Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

Root vegetables don’t generally pop up much in the kind of spell work you find in modern books.  The “witchcraft” section at Barnes & Noble is jammed with tomes that will happily tell you to run around trying to find dragon’s blood and eggs from black hens but none of them seem inclined to recommend ingredients you can easily get at the farmer’s market.  Or in your own back yard.  It’s a shame, really, because some of the best ingredients actually are the easiest to come by.

Carrots are a fine example of my point.  They’re easy to grow (even here in the frozen north my daughter always gets a nice crop of orange and purple minis) or, if you’re not much of a gardener, easy to buy.  You don’t have to do much to them besides pealing them with intention to make your working successful, and they’re tasty and healthy. 

These fabulous root vegetables are best used in lust/love and fertility spells.  The ancient thought process of “like makes like” has made the carrot ideal for helping men recover from or avoid impotence.  Just eat them and feel virile.  Really, it’s that simple.

Women or men can feed carrots to a man to insight his lust.  Salads, particularly those made with endive, are a wonderful way to work this kind of magick.  Use creamy dressing rather than vinaigrette, however; too much vinegar will have the opposite effect and turn your man off.  Cole slaw is probably the hands down best salad for this kind of work as cabbage is said to create luck and faithfulness in love and the traditional dressing is mayonnaise based. 

Finally, wise women and old wives in European traditions would recommend eating carrot seeds for a woman wishing to conceive.  You can eat them individually (in odd numbered groups) or bake them into – what else – carrot cake.  Here a word of caution, however: pregnant women should not ingest carrot seeds so I like the more modern approach which is drinking carrot juice daily.  Better safe than sorry.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Turnips and Carrots, ho! by Thomas Gaugain

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lundi: Recipes

We had company last weekend here at chez Pauline, which is always a nice break from the usual routine.  I thought, keeping in line with the theme of busting out of the ordinary, I’d try a new recipe.  I wanted something that could cook while I socialized and would be easy to serve buffet style.  Voila, lasagna: Mexican lasagna.

This is a recipe from the Times-Picayune cookbook Cooking Up a Storm and they attribute it to Cynthia Shields Viator of Harvey, Louisiana.  Of course I’ve tweaked it a little because that’s how I roll but let me tell you it is delicious.  It is a bit of work on the front end but it was easy to deal with once assembled and a crowd pleaser.  One of my guests had three pieces.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs ground beef
1 10 oz can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 package taco mix
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 package lasagna noodles
1 8 oz container of sour cream
1 8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
1 pound Jack or pepper Jack cheese, grated
1 pound sharp cheddar or American cheese, grated
¼ cup black or green olives, sliced

Cook 10 lasagna noodles as per package instructions.  Set aside on a tea towel to cool.

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream then stir in the green onions and mix well.  Mix the Jack and cheddar cheese together.  Set all aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the ground beef and brown.  Drain fat and then add the Ro-Tel tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Now stir in the taco mix and combine thoroughly.  Add the tomato sauce, stir and then simmer for about fifteen minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Coat a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Now, layer your lasagna in your baking dish starting with 5 lasagna noodles on the bottom.  Coat these with ½ of the cream cheese mixture followed by ½ of the ground beef mixture and ½ of the shredded cheese.  Repeat the same process for a second layer.  Now sprinkle the cheese with sliced olives and cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake for one hour or until bubbly.  Allow to cool 15 minutes with foil on, slice and enjoy.

Note that your lasagna may bubble over, so baking it on a foil lined cookie sheet will save you from a mess in your oven.  Bon appetite ~

Header: Barroom Dance by John Lewis Cromwell (pretty much the way most of my get-togethers end up)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Samedi: The Two Jeans

Storytelling is, of course, an ancient art and no individual culture has a claim to it.  All people in all times have told each other stories for amusement, time passing, teaching or – as in my case – pure visceral delight.  It is unfortunate that so much storytelling has been taken from us.  Though we have voluntarily given up our imaginations to movies, TV and XboX, our willingness to turn over something so dear doesn’t make the loss any more horrible. 

That’s why I like to remember – and retell – the stories from the places I hold dear.  Here in Alaska, Native stories are retold often in various forms and the same holds true for my ancestral, spiritual and cultural home, Louisiana.  So for the next few Saturdays and for your enjoyment more than anything, a version of an old story that actually originated in Spain.  Folklorists believe it came to the New World with Africans who were either enslaved by or in the service of Spaniards.  Versions of tales of the two Jeans (or Juans or Johns) exist in the Caribbean (particularly Puerto Rico), the Philippines, South America and Louisiana.  The stories are often quite funny but also horrifically morbid which may point to people trying to deal with unbearable misery through humor.  This is a story that I remember hearing when I was young and that, frankly, never gets old.

