanced practitioners may collect their own herbs or buy them from the person who collected or grew them, to avoid too much handling and to keep them spiritually "pure." This also goes for some people working in Santeria, Palo, and other African-diaspora religions as well, who prefer to receive herbs and palos (twigs) from known people whom they can trust in a spiritual sense. In Wicca and similar New Age, neo-pagan, and European-influenced magical traditions, many people prefer to use fresh herbs rather than dried, and they often make very bold statements about the worthlessness of herbs gathered under the "wrong" moon sign or such. There is a tendency in Germano-British magic toward what i call "restrictiveness," whereby there are almost as many prohibitions and bad signs as there are encouragements and good signs. Thus Wicca, which originated in Britain, carries with it some of the restrictivity found in other Germano-British folk-beliefs, such as that, for instance, a horseshoe can only be hung in ONE direction or it is no longer lucky, or that a spell must be recited a certain way EXACTLY or it won't work. When you compare magic to music -- a very useful comparison, and not a trivial one by any means -- you'll see similar trends. For instance, the Germano-British insistence on strict tempo is quite at odds with the flexible tempo of African-American music. Likewise the melismas ("bent notes") of the African singing tradition persist in African-American music, but are considered "bad singing" by European musicologists of the formal school who insist that each note be hit square-on, without a tonal slide. So, to get back to your question -- In most traditions of folk-magic, the herbs have a virtue that resides in them and they are fully prepared as you get them, whether dried or fresh. They may need to be boiled or powdered or such, but that would be explained in the spell and would not affect their readiness for use in a spiritual way. But in some European-based traditions, any herbs that were commercially grown or were not "properly" picked according to that traditional's restrictive rules of moon-sign, type of instrument used to gather them, or such, might need to be "consecrated" or "empowered" by the spell-caster. How much preparation was called for and the nature of that work would be dependent on how restrictive the tradition was. I hope these general guidelines help you. What you asked is not a question with only one answer, especially when it is asked by a self-professed newcomer to magic such as yourself who has not yet firmly embarked upon a particular tradition and accepted its internal logic and rules of thought. Good luck, © 1998 cat yronwode ( ============================================ HERBS II: BURNING HERBS AND RESINS AS INCENSE Christopher ( wrote: > Hello, > > I'd just like to ask a quick question about what type of incenses > people are using. I've been doing research trying to find out where I > can get Qabalistic incenses. So far I have found the following... > > RESIN/GUM: > Myrrh > Frankincense > Galbanum > Rose (Moroccan) > Siamese Benzoin > Faux Ambergris (looking for a good natural substitute) > Dragon's Blood I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the taxonomic names of the species of the plants you are using (their "Latin names") so that you can talk the same language as your suppliers. > My first question is.... > Frankincense vs. Olibanum; is here any point to seek out Olibanum if > you have Frankincense? They seem almost identical and Olibanum is much > harder to come by. Frankincense is the same as Olibanum. Boswellia thurifera / Boswellia carteri. "Thurifera" means "bearing incense -- a clue to its use. > Now some of the other Incenses Listed in 777 [by Aleister Crowley] I > cannot find in Resins or Gums, leading me to believe that simply > burning the dried Herb would be what was intended. I don't like > using any sticks or cones, only loose with charcoal. Burning the herbs or dried flowers is correct. Also, in some cases, there are essential oils of those plants which can be added to the dried herbs to strengthen their aroma. > Jasmine - Do most use just dried Jasmine Flowers ? Yes, this is okay, but you may wish to add a small amount of true Jasmine essential oil -- very expensive -- or a good artificial Jasmine fragrance or essential/fragrance blend to the dried flowers to increase their aroma. > How does this smell when burnt? Not bad -- just bland. There is very little essential oil in Jasmine flowers, hence the high price of Jasmine oil. That's why folks like to dose the dried flowers with the essential oil or fragrance/essential oil blend. > Do certain herbs like Jasmine flowers smell really bad > when using them as incense ? Peoples' reactions to scents differ. What smells good to one person smells neutral or bad to another. For instance, some people love the smell of burning camphor -- i hate it. I love the smell of Lemon Grass, but my husband hates it. Each of us has our own preferences. I know of no flowers that smell unpleasant to me when burned, but some roots do -- Vandal Root for one. Also Asafoetida (Ferula spp., cf Galbanum and Sumbul Root) smells bad to me when burned (note the "foetid" in the name -- a clue). > If so, how come stick incense doesn't smell bad ? The question is meaningless. Stick incense is not made with flowers, for the most part. It is