Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

Though probably not technically an "herb", that's how we are going to treat kelp and that odd form of seaweed know as agar today here at HQ. The stuff is certainly in demand for magickal workings both in Wicca and hoodoo regardless of any semantics issues.

Sea kelp, which can be found in fresh and dried form on just about any saltwater beach, is sometimes still called bladderwrack for its diuretic properties. In the past, the home nurse and/or local wise woman would keep the stuff handy to help out when frequent urination was called for as a form of purge.

In Wicca, kelp is often utilized as a way to connect with the spirits of the sea. Mermaids and other potentially helpful water sprites are thought to be drawn to the stuff. According to Scott Cunningham, one should stand in the water and toss kelp that has washed ashore back into the waves while calling to the sea spirits and asking them for their help. Be careful though; like fairy folk, sea spirits can do just as much harm as they can good.

Old wives told that carrying seaweed while one was at sea was a must for protection. This practice has expanded in our modern age and it is now considered protective to carry a piece of seaweed while traveling by plane as well as by ship. This particularly if the plane is crossing the water.

Another old wives tale - or perhaps it is an old sailor's tale - adds kelp to improve the efficacy of "whistling up the wind." The story goes that standing on the shore while waving an arm of kelp over ones head, in a clockwise motion, and whistling will stir up a good wind.

In hoodoo, kelp is boiled into a tea which is then strained and used as a floor wash to keep a steady stream of business coming in to any sort of establishment. In the home, a bit is bottled up in a jar to which whiskey is added. The jar is then sealed tight and placed near the stove or in a sunny kitchen window. It is said that this trick will ensure that the family is never caught penniless.

Agar, or agar-agar as it is sometimes called, is best known as that semi-gelatinous medium in which bacteria are grown in a lab. In hoodoo, the same stuff is used in a powder form which is often called sea spirit. It is said that carrying a bit in your pocket can make you recede from view in a crowd as long as you are careful and quiet. A pinch of the powder sprinkled in a glass of water that is then kept next to one's bed at night is thought to ward off bad dreams and malicious sendings.

Bingo players also wash their hands in a tea made with chamomile and sea spirit before going out to play their chosen game of chance. This is said to increase anyone's chances of winning at the game. Bonne chance ~

Header: Mermaid by Henry Clive via American Gallery


Timmy! said...

Like, I always say, Pauline... Whatever works.

Timmy! said...

Oh and that is a beautiful painting too, Pauline.

Pauline said...

Yup; and it only works if you believe it does.

The painting is pretty, isn't it? I love Henry Clive.

Charles L. Wallace said...

Interesting info, Pauline - thank you.

Whistling up a wind.... I am (usually) careful to avoid whistling while at sea. I don't mind so much when on a small boat on the bay (although I am still careful); but when farther out on a ship, I go so far as to talk with other lads who might be whistling, just so that they know... some of them listen. Others, landlubberly souls indeed, think me a bit eccentric ;-)

Ah, seaweed.... kelp, even. Nori, to some: a delectable wrapper for sushi. Yum! My local sushi bar has been out of business for three long years now. Kroger and Harris Teeter carry sushi in their deli sections, and while passable, it's just not the same. Saves me a lot of money, I suppose.

Pauline said...

Thank you for mentioning the edible stuff in your comment, Wally. I could not find any traditional attributions to eating seaweed, magickally speaking. I would think that Asian cultures that do - particularly Japanese culture - would have some superstitions/ideas along those lines. Maybe an update to this post when I have time to be more thorough on that angle...