Saturday, September 5, 2009

On Has No Hanna Formula

Recently was seeking a good aid for some of my difficulties in sales, and found a spell from the Black and White Magic of Marie Laveau which recommended a particular mojo to be anointed with Master and Has No Hanna oils.

Has No Hanna is another of the formulas that's been standardized to near-ruin by the works of Slater. His recipes are:

open safety pin
iron filings

Tangerine base

Most recipes you will find for sale are variants on these citrus-based formulas. Unfortunately, this falls in a similar vein to "High John" oils that contain no actual John the Conqueror root. It's missing the key ingredient.

Admittedly, it's hard to blame people for some of this confusion, as the item at work seems to be itself based on a bit of botanical confusion.

Like Van Van from vervain, the name is a corruption -- possibly deliberately done for purposes of branding by the original manufacturer who started marketing the product to hoodoo and voodoo practitioners. Has No Hanna appears to be the anglicization of the term hasnuhana, another name for night-blooming jasmine. The plant is confused with tuberose at times, particularly for the similar scents. It is a shrub, native to Asia but which has become naturalized in some parts of the southern US. It smells similar to jasmine but is not actually related botanically. It's also called jessamine or cestrum. One variety, called orange jessamine, may be responsible for the addition of orange and tangerine fragrances to the mix (though not having smelled this myself I can't claim if that accurately reflects the odor.) To Slater's credit, one jessamine variety, Cape Jessamine, is botanically called gardenia jasminoides, or Common Gardenia. This may explain the use of gardenia oil in his recipe for Has No Hanna, even though even though it's not even the same genus as hasnuhana.

Now, jessamine proper is yet another type of plant with a jasmine-like fragrance, which tends to grow in the south. Yellow jessamine, gelsemium sempervirens, makes even greater confusion. A phamaceutical journal of 1876 complains, "The generic names Gelsemium and Gelseminum are often used indiscriminately, and thus confusion and doubt as to the plant spoken of are caused. The name Gelseminum was formerly used for the white jessamine (Jasminum officinale, L.), a plant belonging to a different natural order... The plant is not a true jessamine, and it is rather unfortunate that it should be often called the yellow jessamine in America, since there is a true jessamine with yellow flowers which is often found in cultivation. The danger of using the same English name for different plants is exemplified in the fact that in The American Journal of Pharmacy, 1855, p. 198, a description of the true yellow jessamine (Jasminum fnitieain, L.) is quoted from Jay's ' Botany,' as referring to the Oeliemiwn sempervirais. If the name jessamine be applied to Gelsemium sempervirens at all, it should be carefully distinguished as the Carolina jessamine."

An old issue of American Agriculturalist describes yellow jessamine as "a plant well calculated to excite enthusiasm, as it grows in such abundance, festoons the trees and shrubs so gracefully, is so brilliant in both foliage and flowers, and is withal so fragrant, that it is sure to attract the attention of the most indifferent." This is, essentially, what Has No Hanna formula is meant to do.

Confused by all of this? Here's the rundown: so is everyone. However, hasnuhana is a particular plant, cestrum nocturnum, and Has No Hanna should be made in imitation of this. I don't think an actual essential oil is available, but it is generally agreed to smell similar to jasmine. And so, Has No Hanna's primary ingredient should probably be jasmine oil.

Here is my proposed recipe for Has No Hanna. This is untested, but feel free to give it a whirl: it's not less accurate than Slater's:


And, if available, add some night-blooming jasmine flowers.

According to Anna Riva: "Anoint your purse with it, once a day, and it is claimed you will never be without money. Worn on the body, it is reputed to keep your lover close to you."

But I still I have no idea where the addition of safety pins falls into play (supposedly their purpose is to 'grab' whatever you want.) I'm inclined to blame Slater -- a lot of his recipes have weird or nonsensical ingredients in them, and I've not definitely seen mention of the safety pins in anything predating his formulary.

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