made with essential oils, powdered wood, and natural gum resins as binders. > Cedar - Again I cannot find a good resin of this, but I can find cedar > wood powder and essential oil. When working in the Jupiter/Chesed do > most magicians simply burn the wood powder ? Yes, or the wood chips. You can dose the chips with essential oil of Cedar Wood for a stronger scent. > Dittany - Dried Herb best ? That's your only choice, as far as i know. I am sure that one could make an essential oil of Dittany of Crete -- it is in the Mint family, and is a close relative to Oregano and Marjoram, and a more distant relative to Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, and Mint -- all of which produce good essential oils -- but it is not an easy plant to grow or get in bulk, and demand is so low that i know of no supplier distilling the essential oil of Dittany of Crete at this time. > Wormwood - Wormwood Herb dried ? Yes, burning the dried herb is fine. Be aware that some people are highly allergic to burning any member of the Artemisia genus, including Wormwood, Southernwood, and Mugwort. I am one such person. The allergic reaction -- which takes the form of asthma-like spasms in the lungs -- is triggered by chemicals called thujones in these plants. Thujones also appear in Yew (Thuja spp.) and Sage (Salvia spp.) but it is specifically Wormwood and Mugwort that sets most people off, and the others can be burned safely. In our curio shop, where we grow, harvest, dry, and pack herbs all day long, only one person can harvest the Mugwort or pack it -- the other four of us are all allergic to one degree or other. > Aloes Wood - I can find the wood chips at an herbalist store around > here. When these wood chips are burnt do they produce a nice smell ? Here you are treading on troublesome ground. The Aloes Wood tree (not to be confused with Bitter Aloes, the herb) is an endangered species. There are CITES agreements in place to protect the remaining stands of the species. In order to make the perfumed aroma, the wood must be gathered from trees infected with a fungus that is eventually lethal to the trees. Regular Aloeswood chips are not highly scented. In areas where the trees grow, it is the custom of Aloeswood gatherers to go into the forest and locate mature trees -- 60 years old or more -- and severely wound them, then rub the wound with the fungus from dying trees. As the newly infected trees begin to die, the fungus-infested portions are cut off and sold for incense. As each tree dies -- it is not replanted. Rather, the gatherer moves on into the forest, looking for more trees to infect. Over-harvesting, especially for the Japanese market, where Aloeswood is highly prized as a base for incense and where environmental piracy is endemic, has caused the over-infection and over-harvesting of the trees. I have personally refused to carry Aloeswood in my curio shop until i can find a supplier who promises sustainable harvesting and replanting of the trees. I urge people to seriously consider the damage their insistence on having this tree's wood has done to the species. Try to obtain sustainably harvested Aloeswood or do without it if you can. Do a google search on (Aloes Wood Lignum Aloes Aquilaria agallocha) and see what you learn. > Storax - What is the best form of Storax to burn ? Storax raises another environmental issue. There are only two species, Liquidamber orientalis, from Greece and Turkey, and Liquidamber styraciflua, from North America, also known as Sweet Gum. Centuries of cutting down the once-common Storax trees of Turkey and Greece for use of the bark and resin in incense has resulted in only a tiny stand of Storax surviving, and these are mostly protected now in a nature preserve in Turkey. Many European mages accept Styrax -- Sumatran, Chinese, and Siamese Benzoin (Styrax benzoin, Styrax officinalis) -- as a substitute, but it does not smell the same as Storax and it comes from a bush, not a tall tree, and hence has different symbolism. What you want is the bark and resin of the North American Sweet Gum, which has long been used by Native Americans as an incense and which smells very much like Turkish Storax. The tree is native to the hardwood deciduous woodlands of the USA and is planted widely in parks and along streets for its beauty. There has never been a market for it as incense, and so it is not an endangered species at this time. > Musk- This one is giving me MAJOR problems. Since it comes from a > deer, it is not readily available. I am looking for any herb to burn a > musk substitute on charcoal. Again we have the issue of environmental responsibility. Many people use synthetic musk fragrance. You can drizzle it on any of your herbs and burn it that way. > The reason for wanting loose incense, is during evocations is much > more convenient and effective to use loose incense. Yes, this is the case in African-American folk magic too -- loose incenses and herbs are preferred. > I was also thinking of adding essential oils to herbs, such as Jasmine > Oil to dried, fine chopped jasmine flowers. If anyone has any tips on > this I would appreciate it. I covered this above. It is sound practice. May i suggest that you might find more information along these lines that will be of use to you in a book i wrote called "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure." It lists the magical uses of 500 