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> If you want to do a spell to comfort [a sick friend], try 
> making a witch's ladder.
> Take a long blue cord or ribbon, and collect 7 symbols to
> hang from it -- things like grey feathers for protection
> during sleep, sprigs of healing herbs, garlic for healing
> and protection, small talismans, conjure bags, charms ...
> you get the idea. The important thing is that the symbols
> should represent comfort, protection, and healing. Tie
> them to the cord and charge it with comforting power.
> © 1999 blackbriar (

The "Witch's Ladder" charm-spell you describe -- 7 items on
a cord -- is very common in Latin American brujeria, where
it is called "sortilage." That word actually means something
more like casting lots or drawing straws, but that's what
they call it, and i'll explain why:

In Mexico, they make special sortilage candles with 7 little
charms in them -- usually tiny metal milagros depicting men,
women, children, flowers, hearts, and other devotionary
items. You buy a sortilage candle and burn it for 7 days and
every day a new charm comes out of the wax and you string it
onto a cord, knotting it in place as you go. When the 7 days
are up, you have created a special charmed cord! The word
"sortilage" makes sense in this context, because when you
buy the sortilage candle, you have no idea which 7 charms
will be cast inside it, so it is like drawing straws or
casting lots. But the name "sortilage" also applies to ANY
cord-charm made with 7 items on it.

© 1999 cat yronwode (



Here are a few random excerpts about breaking jinxes, taking off spells
and uncrossing, taken from Harry Middleton Hyatt's collection of hoodoo
oral histories, circa 1936 - 1940. The transliterated dialect is Hyatt's 
accurate attempt to transcribe regional accents; it is not racist in a 
hateful sense: 

1181: Dey use chicken feathers, dey say to take spells off people --
dappled, dese speckled feathers...if dere anybody  [has been]...root
worked or somethin' lak dat, yo bathe 'em down with that. Yo' cook dat
[the feathers] down in pure lard. 
[Fayetteviile, North Carolina; informant was a male root doctor]
1202: My mother, she was hoodooed at Miss S's house. I guess, if you
ever been up on Cherry Street, to old S's -- they was Jews -- but she
had a woman there named Tuley S. Well, my mother was a pastry cook --
she was making twelve dollars a week, but this other woman she didn't
like that 'cause she wasn't getting the money. But if she got rid of my
mother, that would be her job. She hoodoo her in her shoe. She put
something in her shoe, just poisoned her same as a rattesnake...[the
cure, performed for the mother by a root doctor, utilized beef gall]
[Vicksburg, Mississippi]

1204: ...If you was crossed, if you know that people have got you
crossed, that you can't be successful or nothing, you take [a] crab, the
whole crab, and you put him down in the fire and you parch him there,
but have it where you could get all that dust [ash] from him. Well you
get this crab [ash], and you get some sugar and hot water, and you
crumble that crab [ash] down in that. You pours your cayenne pepper down
in there with your salt...[thence follows a description of how to
ritually bathe in the crab ash/sugar/cayenne peppr/hot water mixture to
uncross yourself and dispose of the water. Hyatt notes: "This is a
reversing rite -- a crab moving backwards here uncrosses the cross."]
[New Orleans, Louisiana]

1209: If dey put somethin down fo yo tuh walk ovah, yo'll take devil's
shoe string. Yo know dat devil's shoe string...[thence follows a receipe
for uncrossing by tying devil's shoe string twigs on the leg for nine
days to stop the evil from rising up through the foot.]
[Waycross, Georgia] 

1221: If a person got chure foot track -- you live in de yard, de same
yard an' he take yore foot track out -- you go back in de house an de
same dirty water you wash in de dishpan, you throw it in de bottom of
yore shoes and throw it in yore track and back out de gate fer three
mawnings. Den dat person will turn loose yore foot track...[note the
reversal of the crossing by walking backwards; also, if i interpret this
correctly, it is not dish-washing water in the pan but bathing water.]
[Charleston, South Carolina]

Well, as you can see, i could fill pages with this stuff, but by now you
will have gotten the idea. 

For an explanatory web page about the Harry Hyatt oral histories of 
African-American hoodoo folk magic, with links to further spells, see

© 1999 catherine yronwode (



Try this spell to reverse any negativity or hexes being sent
your way.

Visualize all blocks in your life-path being removed.

Anoint a purple candle with Rosemary oil. On a piece of
white paper write the following in black ink:

     All blocks are now removed.
Fold the paper three times.

Light the candle and burn the paper in a bowl, ashtray, or
any fireproof dish. Invoke the power of fire and its
elemental spirits by repeating three times:

     Firedrakes and salamanders,
     aid me in my quest,
     protect me from all evil forms,
     turn back the negativity being sent.
After the third reptition say: 

     So mote it be.

© 1998 witchwoman (



The 37th Psalm is used for all types of uncrossing, unjinxing,
unhexing, and generally doing away with the work or "tricks"
that others have placed upon one. 

Here is a very simple spell using this Psalm in the hoodoo tradition:

Two small white offertory candles are lit. The practitioner
stands between them, and bathes with clear rain water, spring
water, or tap water to which tears have been added while
reciting the Psalm. If you customarily burn incense while 
reciting Psalms, it should be 7-11 Holy Type, or Blessing, 
or Frankincense Resin.

Here is the Psalm, for your convenience:


Psalm 37

1: Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious
against the workers of iniquity.

2: For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the
green herb.

3: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and
verily thou shalt be fed.

4: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires
of thine heart.

5: Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring
it to pass.

6: And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy
judgment as the noonday.

7: Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself
because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who
bringeth wicked
devices to pass.

8: Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to
do evil.

9: For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD,
they shall inherit the earth.

10: For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt
diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

11: But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves
in the abundance of peace.

12: The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his

13: The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.

14: The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to
cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright

15: Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall
be broken.

16: A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many

17: For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth
the righteous.

18: The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance
shall be for ever.

19: They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of
famine they shall be satisfied.

20: But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as
the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume

21: The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous
sheweth mercy, and giveth.

22: For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that
be cursed of him shall be cut off.

23: The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth
in his way.

24: Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD
upholdeth him with his hand.

25: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

26: He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

27: Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.

28: For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are
preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

29: The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

30: The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh
of judgment.

31: The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.

32: The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.

33: The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is

34: Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to
inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

35: I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a
green bay tree.

36: Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he
could not be found.

37: Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that
man is peace.

38: But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the
wicked shall be cut off.

39: But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their
strength in the time of trouble.

40: And the LORD shall help them and deliver them: he shall deliver them
from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.


For more about the use of Psalms in hoodoo, see the Secrets
of the Psalms web page at


catherine yronwode (


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