An Aggressive Stop Gossip Spell (and some “hoodoo theory”)

This is a lot more trouble than you will usually need to go to.  But I will often advise clients that a formula is warranted in their case, and that candle work is warranted in their case, and so they can work by dressing a candle with oil.  They will often then write back and say "but what spell do I do," thinking, I suppose, that setting a dressed light is not a spell.

Setting a dressed light is a spell.  And setting a dressed light can be extremely effective.  Conjure is not like some ceremonial magic where you have to do a series of complicated actions and speak other languages and do things on a certain day at a certain time.  Just light the darned candle and pray your butt off, seriously.  Some folks make it harder than it has to be.  If you want to use moon phases and days of the week and chants that rhyme, fine, but you don't have to, and not every professional worker does.

But if you want a more complicated spell with multiple moving parts, here's one. Don't ask me what to do if you can't get or don't want to work with animal parts – my advice will be "you aren't trying hard enough" for the first objection and "well, then, light a dressed candle" or "do a google search for stop gossip hoodoo" for the second.  This is "bigger guns" than most cases need, but I figured I'd type it up since I performed it for a client recently, and I feel like I owe a non-complaining, informative post after all that lecturing I was doing ūüôā

This is not the Court Case Beef Tongue spell, so won't worry about how you're going to tie the tongue back together after you shred it to pieces, or if you want to eat it after you put alum on it – you aren't going to do any of this stuff.

You need:

  • appropriate oil like Tapa Boca, Shut Your Mouth, STFU, Binding, etc. (not all Stop Gossip oils are suitable) – see below)*
  • target's personal concern, photo, and/or name paper
  • black candle and holder if needed
  • airline-sized bottle of whiskey
  • alum or aloes powder
  • red pepper flakes or hot sauce
  • knotgrass or devil's shoe string
  • some worms, or if you can manage it and stand it, some maggots or flesh-eating beetles
  • a beef tongue (larger), sheep tongue (smaller), or other animal tongue (ox tongue would work)
  • a razor blade, box cutter, or extremely sharp knife
  • a dish or saucer large enough to hold the tongue

Dress your candle.  Light your dressed candle.  (You can carve a petition on it ahead of time if you like – the emphasis should be on the slanderer rather than you. If you want to work a "protect me" petition, see below, at the end of this post. This is not a "protect me" spell.) 

As you set the candle in the holder, say:
"See what they spew from their mouths–they spew out swords from their lips, and they say, "Who can hear us?"" 

Light the candle and say:
"I can hear you, and the Lord God my protector can hear you.  I can see you, and your heart is transparent to me."

Set the personal concerns in the dish or saucer.  Say:
"I see who devises evil plans in their hearts and stirs up war every day."

Baptize the tongue, using the whiskey to sprinkle it and baptize it in the name of your target.  (Don't be a baby – if you are afraid to touch it, you shouldn't be doing this spell.)  Hold it in your hand, sprinkle it with whiskey with your other hand, and baptize it "name", saying "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [Name] I call you, [name] you are to me, and what I tell you, you, [name,] will do."

Lay the tongue in the dish atop the concerns and douse it liberally with whiskey.  Say "No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence."

Take your blade and make slow, deep, deliberate, precise cuts along the length of the tongue. You can match up a cut for each sentence or phrase below, or you can just slowly recite the whole while cutting.  (If you think you need or want more things to say, consult Psalm 37 and Psalm 35 for ideas; just about every phrase in this spell comes from the Bible and most from the Psalms – the Bible contains some of the more ancient and powerful curses that have been preserved in writing.  Just don't choose passages that are about the Lord as shepherd for this spell – you want good old-fashioned Old Testament smiting here).

"I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts–men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Not a word from their mouths can be trusted; their hearts are filled with destruction.  I destroy their iniquity.  I seize the weapon of my enemy.  Your throat is an open grave; with your tongue you speak deceit. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue for lies. But I see through your lies, and the Lord God my protector sees through your lies.  Your tongue plots destruction; it is like the sharpest razor, you who practice deceit.  I curse the whisperer and deceiver, for you have destroyed many who were at peace."

At this point you should have a whole bunch of long, deep slits in the tongue.  It's ok if it is still mostly held together and just looks shredded – it's also ok if you have cut clean through and you have more than one piece now.  (This may depend on the tongue you have and your cutting implement, in other words – a box cutter will not do a quick, clean job on a six-pound cow's tongue.  But it doesn't have to be "just so" – it just needs to be cut up well and good so it would be useless as a muscle.)

Take your herbs and sprinkle them liberally all over the tongue. If you have done the job right, you won't even have to try to get them into the cuts and slits, but you aren't aiming just for the cuts and slits – get your herbs all over it.  As you are sprinkling, say:

"Now I am the sharpest razor, because I am able to cut all evildoers away from me.  I am the strongest sword, because I remove all liars from my presence, and the Lord God my protector punishes your iniquity.  Each day you did unrighteousness with your tongue and were greedy for the blood of the innocent. Now you are dumb and wounded by your own sins.  You pay with your body the recompense for the evil deeds you worked with your tongue." 

Sprinkle the worms or other critters on the tongue, saying:
"Worms shall chew you.  Your tongue is burst open, your teeth divided, your jaws split apart, your throat torn open in the grave that it has become through your deeds.  Your sinews are broken and your tongue is shredded by the worms that thirst for your blood."

Disposal depends on a few factors.  I am a big fan of the old-fashioned method of leaving the ritual remains on the target's property, in which case I might just leave the entire saucer on their doorstep or under their porch, or maybe under a bush in their yard, or I might skip the saucer and hide the tongue in a tree on the property (in which case I might pin or nail any papers or concerns to the tongue first).  If this might get you arrested, however, you can bury it in a cemetery or in the woods (and even do a little funeral ceremony over it – if you want to get fancy, and you are seriously okay with killing work, you can even do a Vigil for the Dead prior to this. Again, this is totally beyond what most cases call for and is not going to be justified in every case – I'm describing a case that was far more serious than usual. The worm thing makes most sense in these cases, since burial enacts the retribution you are describing in the spoken part of the spell. Yes, worms will find it on their own eventually if you bury it, but I wouldn't skip that part just because it required a trip to a specialty pet shop if I were a city-dweller).