plants, with about 750 sample spells and formulas for incense, oils, and washes, plus 50 black and white illustrations. It is available through -- but before you buy it, you can read some sample entries from it at > Thank you in Advance > Christopher You are most welcome. cat yronwode © 2003 cat yronwode ( ============================================ JOB'S TEARS > Could you please tell me what 'job - tears' are? Job's Tears are the pearly-grey seeds of a wild grass, called Coix lachrymi-Jobii. They are shaped just like chubby drops of rain, and they are shiny-grey, hence the name Job's Tears. (Job was the man in the Bible whom God sent Satan to oppress, and who cried a great deal during his time of loss and sorrow.) Generally, one uses seven of them at a time when performing a magical spell for wish-fulfillment, and they are usually sold in groups of seven. (I sell these myself, but you can also buy them from other suppliers, of course.) © 1997 cat yronwode ( ============================================ OILS I: ESSENTIAL OILS VERSUS FRAGRANCE OILS Over the years many people have asked that i sell them "Essential oil of Jasmine" or "Essential Oil of Sweet Pea" and when i tell them that these are fragrances, not essential oils and that they are compounded of synthetic chemicals with occasional admixtures of essential oils, they insist that i am wrong because "So and So sells pure, uncut essential Sweet Pea oil, so how come you can't get it for me?" The more often customers demand that suppliers clearly label something an "essential oil" or a "fragrance oil," the more the suppliers will comply. But that is no reason for a weak-minded supplier to give in and sell as an essential oil some compound that is merely a fragrance oil. Now, there are good reasons to use fragrance oils in certain cases -- for instance, when an herb or flower cannot be distilled for an essential oil; or where an oil can be distilled, but in such minute quantities that the essential oil would cost more than any customer is likely to pay; or where the oil's aroma is unstable or fugitive. Sweet Pea falls into the first category: there is no essential oil of Sweet Pea. Jasmine falls into the second category: the essential oil is so tediously difficult to distill that it costs hundreds of times more than other essential oils. In these cases and others like them, i think the supplier is justified in using a fragrance oil, but i think that you should add some of the plant matter to the mix. For instance, many people use Bayberry for the purpose of money-drawing. Bayberry candles used to be used for this purpose. They were made of natural plant waxes from the Bayberry plant, also known as Wax Myrtle or Candle Myrtle. Bayberry and numerous other plants have a waxy coating -- that's what was being collected, by boiling the plants in water to melt the wax, then cooling the water to harden the fragrant wax and skim it off. Obviously, the naturally scented greenish wax collected by this method were only available in minute quantities, so it was cut with beeswax to make money-drawing candles. Well, over the years, the rising cost of labour and the destruction of wetlands where the bayberry bushes grew brought us to the situation where now real bayberry wax is unobtainable at any price, and all the so-called Bayberry candles sold these days are made of paraffin wax scented with artificial Bayberry aroma. So down-home conjures who want to capture the natural money-drawing virtues of the Bayberry plant soak Bayberry root chips in oil and use that as a dressing oil on green candles. That way they are getting the plant's essences into their candle-burning work. But Bayberry root in oil is not highly scented -- and customers demand that Bayberry scent. So folks add a touch of synthetic Bayberry fragrance oil to the Bayberry root chip money-drawing oil, to provide that elusive aroma. And, of course, that is burned on green paraffin candles, not on Bayberry wax candles. However, if a supplier just blends up artificial Bayberry scent with oil, without the Bayberry root chips, he or she made nothing but perfume. If you use that stuff, you're just dressing your green candles with perfume. It's like eating a soy-burger and calling it ground round. © 2002 catherine yronwode ( Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic ============================================ OILS II: INCREASING THE POWER OF DRESSING OILS > How fast does a dressing oil usually work and can you > double or triple the power of the oil? Oils usually take effect upon application. If the oil has been properly made with herbs, roots, minerals, essential oils, or other natural ingredients, adding more ingredients will make it much stronger, but won't necessarily double or triple its strength. To do that, you need to work with the oil. There are many ways to do so in the various traditions of magic Some people will pray over oil to make it more powerful, recite Psalms over it, chant a spoken spell over it, and/or "warm it" or "smoke it" (charge it) by passing it through the smoke of burning incense or a candle flame before use. Others will set an oil out under the full moon to absorb the moon's rays or they might keep it in a sunny windowsill to absorb the sun's rays (depending on what the intention of the oil is). Keeping prepared oil near a powerful magical object such as a lodestone, storing it with your