Sunday, 6 April 2014

Youtube Videos.

I've recently been making some Youtube videos. If people like I'll make some more. If you would like to subscribe to my channel there is a link on the panel at the right of the screen. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

More Italian Spirits!

Since writing the post on Italian skulls I've had a few requests to write more on Italian folk beliefs. I thought a good post would be one that covers some spirits in popular folklore.


Munaciello is a mischievous spirit, he takes the form of a small man dressed in robes and wearing a wide brimmed hat. He is often blamed for the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. If one suspects a munaciello to be in the house then offerings of simple food can be laid to turn his mischievous nature to the occupants favour. 

There are several origin myths surrounding the Munaciello, few can agree on what he actually is.
One story is that the Munaciello is the spirit of dead Neopolitan sewer workers who can gain easy access to peoples homes via open drains. 
Another legend tells of him being a sort of folk saint popular in the 15th ccentury, The Munaciello is the offspring of two ill fated lovers, Catarina Frezza (the daughter of a wealthy merchant) and Stefano Mariconda (her fathers apprentice).
Catarina's father dissaproved of the affair between his daughter and Franco. When he learnt about the secret love affair he decided to put an end to it by sending Catarina's brothers to hide in the place were the secret lovers met and murder Franco.
But it was too late Catarina was already pregnant, when her father found out, to avoid the scandal of his daughter being an unwed mother he sent her to a convent. The nuns told Catarina of Francos fate and poor Catarina went mad with grief, her grief turned inwards and deformed her unborn child. She died shortly after giving birth to a boy child.

The nuns adopted the boy and dressed him in a hooded cloak and wide brimmed hat to hide his monstrous appearance. In the streets of Naples he was given the nickname "Munaciello" (little monk).
The child was credited with miraculous powers both to heal and harm. Sadly the little boy died due to his deformities at a young age. But was not forgotten.

There are other theories as to who or what Munaciello is, other tales tell of him being an agent of Satan; an evil spirit, or simply an imp or faery.

The Munaciello is generally regarded to be mischeivious, when not seen as down right malicious. However it is said if appeased by offerings of food (usually a small plate of bread dipped in honey laid behind a door) then the munaciello will return the kind gesture by bringing financial prosperity into the home and becoming a spiritual ally to the family dwelling there. Though any favours or blessings he does bestow should not be revealed outside the family or his wrath will be incurred and he will start to cause mischief and discord within the home again. 
This belief is the origin of the saying: “He must have a little monk in his house!” meaning someone is uncannily lucky.
Others warn against seeking financial assistance from Lo Munaciello and should he offer you money you should refuse it, as he is no more than a demon trying to purchase your soul.

Bella ‘Mbriana:

The Bella 'Mbriana is considered to be the spirit of a home itself and a spirit of sunlight. She will manifest herself as a beautiful woman, in this form glimpses of her may be caught out of the corner of your eye during the day (alluding to her solar nature) when the wind catches the curtains or her reflection glimpsed in a window pane. She may also manifest as a gecko appearing on walls to keep watch on domestic activities (which is why southern Italians will never disturb a gecko if they find one in their house).

A gecko, one of the forms of 'Mbriana

The Bella 'Mbriana is well loved and is considered to be largely a benevolent spirit, she can be consulted to bring harmony into the home or petitioned to solve family problems, she is also the antithesis of Munaciello and can be called upon to rid the house of him.

Bella 'Mbriana in her human form.

As benevolent as she is she may also be angered if household chores are ignored and cause trouble. Her wrath may also be incurred if the inhabitants of the house talk about moving within the home, all discussions of moving house must be held outside, some say her wrath at the betrayal of abandonment may be so violent she may kill one of the members of the household.
‘Mbriana can be placated or favour found with her by setting her a candlelit meal at the family table complete with cutlery and wine.


A hideous hag spirit that inhabits walnut trees but will force its way into homes, the Janara is heavily linked to the witches of Benevento. Some modern folklorists have also linked her to the cults of Hecate and Diana aswell as the mythos of Aradia (“Janara” is supposed to be a corruption of “Dianara” i.e  “follower of Diana”) . She is often envisioned or depicted with a walnut tree, another allusion to the witchcraft of Benevento.
Janara in her walnut tree presiding over a Sabbat.

In Benevento witches where believed to gather beneath walnut trees to hold their sabbats and cavort naked in lascivious diabolical rites. St Bernard of Siena was supposed to have cut one of these notorious trees down, only for it to be resurrected by Satan himself.

It is important to understand when we speak of Hecate we are not speaking of the Neo-pagan Hecate. The view of Hecate in medieval/renaissance Italian witch-lore is the infernal Hecate, a queen of hell, who’s dominion is the darkest magics, poisons that induce abortion, sexual perversion and damned souls.

Hecate, portrayed as a demon.

Janara lets her presence in the home known by inflicting sleep paralysis in the youngest or best looking males of the household which she then vampirises, she may also inflict birth defects on the unborn babies of pregnant women who enter the house, it is said she does this by passing the spirit of the unborn child through a magical tripod that she usually keeps her cauldron on to brew her poisons.
Should a household find itself under the influence of Janara a broom may be propped near the front door to keep her happy or a bag of salt hung by the door to keep her quiet (she will be compelled to count every grain of salt in the bag.) The Janara is a powerful witch and master herbalist, the less scrupulous members of the household may try and gain access to her secret knowledge of poisons by means of offerings of sorghum broom laid at the foot of walnut trees, she is said to be especially knowledgeable of poisons that cause paralysis and stupor.
Janara manifests as a gust of wind, she will on occasion take human form, should she do this remember her Achilles heel is her hair. Catch her by her hair and she will ask the question “What do you have in your hand?” if you answer “I have hair in my hand” then she will turn back into a gust of wind, escape and wreck havoc. If you answer “I have in my hand iron and steel” she is your slave and will protect you and your household for 7 generations.
Janara can also be spotted on Christmas Eve as the last woman leaving the church, she is believed to attend once a year to steal the host for her diabolical workings.