Alternately, the more neutral disposal option would be at a crossroads.

Even when work like this is justified, spiritual cleansing afterwards is still recommended.

* I personally advise starting with Stop Gossip work before going as far as a spell like this – mojos, sprinkling powders around your workplace and bathing with Stop Gossip bath, etc.  Even if you do resort to this spell, it's a good idea to pair this work with a protective bath or mojo for yourself, like Stop Gossip.  The difference is that the target for the above spell is the gossiper, while the target for a Stop Gossip bath or mojo is you – you are applying protective elements to yourself in the case of a bath, and those ingredients are designed to get gossip to bounce or slide off you when you carry the bag or bathe in the mixture.  So needless to say, the ingredients for this spell and for a Stop Gossip mojo or bath are not entirely the same. 

Here you are not using slippery elm bark or the like because it's not a protective spell to guard you – it's an active, destructive spell to stop a gossiper. It's presumably justified, and you are presumably free from the sin of slander yourself (if you're not, then don't tempt fate by asking God to smite your slanderer), but you aren't working on yourself here.  You are not the target.  See the difference? Some traditional conjure formulas "work" on two targets, in two "directions," at the same time, like I Can You Can't and Commanding and Court Case, which have stuff in them to work on your success AND make your competition or enemy trip up.  But not all do, and I just want to make sure nobody uses the above ingredient list to make up a stop-gossip bath for themselves, or thinks a Stop Gossip oil is necessarily going to have devil's shoe string in it.  Most Stop Gossip products out there today have protective elements in them and are designed for you to use on yourself, and so they may not be what you want here. Some Stop Gossip spells work in two directions at once, to protect you and to silence your enemy. Some have elements of reversing rather than outright binding.  But not all do.  When in doubt, ask your supplier whether their oil is suitable for what you have in mind. 

ETA: The Ninjacat has an example of a Stop Gossip spell that is a bit less aggressive (though certainly not from the "turn the other cheek" school of spellwork!) – and it's also an example of a spell that clearly delineates its "directionality," if you know what you're reading for/looking at when you read it.  It is a Stop Gossip spell, yes, but it's not of the same variety as other Stop Gossip spells which also target you as part of the whole framework, versus being aimed solely at the gossiper.  See the difference?  You don't mix up alum and pepper and dust yourself with it.  Note: I don't like to link to blogs or sites or posts when I am trying to make a point about how something is wrong or misleading, because – well, that's verging over into gossip territory! But if you do a search for stop gossip spells, you will likely find one  that says to use cloves, chia seeds, alum, and slippery elm I think, all powered together, to stop gossip.  If you don't know what you're doing, you might come away from this with the idea that both cloves and alum should be filed under "Stop Gossip herbs."  Then you might be surprised later, and confused, to find a spell calling for cloves to be used in friendship or affection.  (Follow the tags for an old post about a similar issue that crops up with sulphur, because people have got it in their heads that sulphur is for driving people away, and this results in even not-neophyte-workers getting confused when they come across an old deep South spell calling for sulphur to bring customers to a fish fry or sidewalk sale.  Such things have caused some folks to decide that a certain Hyatt informant was wrong, or confused, or lying to Hyatt, when in fact, the modern, suspicious reader just has the wrong conceptual categories in his or her head.)  Can cloves be used in Stop Gossip work? Sure!  But it's not because "it's an herb that stops gossip" in the same way that alum does.  Can sulphur be used in Goofering work? Sure! But it's not because "it's for driving people away" as such.

This distinction is often lost on "new converts" to hoodoo, who get the basic idea ("this is to stop gossip") but not the theory or directionality behind the work ("who is the target?") – and sometimes they will advise putting a traditional Stop Gossip formula on a target's belongings to *make them shut up.*  I don't recommend this in most cases – I don't think Slippery Elm bark is a very strong deterrent of backbiting itself, but rather protective so that the effects of gossip slide off of you.   Very often, Stop Gossip is the right approach in the workplace or in a large group of friends or family anyway, since gossip spreads and breeds among and within groups, and stopping one person will not usually stop the problem, just as stopping them from gossiping about you will not usually cure them of gossiping altogether – they'll just find somebody else to talk about.

But this issue of directionality is why you yourself bathe with Stop Gossip bath salts, but why Tapa Boca soap is usually slipped into the company washroom so *other people* will use it, as a sneaky trick.  It all depends on what the ingredients in the formula are supposed to be doing, what "direction" they are supposed to be working in.  Often, it is a good idea to work in more than one "direction," with the "carrot and stick" approach, to sweeten your enemies in general but also put the spiritual choke-collar on them so you can yank a knot in their ass when they overstep their bounds – but often (not always) you need to do this as two distinct workings.  (Commanding alone does not always work like we want – in fact, it backfires on some folks, which is why I think many people are too quick to apply Commanding elements to their typical love situations, but that is another post.)

Magic takes the path of least resistance – if you can *get your target to want to do what you want them do,* that is going to be more successful work than forcing them to do something where they are fighting you every step of the way.  So when Hot Foot isn't working, the next step should often be Attraction work (to draw a new, exciting opportunity that your target cannot resist, so they go happily) instead of busting out all the DUME and Plagues of Egypt work.  Same with Commanding work in love – if you are not wrapping them around your little finger with your Follow Me work, then stop focusing on controlling their every thought, word and deed (which is not usually going to work anyway), and focus instead on working on you – boost your sex appeal, glamor, communication, passion, and general aura of "I am Irresistible and Awesome."  You draw more flies with honey etc.  It's often a better use of your time, money, and energy than is inventing new ways to get licorice root into their food, or in trying a new spell to tie their nature. 