other magical tools, or taking it to sacred spots may increase its power. When applying oil to oneself or objects some people will call upon a deity or saint for help as part of the act of anointing, thus strengthening the oil's power. Finally, in some traditions, mixing an oil with bodily fluids right before use, especially sexual fluids if the intention is to attract sex, is said to increase its power greatly. © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ PARCHMENT, PAPER, and INK a correspondent writes: > Where can I get parchment paper? In my spell books, > at least three quarters of them require > parchment paper Most of what is marketed under the name "Parchment" or "Parchment Paper" is just textured paper, and so it is a fake. (That's why they call it "parchment PAPER.") Real parchment is made from animal skin; i have no qualms about using it, but is a little too pricey for most of my customers. Many folks in the hoodoo tradition will make use of unlined white paper that's never been used before -- for instance from a small memo pad. Back in the old days, i was also instructed on more than one occasion to use paper neatly torn from an unprinted brown paper grocery-type sack. One older woman told me "Tear it so that it is freshly-torn on all four sides. If there is no machine-cut edge on any side then that paper will be so pure that the angels could write on it." Also in the old days the low-income root workers i knew did not use any of these fancy so-called quill pens and Dragon's Blood Ink or Dove's Blood Ink, either. Folks in East Oakland in the 1960s told me to write all my name-papers, magical instructions, prayers, Psalms, seals, and wishes with a short #2 pencil that had *no eraser* on it. (This kind of pencil is sometimes called a "Bridge" pencil, as it is used for marking game-scores in Bridge.) The salient point was that the pencil had to have no eraser on it because an eraser could indicate that "you might go back on your wish." One spell i was taught back then (a love-drawing spell in three parts) called for writing on successive days with a pencil, a black-ink pen and a red-ink pen. The red ink was to draw sexual love. Regular ball-point pens were considered acceptable. © 1996 catherine yronwode ( see news:alt.lucky.w for discussions on folk magic and luck ============================================ PERSONAL ITEMS In performing a spell you may be asked to utilize the bodily concerns or personal items of someone other than yourself. Many people ask if one item can be substituted for another. Here is a list of personal items in descending order of strength, according to hoodoo folk magic: Genital fluids: menstrual blood, semen, vaginal fluid Other biological concerns: urine, feces, sweat, blood, spit Hair: pubic, head, armpit, beard Person's unwashed clothing: underwear, socks, handkerchief Person's foot track lifted from the dirt "Shed" body items: nail clippings, baby teeth Person's handwriting on paper Something Person owned Something Person touched Photo of Person Drawing or silhouette of Person Person's business card Person's full name written on paper 9 times These items can be used for good or for evil; all that is indicated here is the relative strength of the tokens that represent the person. Hope this helps! © 1998 catherine yronwode ( ============================================ SPELL KITS bigsexygav wrote: > > Do spell kits (like the ones sold at luckymojo) actually > work and have a good success rate? Spell kits (including the ones i sell, and others made up by folks like Papa Jim, Miller's Rexall, International Imports, etc.) fill a certain need, and it is this: They supply you with all the ingredients and with a form of rite or spell to use for a specific purpose. Often you can find a simpler spell, using fewer ingredients, if you take the time to research the subject. Over the years my own attitude toward spell kits has changed several times. When i was young, i went through a phase of using spell kits and then a phase of refusing to use them and considering them low-class and "fake." Later, after i knew a lot more about magic, i would be surprised to find that most of the kits i disparaged were right in line with the same sorts of spells found in any compendium; that is they contained no identifiable fakery or misapplication of magical principles. After i opened my store, i began to see their value to newbies, and then, eventually, as i sat down to write some myself, i saw what a great deal of research and planning goes into the creation of a good spell kit. Incidentally, i did not wish to sell spell kits when i first opened my online store, but my customers -- primarily my younger African-American customers -- asked for them, so i began to put them together. Are spell kits economically a good deal? It depends on the maker. First, remember always that for many spells, there are variants and if you want to get by with as little expense as possible, you can research until you find a simpler version using fewer ingredients and therefore entailing less monetary outlay. For example, most spell kits contain both a named "condition" bath-crystal or bath-liquid and a named "condition" oil. If you have a spell written out already, and if you are hard-up for money, you can just buy the "condition" oil, put a few drops in the bath-water and use the rest for dressing objects. You'll have