Well that's all for now! If you'd like more posts on Italian stuff just ask!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Anima Sola and Il Capitano: Calling on The Dead through bone and fire. Part 2: Il Capitano.

Modern day skull veneration, this spirit is being appeased with small gifts and trinkets, Fontanelle Cemetery, Naples, Italy.

Southern Italy has always been a place of magic and superstition. Desperately poor in many areas people have had much need for miracles and have turned to any spirit who can help them.

I'd like to talk about an interesting yet little known part of Southern Italian culture, the worship of the Dead. This post ties in with last post as it is closely tied up with the Anima Sola cults.

I'd like to talk about a particular type of Anima Sola known collectively in Italy as "Anime Pezzentelle" or in English "Tramp Souls" i.e the lost souls of the forgotten dead who reside in purgatory. In this blog post I shall be talking about a specific type of veneration directed at theses spirits; the practice of skull worship.

One of the most interesting cults to grow up around these spirits is the Fontenelle skull cult of Naples. An unorganised cult of the dead where adherents would (and still do) communicate to the purgatorial souls through venerating their skulls. One of the most famous skull spirits venerated in this cult is Il Capitano (The Captain).

To understand the Fontenelle Skull cult, first a little history;

Throughout Southern Italy charnal houses, catacombs and ossuaries are no big deal, given that Italians rarely bury their dead (prefering to brick them into walls, mosoleums or put them in ossuaries).

In 17th century Naples a little charnal house was born from the bones of the cities poor.

Starting out as a small cave known as Fontenelle cemetery, here corpses with no family or family too poor to have them properly intered, would be unceremoniously dumped.

By the late 17th century the cave was full to bursting with rotting corpses and bones, it was sealed and left well alone.
During heavy rain, Naples became flooded one year, resulting in the cave over flowing with water and spilling its contents out into the streets of the city, creating a macarbre and grisly display. Upset and ashamed by the poor treatment of the human remains (or perhaps frightened the disrespected Dead had refused to be forgotten and had decided to make their existence well known by washinig up on the sidewalk), the citizens gathered up the remains and returned them to the cave. Displaying the bones in a more dignified manner.

Fontenelle Cemetery proper was born.

From this point on the "cemetery" (more properly a vast carnal house) became a dignified resting place for skulls of the unknown and desperately poor to be put to rest. Where prayers to ease their suffering in purgatory and ensure their salvation could be offered by the living.

In 1837 a cholera epidemic hit Naples killing many people, Fontenelle cemetery exploded from a large carnal house to a vast necropolis of skulls.

Over the next few decades more skulls found their way into Fontenelle, and more believers came to pray for the skulls. Some came simply to give respect to the deceased who had been given no respect in life, some came to pray for the release of the souls from purgatory and some came because the skulls as representatives of individual purgatorial souls, where willing to respond to petitions and grant favours.

Our Lady assisting The Dead.

By 1887 Fontenelle was a huge city of the Dead. A chapel to Our Lady of Mount Carmel (who in catholic theology is said to help souls out of purgatory) had been erected at the gates of the cemetery.

 The Preist presiding over the church decided to give Fontenelle an overhaul, arranging the thousands of skulls in neat lines and piles. People where coming from all over Naples and Southern Italy to visit this curious carnal house and not only pray for the skulls but also to actually pray to the skulls themselves. As the skulls, grateful for attention and benediction from the living, where starting to answer the prayers of the faithful with gusto....

Organised skulls neatly arranged at Fontanelle Cemetery.

The Rise, Fall and Rise of the Fontenelle cult in the 20th and 21st Century:

To work with the skulls in Fontenelle, one must first adopt a skull. Originally a devotee would go to Fontenelle and sleep among the skulls, a skull would present themselves to the devotee and tell him or her their true name and where to find the skull in the ossuary. Once the devotee had physically located the skull then he or she would talk directly to the skull and the skull would answer back psychically. The skull would give advice and barter with the devotee to grant their requests in exchange of care and offerings.
If a skull did not appear in the devotees dream, no problem, particularly fervent devotees of the skulls (usually women) who where skilled in conversing with the skulls would be able to divine or ask the skulls on your behalf as to which would be willing to help you. This would be a personal relationship between skull and devotee, that particular skull being your first port of call when in need of any favour.

Small requests where rewarded with candles, prayers and small gifts of coins and flowers.

Ex voto shrine engraved with the mystically revealed names of spirits.

Engraving reads: "For Favours Received"

If a skull fulfilled a particularly generous request, the devotee would pay to have a box shrine made to house the skull, these ex voto shrines where made of either wood or marble and the revealed name of the skull (not the name of the devotee) would be engraved on the shrine.

The better the skull worked the more elaborate the shrine, as it could draw more followers to pay to build grander shrines and receive more offerings. Some skulls had many followers who would petition the skulls directly or write out their requests on scraps of paper and stuff them into the skulls eye sockets.

Modern offering of prayer to a lone skull at Fontanelle.

By the 20th century many of the skulls had garnered reputations as being good at different things. For example one skull was highly prized for granting fertility, this skull would often be fought over by women desperate to conceive, asking little in return other than to be carressed. This skull became shiny and polished through years of being stroked.

Many skulls where gifted at revealing lottery numbers to their faithful. A group of skulls who had revealed themselves as a group of monks where especially sought after for this. It is said that Saturday was the day the Lottery was drawn in Naples, but on Friday night the lines to get into Fontanelle where massive as the living went to petition and appease these skulls with precognitive powers, hoping they would give them lottery numbers.

Fontanelle Cemetery. Catacomb leading to the main altar.

During the war the cult of the skulls reached its height as death and desperation was all around, inciting people to pray for themselves and their loved ones. Fontenelle cemetery, now over 30,000 square metres in area and home to 8 million bones, was also being used as an air raid shelter and peoples whose homes had been destroyed also sought semi permanent shelter there. Turning to the skulls for comfort and hope. Many ex votos in Fontenelle are from devotees giving thanks to the skulls for protecting them and giving them shelter.

