on love binding spells (just gonna leave this here)

Just stumbled upon The AfroMystic’s article “4 Reasons Why ‘Binding’ a Lover to Yourself is Not Smart.” I’m glad she wrote this. Now I don’t have to. But it needs to be said. Out loud. Regularly.

Now I know not everybody sees eye-to-eye on all the finer points and nuances of potential situations where things like Binding and Intranquility and such get brought up a lot. I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with all of my colleagues about every single nuance of this stuff and vice versa. And I absolutely allow that not everybody from every culture, society, or country has the same autonomy, access to resources, and legal status as everybody else (and she touches on this issue as well in her article).

But if you’re a rootworker in the 2000s here, or even if you’ve just been hanging around in rootwork circles long enough, you know exactly the kind of thing she’s talking about ’cause you’ve seen it yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of these:

“Met him last month, want to do binding spell.”

“Takes advantage of me and never spends time with me, want to do binding spell.”

“Regularly sticks his dick in the crazy, comes home, lies about it, and gave me an STD. Want to do binding spell.”

And people get *shirty* (i.e. super offended) when you suggest they should maybe consider this spell instead:

Now don’t anybody get defensive and don’t anybody dismiss this outright. If you are considering love binding work, read this as neutrally as you can, and just check and make sure none of this applies to you. Maybe it doesn’t. If the shoe doesn’t fit, etc., never mind.

But probably 90% of the folks who’ve brought up love binding work to me in the last few decades could have stood to ask themselves these questions. Just give it a read, that’s all I’m saying!

Bringing back a lover, part two

First, the infamous black cat bone. 

I have to admit something here. My uses of the cat bone are not entirely traditional hoodoo.  Let me give you a snapshot.

If you ever read “The Once and Future King,” you might recall that Morgause, the Queen of Air and Darkness, was introduced to the reader via a vividly grotesque episode in which she is in the process of boiling a cat alive. She does this to find the bone that will render her invisible.  Being Morgause, she loses interest way before anything exciting happens.  T. H. White calls this spell a “piseog” [1] and says that while the “little magics” run in her family, she’s not a great witch like her sister. Well, that would be the attention span problem, I guess. Anyway, this is a traditional use of the black cat bone. For more information on this incredibly well-known spell, see the medieval grimoire attributed to San Cipriano [2].

Another one, not mentioned in the San Cipriano material, is the use of the bone to return a lost love.  Unfortunately, in much of the available recorded material, tradition has it that you have to go through the same de-catting process in order to get the magic bone that will do the trick.

Some accounts of this are recorded in early 20th century folklore collections.[3]  According to some informants, black cat bones were used in this time and place (the 1930s) to rid oneself of troubles, as lucky pieces,  to cause sickness to visit an entire community, and by a jealous lover to get his or her lover back from a rival.  The cat bone is said to “enable you to marry your choice,” “bring you good luck all your life,” “will fix you so that you can do anything.” ( mostly p. 156).  But you usually have to boil the poor thing.

One informant says, though, that even if you find a dead black cat in the woods, its bones are stil powerful magic.  I think that some of the uses of the black cat bone that I learned in the early 90s in central Alabama have some roots in these developments of the black cat bone traditions, somewhat different from those of the European grimoires.

This usage involved making a necklace of a ritually prepared (and, unfortunately, ritually killed) black cat bones. (Yes, I know how to do it, and no, I’m not telling you.  I’m not going to be responsible for another string of black cat abductions adn killings like any cat owner living in the outskirts of Birmingham in the early 90s can tell you about.) This necklace conferred occult power to the wearer, particularly for travel in the spirit world (called “dreamwalking”) and for protection against psychic attack.  It was standard “getting ready to do work” garb for those who wore it, and considered a source (and symbol) of power that was worth guarding ferociously.  This group used the leg bones of black cats for this purpose (not any other bones).

So, my uses of the black cat bone are informed by a few diverse strains of folk belief and recorded practice, as well as my time in central Alabama as a participant in and collector of the eclectic magickal practices of those black cat bone folks.  This is also why I collect and sell the leg bones of black cats (and I collect them without the use of violence, by the way).  In theory, according to most of the lore, the power bone has to be discovered by a process of trial and error — the special bone will make itself known to you in the de-catting process.  My use of the leg bones as ritually powerful items is shaped by my time and experience working with this stuff  in central Alabama.  So now you know what’s not quite traditional about some of my uses of the black cat bone.

Great, you think.  I don’t care about all that crap.  I don’t care WHY you use a black cat bone to return a lover, and I don’t care why you say it doesn’t have to be boiled in order to work.  I just want to know how to use it.

