On Fast Luck Formula

Rapid burning fire



Fast Luck is a popular and old-style hoodoo formula, generally used for any purpose in which one needs luck in a hurry, especially in matters of love or money.

At Extrascentsory Apothecary, Malcolm Mills writes, "I once had four different bottles of commercial versions of Fast Luck oil, none of which smelled even vaguely like the correct recipe. Two of them smelled like cherry, one smelled like baby powder, and the fourth smelled like lemon. Since Fast Luck is a combination of Juniper Berry, Patchouli and Rose, none of these oils was authentic."

Now, the cognoscenti are probably giggling here. For those not in on the joke, the juniper patchouli and rose recipe is another of the well-known fake hoodoo/voodoo recipes written by "Horrible" Herman Slater. Over at Lucky Mojo, there's an article about the recipe for Fast Luck formula in which she discredits the Slater recipe and provides a simple version from Zora Neale Hurston :

Cinnamon
Vanilla
Wintergreen

This is pretty much the version you'll get from virtually anyone who's not trying to use the Slater recipe. Lucky Mojo's blend also contains a couple extra ingredients like pyrite. Yronwode says, "Cinnamon (in powder and chip form) is widely used in African-American folk-magic to draw business and bring money-luck, hence its use as an essential oil makes good sense in this formula. Vanilla appears in numerous formulas for love-luck, so again, one is not surprised to find it in Fast Luck. Wintergreen is an oddity, though -- it has very few magical ascriptions, and it seems to function, in my experience, primarily as a fragrance that mediates and blends the rather contradictory aromas of Cinnamon and Vanilla. In any case, without it, one does not get the characteristic "Fast Luck" smell."

But without it was, indeed, my amazing Pharmacy Museum discovery! I do not know the date on this book of hoodoo recipes which sat open on a shelf behind a locked glass, but it looked pre-1950s at the very latest, and quite possibly was of Victorian origin like most of the museum's displays. This recipe was:

Cinnamon
Lemongrass
Bergamot

Aside from the cinnamon this obviously doesn't resemble the 'standard' recipe much at all! Yet functionally it should serve well: cinnamon for money and love, as described above; lemongrass is a famous multipurpose herb that also would strengthen the properties of cinnamon; and bergamot is the oddity here. It's a commanding-type ingredient, but is sometimes used to help a person control a situation and not just a person, and perhaps that's why it's included. Interestingly, that element links it back to the patchouli used in the Slater, patchouli being another commanding ingredient. Maybe he did base his version off a dodgy tip like Hurston's second recipe, which was plain citronella.

These days it is common for Fast Luck to be colored red, ideally with alkanet. None of the Pharmacy Museum booklet's oil recipes contained coloring instructions at all that I remember (though as an aside, the recipe it had for War Water was colored with cochineal.)

It's also worth mentioning that Hurston cites another recipe for Fast Luck consisting of citronella alone. 

"Green Luck Oil"


Previously we posted about feeding a hoodoo gambling charm with "green-luck oil." This is from an old spell using old mixtures.

For a span, it was common to find hoodoo formulas with basic names like "Love Power" or "Luck Oil" and the said formula would be available in multiple colors. In Mules and Men, Hurston differentiates between "Red Fast Luck" and normal "Fast Luck" for example. Her data suggests each colored formula might be a slightly different herb or scent blend as well as being a different color.

Green-luck oil would presumably have been a green colored version of Luck Oil. In my archives, I've got an old recipe for something called "Green Ointment" which was made with honey, beeswax, turpentine, wintergreen oil and laudanum, mixed into a base of verdigris and lard. This was a 19th century medicinal preparation, but not only was it typical in the old days for various other items to be repurposed to hoodoo use by people -- especially pharmacists -- who either didn't believe in the magic and were content to pass off anything, or else who saw potential in existing goods for serving their purposes. Green ointment's primary ingredients wouldn't make a bad gambling oil: take out the poisonous substances and we're left with honey, beeswax, turpentine and wintergreen in a lard base. Removing the thickeners, since we want a liquid, we get honey, turpentine and wintergreen oil. Honey is a sweetener and is also sticky -- both good for money luck. Turpentine usually comes from pine trees, which are good for money luck as they are evergreens (and it could be replaced with pine oil, for our purposes, if one wished.) Wintergreen is another traditional hoodoo ingredient for gambling luck. A modern green dye or herbal infusion could be used in place of the verdigris for the sake of color. 

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