In the folk magic of virtually every culture there are spells that make use of all of our bodily effluvia and detritus, including the amniotic sac (caul) of a baby, spit, semen, tears, urine, feces, head hair, pubic hair, and nail clippings. However, due to taboos surrounding menstrual blood, semen, and urine in some urban cultures, the use of these particular body fluids in spell-casting can be problematic for those unfamiliar with the larger history of folk magic. In light of the universality of bodily effluvia and detritus as tools of magic, the singling out of menstrual blood, urine, and semen is most rationally approached on the basis of their intended effect (generally spells of sex and love) than on the basis of their origin (human bodies).
The frankest discussions of the uses of these substances in magic will be found in ethnological treatises on folk-magic; the “ceremonial high magicians” of the late Victorian era (including Aleister Crowley and his cohorts) were too prudish to deal with this matter as anything other than an antinomian and rule-breaking rite. They found it exhilarating in proportion to the degree to which they judged it to be daring, provocative, and naughty — and their 20th and 21st century followers have continued in the same vein, especially as the possibility of blood-born and sexually-transmitted diseases has made working with these substances seem dangerous. In folk-magic, on the other hand, menstrual blood, semen, and urine are straightforward tools of spell-casting and the knowledge of how to deploy them is routinely passed from one family member to another.
In the African-American hoodoo tradition, as well as in Sicilian folk-magic, menstrual blood served to a man in his coffee or tea is a sovereign recipe for capturing his sexual attention. No ritual, prayer, or invocation is necessary; you simply add some menstrual blood to the man’s coffee or tea. The idea is to get your scent into the beloved’s sphere of consciousness. This is nothing more or less than pheromone-magic, and as such it partakes of biology as much as it does of occultism.
Women who are not menstruating due to pregnancy or breast-feeding, who have had surgery that terminated their cycles, or who are past the change obviously do not have menstrual fluid to use in sex-spells. Their best alternative is to use vaginal fluids gathered after masturbation during the full moon. In hoodoo and Sicilian folk-magic, vaginal fluids make a good substitute for menstrual blood in coffee or tea love spells.
In European — especially Italian — folk magic, as well as in hoodoo, urine is used in women’s coffee and tea love spells, as a quick substitute for menstrual blood, when the intention is to tie or bind a lover. This is particularly common among girls to young or women too old to have menstrual periods, and among pregnant women and those who for any other reason don’t menstruate. Men also can put urine in a drink to tie a woman, although this is not mentioned so commonly.
In hoodoo, and in polite Southern speech generally, urine is often called “chamber lye” or “water.” No matter what you call it, one of the oldest root work traditions is for a male gambler to have a female lover urinate on his mojo bag or lucky hand while he is at play. If the gambler and his partner can retire to an alley to perform the act while the game is in progress, so much the better. This is called “feeding the mojo,” and the use of the word “feed” is, of course an indicative link to African magico-religious thought, from whence this custom derives. Women players rarely ask a man to urinate on their mojo hands, so, for whatever reason, it is female urine that is considered lucky in this case.
Chamber lye can be a vulnerable spot in a man or woman’s periphery. An enemy who gets your “water” can cause grave damage to you by stopping it up in a bottle with red pepper and Graveyard Dirt. The result will be urinary tract problems, ranging from cystitis and nephritis to prostatitis and kidney stones. The only way to take off such a condition is to find the bottle and destroy it, letting the urine run out into a fire.
Conversely, chamber lye has its strengths — a man can use his own urination to cure a case of impotence that was put on him through magic. Peeing on a knife blade and letting the pee run on the ground is one of many methods for accomplishing this. Another is to urinate into a red ants nest. Women who have had their natures hoodooed can pee into a running river as they call on the river to take off the jinx.
A note to add a quick comment on the term “chamber lye” for readers who are not native English speakers:
Chamber: A chamber means a room, so in the old days a bedroom was called a bed chamber. With no indoor plumbing, you went outdoors to pee in an outhouse, but the first pee of the morning, before dressing or washing up, most folks didn’t want to go out, so they peed in a covered container called a chamber pot, which was carried out later.
Lye: This is an old Anglo Saxon word meaning any strong alkaline liquid. Most of the time nowadays you’ll hear the word lye in reference to making soap at home, where one good source of lye is potash — literally pot ashes. You make potash or pot ash lye by concentrating water that has run through the ashes collected from the fire under your cooking pots. Since there is no one chemical formula for lye; in common parlance it can be any really strong alkaline solution. So a polite word for urine used to be “chamber lye” — an alkaline solution obtained in the bed chamber.
So… “chamber pot” plus “pot ash lye” equals “chamber pot lye” — which is shortened to “chamber lye”!
Men can make use of their sexual fluids in love spells. Josh Geller gave this simple formula for an orgasmic spell utilizing semen:
Masturbate to orgasm and preserve the resultant fluids. You should be concentrating on your desired result at the point of orgasm. Take some of the resultant fluids and insinuate a bit of them into the food or drink of your prospective victim.