In 1969 The Archbishop of Naples had enough of the skulls and their devotees. He decided he would single handedly stamp out the skull cult, his rationale being the cult was pagan, satanic and evil.

Though in truth, he was probably just lacking faith and was simply embarrassed that his diocese was becoming famous for magic talking skulls that granted wishes. This made the members of his flock look retarded among stuffy church officials and caused him to be butt of jokes at vatican get togethers.

The Archbishop promptly closed Fontenelle cemetery to the public in the summer of 1969. not only cutting 1000s of devotees off from their beloved skulls, but also hiding one of the most beautiful and sacred memorials in Europe away from the world.

Cardinal Ursi, Archbishop of Naples 1967-1987
Disliked skulls.

The closing of Fontenelle cemetery did not deter the devotees. Die hard skull worshipers would still visit the gates during its closure to slip petitions through the door. Others would visit the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where they would prostrate themselves on the floor and bang with their open hand to gain the attention of the skulls. They would then whisper their petitions hoping the skulls would hear them. Lights and prayers would be offered to the skulls in the church itself.

For nearly 4 decades the skulls lay hidden in the catacombs, unseen by the living bar a local Satanic group breaking into the necropolis once or twice to perform rites of black magic (much to the excitement of the local press).
In 2006 the public was allowed back in Fontenelle for a few days of the year, after a 4 year renovation when the local council decided the place was of historic interest.

On the day of its reopening an old woman appeared at the gates, she called out; "Pasquale! Pasquale! where is my Pasquale?"
The renovators looked puzzled and asked her who Pasquale was.

She told them it was her beloved skull who she had not seen for almost 40 years. The renovators shrugged when the old woman said she could hear her beloved Pasquale calling to her amongst the thousands of skulls. But she followed his voice and to the renovators suprise headed straight to a pile of skulls and unearthed a skull sat in an ex voto with the name "Pasquale" carved upon it.
Today a bronze replica of Pasquale The Skull sits at the entrance of Fontenelle, keeping a watchful eye on skull devotees coming and going.

The local government had failed realise the skull cult hadn't entirely died out, after a few years campaigning by the bone worshipers, they finally agreed to open Fontenelle full time to the public in 2012.

Fontanelle Skulls, not gone and not forgotten.

Those who remembered their skulls started to come back in droves.....bringing their children and grandchildren with them.


Modern day offerings of religious trinkets to the Dead.

It is encouraging and heartwarming to see, that even though the skulls are not venerated with the same fervour as before Fontenelle closed, their popularity is steadily growing as people come to realise the place is not gone. The cemetery have been open over a year now and many of the old skull venerators have come back to petition their skulls and a new generation of devotees has started to grow up, evident by the candles and gifts being left everyday. Many tourists come also to wish the skulls well and hopefully be blessed with a little luck too. It will be interesting to see how the skulls fare once news of their revival gets around in the next few years.

Il Capitano: (The Captain)

The Captain!
Now. Amid all these 1000's of skulls, one skull spirit has gained noteriety over the years for his supernatural power that is both feared and sought after. Like some sort of Italian version of Baron Samedi. The Captain rules supreme in Fontanelle Cemetery, he is the stuff of modern legend.......more on him soon!

To be continued....

Disclaimer: Sadly I do not own any of these wonderful pictures of Fontanelle Cemetery, they are courtesy of Google. No copy-write infringement intended, if any of these pics are yours and you don't want them used, please email me and I will take them down.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Anima Sola and Il Capitano: Calling on The Dead through bone and fire. Part 1: The Anima Sola.

 Well it's been a while, so many spirits so little sometimes life gets in the way. So apologies, I'd like to get back into this blog and what better way to start with two interesting spiritual entities of Italian origin that capture my imagination and heart. The Anima Sola and The Captain.

These two entities are related as both are part of Italian style worship of the dead in Southern Italy.

The Anima Sola:

The image of the Anima Sola is probably familiar to you if your frequent botanicas, a pretty young lady stood admist flames holding her hands and head up in supplication. "Anima Sola" is Italian for "Lonely Soul".

The two most popular images of The Anima Sola

The image represents all the lone souls who have died in venial sin and therefore after death atone for said sins in the flames of purgatory. These poor souls are too good for Hell and are destined for Heaven, however they must suffer in fire so they can be purified before entering Paradise, as there can be no bad things in Heaven.

Now, the catholic cult of The Holy Souls of Purgatory is far beyond the scope of this blog as its traditions, beliefs, theologies, rituals and customs are truly vast. So this post will focus on the folk aspects of this image and how the Anima Sola can help you.

I'm unsure of where the two main popular images above come from, I'm guessing they are Italian as they are found in and around Naples as well as the art style (particularly the image on the right) is typical of modern Italian religious art.

However Italian or not the image is popular in many cultures and spiritual traditions, especially Hispanic and south american ones.

The Anima Sola has also been syncretised with many spirits:

In Haitian Voodoo she is syncretised with the fearsome Marinette Bwa Che a powerful and much feared Lwa (Voodoo Spirit) associated with fire and werewolves.

In Lucumi she is syncretised with Eshus Alaguana (a devilish tricky crossroad spirit who is a camino of the Orisha Elegua).

In Puerto Rican Sanse she is considered a Misterio, where she may take possession as a benevolent entity who will give healing and guidance.

In some traditions the image is taken to be Maria Celestina Abdenago, who may be a pious Jewish woman trapped in purgatory or an evil witch in Hell (depending on who you ask.....more on her later.)

In some Italian forms of black magic she may be syncretised with the damned souls of suicides, these spirits are souls burning in Hell (not Purgatory) for the sin of self murder. They are employed by a sorcerer/sorceress in dark rites who will turn them against an enemy causing their enemy to commit suicide themselves and so increase the legions of lost infernal souls. 

The list goes on, as she provides a mask for many fiery "hot" spirits.

Some people confuse the Anima Sola with "The Intraquil Spirit" it is important you recognise these are not the same entities.