saved about two dollars by not buying the bath product. But if you don;t have the spell written out, that won;t help you, because you'll not know what to do with your bath-water or what objects to dress with the oil. Second, I have seen some really inflated prices on spell kits -- where a manufacturer would sell you the same ingredients in the kits singly and if you bought them one by one you'd pay 10% - 20% less than the kit price. It's boring to go through a catalogue picking over prices, but sometimes it turns out to save you a bundle of cash. Third, on the other hand, some manufacturers, such as Lucky Mojo, offer a discount when you buy a kit. We total up the entire cost of all ingredients, add in the spell itself and the packaging and then subtract two dollars from the total price. There's also a phone number that you can call for "tech support" with any spell kit. (Sounds funny, but people call all the time asking for help.) Are spell kits effective? I think that if the spells themselves are logical and well rehearsed by the writer, they are generally as effective as spells worked from reading a book and spells taught individually by a mentor or family member. The slightly negative reputation that spell kits have among some members of the pagan, occult, and magical communities, is that newbies tend to use spell kits, and newbies tend to be less effective at magic. Also, working spells from kits will not TEACH you how to be a practicing magician. To use a cooking analogy, working spell kits is like cooking from frozen dinners or dried package-mixes -- the results may be fantastic, but no one would confuse you with a chef. The question of whether a mojo hand, spell kit, or other occult item is "guaranteed to bring in results" is one that i am often asked. As most hoodoo practitioners know, every supplier in this country sells their products as curios only, for legal reasons which i am sure everyone can appreciate. I can certainly go on record stating that we have had many customers provide us with feedback that they have had successful results with our spell kits, mojo bags, oils, candles, incenses, and other products -- but due to the nature of magic and the differentiation of attention and power among those who employ these spells, combined with the irregularity of feedback, we cannot be absolutely certain of their success rate. As for how magic works, one theory is that certain objects, including but not limited to natural curios such as roots, herbs, minerals, and animal parts, have within them a certain a-causal link to some realm of human endeavour, often by virtue of their shape, colour, size, or scent. Thus, to give two examples, violet leaves, which look like hearts, are used in love magic, and lodestones, which are natural magnetic rocks, are used to "draw" wealth, love, or luck to the holder. These operations may be carried out with or without reference to religious entities (gods, spirits, saints). An overlapping, but actually slightly different form of magic involved human-made artifacts -- amulets, lucky charms, talismans, and the like. These can be made by the magician him or herself but are often prepared for clients by a conjurer, craft-worker, or jeweler. Each culture (or social sub-culture) seems to have its own rules regarding the workings of magic, but many of these rules are found in more than one culture. For instance, ritual cleaning and bathing occurs in the magic of most cultures, including urban ceremonial magick (with a k) and Sicilian folk magic (without a k). But some forms of ritual or rule are not as widespread. For example, footprint or footstep magic (performing magical operations on others through use of their footprints, shoes, or by scattering material where they will step on it) is typically an African magical custom, which is found also in African-American magical practice. For most folk-magicians, symbology is very important, and it seems that faith, technical knowledge, precognitive intent, and emotional power fuels the belief in its effects. However, once the rules of each system of magic are internalized by the practitioner, a great deal of improvisation may be done for any given ritual or magical job of work. The mark of a good magician in his or her own school of magic is his or her ability -- to borrow an analogy from music -- to seemlessly improvise a tune within the chord structure of the system being used. What i tell my customers and clients is this: even if you use magic only to concentrate upon your desires and to pray, you will at least have clarified what it is you want. If it works for you, however, as it very often does, then you will not only have clarified your desires, you will have achieved them. Cordially, catherine yronwode Lucky Mojo Curio Co: The Lucky W Amulet Archive: check out news:alt.lucky.w for discussions on folk magic and luck © 1999 catherine yronwode (


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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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Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
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Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode
Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode
Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons in book form
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