For every man who uses his semen to attract a woman, however, there are probably a hundred women who capture a man’s semen to rule and control him or to keep him faithful. The most popular way to do this in hoodoo is by making a knot-spell on the man and keeping it tied up in a nation sack. For this purpose, the semen can be fresh or gathered from a discarded condom — or even stored in the freezer until needed. Most of the rootworkers reported to have said about how to capture semen have noted that it is important that the woman not have an orgasm when capturing semen, because then she might get “mixed up in the spell,” and fall victim to her own conjurations. “Hold yourself aloof,” was how one woman put it to me. “Don’t let yourself get mixed into it when you collect his stuff.”
FROM FOLK MAGIC TO SEXUALIZED SPIRITUALITY
Karezza is a sexual-metaphysical system in which heightened states of spirituality are believed to occur if both partners become highly aroused but hold back from having orgasms. However, even in the most ascetic forms of karezza, intercourse during menstruation — not involving blood per se, but taking advantage of the woman’s typically increased level of desire at that point in her cycle — is perceived as a “rite” in the mystical sense. One karezza writer, John William Lloyd, who advocated abstinence from orgasm, declared that during “the woman’s time of great desire” (e.g. at the outset of her period) she should be allowed to have all the orgasms she wants and that the man should go along with her and come too. So Lloyd recognized the menstrual period as qualitatively different from the rest of the woman’s cycle, in terms of the performance of a spiritual sex act.
WHY DOES IT WORK?
The use of urine or menstrual blood in witchcraft, stregha, hoodoo, and other forms of folk-magic is a codification and amplification of the natural biological process by which a female attracts a male. Note that in token of this, urine/menstrual blood magic is almost always a subset of love or lust magic.
Some people think of urine as a “territory marker,” equating its magical deployment to the way that male dogs and other carnivores use it to drive off male rivals, and so they don’t appreciate the fact that a lot of the urine magic encountered in folklore involves WOMEN’S urine, not men’s. However, the basis for the utilization of urine in women’s sex-attracting spells makes ready sense to anyone who has ever raised goats — because smelling and even tasting the urine of a doe goat is the prime way that a buck goat has for determining the female’s readiness for mating. This is true of many other mammals as well.
Are humans more like dogs (males using their urine to drive off rivals) or like goats (males tasting female urine to assess readiness to mate)? Well, here’s a clue: in humans, there is a notable difference between the sexes in regard to the body parts they sniff to get a whiff of attractant pheromones. Just as female humans are attracted to male underarm scents (rich in androstenone) so are male humans attracted to female vaginal scents, a complex compound of uterine menstruum, vaginal secretions, and lingering urine odors known collectively as “copulins.” The composition of these copulins changes throughout the woman’s monthly cycle, but they are basically attractants for males, not territory markers. They may function as territory markers to other females, of course.
AVOIDING MAGICAL “CAPTURE” BY MENSTRUAL BLOOD OR URINE
Because men are thought to be so susceptible to the magical deployment of women’s menstrual blood, vaginal fluids, and urine, in some cultures they are taught to avoid eating anything served to them by an unmarried woman which might contain these bodily fluids. It is common for a man to refuse or only warily accept dark-coloured beverages like coffee or tea or foods with brown or red sauces such as barbeque, lasagna, or spaghetti from a woman.
Some folks believe that the power of menstrual blood is inherent — that is, it will work just the same whether it is deliberately added to foods or beverages as a magical act or ingested accidentally. For those who feel this way, any contact with menstrual blood may result in bewitchment. Nona C. Wright tells how this advice was passed along in her husband’s family:
My late husband, who was African American, used to tell me his grandmother warned him never to indulge in oral sex with a woman during her period because it would make him bound to her for life. I always took it as his quirky sense that one could use menstrual blood in love spells. But in hindsight this seemed to be a very powerful thing to him as he swore he would never do it. To him it had to do with giving up his free choice to be with someone and somehow being under their power or control.
Clear mention of avoidance of capture by menstrual blood or urine can be heard in the old song “Dry Southern Blues” recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in March 1926, where Lemon sings:
I can’t drink coffee and the woman won’t make no tea
I can’t drink coffee and the woman won’t make no tea
I believe to my soul sweet mama gonna hoodoo me
TAKING OFF A MENSTRUAL BLOOD OR URINE CONJURATION
What can a man do if he suspects or knows that an unscrupulous woman is putting menstrual blood on him? What can a woman do if she suspects or knows that another woman is using that stuff on her man or on a male relative?
Well, you can’t stop her if she’s already done it, but to take the mess off you have a couple of choices:
1) A doctor can perform a purification on the man — such as washing him in a bath of rue herb tea, smoking him with Uncrossing Incense, and then dressing him with Van Van Oil
2) If the man has been rendered impotent by the enemy woman, he can perform a specific spell, such as drawing cross-marks on his penis for nine days or pissing into a red ants’ nest to restore his manhood.
