Jun 30, 2014

St John's wort use in herbal magick

St John’s wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) is a plant of/in the family  Hypericaceae,  which is native in Europe and Asia, but exists as introduced, sometimes invasive species  in America, Australia, and in general, in all warm and temperate  climate zones.

The glabrous stalk can grow up to 1m high, branches in upper parts, bearing yellow flowers in terminal corymb/bostryx  ( type of cymose  inflorescence  )  .  Leaves are opposite, oblong, without
St John's wort botanical illustration
stalk , bearing  translucent dots, which are actually oil- containing glands, and can easily be noted when the herb is held  against the light, hence the species latin name “perforatum” ( lit. perforated )  .

Flowers are actinomorphic , with 5 petals  ( corolla ) and 5 sepal ( calyx ), petals  bearing black dots, mostly on the edges, which are , like those on leaves  oil glands.   They are around   2.5 cm in diameter.

Due to contents of hypericine, and hyperforine, it’s clynicaly proven to be efficient in treating mild to moderate depression, as well as some other neurological conditions such as anxiety, OCD and insomnia. [1]  Infused oil of St John’s wort is a traditional  European herbal  medicine for first degree burns, cuts and smaller bruises, and is proven to  have antibacterial effect. However, it also phototoxic , which means it causes  skin photosensitivity in some people, though in much lesser degree than Angelica essential oil or Rue.

Use in herbal magick

“ To drive away “phantastical spirits,” according to Robert

Burton’s 17th-century work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, St.

John’s wort should be gathered on a Friday and then “hung

about the neck.” “

  Gerina Dunwhich  in : “Herbal magick – a witches guide to Herbal folklore, enchantments and divination”

St John’s wort is a traditional Midsummer plant , and is thus   traditionally     plucked / harvested  on Midsummer / St John’s feast day which also happens to be the Holy day of Voodoo  .

It’s associated with St. John the Baptist through various Christian legends. One of them speaks how upon the beheading   of St John ,  the plant started excreting  red oil.  The Latin name for the genus “Hypericum” comes from old Greek “hyeprikon” which means “over apparition/icon”   reffrencing the custom of  hanging the dry plant wreaths  and bundles over Saint’s Icons among the Orthodox  Christians, who firmly believe that the plant has extremely strong apotropaic powers, that can repel even the Dev*l himself.

It’s no wonder then, that one of the names for it is also “Fuga daemonium” ( Latin, lit. chase away –demons ).  Another common name for the plant,  “Sol terrestis”  ( Latin lit. Sun of Earth,  or Earthly Sun , also Sun on Earth ) speaks of plant’s association with Solar power, and symbolically also the power of light to chase away darkness.  

When placed in a jar and hung  by a window St. John’s wort protects  against thunderbolts, fire, and evil spirits” [2] says the Cunningham’s encyclopedia of Magical herbs . St John’s wort is particularly powerful  when picked on Midsummer and dried over Midsummer fires, it’s said to provide prophetic dreams about  Your future spouse ( when placed bellow pillow ),  and to repel ghosts, evil spirits, and hinders necromancers, and keeps them away from home.  It’s often burned to repel ghosts and evil spirits in form of incense.

According to Cunningham, the herb was in  ancient times used to detect witches, or rather force them to admit that they are of such, by holding it against their mouths.  [3]

It’s also a power herb,  that infuses practitioner with energy, both life energy ( “chi”, “prana” ) and the magickal one (“mana” ) hence it’s good for practitioner that feel drained or tired, or need extra “boost” for their work. It’s often mixed with Frankincense tears for this and burned as incense.  To make a power oil, You can combine St John’s wort  gathered on Midsummer, Frankincense tears and Heliotrope harvested during August. Mind though, that is an extremely  powerful stuff that will amplify spells strength and all the good, but also the bad that may come as a result of it.

St John’s infused oil can be used in funerary rites and mysteries, as well as in exorcism. Herb hung over bed of several people in the same house, can be used to fortel which of them will die first. It’s the person who’s herb has wilted  overnight , who was taught to be the first among the group to die.

In Balkan peninsula folklore, the herb is associated with Virgin Mary, but retains the same properties, as elsewhere in Europe. Additionally, it’s believed to be able to magickally cure infertility. For this purpose the herb must be gathered and not bought, oftentimes a child is sent to do it, and then blessed by Christian priest.  Then it’s used to make an infusion ( tea ) which women drink to cure infertility, particularly when the Moon is full or waxing.  The tea is drunk for a couple of consecutive days, and some of the herbs women should carry with her ( as a talisman ) at all times [4]

Recipes and formulas

Double John and evil’s gone oil

Just an idea that occurred to me when I was writing this. St John’s wort is not traditionally used  in Hoodoo, but this formula, containing it,   references Hoodoo symbolism and terminology  and uses High John the Conqueror root.


