That Hoodoo I Don’t Do

I’ve had a number of people look at some of the names of my oils (Crown of Success, Kiss Me Quick, Money Drawing, etc.) and immediately assume that I practice hoodoo. For an excellent explanation of hoodoo, please visit Cat Yronwode’s Hoodoo In Theory and Practice – she’s the doyenne of hoodoo, at least online, and has published an extremely useful book on hoodoo plant correspondences. Which I have. And use, regularly. Still, Quadrivium Supplies does not produce hoodoo oils. I’m not trained in hoodoo practices and I’ve never formally studied it. That alone, I think, would disqualify the oils from being hoodoo oils.

That said, I’ve found hoodoo plant correspondences to be immensely useful, since they’re the only correspondences I’ve found that deal strictly with North American plants. I do put herbs and curios in my oil, because I’ve discovered that it adds a magical focus that a “plain” oil lacks. It’s also a way to include useful ingredients when an essential oil isn’t available, or would make the oil completely unaffordable.

I have used hoodoo oils in my magical work, and found them very effective. When I started making my own oils, I did my best to reproduce – in my own way – some of the oils I liked best. I could have called an oil Jinx Breaking, or Cleansing, but any practitioner who’s ever worked with hoodoo oils would take one sniff and say “hey, Van Van!” because of the distinctive scent. So Quadrivium Oils has Van Van, despite the fact that we aren’t technically hoodoo oil makers, because the owner likes the scent and uses it almost every day. Most of the other oil names – Money Drawing, Love Drawing, Drive Away, etc. – are named after what they do.

I’ve chosen to use these names because they’re pretty much instantly recognizable to anyone who’s investigated the use of oils in candle magic. They’re familiar, and they give a pretty good idea of what the oil is intended to do, just from the name alone. For a while, I named oils after what election they were created during, which seemed logical at the time. Let me tell you, Antares Banishing and Achalaich Reconciliation didn’t sell one bottle. No one knew what they were intended to do, or how to use them. When the names were changed to reflect what the oil did, rather than how/when it was made, people felt more comfortable using them.

Quadrivium Oils are made according to the lunar calendar, planetary days of the week, planetary hours of the day, and our Electional Oils are made according to Picatrix elections. The Picatrix is a…well, actually, just go over to the Wikipedia entry and read about it, because otherwise this blog post is going to be 5,000 words. Believe it or not, Quadrivium has a consulting astrologer who casts charts to determine the correct times to make these oils. The Electional oils are made when nine planets, the Sun, and the Moon are in certain pre-determined positions, and the time and date of the election depends upon the latitude and longitude of the practitioner. Those oils are ritually made at that time.

You can’t call the above anything but hermetic. Really. Oils made after consulting 12th century Arabic grimoires and using Chaldean astrology can’t be called anything else, as far as I’m concerned. Regardless of what’s in the oils themselves.

The recipes of Quadrivium Oils owe a great deal to hoodoo plant correspondences, but also to hermetic and Pagan tables of correspondence. A lot of experimentation went into the creation of these oils. Combine the various correspondences with the significant astrological component and you have ritual oils for magical practitioners, not hoodoo oils.

Why Oil Ingredients Matter

There’s a lot of cheap “ritual” oils being sold these days. I can go down to a new age shop and pick them up for, at most, $6 per 1/2oz. There’s no list of ingredients, no information about what the oil is other than what’s on the label. “X oil to be used for Y purpose.” People buy them, take them home, use them in candle magic or for other purposes, and generally seem pretty underwhelmed.

I know this because I did it myself. I used cheap, mass-produced “ritual oils” and I got no results whatsoever, if you don’t count an asthma attack every time I did candle magic with an oil. The reason, I concluded, was that magical oils don’t work.

Wrong.

Cheap, mass-produced oils don’t work. Why? Because the supernatural properties of magical oils are tied in to the plant ingredients – essential oils and solid herbs. When you buy a cheap oil, you’re getting chemical solvents, mineral oil, food dye, and synthetic fragrances.

The ingredients matter. The plants matter.

Magical oils should contain essential oils, a carrier oil, and possibly curios and herbs added as a focus. There shouldn’t be chemical solvents to stretch the oil further, or synthetic scents to make it “smell right.” Adding chemicals to magical oils is an excellent way to not get any results from your spellwork.

Know what you’re getting. There’s no governing body over oils, or requirements for labeling, so unless you have a list of ingredients on the bottle, you don’t know what’s in the oil.
The term “anointing oil” is meaningless – it’s oil meant for anointing, and could contain anything. “Ritual oil” and “magical oil” are similarly without any guarantee that you’re getting something other than a bottle full of chemicals. And those “essential oil blend” oils listed in catalogs? That just means that there’s an essential oil in it – the rest of it might be synthetic and solvents.

