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According to some rootworkers, depending on their specific religion, human beings are comprised of the body, the soul, and the spirit. When a person dies, the body goes to the grave, the soul rest at peace and the spirit remains on Earth until it is reunited with the body on the day of Judgment. The spirits of the dead, especially the Ancestors, watch over us where they can guide us in our daily lives, intercede with the Godhead on our behalf and protect us in times of need. Spirits can be either friendly or unfriendly depending upon several factors including, but not limited to, the following: Their relationship to the living. How they died (either good or bad). Their disposition/temperament Friendly ghost are the helpful spirits of the dead who are believed to communicate important information to humans through visions, dreams, and by placing strong signs in our path. Unfriendly-ghosts, such as hags, haints, and plateyes, represent the more negative aspects of ghosts who are often destructive and predatory. In addition to dreams, visions, and signs, contact with the dead can also be established through ritual or a medium (a person gifted with the ability to communicate with the dead). The main links between the living in the dead include their former homes the place where they died their grave their cherished possessions their remains Many Root-Workers start out working with spirits of the dead in the form of the Ancestors, the spirits of the dead connected to them by blood. The process of working with the Ancestors begins with the construction of an Ancestral Altar. Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that many root-workers are Christian and adhere to God’s commandment in Exodus 20:3 to “have not other gods before me.” Therefore, root-workers do NOT worship the Ancestors inasmuch as they venerate them. The Ancestral altar is the place where this veneration ritually occurs. The personal possessions, if any, of a person's deceased relatives can often be found on an Ancestral Altar among other things such as candles, and flowers. In some instances, the cremated remains or dirt from the individual's grave may also be found on the altar as well. In the Hoodoo Tradition, it is not uncommon for a practitioner to gather dirt from a grave to be used in the practice of magick. Rootworkers have developed many methods for gathering the dirt and there are certain criteria to determine from which grave to gather this dirt. These methods will vary from worker to worker. There is an abundance of lore relating to the criteria used to determine from which grave to gather your dirt. These criteria include, but are not limited to the following: Whether the individual’s grave is a loved one or a stranger The reputation the deceased had in life. How the deceased died. The located of the grave. From which part of the grave to dig the dirt. In order to determine the grave from which to gather graveyard dirt one must know what it is to be used for. In the case of love spells, for example you would either choose the grave of someone that loved you in life or someone who had the reputation for being lucky in love when they were alive. The dirt would be gathered from over the person’s heart. However, if you were doing a spell for prosperity, you may choose the grave of a rich person and take the dirt from over their hands. If you were banishing someone, you might want to choose the grave of someone who died quickly and un expectantly, taking the dirt from their feet. If you were working magick to conceive a child, you would likely choose the grave of a woman who bore many children and gather the dirt from over her womb. I personally use a pendulum to assist me. To do this I position the pendulum over the headstone and ask "Is the dirt from this grave appropriate for my purpose?" If I get a positive answer, I then ask "Is (the spirit of the grave) willing to sell me some of its dirt?" Again, if I get a positive answer I ask "Is the spirit willing to accept my offering of (offering) in return for some of its dirt?" If I get a positive answer, I then make the offering and collect the dirt. If I get a negative answer I will either 1) move on to another grave or 2) return to the same grave at another time. Graveyard dirt is not simply taken from a grave, but rather, it is purchased from the spirit which is always petitioned in a respectful manner. Once you feel that the spirit is willing to sell you the graveyard dirt, then payment must be rendered. Payment can consist of pennies, or silver dimes (usually an odd number) or even alcohol in the form of whiskey. In some instances the spirit will communicate specific desires to you. Coins can be pressed down in the dirt near the headstone, or left in the hole where the dirt was taken covering it up afterward. Liquids can be poured over the grave in the manner of a libation. The golden rule of collecting graveyard dirt is to never take more than you need. Once you return home it can be laid out to dry if it is moist and ran through a sieve to remove any insects, rocks, leaves, etc...

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