Sunday, June 6, 2021

Hurston's Law Keep Away Magic Spell - Traditional Hoodoo and Voodoo


This simple spell to keep away the police comes from Zora Neale Hurston's collection of 1920s magic spells. 

You need:

  • 3 large John the Conqueror roots

Talk to the roots and tell them you need them to keep away the police and the law. Then bury them at your gate or whatever entry would be used to access your property. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Simple Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe for Magic, Four Ingredients

Years ago I made a whole elaborate post on the true history (and recipe) for Four Thieves Vinegar. However, by the time this famous mixture was being adopted into hoodoo, the recipe was often modified into something other than the original. Indeed, the original is quite elaborate -- sometimes one wishes for a nice simple four-ingredient version to make at home instead. 

This recipe is taken from a genuine 19th century source, and is like what many hoodoo practitioners at the time would have had available to them.

The following is a convenient way of preparing it for overpowering the unpleasant odors of a sick-room: Take of tops of rosemary, dried, one ounce; sage leaves, dried, one ounce; lavender flowers, dried, half an ounce; cloves, bruised, half a drachm; boiling water, half a pint; acetic acid [i.e. vinegar], one pint. Add the acid after the other ingredients have infused in the water an hour. In this state of combination, vinegar is extremely agreeable and refreshing, both to the invalid and the attendants of the sick room.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

More Discoveries on Long Lankin in Old Broadsides

 I can just hear the rising wail.

"No, Talia! Not more Lamkin! No!"

But yes, alas, it's more Lamkin.

I recently came across a searchable database of English Broadsides (before Youtube, this was how you shared songs, urban legends, gross news and so forth, through broadsides or broadsheets). I began trying to plug in any combinations of words that might lead to early/obscure versions of Lamkin. Some interesting finds:

A Cuckold by Consent

Contains the phrase "as good a ____ as ever laid stone" as in the older versions of Lankin. Which is odd, because this song is about a miller, who I don't think has a reputation for stone laying? The remainder of the lyrics are about the miller attempting to dupe a woman into sleeping with him in exchange for free flour, but his wife catches on and takes the woman's place in bed. 

There is a hint in many versions of Lankin that his real target is some kind of revenge or seduction of the lady of the house, but the connection seems pretty weak beyond perhaps a borrowed line (and perhaps a common tune -- I can't find any version of The Bed's Making.)

Shinkin's Misfortune

There are several broadside songs about Shinkin, apparently being a stereotype Welsh name. It is superficially similar to Lammikin, Lincoln, Bilankin, and other variants. I actually came across this song because of the lyric "with a pin" -- which here Shinkin uses to spur on a goat. He is a criminal committing crimes, though nothing as severe as murder. Mostly just notable as another similar name circulating in ballad tradition.

Lady Isabella's Tragedy

This is actually the same story as the old Snow White and the Wicked Queen, but without the hunter feeling a last minute pang of conscience that prevents him from going through with the assigned murder. Then, like the old Greek myth of Philomela, the corpse is baked into a pie that is fed to the father. 

The connections to the Lankin story are that the crime takes place while the lord of the house is away hunting; and also the fate of the murderers -- "The cruel step-mother/For to be burnt at stake/Likewise he judged the Master Cook/ In boiling oil to stand." There are also some versions of Lankin in which a daughter of the house is present, and either is killed or, like the scullion boy of this tale, attempts to intervene in the murders.