Know who you’re buying from. Buy from practitioners, if you can. It’s more expensive, because we use the real thing. Someone selling “sandalwood anointing oil” for $5.00 is selling a synthetic – sandalwood essential oil runs about $400 for 1/2 oz. Creative practitioners will find ways to keep the cost down, though, like using powdered sandalwood instead of essential oil, which is much more reasonably priced.

Natural oils do not smell like synthetics. They don’t feel like synthetics. And they certainly don’t have the shelf life of synthetics. They’re more expensive, they can be harder to use, and they have to be stored in a particular way.

Why would anyone go to all that trouble?

Because they work.

Job Hunting With Oils

There’s a lot of people out there who need a job, want to make their temporary job permanent, turn a part-time job to full-time, or would like a raise in their current job. All of these elements are addressed in the Quadrivium Get A Job oil, which most practitioners seem to use in candle magic work. That’s not the only oil that can be used, however, and candle magic is certainly not the only use for a magical oil.

Some suggestions for using Get A Job in non-candle-magic ways:

  • Pour a drop of oil into your hands and rub them together before getting online to submit resumes or search for work. Just a drop, though, as this oil contains essential oil of cinnamon, which is a skin irritant.
  • Put a smudge of oil on your phone (only in a place where it’s not going to damage your screen or fry circuitry!) before you make calls regarding work, or touch your earlobe with the oil.
  • When submitting a paper resume, use a tiny bit of oil on a corner of the paper and touch some oil to the envelope you’re using to mail it.
  • Leather is a great carrier for oils – you can anoint your shoes, or your belt, with the scent before an interview. If you don’t wear leather, vinyl and plastic aren’t quite as good for carrying scent, but they work.
  • If you find the scent of the oil appealing, it’s totally acceptable to use it as a personal scent.  As mentioned above, the cinnamon oil in the blend could make it irritating, so be sure to do a patch test first.

Remember, when wearing the oil as a scent on your skin or clothes, that some people are very sensitive to scent – and others are allergic. A smudge or a dab is just as effective as smearing it all over. Don’t use anything with cinnamon oil in a ritual bath without first diluting the oil at least 4:1 with carrier oil, just to be on the safe side.

The Money Drawing and Crown of Success oils can be used in the same way as Get A Job and, in fact, can be used at the same time. Since Get A Job is so employment-specific, adding another oil can serve as either a boost or to redirect the employment energies in a different direction for achieving a career goal.

The next post will address layering oils for a specific purpose.

As Above, So Below: Tables of Correspondence

Anyone who’s practiced magic for any length of time has heard the phrase “As above, so below.” It sums up quite neatly an idea called sympathetic magic, first widely discussed in George Frazer’s The Golden Bough.

Sympathetic magic is based on two principles: first, that “like affects like,” and second, that two things that have been in contact with one another can continue to affect one another when separated.

It’s the first principle that I’m concerned with, the idea that like affects like, that making a change to one thing will affect something that may appear entirely unrelated.

Basic sympathetic magic is concerned with the physical realm – if I make a poppet of someone and anoint it with money-drawing oil and bury it in a pile of dollar bills, the principle of sympathetic magic says that the actual person should receive a financial benefit. A physical act produces a physical result, albeit through metaphysical means.

More complex sympathetic magic relates to the unseen, connecting metaphysical attributes and powers to things as varied as gemstones, colors, sun signs, days of the week and – most importantly for my purposes – plants. Depending on where you ask and WHO you ask, what a particular plant or herb represents in magic can be very different.

This is especially true if you practice in North America, where we started off with entirely European tables of correspondence. Some plants that are very common overseas didn’t exist here, so practitioners made substitutions through trial and error.

Slowly, North American plant tables of correspondence developed and became widely available. They’ve never been standardized, as there’s no central authority, but there’s many attributes that are generally agreed upon across traditions and in all different parts of the country.

Tables of correspondence can be found in every magical tradition, and it takes trial and error to discover which herbs or scents work best for YOU. After all, if the table of correspondence says that pine is a cleansing plant and the scent of pine reminds you vividly of the fourth grade lunchroom and makes you feel queasy every time you smell it, that plant isn’t going to make it into your personal table of correspondence.

Every single piece of literature and documented folklore on the topic could say that pine is absolutely essential to use for cleansing, and it still wouldn’t work for you.

I believe every witch, every magical practitioner, who works seriously with sympathetic plant magic needs to develop their own personal tables of correspondence. Take the published correspondences as a guide, but note what works for you and what doesn’t, and what you might want to substitute instead. In time, you’ll develop a tried and true correspondence that is yours alone, and all the more powerful for it.