Category Archives: woe

Black Salt

Black salt is a mixed preparation of salt and a few choice items that turn that salt from its usual white color to a black color. You can Google recipes for it, and there are also people who manufacture it, usually by somehow adding a pigment to the salt that turns it black. Some other names for Black salt is also Sal Negro (Spanish for Black salt) and Witches’ Salt. In this case the witches being referred to are not the contemporary followers of a neopagan religion, but rather the historical and folkloric “witch” a figure, sometimes supernatural in nature, who use supernatural powers to do harm to people and places in various ways.

As the names suggest, the primary use and purpose of black salt is to curse or perform harmful magic. A common secondary purpose is used to drive away people from your home. This is also a form of a curse, although a curse done to protect oneself and property from the person who is already causing harm. It is similar to hot foot powder in that sense, as hot footing someone is also a type of curse meant to drive someone away, whether that person is vexing neighbor, a bothersome coworker, or a conniving love rival. Ultimately both are curses, are not in anyway beneficial, benevolent, or really kind acts to be engaging in, however necessary they may be for one’s personal health, wealth and well being. Remember that the color most often used for cursing is Black. And the historical and folkloric image of witch (whose salt this is) is a supernatural agent of harm and evil. Black salt is used to curse, and sometimes that curse is used to drive away other evil beings, but the essence behind it is cursing and doing harm.

There seems to be a new fad of promoting black salt as something not as bad. I have read online various indications of use black salt for protection, by laying a circle of black salt around your home. This is a technique one might do with regular salt, as salt is protective, and purifying. Black salt, however, is the opposite of that. Laying a circle of black salt around your home would probably only curse you and start ruining any peace or prosperity in your home, instead of protecting you from harm.

Elsewhere I have read suggestions to use black salt with the dead and with ancestors. That concept is also ignorant usage of black salt. For one, a great number of methods and styles of venerating ones ancestors and conjuring up the dead indicate not to use salt. This applies to any kind of salt, not just regular salt. While the various metaphysical explanations behind this are multitude, it still comes down to one thing. Don’t do it. The ancestors and the dead don’t like salt. For the few methods that do use salt, one should keep in mind that it is unique to that culture and tradition, and the salt they use is going to be regular salt, not black salt.

I have also read suggestions of using black salt with gods, usually gods of war, death, the underworld. Again, I find this to be incorrect, although there could be an exception. The exception would be calling upon that specific god to bless the black salt, before you go out and use it to drive away evil or to curse. That is not the same as using blacks salt in devotion and veneration of the god or gods in mind

It is possible that in your personal work, you might find a spirit that wants to have black salt in it’s presence. If that is the case, then do so, but remember that it is unique to you, and unique to your practice, and in no way reflects traditional uses and folklore behind black salt and if you do write about it, you should make that clear to your readers.

I have even read people suggesting to bathe in black salt, although I suspect this might be a recommendation for a special kind of salt that is mined from the ground, which has a dark gray to black color to it. That would function as normal salt, not as the special mixture known as “black salt” which is salt mixed with things

Weal and Woe

A while ago I picked a book about Afro-cuban divination, a system called the diloggun. A neighbor of mine is a practitioner of Santeria and after having witnessed him conduct a reading, and spending time with him I became curious about the whole process and methods. It is a wonderfully simple and yet complex system. Simple because the actual physical process is not that complicated, complex because of the depth with which the diloggun can read, Unlike the average tarot card reading and methods that seem to be based upon that, where the card and the layout is the beginning and the end, the diloggun start with determining a number, and then a number that follows that, and then determining whether that number comes with ire (blessings) or osogbo (misfortune). Following that determination is then where the blessings or misfortune comes from, and how it can be further strengthened (ire) or how it can be lessened or avoided (osogbo). It was the concepts of ire and osogbo that appealed to me strongly, as something that seems to be missing or forgotten in most contemporary divination. Even a lot of contemporary books on modern divination usually tend to put a helpful or positive spin on things that are unpleasant, undesirable or just plain bad or harmful. This seems like a grave disservice to me, but it often seems hard to determine whether the reading being given is really coming with good or with evil. Often times it seems like the default way of doing this with Tarot and systems like it is to interpret all reversed cards as being in some way negative. I have found through personal experience, that this is not the case in the majority of situations..

In working with the runes, I began to ask if the reading or individual runes within the reading are coming with weal (blessings, fortune, benevolence) or woe ( hexes, misfortune, malevolence). The basic method I use for this is to pull another rune and see if that come out upright or reversed, without considering the meaning of the rune itself, at least in most cases. This was fairly accurate, giving an indication of when the action of influence of a rune or reading. The only difficult part was in dealing with runes which do not reverse. There are 13 runes in the Anglo-Saxon/Northumbrian Futhorc that appear the same when you turn them 180 degrees. I found the answer in understanding the nature of these runes, their essence is one that is fixed. Some of these runes will always indicate weal, others will always indicate woe, and a few are also variable, requiring further opening up, but indicating the workings of fate are sealing this and that it may not necessarily be easily changed or come about in a familiar way.

One of things that I have come to understand better from using this process is that just because a rune is reversed, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad or unfortunate thing. While often in books on runes the reversed form is called the myrkstave, and giving indications of negative or unwanted influences. I don’t necessarily agree with that any more. A reversed rune in a reading with weal is that influence is more in their absence. In a reading with woe, the things indicated may not come (if they are desired) or is better avoided. Tiewaz reversed with woe gives a good indication of avoiding any kind of legal problems, government or law enforcement, so buckle your seat belt, don’t forget any documents you might need and don’t sass the bureaucrat behind the desk. Feoh reversed with weal often seems to be an indication when other people are spending their wealth on you, without you spending any money, and just enjoying the pleasure of their company. The normal upright meanings become better applied through this process as well. Thurisaz with weal might be an indicator that some direct and unpleasant action is called for fortune to smile upon. Berkana with woe is an indicator that you should not expect any healing or nurturing during that time period, and possibly to be suspicious of people who do seem over eager to be that way. You might also want to be careful in all dealings with women, and possibly avoid their company as well. The interplay of weal and woe within the meanings offered by the runes opens up greatly and can help the reading deliver it’s message more certainty.

It seems appropriate in using the runes to see how the changes of weal and woe, the fluctuations of luck, a concept that was important to the Northern European cosmology and it’s interaction with fated occurrence, but the fortune or misfortune that may occur inbetween. It seems to be a concept that carries to this day, in showing how an unfortune situation can be the journey to great fortune, while seeming fortune can bring only loss and bad luck in the end.