Ti Jean lived next door to Jean Gran and they were always trying to outdo one another.  Ti Jean was little but smart while Jean Gran was big and burly but dumb as a mule.  One day, Jean Gran said to Ti Jean “I’m tired of your horse kicking my house all night.  Tie him up someplace else or I’ll kill him.” 

Ti Jean didn’t pay Jean Gran any notice and left his horse where he was.  Jean Gran killed the horse just as he said he would but Ti Jean still didn’t pay him notice.  Instead, he butchered the horse taking its hide off in one piece.  Then he took the hide and went down the road until it started to rain.  He stopped at the first house he saw and knocked.  A woman came to the door and Ti Jean said “Can I come in, ma’am?”

“No,” the woman replied.  “My husband ain’t home.  You can wait under the eaves if you like but I can’t let you in.”

Ti Jean thanked the lady, threw the horsehide around him and sat down under the drippy eaves to wait.  Sooner than later the woman’s husband came home.  He asked Ti Jean what he was about and Ti Jean told him.  The husband opened his door and yelled “Woman!  Why you let this poor man sit out here in the wet?”

“You weren’t home,” the wife called back.

“Well I’m home now.  Come on in, sir.  Warm up and have a bite.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Ti Jean and he went into the house with his horse hide dripping on the clean floor.  The husband and Ti Jean sat down at the table and the wife looked at them sternly.

“Nothing but tea in this house and it’s gone cold,” she said.

“Tea would be just fine, ma’am,” Ti Jean said.

The wife brought the tea and Ti Jean put his horsehide down at his feet where he started to step on it.  The wet hide made a whine and a squeal.

“What’s that now,” the husband said.  “That damn horsehide talking to you?”

“Oh yes,” Ti Jean said.  “It’s magic.”

“So what does it say?” the wife asked.

“Says you go to the sideboard, you’ll find plenty to eat ma’am.”

The wife hesitated and stared at Ti Jean as if he was crazy.  “Go on, woman,” the husband said.  “You go or I will.”  So she went and sure enough there was bread and ham, cheese and fresh greens.

The wife brought all this grudgingly to the table, where she found that Ti Jean’s horsehide was once again speaking out loud.  “What’s that sad old hide say now?” she asked.  “My husband like to shit gold?”

“Oh no ma’am,” Ti Jean replied.  “It tells us you forgot the wine.”

The husband jumped up and, opening the sideboard, he found several bottles of wine.  “Damn,” he said.  “Sir, you got to sell me that hide.”

“Well…”  Ti Jean took a long time to think about it.  “I’m going to need two baskets of silver for it.”

The husband agreed, although his wife protested vehemently.  When the husband came out of the back room with two baskets of silver Ti Jean turned over that drippy, smelly hide.  He waited a moment and then he said “Give me back the hide now.  I think it wants to tell you something more.”

The husband did just as Ti Jean asked and Ti Jean made the hide whine and squeal once again.  “It says you better look in the barrel in your larder,” Ti Jean said at last.

Well the husband ran to the barrel next to the sideboard and opened it, fully expecting to find the gold his wife spoke of earlier for there had been no food or wine in the sideboard when he left or so his wife told him.  Instead of gold in the barrel, he found the Devil trying to get out.  The husband slapped the top on the barrel and looked frantically at Ti Jean.  “You got to take this barrel with you.”

“Just like the hide said,” Ti Jean replied.  “Give me another basket of silver and I’ll take it right now.”

The wife screamed for her husband not to do it but he turned over another basket of silver to Ti Jean.  “Thank you indeed,” Ti Jean said and then he took his baskets – and an empty barrel – on down the road.

So far Ti Jean’s tricks have paid off, but will they continue to do so?  We’ll find out a little more next week.  Bon Samedi ~

Header: Calhoun's Slaves by William Aiken Walker

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vendredi: Six of Spades

Finally we come to one of the few bright cards in the Suit of Spades, which is fitting for me since it is a sunny, cloudless day here in Anchorage, Alaska.  Enjoy it while you can, the locals will say.