I know not everybody shares my view on this sort of thing and people often want what they want, but I'm not just speaking as someone who wouldn't want a relationship if that relationship had to be maintained through coercive magic being constantly applied, or as somebody who would not sic the Intranquil Spirit on somebody I actually loved.  I am also speaking as a rootworker who has seen hundreds and hundreds of cases and has gotten a pretty fair idea of what tends to work and what does not.  I *will* do all kinds of "heavy" work, IF it's justified AND if it looks like it will ultimately benefit the client, even if it is not work I would undertake for myself if I were in the client's shoes.  But the "heaviest" work is not always the most effective work, and with some of that "heavy" work, it does not always ultimately benefit the client even it is wildly successful.  But that, I suppose, is also another post!

name papers and “crossed writing”

I sometimes get questions about how to make name papers, especially of the "turn the paper and write your name crosswise over the target’s" varieties.

A while back, I took a photo of what such a sample paper might look like, and I’ve been meaning to post it.  My impetus for doing so today is that in unrelated work, I found a digital copy of an 1832 letter to Mary Custis Lee from her aunt that illustrates on a larger scale exactly this sort of writing.  The digital archive of which it’s a part describes the letter thus:

The letter is an example of a "crossed" letter, meaning that it was written in one direction, rotated, and then written cross-wise to save paper. Sometimes the respondents would write across the original letter and send it back. See also a letter in the collection from Robert E. Lee to his children.

 

The letter has nothing to do with conjure per se, but it’s just pretty darned cool and I wanted to share it.  You can see the full letter here, at I Remain: A Digital Archive of Letters, Manuscripts, and Ephemera.

Anyway, here’s the sample "crossed names" name paper I made to upload:

ugh, I forgot to rotate the photo.  But you get the idea.

Product “Instructions”: Dressing Candles, Skin Safety, Powders

I have been resisting writing this post for a long time, and I’ll tell you why. In part, it’s because there is already so much information easily available out there¬† that my writing anything is redundant. Furthermore, there are tons of ways to use oils, and my giving “instructions” is akin to my giving instructions on how to wash your hair: seriously, dab the oil on something. Those are the instructions.

The details are up to you, how complicated you get is up to you, what object you rub the oil on is up to you. People use oils to dress candles, amulets, charms, pakets, mojo bags, stuffed animals, talismans, jewelry, pets, their own hair: the list goes on and on. See, when people ask me for instructions, what they are actually asking for usually is a *spell,* whether they realize that’s what they’re asking for or not. And they don’t think lighting a fixed, dressed candle with intent counts as a “spell,” so they’re asking for something more complex. Well, there are thousands of those out there free for the searching, and I unfortunately just can’t give out free spell advice to all queries or I’d be out of business fast.

But lots of people ask me for instructions, and some get upset with me when I tell them that my oils don’t come with instructions. But I tell them they can visit my blog for ideas and resources. So here you go: a post on how to use condition oils.

Dressing candles

I personally use a method similar to that outlined in¬†Henri Gamache’s¬†Master Book of Candle Burning. Not all rootworkers do this – there is more than one way to skin a cat. But this is what I do. In this book, which you can get very inexpensively and which is a good investment if you are interested in candle-burning magic, Gamache outlines a theory of “polarity” for candles.

Imagine your candle has a North pole (the top) and a South pole (the bottom). Gamache recommends that candles be dressed by rubbing the oil from the center of the candle to the North pole, and then the center of the candle to the South pole. He writes, “the candle is never rubbed in both directions toward both poles.”

Now, here is where my methods (and the methods of some other rootworkers) change a bit. When I’m dressing a candle with oils for the purposes of drawing some influence, I rub the oil from the North pole (wicked end) to the center, so that I’m rubbing towards my body as I’m holding the candle in my hand. Then, I turn the candle so the wick is facing me, and then I rub from the end with no wick to the center. Since I”ve turned the candle, I’m still rubbing *towards* me. And I’ve gone from top to center and then bottom to center with my dressing.

When I’m dressing a candle to get rid of an influence, I reverse this process, dressing from center to wicked end, then turning the candle, and then dressing from center to non-wicked end.¬† Since I turn the candle, I’m always rubbing *away* from myself.

When I’m dressing a vigil or glass-encased candle, I go clockwise to draw/attract and counter-clockwise to “banish”/”get rid of”/repel.

Do you have to do it this way? No. There are other theories and other practices. But it’s what I personally do.

Some sites that discuss ways to use condition oils:

Dr. E on how to use condition oils (note that his method of dressing candles is slightly different, but equally valid)

cat yronwode at Lucky Mojo on condition oils

sources for candle-dressing philosophies at the Lucky Mojo forums (see? many ways to skin a cat)

Oils and Skin Safety – a very very very frequently asked question

I make ritual oils, not cosmetics. My products are designed for use on altar implements and talismans and the like, and to anoint objects and candles. They are not labeled or sold as cosmetics and I cannot possibly assure anyone that they won’t be allergic to any of the ingredients.

You see, there are laws about labeling cosmetics and body products and there are issues of skin safety with essential oils, as well. If you buy a condition oil or conjure formula that advertises itself as wearable/for use on skin and it is not labeled in accordance with FDA and INCI guidelines/nomenclature, then depending on how it’s made and how your seller is describing and marketing it, your seller could be headed for trouble for not abiding by the labeling laws designed to protect consumers.¬†

Yes, lots of people put them on their skin. Yes, it’s quite traditional to do so, and if you have a truly traditional formula, it’s unlikely to cause problems unless you have an allergy to an ingredient, because traditional dressing oils were made with dilution levels for skin safety in mind. (A lot of them were actually derived from perfume formulas to begin with.) But that doesn’t mean you should go buying hoodoo oils and wearing them as personal scents willy-nilly.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but makers of hoodoo oils have mushroomed exponentially over the last 10 years and you cannot swing a cat now without hitting somebody selling Van Van and Hot Foot. Hoodoo has gotten really trendy. But a lot of these people learned hoodoo from books and many never saw or smelled an old-school, traditional hoodoo formula made before, say, 2000 (and in some cases, they never saw or smelled one period before they started making their own).