·         High John TC root and

·         St John’s wort

In some base oil, like Olive oil, macerate until it gets quite red in color, and then it’s ready to use.

Use to conquer evil, to defeat long standing or persistent curses, or defeat and exorcize demons, and adverse conditions. 

Some St John’s wort herb would make brilliant addition to “Run Dev*l run” Hoodoo oil, both as a dying agent and a powerful magickal adjunct to the formulae .

Power lifting incense

·         St John’s wort gathered at Midsummer

·         Frankincense tears

Burn during rituals or waft oneself with smoke for magickal empowerment, strength and endurance.

Herbal charm to hinder witches and render them unable to harm You

Combine Trefoil, Vervain, St. John’s wort and Dill, and carry in a mojo bag when You have to face, or fight evil witches. 

According to an old English saying : “Trefoil, vervain, St John’s wort and dill, hinder witches of all their will” [5]
NOTES:  This article was written/created by myself, therefore,  If You wish to use any part of it elsewhere   online feel free, but do add credits: Shadow of the Shadows magick place,     Shadow-333@hotmail.com  , or a direct link to this post.
[2] “Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs” Llewellyn publications,  pg. 224th and 225th   
[3] As under [2]
[4] Veselin Cajkanovic “Recnik Srpskih narodnih verovanja o biljkama”  pg.10th
[5] Rhyme retrieved from “Witchcraft and Black magick” by Montague Summers , page 179th, used here for educational and explanatory purposes
IMAGE CREDITS:    St. John's wort illustration  is from  https://middlepath.com.au/plant/img/StJohnsWort_botanical-illustration.jpg used here for illustrative and explanatory, and educational  purposes  without any  ill will, or intent of copyrights infringement