Folk Customs relating to the Anima Sola

The Anima Sola is amongst the more mystical and magical of the folk saints (if something that doesnt dwell in heaven can be called a saint).

An image of the Anima Sola can be placed in the house and offered water to quieten unhappy ghosts and help them pass on.

An Anima Sola spirit package made by me as a gift for a family member.

The image can also be used as a focus for pretty much any petition to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Suffering the intense flames of purgatory The Poor Souls welcome all prayers and in return bestow large favours and graces in gratitude for those willing to trouble themselves with prayers to cease their suffering and get them into Heaven faster.
In the spirit of the Anima Sola being willing to grant any request an interesting little folk tale has grown up around her:

On the day of the crucifixion as Jesus of Nazareth was carrying the cross to Golgotha, he fell to the ground from thirst, a young woman was in the crowd holding a gourd of water. Jesus begged the young woman for a sip of water to wet his lips so he may continue his journey and die for her and all humanities sins. 
The young woman scoffed at him and refused him a drink. When the young woman died, God in his mercy did not damn her to Hell. Instead he condemned her to purgatory until the day Jesus returned to Earth, whilst in purgatory she was ordained to help, as best she could, any living human who asked her a favour, no matter how big or small, to atone for the sin selfishness towards someone trying to perform the ultimate act of selflessness.

Another version of this folk tale is found in parts of South America, where the name of the Anima Sola is given as Maria Celestina Abdegno. A pious woman who went to Golgotha to offer water to the crucified, she gave water to the 2 thieves but not Jesus out of fear of The Saviour.
Other folk tales tell of Maria Celestina Abdegno actually being a witch who spat in the face of Jesus as he passed her in the street on the way to be crucified. In this guise she is often invoked in black magic spells along with another Anima Sola or Damned Soul (depending on tradition) called Juan Minero, who, legend has it, is currently busy mining coal on the celestial planes to keep the fires of Hell and Purgatory burning.

One of the most interesting things that have come out of the folk cult of the Anima Sola is the prolific use of the image in love magic.

The Anima Sola can be used in spells to return a lover, the flames in the image are seen as flames of passion not punishment, she is seen not suffering from penal fire but tortured by the heated pangs of love. Petitions of this nature request the Anima Sola causes the estranged lover to burn with desire for the jilted partner.

Another, much darker, practice of love magic involves the Anima Sola in one of the most desperate of love spells. Folk Legend has it the woman depicted in the flames of purgatory is a woman who shunned the eternal love of God for the temporal love of a man on Earth, landing her in purgatory when she died. Suffering horrifically day and night with flames continuously burning but never consuming her, she will out of desperation cause anyone to fall in love with you. For a price.
Upon entering a contract with her, she will deliver unto you your hearts desire, though your part of the bargain is that once you die you must take her place among the flames of purgatory and suffer the rest of her sentence ontop of your own, making you the new Anima Sola.

How to work with The Anima Sola.

There are lots of ways to work with the Anima Sola. Heres a few ideas;

Print yourself out a nice picture of the Anima Sola and frame it, or even better get a statue. Lay out a white cloth and place a crucifix at the back and place the image in front of it. You may also like to put images of St Michael and Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the space too (both saints associated with assisting the Poor Souls). Place a white candle on the shrine along with a cool glass of water to soothe the spirits sufferings and give them a medium to travel through. Pray to God for their release from purgatory.  Offer them white flowers and kananga perfume. Pray to God often for them also talk to them offering them kind words of encouragement and asking them to pray to God for you as you have prayed for them.
Temporary shrine for spiritual working.

If you would like something more dramatic and "heated" to gain a more intense relationship with them build a large shrine decorated with red, orange and gold cloths. Place broken chains and skulls on the shrine along with red and orange candles. Have a crucifix and the images of the saints mentioned above along with a large dramatic image of the Anima Sola. Other saints associated with the holy souls may include St Gertrude or San Paolo Della Croce of the passionists. Add a large brass censer and offer up incense with your prayers, perhaps keep a lamp burning with Anima Sola oil in it.

Some say Monday is a good day to pray for them, other say you should offer hard spirits like rum and cigars. Do what your personal tradition dictates.

Prayers to the Anima Sola.

Hear mortal men, the cries of the imprisoned soul, alone and abandoned in a dark prison.
O Anima Sola, soul of peace and war.
Soul of sea and of land.
I desire that all that I have lost be returned.
O Anima Sola, you who are alone and abandoned,
I accompany you in your grief.
  I take pity upon you.
  For I know of the grief and suffering you must endure within your harsh and long imprisonment.
I offer you this prayer and glass of water because I desire to lessen your pain and quench your thirst.
Sad Soul, Lonely Soul, no one calls you, But I call you. 
No one looks for you, but I seek you out. 
No one loves you, but I adore you. 
No one remembers you, but I keep you in my heart. 
I offer you this lit candle so that you may find your way into the light.
In this moment I offer to you my meritorious labour, and all that I have suffered, suffer and will suffer in this life, even though it can never compare to yours.
I humbly pray that you finish paying for your mortal sins of the flesh so that you may find the grace of God, and be lifted from your imprisonment,
With your grace you shall be my benefactor. 

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Anima Sola of Heaven and Earth,
Anima Sola of sky and sea,
As you are in the midst of the Blessed Virgin put me in the heart of N, N.  

May s/he not drink, or sleep, or take enjoyment in pleasure without me. 
I turn to you in faith and hope, may you look down on me in good grace. 
By Jesus Christ at the foot of the cross on Maundy Thursday. 
N, N I conjure you again and again,
  so you do not take any pleasure in this world with any man/woman other than me,
under the divine protection of Jesus Christ.
Anima Sola we are united as we are both Lonely Souls.
Grant me my petition, I implore you as you understand the measures that I can not at this time achieve myself


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Spitting Venom and Serpent Tongues. Dealing with Gossip, Lies and Slander

Curses dont put men in hearses but wagging tongues dig mens the saying goes.

Gossip. Its ugly, nasty and childish.

If someone is spreading unpleasant rumours about you, it can be upsetting and immensely hurtful.

