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Magick for profit.....

To: alt.magick,alt.lucky.w
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Magick for profit.....
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001 04:25:01 GMT

Joe Cosby wrote:
> [X] wrote:
> >But did [John Dee] sell graveyard dirt and spell kits?
> Graveyard dirt?  No, but he was a Christian, and this would have 
> been a little ticklish for him.

I agree that few Christians of Dee's era and culture would deal in
graveyard dirt, for not only might it seem sacriligious to traffick in
it, but they would literally have no USE for it. 

On the other hand, in African-derived magic such as hoodoo and Obeah, 
graveyard dirt is an important "magical link" (in the Crowleyan sense of
that term), because of the powerful culutral beliefs centered around the
role of the dead in rituals of invocation. This was and remains
especially true in the Kongo, from whence most African-American slaves
came, and in West Africa, where most Afro-Caribbean slaves came. 

(You may find veneration of ancestors rather misleadingly called
"ancestor worship" by earlier Western scholars, and you will often see
it referred to in that way in books published in English prior to the
1990s, but American and Eurpeoan scholars have recently come around to
using the more accurate African term "ancestor veneration," due to their
contact with Africans who have entered academia and gotten on the
internet .. and still practice ancestor veneration.) 

In Palo Mayombe, a mostly Cuban and Brazilian survival of Kongo
religio-magical practgice somehwat admixed with Catholicism, the dirt
from graves is kept in a "prenda" on an altar.

In hoodoo, as in African magic and in Palo, graveyard dirt can be used
for good or for ill. There are several well-known love-spells that
utilize graveyard dirt, and just as many spells to hold someone down or
restrain them in some way (what British people might call a "binding

Inhoodoo, the ritual of collecting graveyard dirt -- by the practitioner
him- or herself -- is called BUYING graveyard dirt. The usual payment in
the US, since the 19th century at least, has been a silver dime,
preferably a Mercury dime (this brings up thoughts about that earlier
thread about Mercury / Hermes / Eshu / Nbumba Nzila / Eleggua). Customs
vary, but generally the dime is offered to the dead in the entire
graveyard or to the specific spirit from whose grave one will dig the

If one wished to do harm, one might buy the dirt of someone who "died
badly" -- before their time, through execution, or so forth, because
their spirit, once invoked, would be inclined to perform evil deeds with
little compunction. If one wished to bring about love, one might buy the
dirt from someone who loved one in life (a relative or a deceased
spouse, for instance) because their spirit, once invoked, would be
inclined to help one achieve lasting love. Some workers prefer dirt from
a baby's grave, because they say that the spirit thus invoked is
malleable and biddable; but others say it is too weak, being young, and
will not prove as effective as dirt from the grave of an adult. 

This practice of the individual buying dirt from a graveyard led early
on in hoodoo to the root worker / herbalist buying the dirt and then
re-selling it. No stigma is attached to this practice, but the re-seller
may be questioned closely as to whether the dirt was properly "bought
and paid for." I have ads in old catalogues in my coillection dating
back to the 1920s in which graveyard dirt was offered for sale to the
African-American community, so this is not a recent phenomenon. -- like
most of the merchantile aspects of hoodoo, it arose as urbanization made
the personal gathering of symbolic ingredients difficult to achieve. The
price of graveyard dirt is usually nominal -- we sell it for $2.50 for a
good-sized packet. (It's dirt cheap.)

Neo-pagan authors such as Scott Cunningham have written that graveyard
dirt is "just code" for certain herbs, such as mullein, but this is
easily proven untrue by simply asking the average root-worker. In the
African-American cummonity (if not the Wiccan community) graveyard dirt
is dirst from a grave that's been ritually "bought and paid for." 

I have written a far longer essay on this subject, covering also the
topic of goofer dust, the most important compound made with graveyard
dirt. It also provides oral history context and a few sample spells
indicating how graveyard dirt is used. If this interests you, please see
the non-commercial Lucky Mojo web page

And, for those who have doubted it (but why doubt it?) yes, the
graveyard dirt we sell is from a local graveyard, and it was collected
after payment with a dime, in the manner deemed proper.  
> Spell kits?  Yes.  He [John Dee] did sell charms to people.
> One was a ring, that was supposed to help some lady with a problem 
> she was having.  I'll look up the details, if you're curious.

Another well-respected ceremonial magician, Paschal Beverly Randolph
(1825 - 1875), whose writing greatly influenced Aleister Crowley
(compare ""Will is Omnipotent, Love lieth at the Foundstion" - PBR to
"Love is the Law, Love under Will" - AC) sold not only his own books (to
Jonathan Yarker, among others) but also sold "The New Orleans Magnetic
Pillow" (a spiritual dream-aid to draw love or money), a full line of
scrying mirrors backened on the reverse with a proprietary combination
of hashish and the conjoined sexual fluids of himself and his wife, and
was also for a time, the single largest importer of hashish into the
USA, advertising same in all of the Spiritualist and Psychical journals
of his era. 

The list of mages who made money from publishing is long: Reverend
Hargrave Jennings, one of the "saints" named in the collects of
Crowley's Gnostic Mass, published and sold his own books. Others, such
as Mathers, Waite, Crowley, Levi, et al have already been named, but one
should not overlook Frater Achad (Jones), nor Peter Carroll, nor ...
well, as i said, the list of those who offer "Magick for profit" is
cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice --

No personal e-mail, please; just catch me in usenet; i read it daily. 

Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
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     Copyright (c) 2001 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.

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