Jun 29, 2014

Evil eye that look unto thee, will very soon extinguished be

Ayn Ha'ra (Hebrew )
mal ojo, mal de ojo  (Spanish )
buri Nazar (Hindu)
mati (Greece )
isabat al-'ayn(Islam )
mal occhio (Italy )
ʿayn al-ḥasūd  ( Arabic )
Urok ( Serbian, Croatian )
Nazar ( Turkish )
mau-olhado  Portuguese 
Various names for evil eye in different languages
Merriam Webster dictionary describes the “evil eye” in a following way:
an eye or glance held capable of inflicting harm; also :  a person believed to have such an eye or glance” [1]
Indeed, the only thing that I might’ve add in there, is “capable of inflicting harm through spiritual means 
Encyclopedia Britannica explains it further :
evil eye, glance believed to have the ability to cause injury or death to those on whom it falls; pregnant women, children, and animals are thought to be particularly susceptible. Belief in the evil eye is ancient and ubiquitous; it occurred in ancient Greece and  Rome, Jewish, Islamic,  Buddhist and Hindu traditions, and in indigenous, peasant, and other folk societies, and it has persisted throughout the world into modern times. Those most often accused of casting the evil eye include strangers, malformed individuals, childless women, and old women.  “ [2]
Other than the injury and the death, the evil eye can cause misfortune, sickness, poverty,  or  it can even cause Your technical devices to malfunction.   
As a person born and raised in Mediterranean country where the  influence of Roman, Celtic, Illyrian, and Turkish   cultures is strongly present, even today,  the evil eye , or also “glance of malice”, is a concept that comes naturally to me.   People here,  are raised with the notion,  having it around  since  their most early childhood,  and therefore, it’s in a way a cultural heritage and, I’ll dare to say, even part of instinctive thoughts and behaviour.   You will see people carrying charms against it everywhere,  from barely literal people to renowned Drs. Of Science. It’s generally so in the whole Mediterranean.
Evil eye is definitely one of those beliefs that spin the globe.  We can find it in Africa, where the antidote for it ,  is believed to be saliva of the person who inflicted  it  in the first place,  though anthropologists argue  whether the  belief in evil eye in Africa is indigenous or imported. [3]
First written records are  found in some Assyrian and Babylonian ancient “poems”, circa 3000 years B.C.  [4]
Even the poet Virgil  says  ( in Eclogues, iii. 103  ) : “Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinant agnos” , which would ,  loosely  ,  translate to  : “I don’t know who glanced me with malice/ who laid evil eye on me”  [5]
Evil eyes are mentioned in Bible,  in the King James’ version,  where the “evil eye” apparently replaces “covetousness” , though in the end , the concepts come really close, more so when we consider how the evil eye works;
“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” [6] Proverbs 28:22 KJV   
Similar case  is  with the Quran,  where  it’s stated how envious people have “evil” , and it’s generally  understood among the Muslim people, that it’s the “evil eye” what Quarn speaks about in several places.
Many people throughout  human history were  believed to posses the power of causing  harm with the power of the glance of malice. A typical and well known example would  be the Spanish king Alfonso XIII  ( 1886. -  1931. ), whom even Benito Mussolini refused to meet, fearing his, at the time extremely notorious evil eyes. Incidentally or not, during the very visit of   King Alfonso to the Italy, when Mussolini refused to meet him   ( 1923. ), there had been all sort of terrible accidents, happening to people and soldiers who  were there to greet the king.  Two sailors were washed overboard,  there was an explosion on the submarine  , an antique canon  fired in his honor exploded, killing all of it’s crew,  and even the navy officer who shook the King’s hand collapsed and died. Finally, some damn broke during his visit  killing  50 people during his visit [7]  Italian housewives  and old women, were said to have “thrown the corns” at him, as he was passing by, meaning point “mano cornuto  at him,   or making an apotropaic hand   gesture, known also among the Hindu people and in Wicca, and used to repel evil, and block it’s power to harm.
The  “New York Times” , issue from October 22nd , 1922., published an article about a child that was “sick” , and was believed, by its parents, to be under the influence of an evil eye.  As a curative measure, white chicken was to be  sacrificed, it’s liver was to be stuck with a lot of pins, and cooked with a part of affected kid’s clothing, until there was heard some auspicious sound like bells ringing, or song melody. That would, according to person who advised the parents, signify that the evil eye effect was undone. [8]
Pope Pius   ( 1846-1878  ) IX  and Pope Leo  ( 1878-1903  ) XIII , were also believed to have possessed the dreaded glance of malice. The earlier in particular. It seemed that  nearly anything he would have blessed would  in some way become cursed. [9]
The severity attributed to the evil eye by the ancient Romans,  was finely illustrated in the plethora of measures they undertook to protect themselves from it. They even had specific deities, such as Cunina, believed to be the protectress  of the cradle from malevolent magick and evil eye, and was thus petitioned to safeguard the child from  the evil eye. Newborns were wrapped in red fabric, and even wore red clothes   for awhile , so they could be protected  from the evil eye, and  the kids, until they’d reach puberty, wore clothes with purple rims for the same purpose.
Priapus, the deity of phallus, also Roman, is probably yet another source to the, surviving, Italian folk custom  of using phallic symbols to ward off evil  eyes. As If they needed more excuses ( lol ) Italian men will even nowadays grab their genitals , to repel and null the effects of the evil eye.
In Africa ( particularly Northern ), when a women is having troubles with labor, it’s often believed  ( this state/condition ) to be caused  by the evil eye. Therefore, the father invites all the village people to come visit the lady in labor, spit on their hands and pass them over pregnant women’s belly. If the person who inflicted evil eye upon the women was among them, as soon as they’d touch her belly, she would instantaneously lose pains and ills, and the labor would onwards go swiftly and relatively painlessly.   So we see, that countering the evil eye is so important there that the villagers take it seriously, and all reply  to the invitation, taking in  count that it could be any of them that casted the evil eye, be it accidentally. In fact, refusing such invitation, in Northern Africa is seen as extremely rude, selfish or even hostile, and people will hardly ever do it.
In Balkans, folk believe that the Evil eye is some kind of a power that came from extremely arid regions ( ! ) hence, they believe that one of it’s principal methods of attack is draining the victim of things, spiritually luck, energy, and  physically, water or body fluids. Hence, the Balkan cunning folk, chant over bowl  of “new” water, in which they drop, one by one,  the shining hot coals, as they chant the secret incantations that speak of three eyes, one of which is evil eye, another being watery  eye and the third one being fiery, and invoke the powers of Sun, Moon, Stars and even G’d itself and  The Virgin Mary  to counter it, and send it off to “never-land”.   This serves both as diagnostic measure, and as cure. When dropping the coals the “cunning folk” pronounces names or specific characters ( for example: men , women, child, animal, old, young …etc ) of the suspected caster of the evil eye. When some of the coals sinks down to the bottom of the bowl ( in some version floats, or make a loud noise, blackens the water in the bowl etc. )  the wrongdoer is found, and then the aforementioned chanting begins. Finally, the afflicted either takes three small sips of the water, or the water is used to draw three Crosses on  his  forehead and some  is given to him to sprinkle the house, in order to undo the hazardous effects of the evil eye. Occasionally, in some regions, the leftover water is poured on a dog [10]
It seems that the evil eye has even taken place in popular culture of today.  Have You ever seen an episode of the  “Naruto Shippuden”  anime ? Yes? What  is it that  You think had inspired the author to create those havoc-wreaking  doijutsus such as Sharingan and Rinnengan . Evil eye indeed ! *blinks*