These folks will have no idea what the old-school formulas that tended to be made at skin-safe strengths by default even smelled like. And if they bring a penchant for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab into this with them, or for Bath and Body Works, you could be getting absolutely anything when you get that bottle. No way in hell would I slather some random oil with no ingredients list from somebody who is an unknown quantity on my body. How do I know if they even know what bergaptene is? How do I know if they made this oil formula with the usual ingredients or if they’ve innovated, and so how do I even know how to check for skin safety? Uh-uh.

This is why my candles and bath/body products that contain no artificial fragrances often do not have as strong a scent as mass-produced, widely-available products that use fragrance oils – not all essential oils are safe for you to use in the quantity I’d have to put in there in order for it to smell like an artificially fragranced item would smell. Others are safe but not affordable in that quantity, or would interfere with a candle’s ability to burn properly/safely, for example.

So don’t expect your conjure stuff to smell like perfume necessarily – if it’s made only with essential oils, it probably won’t smell like anything from Bath and Body Works. That richly scented stuff almost always uses at least some fragrance or cosmetic oils, if only to make the scent last or to make the candle “throw” the scent.

But seriously, even if you are getting oils from somebody you know is making them traditionally and who has been around a while, you still shouldn’t think of them as perfumes. You anoint with them selectively rather than spritzing them all over. And you should always do a skin test for any new bottle even if you’ve used the formula before, because like wine vintages, every “crop” of essential oils can be slightly different.

I don’t care *who* makes it. Basically, if it’s not labeled/tested as a body product, use your head before using it on your body. And please do not fall prey to the myth that “synthetics are bad for you and natural things are good for you.” That is way oversimplified. Essential oils can poison you, and you can be allergic to them. Herbs and oils are powerful and must be respected. “Natural” does not mean “hypoallergenic.” “Natural” does not mean “harmless.” Arsenic and botulinum toxin are “natural” too.

So now that I made you wade through all that, you still want to wear the dang condition oils, yeah? I’d advise you to do some research on body-safe dilution levels for essential oils. Most “make your own herbal shampoo” type sites will give rough guidelines, though they will always vary depending on the actual oils in question and your own skin sensitivity. But they’ll give you some valuable info to use going forward. Some scents you could practically bathe in and others you need to be much more careful with. It’s smart to know which are which. And you should always do a skin patch allergy test (as you would before using a hair coloring product) because new allergies can develop.

As many conjure oils contain ingredients that can cause photosensitivity, you should never slather them on skin that will be in direct sunlight. Traditional conjure oils are not used this way, anyway; they are used for anointing, not as cologne or aftershave. Anointing means, for instance, that lightly-oiled hands are applied to the crown of the head for Crown of Success anointing, or on the forehead for Consecration, or on the temples for Memory Drops, stuff like that. In other words, they are applied in small amounts to ritually significant parts of the body, by getting the oil on the hands and then using the hands to apply/anoint, in ritual settings. They are not poured onto the skin.

You definitely don’t need to use gloves to use my oils (though I would not want to leave my hands unwashed for long if I were using hot foot or hexing oils; otherwise, just keep them away from eyes, mouth, etc). I use my own hands to make all my products, and to dress my clients’ candles and amulets with, and I’ve been doing so nearly daily for many years, so I don’t make my oils with anything known to be toxic when used as directed. I just don’t make them to be cosmetics or, God forfend, personal lubricants (and I have to say so, officially, because you would not BELIEVE some of the things people do sometimes – putting hoodoo oils on body parts where the skin is *way* too sensitive – which can land you in the emergency room with a really embarrassing problem — or putting powders into people’s food and stuff, just stuff that doesn’t make any sense). I have to try to head that stuff off at the pass and make it really clear.

A good (though very general and not hard-and-fast) rule of thumb is that if it smells of citrus, you should probably keep skin dressed with it out of direct sunlight. If it smells strongly of cinnamon or spice, you should probably keep it away from sensitive areas/mucous membranes and be extra careful about the skin patch test. If it smells minty, keep it away from your mouth and your children. Cinnamon essential oil can cause chemical burns, so use on skin with extra care. Wintergreen essential oil has beneficial and therapeutic uses when used in appropriate amounts by a trained qualified practitioner, but it’s not impossible to hit toxic levels of wintergreen when you’re talking about absorption through the skin, especially if you are also using over-the-counter remedies for things like arthritis, muscle aches, and the like.

Will wearing Red Fast Luck oil on your skin burn the piss out of you, or kill you if you’ve used Icy Hot the same day? Maybe not, but why take the risk, especially if you don’t know your condition oil manufacturer to be a person who designs it specifically for dermal application? Once you start adding various sources of dermal absorption, esp. in the form of products not designed for medicinal or therapeutic dermal use, it’s pretty hard to measure the amount you’re absorbing. (For a taste of how complicated it can be to measure dermal oil absorption, have a look at this discussion which starts generally and moves on to discuss eucalyptus, pennyroyal, and wintergreen in particular).

Icy Hot was made in a lab according to standards of safety for dermal use; Fast Luck oil was not. And chances are good that your hoodoo oil supplier, like¬† me, is not an aromatherapist or medical herbalist. They make condition oils, not medicines. Now if you’ve got one you trust and you wear their oils, great! Good for you. I just want to encourage people to be cautious because some folks don’t actually know what they’re doing when it comes to oils and skin safety, and some aren’t aware that there are laws about this stuff that they’re breaking due to the way they advertise their products.

Powders

The point of my hoodoo powders is to let you deploy the desired formula in ways that need powder for deploying. They are designed for things like sprinkling in your target’s foot tracks or on the path they take to the parking lot so they’ll get it on their shoes, dusting an object or area where liquid dispersal would be impractical or attract too much attention, drawing sigils and symbols on flat surfaces, discreet dispersal in a larger area by blowing, leaving small discreet pinches in pockets, shoes, corners, and other appropriate places, fitting a multi-herb formula into a small space like a flat packet or toby, dusting papers or your hands before contact, things like that. It is traditional to call your target’s name, and/or murmur your petition or pray, as you deploy them.¬†

They will not hurt you if you put them on your skin, but they aren’t cosmetics, aren’t made in accordance with cosmetic industry guidelines for ingredients or labeling, are not talcum-based, and will be grittier/coarser than talcum-based powders.¬† They have actual powdered herbs in them, and if you think about it for a second you will realize that actual powdered leaves and stems often don’t make good cosmetics.