The Six of Spades is the “light at the end of the tunnel” card.  The querent has not reached their goal yet but they have been working exceptionally hard.  If they continue to persevere, victory will be theirs.  This card is almost a sure sign that the future will be better – in love, finances, family matters – if the querent keeps on track.

Interestingly, this card can also have indications of relocation.  Usually the Six of Spades does not point to a move in the same city but one that will require a good deal of travel.  Many times the move involves a trip over water.  This was traditionally interpreted as a voyage by ship but may now include airplane travel as well.  Other cards around the Six of Spades will help you discern whether or not this is an issue for your querent as, of course, will your discussion with them.  If the Eight of Diamonds is close by, it is a sure sign that the move is right for the querent.

And so it goes.  We’re almost half way through the Suit of Spade with just one more Suit to discuss after that.  I hope your day is as full of sunshine and blue skies as mine.  Vendredi heureux ~

Header: The Card Reader by Gerard Portelje c 1891

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

It is that time of year when sandal and flip-flop ready feet are a must even up here in the Arctic zones.  Where I live, it is common courtesy to slip one’s shoes off at the front door of any house you enter.  This means that, even if you’re wearing boots, slides or Crocs (and if you are wearing Crocs, stop it right now), you may have bare feet beneath.  Best to keep them smooth and good looking.

So here is my favorite foot scrub to get the dead skin off and keep feet fresh with the uplifting scent of peppermint, all at the same time.

1 tbsp coarse oatmeal (such as Irish oats)
1 tbsp cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsps dried peppermint leaves or flakes
1 tbsp unflavored yogurt (organic or Greek yogurt works best but is not a “must”)
Juice of 1 lemon
6 drops of peppermint essential oil

Combine oatmeal, cornmeal, sugar and dried peppermint in a bowl.  Add the yogurt, lemon juice and oil.  Mix until you have a workable paste. 

To use, sit over a bucket or on the edge of your bathtub.  Wet feet and then massage the paste into them.  Pay special attention to rough areas like the heels.  Rinse and dry thoroughly and then follow up with a rich moisturizer (like the one I offered on April 27th). 

The recipe is good for one, at most two, treatments.  Store any leftovers in a tight sealing jar with a wide mouth for up to two weeks in the frig.  Scrubbing your feet about once every seven to ten days should keep feet looking and feeling their best.  A votre santé ~

Header: Norvic Footwear c 1952

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

Rue is an herb used in a number of mundane preparations from cooking to makeup to medicine.  It is also considered very flexible in magickal communities.  Root workers use rue to uncross, protect and cleanse.  In Wicca it is also considered a love herb.  The scent of fresh rue is said to clear one’s head and improve focus.

Much of the focus on rue in hoodoo centers around incense mixtures.  Dried rue burns with a misty, sweet smelling smoke that is easy to see so it is not surprising that rue is used for “smudging”.  This is the use of incense smoke to protect homes, humans and animals from ill and to drive away evil from all three.  Just a few incense mixtures that include rue are:

One part each rue, sandalwood, frankincense and camphor burned on charcoal will cleanse the home and the body of supernatural troubles including jinxes and illness.

Similarly, one part each of rue, lavender and sandalwood will lift a love trick.

One part each of rue, verbena and benzoin (or mistletoe), again burned on charcoal, will keep a household healthy.

Placing a bit of rue in a man’s shoe is said to hold him even if other people are throwing love jinxes his way.  A bath in rue tea can also break love tricks and/or give you clarity about your lover’s intentions for your relationship.

In Wicca rue is used as a house cleanser, with washes made from it used to scrub walls and floors and fresh leaves rubbed on floorboards.  This is thought to neutralize any evil lingering in a home that is new to you.  Juice squeezed from rue leaves and stocks is mixed with morning dew to protect magickal circles.

Old wives said rue touched to the forehead would ease headache.  Worn around the neck, rue will hurry recovery from illness and help prevent future disease.  Arrangements of rue hung on a home’s doors will keep evil away and rue sprigs can be used for sprinkling salt water to cleanse any space.

Scott Cunningham tells us that rue is excellent in the garden as it will protect your outdoor space.  To be truly effective, though, the plant must be stolen from another’s garden without the thief being caught.  Bonne chance ~

No picture today as Blogger has decided to disallow uploads of any kind for some reason...  Hopefully tomorrow 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Samedi: In the Trees

The spirits of Voudon are particularly fond of nature, which to me is a bit of a paradox.  There are not many wild places left in Haiti, if the truth be told, and in some areas it is particularly daunting to find a tree much less a forest.  So it would seem even more paradoxical that many of the lwa have their own favorite trees.