Protection and countering of the evil eye, or glance of malice
It’s only to be expected, that such ever present threat was to be dealt with seriously, and hence, in magickal community was treated with  caution and  countermeasures.
Indeed, even up until today, both ancient and some “newer “ methods have been preserved, and amulets and charms commonly used.  Turkish air companies, for example,  often paint a great blue  eye, somewhere on the tail of their airplanes, to safeguard it from the  devastating  power of the glance of malice. You know, If for nothing else, just to be on the safe side J
The “cimaruta” is  still one of the  best selling charms ( amulets ) in Italy , and not only  because of it’s broad apotropaic spectrum of  influence, but because it’s considered to be an  “eye-proof” safeguard from the evil eye, If You’ll excuse the pun J
So, without further adieu, let’s proceed on the practical advices   in regards to fighting the evil eye.
Botanical agents against evil eye
Herbs that counter and remove effects of the evil eye include: Basil, Cayenne peppers ( in Balkan ), Rue ( particularly in Italy ),  Lemons ( fruits, often halved and placed around for protection ), Periwinkle ( dispels the evil eye ), Aspand ( Ancient Zooratostrian and Muslim rites )  , Garlic (  particularly in Greece )  ,  Black peppercorns ( for removal of the evil eye ) , Barley ( extremely powerful against Evil eyes, and demons that cause illness, in Hindu beliefs ),  and others.
Minerals , animal curios , and Household items against the evil eye
Knifes and needles ( for protection, and removal,  folk magick ) , sugar and salt, broom straws ( for removing the evil eye,  Balkan folk magick, also Hindu  ), Cotton balls ( for removal  via sympathetic magick methods ) , Olive oil ( for diagnosing and removing the evil eye ) , ashes ( in varying rituals, shown to the child and thrown on  crossroads  ),  mirrors ( for deflecting the evil eye , negating the power of it, and returning it to the source, also for removing one 's own   evil eye, in Russian folk magick ),  Alum ( when burnt it creates bubbles, that are believed to destroy the evil eye ) ,  one's own or children’s saliva, Cat eye’s shell ( Turbo sp. shells ), Tiger’s eye or Cat’s eye minerals, also Turquoise mineral ( for protection ), Blue glass pearls ( protection ) ,  Red thread or ribbon ( for protection, particularly of the children ), hand or Cross drawing, tattoo ,or charm ( for protection ) , small, unripe lemons filled with pins ,  and others.
Symbols and charms against the evil eye
Hand of Miriam ( The Hamsa ) , Hand of Fatma, Manopoderosa, Tiger’s paw ( tattoo , often seen on Hindu 
Mano ponderosa,  XIX  century  work , can be
found in Brooklyn museum  ( see image
credits for more details )
children’s face cheeks ), fishes ( fishes are immune to the evil eye, possibly they are the only animals or even objects on Earth which are immune to it, they may appear on Hamsa amulet ) , Eyes , for example the Udjat or Vedjat also know as Eye of Horus( Eye drawings, designs, and charms can  repel the evil eye , various designs ), Cross ( all sort of Cross designs  are believed   to block and annul the harmful effect of the evil eye ) , Moon, particularly new Moon shape, Turquoise pendants and bracelets, copper anklets  with garlic or beet root ( Hindu, often seen on kids ), Blue or Green glass spheres ( also called “witch balls” ) , Yarn spun    from the black sheep’s wool,   Charm bag ( mojo bag ) filled with Pumpkin seeds.
Diagnosing and removing the evil eye
Although there are certain symptoms  that appear in people affected  with the evil eye,  diagnostic methods still do exist, although they may vary in different cultures.
I’ve mentioned the method with the coals, which are extinguished in water, that’s done  in Balkan peninsula folk magick, not only  to determine the presence of evil eye, but also reveal information about the caster, and finally, even  remove the effects of the evil eye.
Likewise, the methods of removal vary. The Evil eye is most often destroyed by fire, smudging or  with water.  Oftentimes, puppets are made to take  the evil eye from the afflicted and then tossed into fire. A good part of Atharva veda is concerned with remedies to the evil eye. Children, while susceptible to it,  are  also believed  to  have natural powers to  destroy the evil eye, hence showing a piece of clothes of the afflicted to a child is sometimes all that needs to be done. The power of children against the evil eye is extremely present among the Hindu people.
Let’s go through few examples.
Italian folk magick, evil eye test
It’s rather simple. It’s a form of hydromancy  really.
Italian women, particularly the old ones, are famed for diagnosing and removing the  evil eye which they do with by dripping Olive oil into a vessel with water as they recite secret prayers or sometimes incantations, passed onto them by their mothers , grandmothers , aunts and so on.  The eye symbol is said to be  formed  by the  oil in the water, If indeed the cause is the evil eye. Then , these cunning women would continue to drip more olive oil, drop by drop, reciting prayers, until the eye shape in the bowl falls apart.
Muslim custom of testing for the presence of the evil eye
