Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Devil Hand: A mojo bag for protection

I'm going to switch gears here and post a traditional hoodoo spell for protection, generally from a specific person who is doing you harm. Not everything I post here is (or will be) related to hoodoo or even traditionally hoodoo. This charm happens to be. It's adapted from post I made in another venue. Enjoy!

There are a series of roots and herbs in hoodoo that are named after the devil. Not because they cause harm, but because they are said to protect from the devil or evil. This is a traditional hand and the recipe can be found in Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by Cat Yronwode. For those who may not be familiar, a hand (mojo bag, toby, etc) is a name for specific kind of charm that is a cross between a prayer in a bag and created spirit.

For the basic hand, you need the following roots/herbs:
1) Devil’s Dung – a leafy herb said to stink so bad, it makes the devil run away. Fortunately for us, all you need is a pinch. It's also called asafetida and used in European style magic for banishment.

2) Devil’s Pod- also know as bat nut, it is used like a gargoyle – it's an ugly little thing that scares away evil spirits.

3) Devil's Shoe String – string-like roots. It is said that these can bind up evil as if you were tying the devil's shoe strings together.

4) Devil's bit – With a variety of uses (not just protection), it is an all around helpful plant, it was said that the devil hated it so much he bit the root off. And the plant continued to thrive, just to spite Ol' Scratch.

Now those who study hoodoo know that this kind of a wrong number of items to have. A mojo hand always has an odd number of items in it. So you can take an item out or add one of your own. Keep in mind that you just don't want to go around adding (or substituting) willy-nilly. For example protective roots like Angel Root (aka Holy Ghost Root or angelica) and Blessed Thistle would be out of place in this hand. Now a pinch of sulfur (also used for banishing evil) would fit in just fine, on its own or as a substitute for the devil's dung. One last comment on substituting, the herbs and roots, the name paper are all designed to bind and ward off evil. Angelica root helps and protects a person, like an angel. The reason you don't want to substitute it is more than just style, it's how the magic of the root works.

You will also need some Run Devil Run Oil. You can make your own, but that's a much longer post. And making your own condition oil is a pain the ass (I've done it a couple of times and it is messy and hard to do in small batches). This oil will be used to dress (or anoint) each item as well as used to feed the hand.

Next, we put the hand together. The first thing you want to do is to make a name paper. Take some paper (some lore says it shouldn't be cut, so I just rip off a circular piece of plain white paper) and write down the name of the person you want to be protected from. You can also write something like all those that do me harm. Then rotate the paper and over this write your name three times. The lines of you name should be crossing the name you wrote now (so you name looks horizontal and their name looks vertical).

In a circle around the crossed names, write a short petition in cursive, like "evil be gone" or "run devil run." Don't lift your pen off the paper and connect each world and kept writing so until you have a full, unbroken circle around the names.* Take some of the Run Devil Run oil and dot the four corners of the name paper and the center (so it looks like a five on a die). Take a pinch of the devil's dung and put in the name paper (with a hair or other personal concern of the person you want to be protect from, if you have it). Fold the paper a few times (always folding away from you, to represent banishing) to make a little packet. State you intention as you do it – evil is gone from my life.

This is called a name paper is this whole thing is your ingredient #1. Put in your bag. Next add your next ingredients. I would add the devil's pod, dressing in the oil and state my attention "all evil must run from me" and place it in the bag. Do the same with nine pieces of the devil's shoe string "to tie the feet of those who would harm me" and place it in the bag. I would stop here probably, but you could add the other items. Keep in mind, that herbs are alive have spirit of their own. This isn't just throwing crap in a bag; it is using the sacred power that flows through nature. Just say'n.

Now, you may be asking yourself- "what bag?" That's a good question, since I haven't mentioned anything about it. Commonly, these ingredients are placed in a bag, sometimes sewn or in small flannel bag with a draw string (often red). The traditional version of this is this Devil hand is sewn black leather. I would use a draw string black bag myself, as I can't sew at all.

If you use a flannel bag, tie the two ends of the draw string together. This is the power of knots to hold and fix your spell into place. So this is also a magical moment (same thing if you're sewing, you are fixing the spell or intention into place). Then once you have all the ingredients in the bag, the next step is to wake it up. You can do that in couple of ways. You can spit into it (waters of life) or breathe into it (breath of life). There are a lot of ways to do it, but I always breathe into mine.

Then tie the string around the mouth of the bag and seal is shut. There is lore that opening the bag "kills the hand," which I follow. Others even say that if someone else sees the bag, it gets killed (which I don't follow). Some believe that no one else should even touch the bag. I'll leave it to you to decide what makes sense for you.

Check out the picture on cat's site for a way to do it. It's the red bag at the top.

Next, you pray over it and feed it. Most rootworkers are Christian and psalms are popular and traditional. Psalm 37 is often prayed for protection. Or you can pray as you feel called. A mojo hand is "alive" and needs care. You feed it by giving it offerings of incense (called smoking a hand) or dressing/anointing it with oil (which is what I do). You can also feed it whiskey. You can also name your toby, if you feel called to.

Wear your hand close to your skin when feel you need protection, other wise leave it on your altar. Feed it regularly, as you are called to do, but at least once a week if you want to keep the bag strong.

*My understanding is that this is not necessarily traditional, but it is how Cat Y teaches it and so that's how I do it.

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