So if you are expecting a powder that is as finely ground as a cosmetic and that will make your skin really smooth, you will be disappointed with my powders. Some people do make talcum-based powders, which are quite traditional; it’s my non-talcum powders that are actually the less traditional version, but I have health reasons for not using talcum or making products with talcum.¬†

They also aren’t sold as “pure herbal powders.” Traditional hoodoo powders have never been 100% herbal material – that’s a thing from European traditions or 20th century innovation or something. There are reasons why they’re made like they’re made, and it’s 100% bullshit that pure herbal powders are “better” – they’re different things that do different jobs. Powder that is made only of ground-up herbs tends to be too expensive to use in the traditional ways, a lousy carrier/absorber of essential oils, and more difficult to camouflage, just for starters.

For the truly old-school and/or purists among you, I do incorporate mineral elements whenever possible even though I don’t use talcum — and yes, this is another element of hoodoo powders not having ever been 100% herbal material. Mineral ingredients are often very important to hoodoo/conjure “recipes” and for some formulas, a powder without the mineral ingredients is no longer a hoodoo formula as it has missed one of the major, critical points. This is yet another reason you need to learn the traditions before you start trying to innovate – before you have internalized the traditions, you won’t even know what all you don’t know and you might be imposing a very ill-fitting paradigm onto hoodoo products that essentially takes all the power out of them.

I usually incorporate mica powders to address necessary mineral components that would have been handled with talcum traditionally, but since these powders are *not* designed to draw attention to themselves, I don’t overdo it, and you probably won’t be able to tell just by glancing at them. But I made my changes from tradition advisedly and with care towards preserving the underlying principles of traditional conjure formulation while avoiding unnecessary health risks from talcum.

Hoodoo condition oils are never meant to be consumed, and while few people would think to eat them, they often don’t think quite enough about what they do with conjure products. Hoodoo powders are generally not designed for putting in food or drink – use powdered herbs for this, not conjure powder formulas designed for sprinkling, dusting, blowing, or drawing designs. And if you want your lover to put his or her mouth somewhere,¬†use products that are designed for that sort of thing.¬† You can pray over them and add things to them, and that’s more likely to end up being fun and not involve a hospital visit than is risking using a condition oil as a personal lubricant.

Read more about powders and their history at Powders in Hoodoo: Theory, History, Contemporary Differences in Perspective and Region, aka ‚Äútwo rootworkers have a (polite, respectful, and interesting) argument.‚ÄĚ Bonus history lesson on 18th century hairstyles and hygiene in the comments.

dressing novena lights

These didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but we’ll see if this works.

People ask me about dressing novenas sometimes – they’ll have problems because their candles won’t burn, or they aren’t sure how much oil to use, or how much plant/herb matter, or whatever.  So I thought I’d try to show y’all what i do.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but this works for me.

When I’m dressing a novena light, I use a chopstick to poke three holes in the wax around the wick.  Yes, that’s a big hole.  No, it won’t go all the way to the bottom.  It’s ok.

You can’t really see all of them here, ’cause I’ve already sprinkled some herbs and oil and glitter and they are slightly obscured, but you get the idea.

After I do this, I put bits of herbs and curios into the holes.  Anything chunky or that isn’t quite a powder that needs to be added goes into the holes.  Use something to poke herbs down into the hole if they don’t want to go, or else they’ll escape when you do the next bit:  Then I drizzle some oil around the top, making sure it gets into the holes.  I then cover the surface with oil by rubbing it with my finger, clockwise or counterclockwise as appropriate for the work. 

Finally, whatever herbs are in powder, or close-to-powder, form, then get sprinkled lightly on the top of the oiled surface.  I especially like to use powdered resins when I need to add resins.  A powdered frankincense will keep your candle from hitting a lump of resin as it burns, which might go up by itself with a separate flame and/or blacken the glass.

A sprinkle of glitter – I recommend the really fine, expensive stuff instead of the chunky kindergarten stuff, if you can get it – finishes the dressing.  Do not overdo it!

See? Just a light, fairly even dusting will do ya’ right.  I probably go heavier on the oil than many folks, but if you poke holes, it shouldn’t be a problem.  My lights hardly ever drown, and don’t need a lot of poking and tending the first few days in general.  Go light on the herbs to avoid unexpected conflagrations, and invest in powdered herbs if you’re not the mortar and pestle (or coffee grinder) type, or if you need to use a lot of woody stuff like John the Conqueror root, which you’re better off hitting with a hammer than trying to powder by hand.

Sometimes wicks are bad, or there are air pockets or problems within the candle itself – these novena candles are mass produced – I don’t pour my own.  But if you poke holes and avoid dropping huge chunks of woody herbs and resins into your candle, you should have nice, clean-burning dressed novena lights.  (Sometime when I have a chance I’ll explain how oil prices interfered with etymology, and why novena lights, which ought to burn for nine days, usually only burn for about 5 in this day and age.  I’m conflating novenas and 7 day candles here, not because I’m not aware of the difference – or what differences there used to be – but because for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t really matter).

What if you need to fix a candle that is not made of the soft wax novenas are usually made of, but is made of harder paraffin?  The Ninja Cat shows you one way here.

Happy hoodooing!

FAQs – spellbooks? using oils? and how long will candles take to work?

Q: A customer asks how long a candle will take to work, how to use the oil s/he bought, and whether a spellbook is necessary to do hoodoo.