This custom/ritual has been recorded in the Sindh Pakistane Province and is done by Muslims, predominantly. It’s wise to note, though,  that the similar ritual  is also done by the Hindu people [12]
The person afflicted ties a rope, or a yarn around a stone. The stone is then  tossed into the fire. If the rope/yarn does not burn, the person is under the effect of the evil eye.  
Hindu ritual for detecting evil eye
For this ritual one needs to  pour water on some plate,  and sprinkle  it with some Crossroads dirt. 
Inside some pot, practitioner  places Broom straws, Salt and Cayenne pepper and waves with the pot ( or circles around ) in front of the afflicted person’s head.
Finally the pot is swiftly placed opening down on the aforementioned plate, and if it sticks ( so that  one can lift the plate with the pot  ) , it’s interpreted as a definitive omen of presence of the evil eye. [11]
Spanish / Latin American method of diagnosing evil eye with an egg
A new, fresh egg is taken and rolled over the face of the afflicted. Then it’s broken ( on a plate or in a bowl, obviously! )  and placed bellow their bed. After a day, the egg is inspected. Extremely foul odours,  extremely dried up egg, or eye shapes formed by the eggs are signs that someone is afflicted with the evil eye.
Often times, the practitioner will  then pray over another, new , fresh egg, and then break it and spread some ( usually by making a sign of Cross, Brujeria and Santeria practitioners will do this often ) over the forehead of the afflicted and the rest will be placed bellow their bed, once again, and inspected after a day.
Removing the evil eye with the saliva
Spitting in front of a child, immediately after it has been praised, oftentimes by the very person who had complimented it, is considered to be a safe, fail-proof way, to negate the power of the evil eye.
Old women in Europe are believed to be able to remove the evil eye that causes suffering to the dying  person, by spiting on their hand and passing with it over them. Similar belief exists in northern Africa.
Simple heart-felt prayer, also immediately after someone receives compliment, or the look which is suspicious is an alternative to the above, although I don’t see  the reason  to not combine the two myself J
Burning the Evil eye
Make a poppet shaped like a human from a cotton wool  ( must be natural cotton wool !)  then waving around the afflicted person three times, chant three times
From N.N. into this poppet evil eye shall transfer
And into the flames, forever it will disappear 
Then burn the poppet. It is done.
Similarly, there is a custom among Hindu people to make a three small human shaped puppets from the cotton wool by  the afflicted person, hung them upside down on a wall, and burn them in order to remove the evil eye, according to Henry Gamache .
Removing the Evil eye with liquids
Evil eye seems to have "drying"  effect on people and  sometimes even objects.   People take this as common knowledge, where I am from , ones that believe in it, at least. Hence it makes sense why water and liquids ( like the saliva ) are used as cures.
It’s common among Christians to give three sips of Holy water to the afflicted , and to sprinkle them ( or wash their face thrice ) with it, to remove the overlooking.
Combine water and some Barley, and give to the afflicted to drink and pour some over their head. Atharva veda  speaks of use of water and Barely for remedy:
VI, 91. Barley and water as universal remedies.
1. This barley they did plough vigorously, with yokes of eight and yokes of six. With it I drive off to a far distance the ailment from thy body.
2. Downward blows the wind, downward burns the sun, downward the cow is milked: downward shall thy ailment pass!
3. The waters verily are healing, the waters chase away disease, the waters cure all (disease): may they prepare a remedy for thee!” [12]
Pour a whole bottle of bear ( natural, not those with all sort of synthetic flavors added )  into a bathtub with water, and pray over the water for the healing of the afflicted. Have them take a bath, and immerse completely at least three times. 
Such beer bath is considered to be cure per excellence for the evil eye by some authors [13]
I myself like to suggest bath made with infusion of the Basil and Rue, to which salt and lemon slices have been added. Of course, praying over such bath is needed, and pouring it over body , or immersing it three times , too.
Another Hindu “tip” calls for boiling Rice and Lemon slices in water ( presumably until it boils ), then shaking the mixture around the afflicted children’s body, or circling with pot around it, and then pouring the mixture on some crossroads. [14]
Burning incense and spices , other non-specific rituals
Burning alum and wafting the  smoke towards the afflicted,  is a  fast ,  and safe measure undertaken to render the glance of malice null and void. Frankincense is used in similar manner.
Muslims from the Sindh, also suggest a ritual , where one places terracotta or clay container on the shadow of the afflicted and burns seven black peppercorns in it to accomplish the like with the previous. Muslims in the Sindh also place four  lemons  of the shadow of the afflicted, cut in them in halves, and then throw the halves in four quarters. Caution is needed here through. For the two halves of the same lemon must never (!) be thrown in  the same direction ( quarter , N, S, E, W ) . [15]