Most Voudon temple complexes have trees, or at least a tree, in their courtyards.  These are dedicated to the lwa and are called repozwas: resting places.  Here the lwa can sit and relax particularly after a possession when they are often asked for help and favors by the voudonists in attendance at a fete.  The courtyards will always have a tree near the door to the temple consecrated to Papa Legba, the lord of the gate between our world and the spirit world.  Other trees will likewise be consecrated but to other lwa and offerings will be left on or near them, including ribbons and beads hung in the branches.

Outside of the ounfo proper, certain trees are recognized as being sacred to certain lwa.  Here is a list of some Rada, Petwo and Ghede spirits and the trees they love:

Agwe, the lwa of the oceans, fancies the raisinier tree
Ayida-Wedo, the rainbow wife of the serpent Danbala, is fond of all trees but is particularly partial to calabash and palmetto trees
Ayizan, the first mambo, likes palm trees
Azaka, the farmer, likes avocado and banana trees
Baron Samedi, lord of the Ghede, has a weakness for citron trees
Danbala, like his consort, appreciates all trees but is most partial to the calabash and bougainvillea
Erzulie Freda Dahomey loves the laurel tree
Gran Bwa, the shy lwa of the forest, is fond of mapou trees

This is by no means an all inclusive list, but it gives you an idea of the varying tastes of the lwa, at least in landscaping.  It also gives us an historical glimpse of how varied Haiti’s forests must have been at a time long before our own.  The World is alive; Ashe!

Header: Carnival by Henri Rousseau

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vendredi: Five of Spades

As discussed last week, virtually all the cards in the Suit of Spades are warning cards.  They’re raising a red flag to varying degrees and it’s best to heed what the card is saying and act accordingly.  Not surprisingly, today’s card is no exception.

The Five of Spades warns of anxiety and possibly even depression.  But these are mental states that can be changed if the querent is willing to do the hard work required.

This card implies that the querent has squirreled themselves away in a place where they feel safe, even though that safety is an illusion.  Rather than taking steps to improve their situation (getting out of a troubled relationship, quitting a dead-end job, starting up projects that make them happy but stretch their comfort zone), they are stubbornly sitting right where they are and rationalizing their decision through their pain.  They may be feeling sorry for themselves, but they are not about to do what is necessary to make things better.

The message of this card is obvious: to grow we must suffer change.  No matter how much it hurts, disconnecting from what is stifling us will end up as the best course of action.  And that is always good advice.  Vendredi heureux ~

Header: The Fortune Teller by Harry Herman Roseland

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jeudi: Root Work

Romantic love is spoken of by sociologists as a modern invention.  Our ancestors didn’t worry about love or even affection, we’re told.  They just married the people their parents told them to and did their duty like farm animals lined up for breeding.  In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

As just one example, the ancient use of love spells would seem unnecessary if what some historians tell us is true.  And yet for countless centuries they have existed.  From slaves to kings, from ancient Mesopotamia to Internet occult sites, love spells have been and are employed to catch and keep a romantic interest.  Perhaps more importantly to the debunking the theory, they have also been used to ease the heartache that comes when one party no longer loves another.  Today’s working is an example of just such a poultice for lost love.

The flower known in hoodoo as heartsease (sometimes spelled heart’s ease) is essentially a pansy and its name describes its use: to ease the heart.  Two workings specifically utilize pansies.  One is to try to reconcile a broken relationship and the other is to get over same.

To bring back a lover, mix dried pansies with Balm of Gilead buds (balsam poplar).  These should then be brewed into a tea and added to a bath taken before meeting with the former boyfriend/girlfriend.  This working is said to be effective for both sexes regardless of gender affinity.  To add strength to your working, carry a pansy flower in your pocket or shoe when you go to your rendezvous.

When the affair is truly over, but your heartache is not, make a tea with heartsease and once again add it to your bath water.  Do this for nine days in a row to strengthen your resolve to make that relationship part of your past and help you move on with your life.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Lady Laura by Teresa Alma-Tadema

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

Looking and feeling good is not just about our minds, bodies and spirits.  Nice clothes that are nicely cared for help us to be beautiful on any day, even those when our inner self is feeling blue.  For me, a sweater or dress that fits well and is neat can boost not only my confidence but my mood.  At this time of year, when I’m putting the winter woolies away until fall, I always think of my grandmother and her heart-stopping collection of chic clothing.