A:¬†There is no way I can answer a question about how long a candle is going to take to work – it depends on the situation. If you are lighting a single votive candle for a million dollar lottery win, I’d be pretty surprised if it ever worked. If you are lighting it as part of a larger and continuing working to improve your business, you should generally see some signs of positive movement within a month or so if the spellwork you’re doing is going to work, or else you ought to adjust the way you’re working or get a reading.¬† A sign might be an omen, or just an increase in foot traffic even if you haven’t seen the sales at the level you like yet, or an offer from somewhere for some good word of mouth or low-cost advertising – some sign that things are moving in the desired direction.¬† (See the comments section for some sage words: it’s probably not going to be the hand of God writing a message to you in the fog of your bathroom mirror.¬† If that happens, please call me.¬† I would like to hire you.)¬†

If you see nothing, it’s time to adjust fire. If you’re burning candles to change a very longstanding situation, though, or work towards something huge like the sale of a home, a month just might not be long enough. There are too many variables in anybody’s case for anybody to be able to tell you how long a candle burning will take to work, or even if it will. Spellwork just doesn’t work like that, and you’ll probably find that many rootworkers will say they do their work but are always careful to phrase things “if it be God’s will.”¬†

If all you’ve done is have a light set for you, and you and your worker have not gone over your situation and how it got the way it got in any depth, and/or your worker has not read on the situation for you, then a few words of caution may be order:

“How long will this candle take to work” is a nearly impossible question for me to answer before the candle burns, without having done a reading for you and without having any background on how things got like this and without knowing what other spellwork you are doing.¬† A one day light setting that burns for a few hours is not going to change a long-standing situation all that much by itself, in many cases, and certainly not quickly.¬† Most of my clients who order one day taper or votive settings do so to have them set three times a week for several weeks running, on a honey jar or sour jar, or else to be offered as thanks¬† to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, saints, angels, spirits, etc. for favors granted.¬† One-day light settings (or, more often, vigil lights) are often used as backup work or kick-starts to other types of spellwork being done by the client, or perhaps spiritual baths being done by the client, as the rootworker “backs up” the work or baths on his or her altars.¬†

However, keep in mind that candle burning spells often report on themselves and give you information about what you can expect; any indications like this that come through in the burning would be reported on upon its completion.¬† So the candle both influences the situation AND reports on the situation.¬† Here’s some description from one of my eBay listings:

The burning candle will be “read” and reported on via a process known as ceromancy.¬†

What the heck is ceromancy?

When rootworkers and spirit workers burn candles for client petitions, we pay attention to how the candle burns.  Does it burn faster than usual?  Does it sputter?  What do the shapes in the wax tell us?  Does the flame blacken the glass?  These signs tell us something about how the work is going to go and what conditions are surrounding the situation.  Ceromancy is the reading of the wax, and by extension, of the process of the candle-burning itself.

This listing is three-part.

Step one: Order your candle burning service.  You must include your name and DOB and at least a few words about the situation you would like a candle burned for, so I know how to make the name papers or petition, which colors to choose and which oils and herbs to use to anoint the candle, and what to watch for.  Your candle is dressed with appropriate oils and herbs, blessed, and burned on the appropriate altar.

Please allow me to select your candle color and/or type in consultation with you for appropriate saints, specific tricks, etc as I work within the traditions of Southern-style conjure and rootwork; color correspondences from other traditions, such as Wicca, often do not apply.  Some typical options:

  • St. Joseph candle for things relating to the home
  • St. Expedite candle for luck in a hurry
  • Five Finger Grass candle for success in anything you do with your hands
  • Uncrossing candle for removal of negative junk in your life
  • Money Drawing candle for, well, money drawing
  • Road Opener candle for removing obstacles

Step two: Your candle burns.  I read the burning.  The commercially available seven day candles typically burn for 5-7 days but may burn longer or shorter.

Step three: I send you an email report of observations and a photo of your light in progress, after ritually disposing of your spell remains in an appropriate manner.  

Here’s what a candle burning service is good for:

– attracting love, luck, money, business, friendship, etc into your life
– banishing unwanted influences
– working to get rid of troublesome people
– dedicating a new resolution and blessing it (such as the commencement of a new job or diet program)
– blessing for new home or baby
– attracting
– calling on the aid of a saint or spirit

Here’s what a report might indicate:

– working and situation are favorable
– further work is advised
– there is competition or spiritual interference
– one person is more interested than the other in reconciliation
– results will be quicker than anticipated

Here is what a candle wax reading is NOT going to tell you:

– on what date will I meet the person of my dreams?
– what color hair will my next lover have?
– what kind of car should I buy?
– should i take job x or y?

Often a light setting will indicate that more work is advised, though just as often it will indicate favorable influences.¬† This is NOT a scam and I will never send you your report with a note that says “You are cursed miserably; you must pay me a thousand dollars to have your aura cleansed.”¬† (You should run away from anybody who who responds like that.)¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

THIS SERVICE BOTH CALLS WHAT YOU DESIRE INTO A SITUATION *AND* REPORTS ON THE INFLUENCES SURROUNDING THAT CALLING.  However, it is first and foremost a candle spell; if you are seeking in-depth information on your situation, you will want to book a reading or consultation instead of this service, or in addition to this service.  The candle wax reading reports on the present and future of the situation for which the candle is being burned, and it reports on its own success and/or any obstacles it encounters in the process.

ETA: the Ninja Cat has a post talking about signs that is well worth a read.¬† Scroll down to the “let the sign find them” part.

Regarding how to use a product: 

I don’t send instructions for anything that doesn’t say it comes with instructions (and that’s mostly just bath salts, as lighting a candle is fairly self-explanatory, but taking a spiritual bath isn’t). There are as many ways to use these items as there are people using them.