Fine.  Here’s what I recommend.  Either build a reconciliation altar around it, or else have it as the key ingredient in a mojo bag.  In either case, dress it with Van Van oil (the Mrs. Dash of hoodoo condition oils), or else a Come to Me and/or Reconciliation oil.  There are a number of different reconciliation spells you can use in conjunction with this.  I would incorporate name papers and herbs as well for a mojo bag, and candle burning for an altar.  Like any ritual item of this nature, keep it where other people won’t mess with it.

[1] Piseog is Gaelic for black magic, sorcery, an evil spell, or an incantation, depending on which dictionary you use.

[2] A post on this will follow.  For now, see the following list of links for your reading enjoyment

Magic Spells from the Book of Saint Cyprian Antigo Livro de São Cipriano, 1993, Editora Espiritualista, Ltda, Rio de Janeiro, Translated by Ray Vogensen

Cat Yronwode at Lucky Mojo on the Black Cat Bone
[n.b.  Cat’s page suggests that Hurston’s account of getting the cat bone involves returning a lost lover.  I believe this to be an error; In Of Mules and Men, Hurston says the Frizzly Rooster (a root doctor) told her she needed it so she could move secretly and invisibly sometimes in her conjure work.]

[3] See The Frank C Brown Collection of NC Folklore, by Wayland Debs Hand and Frank C. Brown.  Duke University Press, 1964.

Bringing back a lover

I had a really sweet client order some supplies for a reconciliation working.  She said she’d love to hear any input. Well, I have a bit.  First of all, I should say that these are among the hardest workings to accomplish.  I’ll give you an example of why.

About a year ago, a friend came to me for rootwork help.  She was having husband problems, or, rather, the marriage was having problems because there was an extra person in it, at first unbeknownst to her.  When this extra person became known, she came to me and said she wanted to do two things: break them up, and draw him back to her and their home and family.

I made her up a working to break the extramarital thing up and a honey jar spell to sweeten the married couple, and I tried to make sure that we were on the same sheet of music with what she wanted ahead of time.  I confirmed she wanted him to come home and for things to be good again.  I explained that there were certain behaviors she should not engage in in the meantime.  If she wanted to sour the affair and sweeten her husband on the home, she should let the breakup working do its job instead of trying to do it on her own with threats and ultimatums and frequent phone calls.  If she were trying to sweeten him on her and the home and kids, she had to make the home and kids and the marriage something that he wanted to come back to.  (That does NOT mean taking a bunch of BS from a partner with no comment in the interest of being some kind of June Cleaver, in the interest of Perpetual Compromise, nor does it EVER mean taking physical or psychological abuse — but it DOES mean not chewing his ass out from the moment he enters the door.  It means that conversations are constructive and exploratory and not harangues or endless bitch fests on either side.).

Well, she couldn’t help it.  She was too angry and she’s never been one to hold her tongue. Needless to say, the honey jar spell did not work.  The actions that she took in Real Time directly conflicted with what the honey jar was supposed to do. Her heart was not in the working.  (Had she tried a Commanding type working, to get him under her thumb, that might have been more in line with her feelings, but that can come with its own set of problems, which I’ll save for another post.)  See, she didn’t really want to sweeten him to the marriage.  She wanted him to crawl back groveling.  I made the mistake of listening to her words instead of reading between the lines, and I fixed her a trick that didn’t work because it wasn’t really what she was after.

This is only one example of how a reconciliation spell can go wrong.  there are many, many more.  In the meantime, I suggest a cautionary lesson from the above example — be sure you really want what you think you want, or what you say you want.  This type of work requires some serious soul-searching, and sometimes it helps to have a third party, maybe a friend, maybe a psychic or reader, to be a sort of objective listener and maybe even advisor.  It helps to get this stuff out, in the open or even on paper. 

In Magick Without Tears, Aleister Crowley said,

20. Man can only attract and employ the forces for which he is really fitted.

(Illustration: You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  A true man of science learns from every phenomenon.  But Nature is dumb to the hypocrite; for in her there is nothing false.)

Hoodoo your heart out — you can’t force love to happen where there is no love.  And really, why would you want to?  You can’t turn a cat into a turnip, and really — why would you want to?  Just go buy a turnip and let the cat enjoy the cat nature in which it is immersed.

Now, back to my sweet client, the current one.  I am in no way implying I think she has not thought this out.  I am just offering the caution I feel I must offer.  So assuming she has done the soul searching and there are no Impossible Tangles or Towering Rages of Righteousness involved, what can she do to get her lover back?

…to be continued…