Gran was a flapper and so accustomed to having a wardrobe full of up to the minute fashions.  She wasn’t wealthy by any means, though, so she often made her own clothes.  This included lovely sweaters and gowns which she knit herself.  Taking care of such special things in a time when hand washing was really the only option took know-how.  And Gran knew how to such a degree that she still had some of her 1920s trousseau to show me when I was a little girl.

These woolens were washed only one or two times a year as they were always worn over blouses, shifts or camisoles.  The formula for the wash was a home recipe that I have kept with Gran’s others.  Though I don’t use it often, I highly recommend it as both a wonderful cleanser and a superior alternative to dry cleaning which can be bad for both clothing and the environment.

2 cups water
2 cups Ivory Soap flakes
½ cup denatured alcohol
2 ½ teaspoons eucalyptus oil

Bring water to a boil and stir in the soap flakes.  Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until the soap has dissolved.  The mixture should be smooth.  Add the eucalyptus oil and the denatured alcohol and mix thoroughly.  Spoon into a jar with a wide mouth and a tight, screw-0n lid which should be kept sealed when not in use.  Allow the mixture to sit for a day or two by which time it should become a relatively solid mass. 

To use, dissolve one or two tablespoons in a wash bucket filled with warm water.  Swish you garment, blanket or other woolen item through the water until it is soaked.  Wring gently and lay flat to dry.  You do not need to rinse unless you are washing white laundry in which case it is good to run the garment under cool water to prevent yellowing.

The process is very simple and, thanks to the eucalyptus oil, pleasantly uplifting.  The oil will not only ensure a fresh scent but a soft garment that is untroubled by moths. 

Header:  Design for a woolen gown by Raoul Dufy from Gazette du Bon Ton c 1920 (via Boston Public Library)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

The unusual sounding Master Root (known in European horticulture as Master Wort) is a fairly hardy plant in most temperate areas whose roots, stems and leaves are used in magick for luck, power, protection and aid in psychic pursuits.

In hoodoo, people are advised to grow Master Root in their gardens to draw luck to their homes.  Legend has it that collecting rain water, pouring some over the plant each morning and then washing your hands with the water that drips from the leaves will bring you respect and advancement at work.  Master Root is added to tricks and mojos to give a person presence, power and command over a specific situation and/or person.  Put a leaf under your pillow to assist in lucid and prophetic dreaming.

Wiccans say that wearing a piece of Master Wort as a charm will strengthen health and stamina.  This is particularly true for men (Angelica root is more effective for women).   The root is also said to calm strong emotions when held in the non-dominant hand and to keep away evil spirits.  Scott Cunningham recommends sprinkling chips of Master Wort around a magick circle or in a garden to make spirits appear.  In ancient European lore, Master Wort was believed to serve as a home for fairy folk.

Master Root should not be confused with woodruff or sweet woodruff which is often referred to as Master of the Woods.  These plants can be used together as they have similar magickal properties, but they have different botanical backgrounds.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Spring in the Gardens of Villa Borghese by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lundi: Recipes

Say what you will about NOLA, it is an undisputed cocktail lover’s paradise.  From the best Bloody Mary in the Quarter (Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop) to flame kissed brandy and coffee (Café Brulot at Antoine’s), there is no stopping New Orleans from getting her drink on.  And that is why the very short summer season where I live always turns my thoughts back to my ancestral home.  The sun is out, the temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the barbeque is ready to fire up.  Time to start making the Ramos Gin Fizz.

Legend has it that the drink was invented by Henry C. Ramos who owned an eponymous bar in New Orleans in the 1880s but this recipe actually became famous when Louisiana Governor Huey Long began frequenting the Roosevelt Hotel and calling for it each time he did.  The Roosevelt is no more (it is technically the Fairmont New Orleans now), but the drink is still associated with it.  The story goes that Long once took the bartender from the Roosevelt with him when he went to New York just so he could have his Ramos Gin Fizz done properly. 

1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1 tbsp orange flower water
3 ounces milk
1 ¼ ounces gin

Combine all in a cocktail shaker and shake well to bland.  Strain into an 8 ounce glass.