For candles, generally people carve their names and petitions on them, unless they set them on photos or name papers, or unless they affix photos to the candle itself. But beyond that – fancy altars, no altars, saints, no saints, powders, no powders, one day burn right through, burn a bit for seven days – the possibilities are nearly endless. My supplies are building blocks, but the architectural plans are yours.¬† I am always happy to comment briefly on any plan you have for a spell that you want my feedback on; if you bring me an idea and ask for feedback, I can probably answer.¬† If you write me asking me to give you a spell, you’re probably going to be disappointed.¬† Even when I¬†do give “instructions,” that terminology is a bit misleading because it implies a “one correct way to do things.”¬† So I think of these “instructions” more as “suggestions” than “instructions” in the majority of cases.¬†

Regarding books:

No book is necessary. Rootwork is not a bookbound tradition but an oral tradition (that doesn’t mean nobody read or reads books, it just means that this is not your whole “passed down the grimoire full of sigils that must be drawn just so and rhymes that must be said just right” tradition). The book you are most likely to find an old time rootworker using most often is the Bible.

more questions – tying a mojo, how-to, product instructions

Q: What is [fill in name of oil] used for?

A: I have a page in my ebay store that explains some of them, and many of them have info in the listings.  Eventually I will finish writing up the complete list and make it available on my webpage, but I can’t make any promises about when that will happen ūüôā  Here’s the list of conditions/formulas.  The neat thing about hoodoo condition oils is that they are almost always named for the condition they "treat," so many don’t really need long descriptions.  Money Drawing. Get A Job.  Crown of Success.  Simple and sweet.

Q: Are you aware that [so and so] is [copying your items, has text that mirrors yours closely, has cut and pasted an entire blog entry or page of yours]?

Continue reading “more questions – tying a mojo, how-to, product instructions”

more Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  How do I use a black cat bone?

Depends on what you’re using it for.¬† Here are some ideas.

Q: Do  you send typed instructions with your oil/candle/mojo bag?

A: No.¬† I¬†am happy to give you ideas for working based on your situation via email at any point, but the thing is, there is no “one right way”¬†to use this stuff beyond “burn the candle” and “dress the mojo bag.”¬† The uses for things like oils and powders are limited only by your imagination.¬† And hoodoo does not do the “one true way must-do-when-moon-is-in-pisces say-words-just-so” thing.¬† You can make this stuff as simple or as complicated as you want.¬† I¬†do send instructions with my bath salts for folks wanting to take a spiritual bath, and I¬†am happy to make suggestions, but giving you typed instructions on what to do with a candle smacks to me of dictating a Set Way of doing hoodoo, and I’m allergic to that in addition to believing it to be pretty much against the spirit of things in hoodoo anyway.

Some people do complicated rituals involving powders, herbs, bells, moon phases, psalms, chants, prayers, carvings, long term altar work, whatever.¬† Some people light a candle, say a prayer, and walk away.¬† And some people don’t feel right *unless* they make it kind of complicated, and that’s cool, but I’m not going to pretend you have to do that to get results.¬† You don’t.

I will give you the dos and don’ts aka care and feeding of your mojo bag, and I will always be happy to make suggestions and/or point you in the direction of some instructions that are out there, but I don’t send typed instructions on how to use an oil or powder, no.¬† If you order a kit like the “Breakup Spell Jar”¬†kit, which is listed specifically as coming with instructions, then you will get instructions.¬† Otherwise, feel free to tell me a little about what you’re using the product for and I’ll make a recommendation for you.

ETA: If you’re not even sure how to even start thinking about this stuff, here’s an entry on Crown of Success products that may give you some ideas. And here’s a Hyatt spell involving candle burning that I¬†dare say is typical in its simplicity.

Q: You’re going to hell, blasphemer!

A: (yawn)

Q: Can I have a free tarot reading?

A: No.

Q: If I¬†buy an oil from you but maybe don’t use it for, say, three months, will it be ineffective then?

A: No.¬† Most of my oils have a sweet almond oil base: I¬†treat my new almond oil shipments with Vitamin E to retard spoilage, I buy it in small quantities, and I keep it refrigerated.¬† I¬†also make my condition oils in tiny batches (only the most popular get made in four ounce batches – the majority get made in one ounce batches).¬† This raises my prices (I¬†could buy 35 gallons of almond oil at a time for less, ultimately, but it would be rancid by the time I¬†got halfway through it, and besides, I¬†have nowhere to keep that much) and increases my workload (I could hustle and get out fifty bottles of Attraction Oil in a day and just slap one in an envelope every time an order comes in, but then you *might* get a bottle that was already sitting there for three months, and it really might go bad before you were ready to use it).¬† This is a major reason behind why my oils are a bit pricier than those that come from larger suppliers – I’m just one person, working in my “art room,” and my sales volume is not high enough for it to make sense for me to buy 35 gallons of something at a time¬† (and the very large suppliers who shall go unnamed don’t use real herbs and essential oils in their oils, and they put them in a base that will not go rancid – because it’s full of chemicals and preservatives and/or is mineral oil).

All this means that no oil sits in my cupboard for more than a month before it finds its way to you, and the herbs are added to your bottle right before I ship it to you.

If you keep your oils in a cool, dry place you can generally expect to get about a year’s use out of them.¬† Some of my oils will not go bad (Lodestone Oil, for instance, contains nothing that can go bad, and it’s one of the oils that is not made in an almond oil base), and some will actually be just fine even if they do sit a while and start to smell a little “different” (Crossing Oil, for instance, I¬†never throw out.¬† The nastier, the better!).

So buy with confidence.¬† If you don’t use a lot of oil, get a one dram bottle.¬† If you do use a lot and want to save some money buying in volume, get a half ounce bottle.¬† I don’t sell oils that aren’t fresh, period.
ETA: I no longer sell oils in different bottle sizes.

Q: Using animal bones and parts is mean and heartless and/or devil worship!  What about the poor wittle animals?!?!!!!111!omgwtf?!?!?!

A: You are entitled to your opinion, but I¬†don’t want to hear it.