Hope You find this useful, interesting and helpful
Many Blessings,  LUV Shadow :)
NOTES:  This article was  written / composed by myself,  therefore, If You wish to  use any part of it elsewhere feel free, but do add credits  :  Shadow of the Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com or a direct link to this post.
[3]  Acc. to  Sir James G. Fraser  ; “Golden Bough”
[4] Acc. to Cassandra Eason  ; as stated in her “ Encyclopedia of Magick and Ancient wisdom”
[8] As  stated in “Protection against evil” by Henri Gamache
[9] According to “ Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca”( pg.114th )  by Rosemary Ellen Guilley,  Third edition, Facts of Life publishing
[10] As  described in “Tajanstvene pojave u nasem narodu” ( lit./  verbatim ; “Mysterious occurrences among our people”  , referring to the, now former,  Yugoslavian people)   by Radovan Kazimirovic
[11] As under [8]
[12] Retrieved from : http://www.astrojyoti.com/av1-7.htm
[13]  Draja Micharic praises beer bath in his famous “Spiritual cleansing” book
[14]  According to source listed under [8]
[15]  As under [8]

The first image, depicting an eye, is courtesy of "The Graphic's fairy" and can be found here  : http://thegraphicsfairy.com/antique-images-human-eyes/ , digitally edited for use here, by myself
The other image is a scribble by my minority
The third image is from http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/766/Mano_Poderosa_The_All-Powerful_Hand_or_Las_Cinco_Personas_The_Five_Persons used here for illustrative and explanatory purposes without any ill will

Jun 19, 2014

Ceromancy, the oracle of wax

Divination, using wax,  and sometimes wax and water, as mediums  to draw  oracles about  past, present or future events is called ceromancy ( sometimes also Ceroscopy ).  The word itself comes from the Greek words “keros” ( wax  ) , and  “manteia” ( prophecy ). [1]   
Candle  forming "arms" and engulfing lump at the
base, during candle  magick work

It can be understood as a form of Hydromancy    , in a sense that melted wax is being poured, or rather dripped into the  bowl of cold water,   forming all sort of hardened-wax shapes and “images” thus.  But strictly speaking, ceromancy would be interpretation of waxen shapes, formations, pillars and alike, that candles form as  they burn, or that remain when the candles extinguish. In such case it can also be seen as a form of pyromancy.   

 This, later example,   is how ceromancy is understood in Hoodoo, African American folk magick. Also, in Hoodoo , Ceromancy is hardly ever used as a single divination method,  rather, it’s combined with Capnomancy ( divination by smoke ) and Pyromancy ( Divination by flame ). What more, in  Hoodoo, ceromancy is most often  integral part of spiritual work, or rather integral part of “setting lights”  for someone, which is candle magick , and is used to attain invaluable information about ( future ) perspective of the work, and it’s efficiency. [2]

The very use of wax in divination is undoubtedly of ( relatively ) newer date, for the candles are a commodity of the 20th century, more so those made from wax.   It could be that   the wax has replaced tin or lead tablets and chips, which ancient Romans  used to melt, and pour into cold water watching the shapes forming , as the liquid metal would once again, harden.  As strange as it may sound, such metal waste material was in ancient Rome easily obtainable, while the candles were an extremely rare luxury.