You should strive to rise above it and ignore people who bad mouth you.

But sometimes gossip goes beyond idle chatter and petty cruelty.
Sometimes it can be dangerous, it can cause innocent people to have their reputations and lives ruined.

God forbid anyone should find themselves in a situation like this, but it does happen.

So if you find yourself the victim of vicious slander you should of course contact the authorities or legal advice.

But it wouldn't hurt also to do some hoodoo on the side.......

Pins are placed through the cheeks of a figure candle to "cross up" a wicked tongue in a ritual performed by me for a client.

There are many magical agents and methods to deal with liars, gossips and to silence people who talk too much. Here are a few:


A type of aluminium salt, its a white powdery mineral you may be familiar with if you are a man who regularly shaves, alum is what styptic pencils are made from, the type you dab your face with when you cut yourself shaving.
This mineral is easily available from chemists (just buy an astringent shaving stick and crush it up in a pestle and mortar)
Alum is also used as a magical ingredient to silence people with big mouths.

Slippery Elm

This powdered tree bark is used magically to silence mouthy people, it also doubles as a pacifier for all manner of bitchiness. Sick of bitching going on in work? Sprinkle it across the threshold for people to walk in whilst reciting Psalm 52.

The Vinegar of The 4 Thieves

Prized by french grave robbers during the plague as an antiseptic to protect against disease this mixture has been credited with magical properties. It is believed to dispel enemies and can be used as part of certain Stop Gossip workings.
Made from vinegars, wormwood and other secret bitter herbs, this concoction can be anything from bright blue to dark brown in colour (my personal mixture is a vivid blue-green colour), it has an immensely acidic acrid scent and will stain.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Let the evil doers words burn in their mouths with these flaming hot peppers. 13 of these lethally hot peppers can be stuffed into a beef tongue that has been specially prepared, the tongue is twisted, bound, pierced with 13 coffin nails and buried in a grave, left to rot with prayers and rituals that petition the guilty parties tongue to also rot in his/her mouth.

Maguey Thorns

If used correctly these vicious spikes can prick the tongue and heart of those who speak evil. In extreme cases they can sew the lips permanently shut.

Stop Gossip Oil

Brown in colour with a woody scent, this conjure oil can be used to dress candles for rites in which to stop gossip.


Dead wasps stuffed and stitched into the mouth of a doll can do wonders.


Nettles can be applied in the same way as dead wasps.

Dumb Cane

(Dieffenbachia) More an obeah than a hoodoo thing, also less of a case of magical poisoning and more of a case of just poisoning.
Dumb cane can be used very effectively to shut people up ritually or just by poisoning people with it as it paralyses the tongue and causes it to swellsometimes blocking the airway silencing them......forever.
Don't even think of feeding this plant to anyone. Ever.


Here is a stripped down version of the ritual depicted in the above photograph, you can use this if you ever feel you are the victim of gossip.

 You will need:
  • 2 pins
  • Black human figure candle depicting the gender of the person spreading the gossip
  • Holy water
  • Compelling oil
  • Stop gossip oil
  • Vinegar of the 4 Thieves
  • A dish
  • Alum
  • Slippery elm

Baptise the candle in holy water with the name of the perpetrator and etch their date of birth or name into the candle.
You must now think of and refer to the figure candle as the person you are working on. Never just as "the candle".

Dip the pins in stop gossip oil and pierce them in an X shape through his/her lower cheeks so they are crossing over where the tongue would be.
Anoint the whole thing with Stop Gossip oil.
Blow powdered slippery elm and alum from your left hand into his/her face.
Stand him/her in a hidden corner of your house facing the wall so you can get the idea he/she is an insignificant little midget in your life that you can just step around without consequence.

On a Saturday between the hours of midday and 6pm, stand him/her in a bowl of 4 thieves vinegar and place it on your altar. Light the wick and recite Psalms 37, 52 and 143:12

Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Leave him/her to burn out. Take the remains in the bowl to the cemetery and dump them at the gates.

Hope you never have to use this ritual. Peace.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

So you want to be a hoodoo?

People keep e-mailing me and asking "I want to practise hoodoo, what do I need to start out?".

 Well this is a tough question for me to answer as my own style of conjure is personal, its a mash of American hoodoo, British-Jamaican obeah and of course generic folk catholicism.

Now let me stress my own personal system of hoodoo style conjure isn't something that I slammed together on a rainy Wednesday afternoon whilst I was bored and there was nothing on TV.
It was something that formed over a long time and just sort of happened.
However hoodoo is the dominant element in it, so maybe I can help others, feel free to take from this post what you will if you are just starting out.

If you don't like what I say, that's OK, I am NOT the grand high hoodoo pope (and neither is anyone else....if you don't count Moses!), it is after all your journey and you must do what is right and what works for you, I'm not going to tell you that what you are doing is wrong.

It has been said to me that in order to practise hoodoo conjure you need three things.
  1. A glass of water, 
  2. A candle,
  3. A bible.

This is very true, you really need very little to practice Hoodoo. Most ecroutments are just an extra to aid your focus on the work being done.

I tell this to people and many times they are unhappy, they feel they need more than this to focus their work.

Hoodoo conjure is a tradition of stuff. Brightly coloured powders, mysterious fetishes, exotic smelling oils, big glittery sparkles and things that go bang. Showmanship and drama is all part of the magic of hoodoo and thats partly what makes it so wonderful, but amid all the pomp and charisma it's easy to get dazzled and lose sight of the true bare bones spiritual power behind hoodoo.

Traditional Kongo magic, one of Hoodoos rich historical roots.
Make no mistake. In its simplest form Hoodoo is no camp carnival magic show. It is a raw, primal and immensly powerful system of magic that was born from a history of blood and desperation, its roots go way back beyond the Americas to the old world and are truly ancient. When practiced its power comes up from somewhere deep down in the most fundamental human part of us that lays beyond reason, its no play shit to be trifled with, the modern whistles and bells of lotions and potions merely frame a much bigger more ancient picture.