For those who are curious, I¬†do not kill animals for the sole purpose of harvesting their bones (or feet, or whatever).¬† In fact, the overwhelming majority of animals whose remains find their way into my hoodoo arsenal die of complete accident, the laws of nature (predation and ilness), or are gently and lovingly euthanized by compassionate owners. ¬†A few things are the result of hunting, such as my turkey feet charms, but my use of the feet helps the hunters to use all of the animal instead of wasting any part or tossing it in the trash.¬† My chicken foot charms are made from the feet of chickens that were killed to feed human beings, and again, using them helps to prevent waste.¬† You don’t have to use animal parts to do effective hoodoo, but they have a very long history of use in the magic of a very many cultures around the world, including but certainly not limited to hoodoo – and some simply may not be “substituted” with other things to the point where you can expect the same effect.¬† Don’t like it?¬† Don’t engage in it.¬† But don’t tell me about the poor wittle animals, because you’re not going to change my mind, you’re not going to gain my respect, and you are going to demonstrate that you have little understanding of the principles of hoodoo or of a holistic “spiritual ecology.”

If you eat meat or wear leather and would even consider saying something like this to me, then you really need to sit down and have a little think.

Q: How did you get started making oils? (Implied: how do I?)

I have been a compulsive buyer of curios and candle shop stuff and occult stuff since I was itty bitty.¬† I used to get in trouble for raiding my mother’s herb cabinets – she’d be looking for the cumin for the chili, and I had it squirreled away up in my room mixing up potions.¬† We’d wander the woods around our house and she’d point out different plants and herbs and tell me what they were called, and we’d bring various wild-foraged stuff home to make teas and potpourri. But we’d get home and my attention would wander as soon as she started grinding sassafras before dinner – I’d have my old notebook out writing up new “potions” (and then burning the edges of the pages with matches so the recipes wouldn’t *look* new lol). Witches in a play I had to read for school? I was taking notes. Index in back of potpourri book mentions a medieval grimoire? I was taking notes. Mom’s hippie friend joined a U.S. offshoot of a UK witchcraft coven? Notes. Neighbor had a homemade cough syrup or weird way to keep hornworms off tomatoes?¬† Dad’s friend¬† mentioned a certain kind of incense being better for meditation than another kind? Notes. Random folks in line at the gas station mention a full moon? Eavesdropping and hopefully notes.

My formulas are derived from decades of study and experimentation and lots and lots of (expensive) trial and error (the main ingredient, imo). I purchased and tested and analyzed a lot of different oils from a lot of different suppliers over a lot of years, and I always tried to talk shop with people I met. I found that nobody would give out their formulas, but what some WOULD do is let me give them my trials and give me feedback. So once you start mixing, I would recommend you start getting feedback from experienced users of hoodoo condition oils, and creators too if you can find any who’ll give you some.

Q: Since you don’t make (fill in the blank) and I¬†want some, will you tell me how to make it?

A: No.¬† I’m sorry if that seems unfair, but some people have this weird sense that they are entitled to all knowledge ever and it should all be free and on the internet, and I¬†just don’t believe that.¬† It took me 25 years and thousands of dollars to collect my formulas and get them just right and adapt them to changes in available materia magica, etc, and I¬†do not give out my recipes.¬† They are proprietary.¬† (Some people even get pissed off when I¬†won’t type them up free spells when they order a product to which I¬†can only say, Get over yourself.¬† I¬†can’t afford to work for free, and if I¬†don’t advertise that a product comes with a certain service or accessory, yet you expect to me provide that service or accessory anyway, well – you’re being unreasonable.¬† When you then say, “You’re a horrible rootworker and I¬†will never shop with you again,”¬†I¬†breathe a giant sigh of relief that I¬†will never had to deal with your overdeveloped sense of entitlement again.)

But my best advice is to bust your ass like I did; at some point you will no longer need other people’s recipes, and that’s how you know you’re ready to spread those fledgling hoodoo wings and fly.¬† Once you get the “why” behind the ingredients, you’re golden.¬† If you’re hung up on the “one true recipe,” you just have the wrong idea about hoodoo.¬† Besides, learning the theory behind the ingredients is learning hoodoo. Following a recipe is not learning hoodoo.

Q: You offend all the people of Poland and all Catholics by using Our Lady of Czestochowa on your heathen candles.

A: Wow.  I bet a bunch of Haitian Catholics would be amused to hear that.

More FAQs here.

Crown of Success spells

I’ve had a couple of clients ask me for directions for Crown of Success spells lately.

Personally, I very rarely do elaborate rituals with these items.  I use them a lot, as I find them immensely helpful when facing a high-stakes situation such as a speaking engagement, exam, or interview, and in my day job I do a lot of public speaking and a lot of high-stakes writing.  My favorite way to use these items is just to dress *myself* – my clothes, maybe my hands, stuff like that.  I also use the oil to dress a petition paper that I put in one of those Tibetan prayer box pendants and wear to whatever event I need to succeed in.  The petition might be for better memory and recall, for poise while speaking "on my feet," for a good grade, for a job offer, whatever.  I change this paper out for specific petitions all the time, but I have used the same two or three ghau boxes for years (I have a simpler, small one for when flashy or eye-catching jewelry is not appropriate, and I need to have it under my shirt, and I have another, larger one decorated with gemstones and filigree that I wear when jewelry *is* appropriate).

One of the advantages to this, for me, is that I have come to associate the very scent of these products with success, so putting on my pendant and smelling the subtle aroma of the oil ingredients has become an integral part of my "professional prep" – right up there with professional clothing and (for me) lipstick (I’m not a lipstick wearer when I don’t have to be – if I’m wearing lipstick, you can be sure that I’m *serious.*)  It’s almost a Pavlov effect, if you will.

You can use any or all Crown of Success products to make your work as simple or full-fledged as you want it to be.  Wash your clothes in Crown crystals, dress a candle with the oil, sprinkle your resume with Crown powder — use your imagination! 

cat at Lucky Mojo has a great writeup on a starting point for multi-ingredient Crown work if you need ideas.

If you need to do this work on somebody else, and can get something into their hands or onto their person or floor or whatever, you could give them a pendant as a gift, or give them some bath salts as a gift if they’ll use them, or just wash something they’ll wear in the crystals.  There are lots of possibilities.  If you have to work at a distance, dress a candle for them.