You can leave out the egg white without hurting the taste of the cocktail, but that is what gives the drink its famous fizz.  The Ramos Gin Fizz makes a delightful after dinner beverage on a warm day, just as Café Brulot is perfect in the winter.  Bon appetite ~

Header: Perhaps the first "night club" in the U.S., "The Cave" was a hot spot in The Grunewald Hotel, which would later become The Roosevelt

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Samedi: Magick Dolls

We talked about crossroads last Saturday, and how they are considered in many cultures to be a gateway or threshold to the spirit world.  At crossroads, in cemeteries, near large bodies of water, we can talk to the spirits and ask them to help us with our urgent needs.

Communicating with those spirits is not always as easy as it sounds but Haitian Voudon and American hoodoo have “work arounds” for getting the spirits’ attention.  If they won’t come to you, in dreams or through other signs, you can always go to them.  Figuratively speaking, at least.  And this is often done by employing a doll.

The so called “voodoo doll” is thought of in popular culture as a way to harm an enemy.  Make the doll, put something from the enemy in it or on it to form a connection, and then stab, shred or burn it to wreak mental and physical anguish.  This type of magick, though grimly fatiguing and usually disappointing for all involved, is very real but it is not specific to much less invented by the religion of Voudon.  Poppet magick, as it is known in Wiccan practice, is an ancient European practice.  It can certainly be used to harm but it is more frequently used to heal.

Dolls of natural materials, cloth, ribbon, string and a host of other goodies are a common component of hoodoo, but in Voudon proper – and in hoodoo as well – it is the “messenger doll” that is employed.  These are hand made of cloth by the practitioner or a priest or priestess and used for contacting the lwa in order to ask for the spirit’s help with a situation that is in their realm of expertise. 

Once the problem has been identified and the person has decided on what lwa they will petition for help, materials for making the doll will be gathered.  Generally these dolls are small, no larger than a man’s hand, and they are only roughly in the form of a human figure.  The dolls are usually made of either black or white cloth, but string or ribbon in specific colors that are pleasing to the lwa being petitioned is also necessary.

The doll is preferably stuffed with something natural (Spanish moss, for instance, is a favorite stuffing in New Orleans voodoo and Southern hoodoo) and sewn closed.  Then the petitioner will write their request on a small piece of brown paper, addressing their chosen lwa specifically and reverently.  The paper is folded up and pinned to the doll.  Then the ribbon or sting is wrapped around the doll and the paper and tied in a knot (for male lwa or for Erzulie Danto) or a bow (for all other female lwa). 

Now that the doll is ready, the petitioner will take it to a crossroads or a cemetery and leave it there for the lwa to find.  On rare occasions the doll may be dropped in running water.  If the ritual is done correctly, and the lwa are inclined to the plea, the situation will be rectified usually within a few days.  It helps quite a bit to include an offering appropriate to the spirit – a silver dime, a piece of candy, a string of beads and so on – with the doll.

As is so often true of any cure for illness or affliction, the simplest remedy is often the best.  Messenger dolls are easy to make and straight forward to use.  Just be sure to research your spirit, and know who you are dealing with, before you begin.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Voodoo doll via Squidoo

Friday, May 13, 2011

Vendredi: Four of Spades

The Four of Spades, in my experience, is a card which, perhaps thankfully, rarely appears in the average spread.  It shows up only when there are indications of financial urgency or hardship.  Depending on your querent it can have a number of messages but all of them should be paid close attention to.

On one hand this card may indicate a person who puts so much of themselves into whatever gainful employment they are involved in that they make no time for anyone else.  This person is over worked, usually by choice, but it is in essence killing them.  Ill health of some kind – mental, physical, spiritual – is quite literally in the cards for this querent.  The kicker is that even though the person is dancing as fast as they can, their reward is minimal or non-existent.  Money goes out as fast as it comes in and your querent needs to sit down and honestly reevaluate every aspect of their life before their house falls into its faulty foundation.

On the other hand, this card may be calling out to the querent that financial ruin is only a stone’s throw away.  In this case the potential misery rests firmly on the querent’s shoulders.  Unlike the previous example, they are not working hard enough if at all, and their bank account shows it.  Time for a wake up call.  The querent needs to put up or shut up – they should either pursue their chosen path or grab the first paying job offered.  Or both.  Otherwise the worst could very well occur.

And that is more than enough for today.  Vendredi heureux ~

Header: 18th century cards from a fortune telling deck

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

My eldest daughter refuses to cut her hair.  She will allow me to snip her bangs every couple of months but the largest portion of her hair remains untouched, and untouchable.  I’ve talked to her about trimming to keep her hair healthy but there’s no use in it for now.  The problem is that the ends get unfortunately dry shampoo after shampoo.  What to do?