Ive known people spend small fortunes on endless expensive paraphernalia and courses that make them "certified rootworkers", yet after all of the money invested they still couldn't conjure their way out of a wet paper bag. (Not that theres anything wrong with doing online courses or stocking up on hoodoo gear, just dont expect it to make you hoodoo extraordiniare overnight.)

Ive also known other people who have performed miracles with no more than a simple candle,  a handful of herbs and a whole lot of faith.
These are the people who impress me the most and who I strive to be like.

Let me remind you of a little something Jesus said:

"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him."

I believe the true spiritual power behind hoodoo cant just be bought, it is a gift from God and the Spirits that is inherent in every human being.

It not potions and lotions that do the work (though they help a great deal), its our faith, commitment and focus that does it.

Anyway I digress, when I tell people they need little to perform a hoodoo conjure they get upset.
This is because people have a need to perform ritual and tradition.
I totally empathise with this, as there is few feelings more joyous than being at an altar in the company of spirits with candles ablaze and the smell of incense and perfume in the air.

So Ive compiled a few lists for the budding hoodoo to get him or her started performing their own rituals and works. This is just what I recommend and based on stuff that Ive found works. 

It is by no means set in stone.

Remember there are no real set ways of doing things in hoodoo conjure. It either works or it doesn't.
However there will always be themes running through it that remain the same.
For example some people like to work with mojos, dolls and powders, other people (like myself) prefer candle burning, oils and baths.
Some take a protestant approach and only work with psalms. Others enjoy a catholic approach and call on saints.
Its all very personal and you must find what works for you.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to break the bank to get started either. Many successful hoodoo conjures where modest people and many still are.

Before you do anything, I strongly recommend setting up a table to do hoodoo work from, I personally do a lot of my hoodoo work from my altar dedicated to God and my Ancestors. I strongly recommend you do the same because without them backing up your work, you are pretty much powerless. Not all Hoodoos work with the dead, but I do and I've found my ancestors to be great allies and teachers when performing conjure. All hoodoos however, work with God.

The Ancestors.

Your Table:
Take a white cloth and spread it across a table. At the back centre of the Altar place a stand alone crucifix, if you are uncomfortable with catholic imagery then use a protestant cross, if you are uncomfortable with christian imagery in general......tough.
Hoodoo conjure has a large christian tradition attached to it and if you have such a huge problem with Christianity then its probably not for you.
Sure, you can practise hoodoo conjure and not be a christian, however you should show respect to its christian roots and the teachings of Christ if you want to do it.
Place a nice white votive light in the centre along with a brandy glass filled with water.
Keep a bible nearby.

That's it.
A plain white table with a cross, a candle and a glass of water on it, all you need.

The White represents spirituality and attracts good spirits.
The Crucifix represents your connection to God.
The Water is for your Ancestors it gives them a medium to travel through and be present.
The Candle is symbolic of illuminating the whole thing with spiritual power and is a mark of your intentions of comunion with the spirits.

Spend a little time everyday at your table in prayer to God and your Ancestors.
Your Ancestors should be given offerings regularly, at least once a week, that can be placed on the table and left overnight. These offerings can be just a simple candle or something more elaborate such as food and drink.
God on the other hand doesn't need offerings, only offerings of your love and devotion.

Keep your table nice and neat and sprinkle it with cologne on occasion to keep it free of evil spirits and spiritual grime.

Ever remember you are powerless without God, Your Ancestors are the reason you are alive, they will protect, help and guide you always.

Very Basic Supplies:

A deck of playing cards for divination
A pack of white taper candles
A jar of sea salt
A jar of sugar
A jar of graveyard dirt
A bottle of olive oil
A bottle of holy water
A bottle of cologne (I recommend either florida water or 4711, though any eau de cologne will do)

Congratulations! You are now fully kitted out to perform full blown hoodoo rituals! You will be amazed at the array of powerful, effective and wonderful rituals you can do with these simple tools just add faith and a bit of imagination.


The Table:
Again, take a white cloth and spread it across a table. At the back centre of the Altar place a stand alone crucifix or cross, place a nice white votive light in the centre along with a brandy glass filled with water.
Keep a bible nearby.
Place a skull on the table to represent the ancestors and to remind you of your own mortality.
Add other things such as:
Incense holder.
Statues of your favourite Saints.
Framed pictures of your ancestors.
You may also wish to put a pot or ginger jar on the table to place offerings inside for your ancestors to enjoy.
Some nice white flowers for decoration.
Let intuition, inspiration and the spirits guide you as to what to do with the table, if you feel your ancestors want something adding or taking away, do so.

Basic Supplies:
A pack of playing cards
An oil lamp
A censer for incense
A selection of colour taper candles (white, black, red, purple, yellow, brown and orange)
A jar of frankincense
A jar of five finger grass
A jar of camphor
A jar of basil
A jar of chamomile
A jar of ground cinnamon
A jar of laundry bluing
A jar of sea salt
A jar of sugar
A jar of graveyard dirt
A bottle of vegetable oil
A bottle of holy oil
A bottle of holy water
A bottle of cologne
A bottle of dragons blood ink and dip pen
A pack of self lighting charcoal


By this point you should have a good grounding in maintaining your table and it will have taken a form that works for you and your spiritual allies.
If you feel you want to do paid work for other people and feel you are competent to do it, fine, but here are some rules I stick to and some I think you should seriously consider when working for other people:
  • I NEVER charge anyone who NEEDS the work doing because they have fallen on hard times, this is people wrongly convicted of crimes, people suffering illnesses, people who are being abused through no fault of their own. These people get freebies from me if I have the resources to spare, if I don't have the resources, I'm happy to pray for them which can be just as effective.
  • I only ever charge the cost of the materials and minimum wage per hour for doing the work.
  • I only perform spiritual works that I feel confident doing and have the correct resources at hand to do.
  • I never make guarantees of anything, I am not a God and I am not omnipotent.
  • I always recommend conjure is just part of a solution for a problem, it is not an alternative to legal, medical or financial advice.
  • I never make claim to be "more spiritual" than anyone else, we all come from God and are equally spiritual and equally loved by God.
  • I never claim superhuman powers, what I do is perfectly human and anyone can learn to do.
  • Spirits, such as Saints, who work on my behalf to solve a problem, receive due respect, praise, payment and sacrifice.
  • I have made myself familiar with the laws of my country in regards to receiving payment for spiritual works.
  • I never reveal a clients name.
  • I never throw curses around unless it is to bring justice to an evil doer and even then it is after much careful consideration and divination.