In this article, we will be dealing with both the:

·          Ceromancy sensu stricto – or divination by candle wax

·         Ceromancy sensu lato – or divination by ( melted ) wax and water

Ceromancy sensu stricto

Divination by observing the candle wax behaviour is something I do quite often, being that I do a lot of Hoodoo candle magick. It’s brilliantly pragmatic, and a handy tool to monitor the success of Your candle magick spells, and thus, accordingly,  influence or “fix” them, as You are performing them. 

Of course, a rootworker will  also observe the smoke behaviour, flame movements, even other things such as glass cracking ,  in the  case of glass encased candles, or label scorching or burning,  also sounds that candles may produce,  appearance or sparkles etc.

We shall focus on the ceromancy part here, since this is an post about ceromancy. And in this case we observe:

·         The speed by which candle burns.  Essentially,  if the candle burns fast it’s ominous of a good outcome, desired outcome,  and if it burns slow, it indicates that there are some forces or obstacles opposing to, or slowing down the work. Finally a candle that goes away way too fast ( let’s say in half of the time assessed by manufacturer  )    foretells success, but most often a very short-lived or temporary one.

·         The “efficiency” of candle burning. Meaning if the candle lumps, goes out frequently, makes a lot of cascade drip-lines from sides, burns slowly, it’s sending a message that something is  defying the influence of the spell or countering it, also slowing it down. In such case some people light new candles,  yet other “remedy” the candle ( relight, trim the wick, add some condition oil or even some cologne used in spiritual work, etc. ), and thus also affect the outcome of the spell.

·         The Shapes the wax forms.  If the wax drips a lot, and forms hanging pillars, “waterfalls”, “frozen drops”,  cascade flows , it’s usually taken as a sign that the success will come, but with a lot of effort and tears possibly,  preceding it, and more so if these remain after the candle has burnt down.  These wax  formations are often seen as transitive, because they rarely remain after the candle has burnt all the way down, naturally.   The other kind are the “permanent” wax shapes , that had formed in residual wax, remaining after the candle has naturally extinguished    itself.  For example the leftover wax can form a new moon shape, which is indicative of new beginnings, or the shape of an eye, which could be a warning about the “evil eye” or “glance of malice” influence. To interpret such symbols, You are to consult the analogical part of mind  , and listen to intuition, rather than use some kind of symbol – meaning  (correspondence) lists.

It should be clear that this “universal” doctrine of signatures symbolism  will vary depending on the type of candle used and therefore also , the purpose of the candle magick ritual.

For example, let’s say we are using a spell to influence two people, who are, or should  be romantically involved, and we are using  figural candles for the spell. The wax melts, and connects them firmly at their basis. 

This is a good omen, If it was some kind of reunion, or marriage, or other kind or love or friendship spell. But If we were actually trying to do a separation spell, this would  indicate that the two people will fight and overcome the spell, and remain together.   Likewise, If one is doing some kind of marriage spell, or fidelity spell with the bride and groom figural candle,  and one party ( bride or groom ) drips intensively over another,    we can safely say  that the given party is more  eager on getting married and that it tries to “cling” onto  the other party.

If we are working with glass encased candles, and the glass breaks, spilling  wax,  it can either indicate bloodshed or tears of some kind, or it can mean blessing, for example If it was a money spell, and the wax “escaped” and became firm around the coins You’ve placed around the candle.

So, obviously, while some general  doctrine of signatures symbolism  applies here, we still must take in account the purpose of the candle used, as well as it’s nature, and sometimes even color. 

And of course, any “omen” is really an omen, only when we  can exclude the possible physical causes. If You drench the candle in exaggerated amount of oil, it will burn down way too fast, If You have a draft in the room where  You are doing the  work, and the candle flickers…well it’s obviously not some of entities  who are causing this. Also an unstable candle, tilting or shaking,  will drip all over, from sides to the base. It means nothing other than that You  need to affix it J
Candle wax that remained  from naturally  extinguished candles in candle work for protection
Second one in the first image  ( upper half ) is the same as the first one if the second image, they are just different sides ( wick side, bottom side ) . Same goes for the first candle in the first image, and the second candle in the second ( lower  half ) image

Therefore, “Ceromancy sensu stricto” is a bit more demanding, when it comes to analysis and interpretation than “Cereomancy sensu lato”  , which is though a bit more complicate to do , in the plain, physical sense of performing it .


Cermonacy sensu lato

Ceromancy can also be achieved, for the sole purpose, of a broader spectrum divination , rather than being part of candle magick. In fact,  today, in the occult community , this is one of the most popular methods of divination.  It can be seen as a form of hydromancy, and scrying .

