Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jeudi: Root Work

I have been asked on occasion whether or not the workings of root workers down through the ages are based on anything besides "mumbo-jumbo" and "oogie-googie myths." It's a fair question, really, and not a surprising one in our current anti-religious political climate. Does bayberry really draw wealth? Will rosemary water in your floor wash truly bring peace to your home? Can a white candle help one achieve healing? The questions go on and on.

There is a deeper issue at stake, of course, and that is the issue of belief. If you believe - truly believe - in the efficacy of anything, you will perceive that it has helped you. Changing your mindset is the most important part of any magickal system. On the other hand, much of root work is based on very old and, unfortunately, frequently forgotten knowledge of healing herbs, minerals and other natural formulas. Rosemary water brings peace and piece of mind to a household because its scent soothes the anxiety receptors in the brain. This has been proven by clinical research and so have a hundred other little notes in the ongoing hymn that is magick.

Another point in this discussion is the long standing use of so called "personal concerns" in root work and hoodoo. The use of bodily effluvia and things that have come in contact with same is an established tradition in these magickal disciplines. Everything from simple strands of hair to very private secretions such as menstrual blood are used. It makes sense to think that the getting of someone else's very personal items - underwear, hair, foot tracks, photographs - would allow one to have control over that person and these types of workings are certainly older than hoodoo.

One of the most effective of the "personal concerns" tricks - and one that is a clear illustration of root work being very plausible - involves keeping your dog from straying away.

Everyone knows I'm a sucker for rescuing dogs. But sometimes the dog you bring home is still pining for his or her old environment - no matter how abusive it may have been. This was certainly the case with our Saint Thor who, for a few weeks after we took him in, would find any excuse to run away looking, one has to imagine, for where he used to live. It was quite distressing, but root work gave me two options for a simple solution.

The first - and depending on your sensibilities least troublesome - is to make sure that something you have worn is spread out in the dog's chosen sleeping area(s). An old, unwashed t-shirt is the very best option. Many dogs will become very fond of sleeping on your clothes but be warned: one of the Shar-Peis we had in California took to clothing so well that he would pilfer items out of the hamper. I'm sure you can imagine the ones old Magic liked the best...

The second is an even older trick that goes back to the days when people would occasionally "borrow" good hunting and/or guard dogs from one another. For this working you'll need to go without showering and deodorant for a day. Once your body's scent has returned after its almost permanent cultural sterilization, rub a few pieces of bread under your armpits and mix them with your dog's food. This need not be repeated unless you have a particularly stubborn free spirit, then you can work the trick as often as you like. A little sweat on his bread isn't going to trouble your dog.

Both of these workings have a sound explanation for their efficacy. Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, live by their noses. Scent creates pack bonds and humans have become a dog's pack. As your new best friend becomes familiar with your scent he also becomes comfortable with being part of your pack. It's the simple use of the animal's nature to make you both happy together.

And that is the best outcome of all, no matter how you slice it.

Header: Man's Best Friend by Repin via Wikimedia


Timmy! said...

As to your first point, you are absolutely correct, Pauline. Your belief, or attitude if you will, makes all the difference as explained in this article I saw this morning:

The human mind can be a very powerful thing when it is put to good use. Also, as you pointed out, a lot of this stuff is backed up by science.

And what could be better than man's best friend? Nothing that I have yet found.

Mike Hebert said...

That's great information Pauline.

I dated a couple of girls who were into Wicca. One in particular stuck in my mind, even though a long time ago, and I would mention her often to female friends at work. One day they asked me, "you talk about her often, did she ever cook you spaghetti?" I said, oh yeah, all the time! They busted out laughing and told me to be careful in the future.;-)

But I'm not sure if that's a Wiccan thing or Hoodoo thing or they're practiced by both. She might have mixed it up, being a Louisiana girl. The "taste" or "scent" eventually wore off. lol

And then again, it was probably nothing of the sort and I simply loved her. And she cooked a kick butt spaghetti.

Timmy! said...

Mike brings up another excellent point, Pauline. We men are very much like dogs in a lot of ways (so it makes sense that these workings would be effective on us as well)...

Pauline said...

Timmy! That's an interesting article. The human mind is a pretty amazing thing.

Mike: It's the oldest trick in the book, right? But hey; you can't blame a girl for trying. She must have been very fond of you, too, or she wouldn't have gone to all that trouble ;)