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Introduction to Herbs

Herbs have been a staple in the magickal and healing practices of healers, shamans, and magicians since antiquity. Even today many pharmacological advances have been made from careful study of how they used herbs, including the discovery of aspirin and digitalis. However, many have wondered how the root-workers first learned their knowledge of herbs. Hoodoo is believed to have originated with Africans who were brought to America as slaves, mainly in the Southeastern states where slavery was legal, and moved West across the nation. These men, women and children often arrived on American soil with very few personal possessions, if any at all. They did not bring their native herbs with them, and if they did those items were most likely taken away. The slaves found themselves in a place where they were considered the property of abusive slaveholders and they didn’t know anything about the herbs, plants and curios of this strange, new land. African and Native American slaves often found themselves working along side one another and it is believed that through this co-mingling the slaves learned a great deal about the medicinal and magickal uses of the herbs native to America. One theory suggests that they were taught the use of herbs by certain spirits or deities. Other theorized that herbal correspondences were arrived at via trial and error. Another theory in practice today, the Doctrine of Signatures, states that God marked everything he created with a sign or signature. The doctrine of signatures refers to two individual though related concepts in (Christian) European metaphysics, whose origins lay in the ancient reading of auspices and other omens of the god’s will in antiquity, and which similarly bears upon the meaningfulness of resemblances. The major usage is a doctrine that the Creator had so set his mark upon creation that by careful observation one could find all right doctrine represented and even learned the uses of a plant from some aspect of its form or place of growing. For the late medieval viewer, the natural world was vibrant with the numinous images of the deity: “as above, so below,” an expression of the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm, the principle is rendered sicut in terra. Michael Foucalt expressed the wider usage of the doctrine of signatures, which rendered allegory more real and more cogent than it appears to a modern eye: “Up to the end of the sixteenth century, resemblance played a constructive role in the knowledge of Western culture. It was resemblance that largely guided exegesis and the interpretation of texts; it was resemblance that organized the play of symbols, made possible knowledge of things visible and invisible, and controlled the art of representing them.” The doctrine of signatures was given renewed thrust in the writings of the Swiss physician Paracelsus von Hohenheim (1493-1541) and continued to be embraced until the 17th century. It held that plants bearing parts that resembled human body parts, animals, or other objects, had useful relevancy to those parts, animals, or objects. It could also refer to the environment or specific sites in which plants grew. Many of the plants that were so regarded today still carry the word root “wort”, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning herb, as part of their modern name. The radical visionary Jakob Bohme (1575-1624), a master shoemaker of Gorlitz, had a profound mystical vision as a young man, in which he saw the relationship between God and man signed in all things. Inspired, he wrote Signatura Rerum (1621), soon published as the Signature of All Things and the spiritual doctrine was applied even to the medicinal uses that plants forms advertised. The 17th century botanist and herbalist William Coles (1626-1662), author of The Art of Simpling and Adam in Eden, found that walnuts were good for curing head ailments because ‘they have the perfect signatures for the head,” and as for Hypericum “the little holes whereof the leaves of Saint Johns wort are full, does resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen thereunto.” Nicholas Culpepper’s often reprinted herbal takes the doctrine of signatures as common knowledge and its influence can be detected still in modern herbal lore. The doctrine of signatures was expounded in mainstream medical texts into the 19th century and has remained a working principle of homeopathic medicine. Among practitioners of the occult, the doctrine of signatures has a more specific meaning, in which the arrangement of magickal signatures is thought to have certain powers.