(N.B this is the ABSOLUTE BARE MINIMUM of supplies I recommend for someone setting themselves up as a paid professional rootworker to have at their disposal if they want to be taken seriously.)

Divinatory Tools:
(Always have AT LEAST two forms of divination, so you can get more than one angle on situation)
Playing cards, Tarot cards or Lenormand cards.

Red, orange, yellow, green, purple, black, white and brown tapers.
Tea lights
Plain white glass encased novena candles (plain so pictures of saints or petitions can be stuck to the side.)
A selection of figure candles, male, female, skull etc

(Base oils)

Almond oil
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Palm oil

(Conjure oils)
Holy oil
Van-van oil
John the Conqueror oil
Road Opener oil
Crossing oil
Uncrossing oil
Crown of Success oil
Red Fast Luck oil
Money Drawing oil
Love Drawing oil

(not all these items are "minerals" per se, but Ive listed them here for ease.)
Sea salt
Laundry bluing
Graveyard dirt
Magnetic sand
Bicarbonate of soda
Iron oxide
Vesta powder

Herbs and Roots:
Red Pepper
Five finger grass
Bayberry bark
Juniper berries
Gravel root
Star anise
Orris root
John the Conqueror root
Rose petals
Valerian root

Dragons Blood

Colognes and Waters:
Holy water
Storm water
War water
Peace water
Florida water
Kananga water
Cologne 4711
Rose water

Animal Curios:
Black chicken feathers
Chicken bones
Chicken feet
Snake sheds
Cat bones
Black cat fur
Black dog fur (apparently poodle hair is traditional but I use any black dog hair)

Dragons Blood
Doves Blood
Bats Blood
Don't forget a dip pen and brown paper!

Reference Books:
Bible or psalter
The Greater Key of Solomon
6th and 7th Books of Moses
Book of Novena prayers to the Saints

Empty bottles of various sizes
Swinging censer
Regular censer
Oil lamp
4 thieves vinegar
Green and red cloth bags
Selection of hat pins, dress pins and eyed needles
Voodoo dolls
Selection of soaps: osun dudu, sandalwood, patchouli, cinnamon and savon du marseille.

So there you have it, my thoughts on starting out in hoodoo.

Good Luck and happy conjuring! :)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Italian folk charms.

Ive been asked to write a little on Italian folk magic, so here we go:

I wasn't really sure where to start, so I thought I start with charms, below are a list of magical charms and  symbols utilised in Italy and the diaspora.
The first thing Id like to cover, just because it is so mysterious and intriguing are the trulli hex signs of puglia.

Hex Signs of Puglia:

In the region of Puglia, there are traditional houses called "trulli", these houses are conical stone huts and are very common in the region, they are not really found anywhere outside of Puglia, I think I'm right in saying these houses are the result of Arabic influence on southern Italian culture. Most of these houses are centred around the town of Alberobello, which has become a sort of tourist spot due to its unusual architecture.
Granted I've only ever been to Puglia once and spent most of my time there at a waterpark eating gelato, but on the way there I still got chance to see plenty of trulli and nearly all them had these strange hex signs painted on their roofs in whitewash.
I was immediately intrigued by these strange magical signs, but whats even weirder and i intriguing is nobody is really sure of their origin, not even the families who paint them on the roofs every year, they simply shrug and say "its what we have always done". Their primary function is to ward off evil spirits, deflect witchcraft and attract luck.

Trulli decorated with hex signs 

Many of the signs on the roofs are catholic in nature and therefore self explanatory as magical symbols (catholic imagery extends beyond the realm of religion in Italy and crosses over into the realm of superstition and magic, often being used as general symbols for luck, blessing and reversing evil) for example, the pierced heart of Our Lady, the sacred heart of Jesus, the Host, the Cross etc...
However these catholic images are the exception rather than the rule. Planetary symbols from astrology are much more common and even more common are primitive symbols of suns, stickmen, crudely drawn animals and geometric shapes. And even more seen than these are strange primitive abstract symbols to who's exact origins are any ones guess (including the folk who paint them).

Common trulli hex signs. From left to right; primitive, catholic and astrological
Paint one above your door to keep the malocchio off or just as an interesting conversation piece to friends.

This charm is a very old Italian charm and falls under the category of "portafortuna" which translates as a lucky charm but can be used as a catch all term for practically any amulet or talisman. Italians are obsessed with charms that are carried or worn as jewellery. This particular charm is much more popular in the diaspora than in Italy itself, probably due to its heavy associations with witchcraft which carries satanic connotations for many Italians (please don't send me any messages telling me paganism isn't satanic, I already know this, but satanic witchcraft is far more common in Italian culture than pagan witchcraft, this isn't up for debate but a comment made on my own personal experience.)
I personally don't think the charm is satanic and I would happily wear one, I think the charm is wonderful and very magical.


It can be worn by women or men, but is generally deemed to be more of a feminine thing.
The charm consists of a piece of silver that has been shaped into a triform bunch of rue, from the tips of the rue branches sprout strange arcane symbols. Symbols vary between individual charms however the following symbols are usually always present: A waxing crescent moon, a key, a vervaine flower, a sacred heart and a fish.
The symbolism contained within the cimaruta are a blend of symbols taken from pagan, catholic and peasant folk magic, which reflects the traditional folk spirituality of Italy perfectly.
The sacred heart, the fish and the triform nature of the branch are all catholic symbols, representing Jesus, Christian faith and the Trinity.
The key and the crescent moon are likely pagan symbols of the pagan Gods Hekate and Diana, both two Goddesses associated with witchcraft and magic, these Gods where very popular symbols of magic in renaissance art and literature in Italy which is probably the period of time where the charm originates.
Rue itself is a powerful protector against evil magic in Italian herbal lore as are vervaine flowers, which also bring luck. Silver is also used in many Italian folk charms to bring money (stare at the moon whilst turning a silver coin in your pocket is one charm that springs to mind.)
Like I said previously, the charm is very popular in the diaspora and in recent years has been adopted by witches and magical practitioners within the Italian diaspora as a sort of unofficial badge of identity.