It’s as simple as melting some wax, and letting it drip into water, until the questioner intuitively  ( or otherwise ) feels it has been enough. Touching the cold water surface , the melted wax, hardens, forming auspicious shape, which are henceforth analysed  and interpreted just  like the tea-patterns in tasseography ( divination using the tea leaves ) are . The symbolic meanings are the same.

So the very process is generally uniform,  more so among the modern practitioners. Some may drip wax from candle directly, into a bowl with water, while others will melt wax in some vessel, using double boiler and then pour it into the water.

And that’s fine,  though I myself, when using this method, like  to do it traditionally.  Which means I pay attention that the candle or wax I use is brand new, and that I’ve ( preferably ) consecrated it.

Some traditions require either brass vessel or a glass one specifically. In Turkey , ceremony is a communal ceremony , where two or more people hold the spread white clothe above the head of the questioner, and some other person holds a vessel ( bowl ) with water over the cloth and pours wax in it.

In Italy, they place the candles, in the  bowl with water and allow them to drip, while in the bowl. This is usually achieved by tying the  two  candles together , as explained in the following  example , by Judika Illes :

Ceromancy, an Italian method

1.       “Place three Rose hips, three Nettle leaves,  some Cumin seeds and a few springs of Rue, in a bowl or pan of icy water.

2.       Bind two candles with scarlet ribbon.

3.       Place those candles within a pan of water.

4.       Light the candles and observe the wax dripping into the water.”  [3]

Author further suggests that the lucky shapes, should be preserved and  kept in  a red  charm bag like an amulet. 

The shapes that form in water can be interpreted as If they were tea-leaves pattern . You can consult any tea-leaves  reading book, and here are some  suggestions  I’ve  found online on this very helpful Examiner page :

AEROPLANE - A trip of a disappointment
ANCHOR - Your loved one is true
BABY - Troubles are coming
BALL or BALLOON - Your problem will not last very
BEANS - Money difficulties
BED - A vacation would be good for you
BELLS - A wedding
BIRD - News will reach you soon
BRIDGE - Take a chance
BROOM - Make a change
CANDLE - Spiritual growth
CAT - A friend is untrue
CHAIN - Go ahead with your plans
CIRCLE - Reconciliation
CLOUD - Something or someone threatens you
CROSS - Do not fear for you are protected
CROWN - Sickness
CUP - Bitter quarrel with a friend
DOG - Your self-esteem is too low
EAR - Be alert for an opportunity to advance in
your work
EGG - New developments soon
FAN - A surprise is in store for you
FEATHER - The problem will be solved
FISH - Someone will betray you
GHOST - Someone from the past is looking for you
GRASS - Good fortune is approaching
HAT - A change of location is indicated
HEART - A friendship will turn into love
HOUSE - Better times are coming
KEY - A setback in plans should be expected
KITE - Your wish will come to naught
LADDER - Take steps to change your attitude
toward an old friend
LEAF or LEAVES - Things will be changing soon
LION - An unpleasant situation is developing
MOON - Indicates more money
MOUNTAIN - Good friends are willing to help you
PANTS - You will be tempted
PEN - Expect a letter from a relative
PIN - Your lover may be attracted to another
PIPE - Peace and comfort
RING - Marriage may be possible in the near
SCISSORS - Separation
SHOE - Be suspicious of a new acquaintance
SNAKE - Be on guard against an enemy
SPIDER WEB - Pleasant happenings
STAR - Happiness
SUN - Good fortune
TABLE - An abundance of blessings
TREE - A good time for new undertakings
UMBRELLA - Trouble is coming
WALKING STICK - Get out of the house and visit
WHEEL - One who has been away will return soon
WITCH - Danger will pass you by
WORM - Business troubles ahead if you are not
careful  [4]

Hope this post was informative and interesting and that it may have inspired You to try Ceromancy.

Many Blessings from Shadow J
NOTES: This article was written/composed by myself, hence, If You wish to use any part of it elsewhere online, feel free but do add credits Shadow of Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com or a direct link to this post
[2] According to  Lucky  Mojo’s page on ceromancy: http://www.luckymojo.com/candlemagicdivination.html
[3] Retrieved from   “The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 spells” by Judika Illes, used here for explanatory, educational , and illustrative purposes without any ill will
[4] Retrieved from : http://www.examiner.com/article/ceromancy-or-how-to-tell-fortunes-with-candle-wax  for illustrative and explanatory purposes, without any ill will
IMAGE CREDITS: Images were taken and edited by myself