3) The man or a root doctor working on his behalf can get back at the enemy woman and reverse the spell by capturing some of her menstrual blood and laying a trick for her, such as stopping her blood up in a bottle with 9 pins, 9 needles, and 9 rusty nails, then hiding the bottle in a hollow tree where she will never find it. That’ll serve her very well. She’ll get “female trouble” and will have to leave that man alone.
MUST MAGICAL BODY FLUIDS BE USED FRESH?
Often asked this question, especially by women who want to work with their period blood during particular magical phases of the moon or who have collected semen or urine from a lover and found that it dried up before they were able to work with it.
The answer is simple: Traditional old spells that originated long before artificial refrigeration was developed simply call for drying the fluid on a piece of cloth or a string. Soaking the cloth or string in liquid will re-activate the fluid. People have known women who have frozen their menstrual blood in ice cube trays in the freezer for future use. I find that dried tampons work fine, though, if you swish them through coffee like a tea bag.
Bed aware that liquid body fluids are highly degradable personal concerns, unlike hair or fingernails. Urine, semen, menses, and sweat, must NOT be used in a honey jar as loose liquids; they must be dried on a piece of paper or cloth. Use good common sense when handling liquid bodily concerns or you will make a stinking mess of things.
CLOSE TO BODY FLUIDS: BATH WATER AND DRINKING WATER
Bath water or left-over drinking water, soda, coffee, or tea from a person has special uses, as does the water they washed dishes or clothing in, if they scrubbed the dishes or clothes by hand. The idea is that this must be water that they physically contacted.
One traditional method of preparing these “personal waters” is to use in love spells of control is to wash your own face and body parts with the liquid, collect it, and use it to feed back to the person you are working on. In other words, you mingle their “personal water” with your body fluids and then get the target to drink it. This work is aided by the accompaniment by powerful prayers.
You can also use a person’s bath or drinking water to water a plant in which you have “planted” a honey-apple spell. You may keep the plant in your home and let the person set near it, or your could give the established plant to the person as a present.
Finally, you can use a person’s to make a “boiled prayer.” You write a prayer for love or a petition for domination with a water-soluble ink on paper and then boil it in their bath or drinking water until the volume of the water is reduced to 1/3 of what you started with and the written words have all washed into the remaining water. You may then feed the “condensed” water back to the person to control them. This practice is the subject of a 1930 song by the Memphis Jug Band called “Papa’s Got Your Bath Water On.”
SUBSTITUTES FOR BODY FLUIDS: THE MAGICAL LINK
I am often asked what a person can use for this type of rootwork if bodily fluids cannot be gotten. In descending order of strength, according to hoodoo folk magic, here is a list of substitute magical links:
Genital fluids: menstrual blood, semen, vaginal fluid
Other biological concerns: urine, feces, sweat, blood, spit
Hair: pubic, head, armpit, beard
Person’s unwashed clothing: underwear, socks, handkerchief
Person’s foot track lifted from the dirt
“Shed” body items: nail clippings, baby teeth
Person’s bath water, wash water, drinking water
Person’s handwriting on paper
Something Person owned or wore
Something Person touched, e.g. butt from smoked cigarette
Photo of Person
Drawing or silhouette of Person
Person’s business card
Person’s full name written on paper 9 times
These items can be used for good or for evil; all that is indicated here is the relative strength of the tokens that represent the person.
In practice, the weaker of these items may be combined to increase their power. For example; you may get the person’s business card and then write their name on the back 9 times, or you may get their handwriting on paper, write their name on the back 9 times, and fold the paper around a hair you stole from their comb or brush while you were using the bathroom in their house.
Those who say that nail clippings are used for domination are right, up to certain point.
First, let’s talk about dominating someone with YOUR stuff. Notice what kind of domination that usually is? Not to get your boss to bend over, not to win in court, not to get lucky gambling numbers and make others lose …. nope, getting someone to ingest your stuff, your personal concerns, that’s used for domination or winning in L-O-V-E. And nails are a personal concern. They can be used like hair, foot skin scrapings, sweat, sexual fluids, et al. Basically, you put something of YOURS in THEIR drink.
As stated above, to put nails into a drink, you’d want the nail filings (dust), not big ol’ hunky shards or clippings. Why the toenails? To get them under your feet, so you can walk all over them. And you could use fingernail filings, too, to hold them. For love, mind you, for love.
Second, the other way to use nail clippings is to harvest them from your lover. In other words, YOU capture THEIR stuff. Here you do want the shards, and the old routine i learned was to get one from each finger of both hands and one from each toe of both feet. That’s twenty little clippings. It’ll take some time.
If you suspect your lover is hoodooing you, and your lover says, “Hey, honey, i’ve got the clippers out, just lemme trim your toe nails, sweetie. ” — BEWARE.
If your lover says, “Doodle-bug, i’d like to let you put your hand down there, but your nails’ too long, just let me get my li’l clippers and trim you up and then we can do it.” — WATCH OUT.