This charm shaped as a bulls horn is massively popular in Southern Italy especially around Napoli and in the region of Calabria. It is so typical of the Mezzogiorno region that in the diaspora it is often worn by people of Calabrese and Neopolitan descent as a badge of cultural identity. If you are lucky enough to ever visit Calabria or Naples you will see this charm everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Worn as jewellery, hung on rear view mirrors, dangling in shop windows, carried as key rings, printed on t-shirts. The charm is generally considered something men would ware as among its many blessings it grants virility through its obviously phallic shape, the symbolism of bull like virility is also obvious. However it carries many other blessings too, among them luck, wealth, success and therefore is also sometimes used by women too.


The charm should be red in colour, this symbolises the defeat of your enemies (imagine a bulls horn covered in blood after it has gored a rival.). The horn should also should be empty so it can fill itself with blessings ready to be poured out into your life. The top is usually crowned with a gold crown to represent success, mastery and wealth. The blessings of this charm are manifold; luck, protection, virility, strength, success, abundance, wealth to name a few...small wonder it is so popular!

The origins of the cornetto are a bit of a mystery, its very old and probably Roman in origin, taken from the myth of the cornucopia or magical horn of plenty that was carried by the Roman Goddess Abundantia (which is where the word "abundance" comes from), though the traditional cornucopia is generally seen as a goats rather than bulls horn.
Abundantias cornucopia produced never ending supplies of delicious food and gold coins which she poured out generously on those who pleased her.
There is some evidence that the cornetto may be even older, perhaps even Etruscan as Etruscan houses would often hang a bulls horn above the front door for prosperity. Others have suggested a neolithic origin to the magic horn.

Ideally the cornetto should be given to you as gift for maximum luck bringing effectiveness, but if you want to buy one as a gift for yourself, that's fine too.

Mano corno. Careful who you flash it too.

As with all magical charms be a little careful, some conservative folk believe the charm to be satanic, a charm that is said to invoke the devil for financial aid.

Mano Corno:
An alternative to the cornetto, this lucky charm is credited with the power of warding off the dreaded "malocchio" or evil eye, it is also a general charm of luck. it is basically a hand giving a 2 fingered horned salute.

This charm is a little controversial as it is considered offensive, I would personally not recommend wearing it on show when in the company of Italians. The gesture the hand is making is that of the "cornuto" or cuckold man. The idea is that if a mans wife cheats on him, he will grow horns as a mark of shame, making this sign to someone is a sign you think they are a weak, pathetic and foolish. The gesture is immensely insulting and is the equivalent of sticking your middle finger up at someone.
The origin of the charm is strange and I have little idea where it comes from, it is possible that due to the belief that the evil eye being cast is usually through jealousy (especially sexual jealousy), then slamming someone down and taking the wind out of their sails by accusing them of sexual jealousy because their wife is too busy cavorting with other men may be one possible explanation. Another explanation is that the sign is intentionally insulting, meaning it is worn as an insult to the devil and his minions, sort of like throwing salt in the devils eye to bring luck.
Other explanations include it is simply a variation on the cornetto charm, other explanations point to occult gestures used in satanic Italian witchcraft. Truth is I don't know.

if your anyone asks just say its lucky and leave it at that
Mano Figa:
Again another controversial charm that shouldn't be on show in polite company! The Mano Figa literally translates as "c*nt hand" (the word "figa" is a very vulgar term for vagina). It is a gesture made with a fist to resemble a vulva. The slit produced by the middle and index fingers represent the vagina, whilst the protruding thumb a clitoris. The charm is one of protection and prosperity. As a charm of protection, it is likely that the vulgarity of the charm is supposed to be an insult to demons and the devil. The luck bringing side of the charm is probably an allusion to fertility, the vagina, being the exit of the womb, is a source of life and therefore abundance. But again I don't really know.

Slightly twee but worth a mention is the coccinella, the ladybird charm, a simple harbinger of luck especially in love. Its common so its worth a mention. Probably considered lucky because of its colour (red is very auspicious in Italian culture as it symbolises victory over enemies and averts the evil eye) and because of its beauty.

Coccinella charm

Kitchen Gods:

If you have ever spent time in Italian households you will have seen a mask of the roman god Bacchus on the wall in the kitchen. They are usually clay or pottery of some kind depicted with smiling mouth open and wearing a crown of grapes and vine leaves. You may also see the Goddess Abundtia holding a cornucopia, or a cornucopia by itself or renaissace images of the Goddess Ceres baring her breasts. These are generally kept for their beauty, however they are also symbols of abundance, kept in the kitchen to ensure food is never in short supply. It is important to remember that families who keep these pagan images arent pagans themselves, they simply see these old Gods of Roma as symbols of prosperity and abundance, lucky to have around.


A strange fetish that comes in the form of a hunchback man depicted as a tramp clutching a horseshoe in one hand and making a horned salute with the other. He is also sometime depicted wearing a battered top hat with a ladybird sat on top of it and a 4 leaf clover through his buttonhole. Other times he is portrayed wearing a white clown outfit and a black venetian mask. He is also sometimes portrayed surmounting a cornetto, this variation of the charm is called a corno gobbo.

Gobbo charms
This is a powerful luck charm especially when it comes to money and gambling, when you need extra luck you should rub the hump on his back.

Well that's all i can think of for now! Of course there are many, many more charms and the like but I hope this covered some interesting basics and cleared up a few of the misconceptions floating around.

Ciao for now.