Everyone who has been reading HQ for a while knows that I am a great proponent of apple cider vinegar as a tonic for all lengths of hair.  Today’s recipe takes that premise up a notch with an easy to make hair softening conditioner that will leave the driest hair shiny and healthy. 

½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp wheat germ oil
3 drops of tea tree oil
3 drops of chamomile essential oil
3 drops of rosemary essential oil

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour through your hair after shampooing.  Work the mixture into your scalp and down to the ends of your hair.  Allow it to sit for three to five minutes.  Comb through and rinse with first warm water, to rinse off the conditioner, and then cool water to seal the hair cuticle.  If you really want to lock in the shine, do a final rinse with another ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and let your hair dry naturally.

This treatment can be done once a month on long hair (shoulder length or longer) or about every six to eight weeks on shorter hair.  The conditioner smells delicious and the oils will stimulate circulation and balance sebum production in the scalp.  A votre santé ~

Header: Esther by John Everett Millais c 1864

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

While dill may seem no more than a humble kitchen herb whose only magick is helping to turn cucumbers into pickles, the fact of the matter is a little more complicated.  Most all magickal disciplines have a thing or two to do with dill, and some of them might surprise you.

Old wives all over Europe advised those troubled by bad dreams or night sweats to sprinkle dill seeds on their windowsills or around their beds.  It was common knowledge, of course, that vampires, ghosts and witches would have to count every last seed before they could enter the house and/or trouble a sleeper in bed.

In hoodoo, dill is used to keep away illness, fix crossed conditions, help in court cases and bring luck in love.  The quadroons and octoroons of old New Orleans soaked dill seeds in rainwater for three days and then added the mixture, with the seeds strained out, to bathwater before preparing to attend the famous Black and White Balls.  This treatment was thought to make a girl irresistible, and to ensure she would catch the eye of a wealthy gentleman. 

A trick for success in court is to write the names of all the people named in the proceedings on a paper with red ink.  A piece of red cloth is then sprinkled with dill and coriander seeds and wrapped around the name paper.  This packet should be tied with string using as many knots as there are names on the paper, and then secreted in a cool, dark place where no one will disturb it until the case is won.  Modern root workers will often hide this trick in a freezer.

Wiccans often use dill for protection.  The flowers are carried and hung over doors to ward off the Evil Eye.  Dill hung over a crib is thought to keep the baby therein safe, while dill hung over the front door of a house will keep those with bad intentions from entering.  Wiccans also use dill seeds in money spells, putting some in a wallet, purse or where ever cash is kept to increase wealth.  Eating dill is thought to increase lust; Scott Cunningham notes that this is “…why dill pickles are so popular”.

As an amusing but practical aside, both disciplines note that keeping a packet of dill handy can relieve one of life’s little annoyances: smelling dill will stop hiccoughs.

Dill is essentially a weed in many parts of the world and therefore relatively easy to grow.  Given its wide range of edible and magickal uses, it might be worth adding a little dill to your spring gardening plans.  Or at the very least to your grocery list.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Blind Man’s Bluff by Jean-Honore Fragonard c 1751

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lundi: Recipes

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like potatoes cooked one way or another and today’s recipe is in line with last week’s.  This time, though, we’re going for a warm potato dish that will make you forget French fries (or as they are known in France, pommes frites).

This preparation is a form of oven fry which, as we all know, turns the spud into something a bit healthier.  Fried foods are delicious, of course, but they are not as good for you as baked items.  Fortunately, with this preparation, you won’t miss the fryer one little bit.

10 cloves of garlic (5 whole and 5 mashed)
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried rosemary or Herbes de Provence to taste
6 Yukon Gold or small red potatoes, peeled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and hers in a bowl.  Cut peeled potatoes in half and then cut each half into about four wedges.  Put the potatoes in the olive oil mixture and toss to coat.

Arrange potato wedges on a sheet pan lined with foil.  Make sure that they are separate from one another with no overlap.  Cook in the oven until brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Really, it’s that easy and the taste is out of this world.  This recipe makes a great meal if you sprinkle your potatoes with grated sharp cheddar cheese about five minutes before they’re done.  Bon appetite ~

Header: Girl Peeling Potatoes by Albert Anker

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Samedi: At the Crossroads

One of the most sacred places in West African and European folklore, probably from a very early time, was the place where two paths crossed.  This awe of the interchange between four directions did not leave either culture as they developed and it came to the New World with Europeans and Africans alike.  In the religions and magickal disciplines of Voudon, New Orleans voodoo and American hoodoo, crossroads are to be respected, utilized and sometimes even feared.