Selected Herbs & their Uses in Hoodoo

This short list of herbs was chosen for the fact that each and every herb listed is easily found within a grocery store, spice rack or otherwise easily accessible to the average shopper. Once you are comfortable working with these easily accessible herbs, you may want to experiment with other more exotic, hard-to-get herbs----many of which can easily be ordered online these days. If you are lucky to live in a larger-city there may be a Botanica close enough to you to purchase them straight away and take them home rather than having to wait for them to be delivered to you. Shopping at a Botanica in your own city has the added benefit of supporting your local economy, allows you the opportunity meet and interact with other practitioners, and allows you to actually see the herb(s) in question before taking them home. However, if you really want to challenge yourself, you will research those herbs that grow naturally in your environment and cultivate/harvest them yourself. For example, in the town in which I live Lavender grows along the side of the roads in late-spring/early summer so I never actually buy Lavender anymore! All Spice: An all purpose herb used for money, luck, healing, love and power. Burn allspice to draw prosperity, courage, healing/health, luck, determination, magical power, energy, strength. Apple: Used in spells of love and health. As a natural sweetener, apples are used in Hoodoo Spell for love and friendship. Basil: Use to attract love and money and in ritual baths and to banish negative energy. Basil is used in love bath, peaceful-home spells, and is said to bring wealth to those who carry it in their pockets. Basil is said to attract customers to a business by placing some in the cash register, or sprinkling basil-water near the threshold. Bay Leaves: Used to keep away at bay. Bay is a strong anti-jinx herb that will protect your from hexes and keep others from interfering in your life as well as your magical work. Cabbage: The dried leaves of cabbages are used in money spells to attract wealth and prosperity. Caraway: Caraway seeds protect one from Lilith, unclean spirits, the evil-eye, and other forms of negativity; and it is often carried for this purpose. Any object which holds some caraway seeds is theft proof. They also strengthen the memory, and a small bag of the seeds placed in a child’s bed protects the child from illness. Catnip: Believed to arouse lust in men catnips is used in love and attraction spells. Catnip is also used in spells designed to make women more attractive and alluring. Cayenne Pepper: Banishing negative energy, purification, cleansing, healing and protection. Cayenne pepper scattered around your house will break bad spells. Adding it to love powders will ensure that your love will be spicy, and can inflame the loved one with passion. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in Jamaican food. Chamomile: The flowers of this plant bring success in games of chance and increases the power of other money-drawing herbs and curios. Cinnamon: Promotes love, money, spiritual purification, gambling, lust, and a general success herb. Cinnamon, when burned as incense, raises high spiritual vibrations, aids in healing, draws money, stimulates psychic powers, and produces protective vibrations. Cloves: Whole cloves promote friendship, are used in spells to stop gossip, and draw in money and prosperity. Coconut: Whole coconuts are used to cleanse one’s house by placing it on the floor at the back of your home and sweeping it through every room in your house and finally out of the front door. Coriander: The seeds of coriander draw new love, protects against illness, and promotes faithfulness in relationships. Cumin: Cumin seeds promote faithfulness in relationships and guards the home from evil. Dandelion: The root of the dandelion is used in spells for making wishes come to pass. It is also brewed into a tea which is alleged to enable one to dream the future. Dill: Used in blessings and purification in respect to one’s romantic pursuits as well as one’s nature. Dill is said to kill love-jinxes. Fennel: This herb is used to keep unwanted people from coming around your home or interfering in your life. Garlic: Used for protection, against the Evil Eye, to keep away unwanted visitors, and protect the household. Ginger: The whole root of ginger is said to protect one from Hag riding, when placed under your pillow. It is used in love and money spells to bring fast results. Holly: Holly bring good luck and protects the home. When boiled in water on the stove, it fills the home with a pleasant aroma. The water may be poured over the threshold to protect the home from lightning. Lemon: The leaves of the lemon-tree are used in cut-and-clear spells, that is, to remove one’s ties to past negative relationships. The fruit itself is often used to send back the evil eye and in spells to “sour” another’s luck by placing their personal concerns inside a slit in the lemon, pinning it shut and sealing it a jar of vinegar. Mint: Used to attract money and wealth, as well as to break jinxes, and prevent crossed-conditions. Nutmeg: Whole nutmegs are used for winning in games of chance. A powerful money hand can be made by wrapping a whole nutmeg in a two-dollar bill along with chamomile and dressed with money-drawing oil. Onion: Onion skins are burned on the stove to attract money, and prosperity. Orange: Orange leaves/peels are used to make Orange Water, which is used in spells for love and attraction as well as spiritual cleansing. Pine: Pine is used in spiritual baths and floor scrubs as a power-cleanser. It also attracts money. Rice: Dyed green-rice is called “lucky rice” and is used in spells for prosperity and happiness. Rosemary: Rosemary is one of the primary ingredients in Peaceful Home Oil and is used to protect the home, empower women, and dominating one’s husband or romantic partner (along with angelica root) Sage: Sage, like the name implies, is used in spells to promote wisdom, make good decisions, plan your future, and is often carried for protection when traveling. It is a primary ingredient in Crown-of-Success Spiritual Supplies. Thyme: Thyme is used to bring sleep and rest, by warding off nightmares; as well for money-drawing, gambling-luck and money-stay-with-me spells. Tobacco: Tobacco is often used as offerings to spirits, the smoke from tobacco may be inhaled and subsequently blown into an area for purification or onto a person to drive out evil spirits or disease. A tea of tobacco leaves may be sprinkled in a dwelling to drive out ghosts and evil spirits.

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