Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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