The respect for a crossroads, which does not usually include a place where one road terminates at another but only a place where two road cross paths, is shown in large and small ways.  It is not unusual in Haiti or the American south to see shrines set up at crossroads.  These can be built for specific spirits, to ancestors, as offerings of thanks or as petitions for help.  It is interesting to note that American Christians have followed this tradition, probably without knowing it, by building shrines to victims of car accidents at crossroads.  Little offerings are often left at crossroads, usually with the same frequency that they are left in cemeteries.  Some magickal workings call for dirt or stones from a crossroads.

Taking a little dirt from one is not the only way to work crossroad magick.  Many root workers routinely leave tricks or what has been left over from their work at crossroads.  A magickal packet might be buried at the crossroads to strengthen its power; the worker may or may not come back for it after a prescribed number of days.  Leavings from magickal work: the stumps of candles, ashes, spent herbs or stones and so on might also be buried at a crossroad as a means of magickal disposal.  This way not only is the item gotten rid of, so is the energy that clings to it.  Some root workers say that love spells can be enhanced by leaving items at each crossroad between the worker and the subject of the spell.  Likewise, leaving completely different items at each crossroad between the house of an enemy and the way out of town will encourage them to leave.  Some hoodoos even say that a person on the lam from the law should go to a crossroads and take nine steps backwards in the opposite direction from the one they plan to travel.  This is thought to fool the authorities, making them constantly search in the wrong place.

The fear of the crossroads has probably grown out of the belief that the Devil resides there, or will more readily appear there if called upon.  A dark crossroads has become the ideal place to make a pact with the Devil, probably owing to the legend of Robert Johnson.  Most people in the U.S. have some vague familiarity with the story of Johnson, the famous blues guitarist (who incidentally was said to have been born May 8, 1911).  Desperate to master the guitar but unable to, Johnson made an unusual decision.  He went to a crossroads outside Robinsonville, Mississippi in the dead of night and there called up the Devil.  Johnson exchanged his soul for an unearthly talent.  For a few years, Johnson knew the heady rewards of fame but he died suddenly in 1938 in Greenwood. 

Johnson was a talented artist, but after his death stories circulated that he couldn’t play guitar worth beans until one day when he miraculously became a virtuoso.  Though Johnson never claimed to have made a pact with the Christian Devil, the rumor sprang up and has been talked about to this day.  The old belief about handing over one’s soul merged with the power of the crossroads in the story of Robert Johnson and a legend was born. 

I remember my Aunt Bette always crossed herself when we drove through a crossroads.  She said it was “just a habit” when asked but she was a New Orleans Creole born and bred and wiser than she’d let on.  I always wondered if she, a great connoisseur of jazz and blues, thought of Johnson and his moment with the Devil as we rode through those lonely crossroads of south Jefferson parish.  Too late to ask now, but I still wonder.

Header: Crossroads by Paul Stanley (a painting of Robert Johnson by a member of KISS ~ how cool is that?)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Vendredi: Three of Spades

Today's card follows the general rule with the Suit of Spades: bad news.  Associated with the Tarot Suit of Swords, Spades are on the whole are a difficult indicator in any spread.  Honestly, though many cartomancers won’t say this out-right, the fewer of them I see on the table in front of me the easier I feel my job as a reader will be.  It is true that any bad news can be mitigated, but good news is always far more welcome.

That said, the Three of Spades generally foreshadows strife in relationships.  Tears, fights, separations and even adultery are not unheard of depending on the reading.  Because the card indicates a general upheaval in the querent’s environment, the usual thought is that the significant other is in question here but that is not always the case.  The card may be speaking to other important relationships in the family, at work or at school.  Be sure to check the cards around this one and ask your querent open ended questions.  The last thing you want to do is give them unnecessary anxiety about a cheating spouse or the loss of a job.

If absolutely no relationship is “in the cards”, the Three of Spades may speak to national or international strife such as government upheaval or civil war.  This is a far reaching prediction, of course, and one that will rarely be seen in any reading ever.  It is a good idea to know all the potential meanings of any given card, though, and the Three of Spades certainly has global potential.

And with that, another Friday of cartomancy is in the bag, mes amis.  Enjoy the rest of your day.  Vendredi heureux ~

Header: The Card Players by Jan Steen 1660