Sachet in My Pocket

Sachet, mojo bag, little jack, gris gris, mojo hand, sack of tricks, root. These are multiple names for the same tool: a charm bag or sack of tricks. In Appalachian Folk Magic, we commonly use the terms tobie and sachet (we pronounce it like sA-shEt). Sachet derives from France, where it means “little bag”. This is the staple-tool of Appalachian Hoodoo. I don’t know one worker who doesn’t carry at least three of them everywhere for varied reasons.

Here in the mountains, a sachet can be either a bag or a packet of paper that’s folded and stuck in a pocket. The old folk didn’t have much money for fabric to make them, they could barely buy new clothes for themselves. Paper was plenty then. Old folks used newspapers, magazine clippings and pieces of brown paper bags. When it’s a bag it’s made in the same fashion as a gris gris. But with the packet sachet, it’s formed by folding or sewing the herbs up in the paper and binding it with red string. Remember what I said about that red string? You should.

To make a sachet (bag), you just take a piece of fabric about 4inx4in, either felt or whatever you got, and you place your ingredients in the center. Don’t put too much, or your sachet will be bulky and may come undone in your pocket, and I can tell you that’s no fun to be digging around for loose herbs in your jean pocket!

Once you got everything in the center that you’re using, bless each item and bring all four corners of the fabric together. Now doing this is gonna make four curls in the fabric between where you got the corners together. One by one, bring the folds in towards where you got the corners, and then your just bind it up with some twine or hemp. Wrap it tight around the neck, but leave a bit of string out so you can tie it once you’re done. And there’s your sachet.

With a paper sachet, you just get a peice of newspaper, or what ever you gotta hand,  about 6inx6in in measurements. The old folk didn’t measure much so they just eyeballed it and ripped it to size, which is what I still do. Now you’re gonna put your herbs and stuff in the center and just fold the paper over it until you have a nice little packet. Then you just bind it with string or twine. Some folks tie it off like normal, while others seal the string to the paper with wax. Either way works.

Now sachets are charged in somewhat the same way as mojo bags further down south. We bless them with the four elements of earth, fire, water and air. The best time and place to wake up a sachet are the in-between times and places. For the times, this could be right at dawn, noon, sunset or midnight. If you do it at midnight, go by the days so the energy of the two days don’t clash. For example, if your doing it for love don’t do it at midnight on Friday, cause Saturday’s energies will start pouring in to the work; and it’s energy is about binding, release and crossing. That would do nothing but bind or end love. Instead, you’d do it at midnight on Thursday, with the strength and endurance of Thursday paired with the loving energies of Friday as it starts pouring in. Friday is also good for money as most folks get their checks on Friday, especially the first Friday of the month.

Now between-places are anything in between something. A door way, the sandy bank of a river, crossroads, etc. At dawn and dust, noon and midnight, you can be anywhere at your whole area for miles becomes an in-between place. None of this is set in stone, as different families practice different ways. But some folk found it easier as during these times everyone’s either asleep or outside in the yard. So this gave the grannies a good amount of time to work the root in private, sewing and wrapping what needed it.

When making a sachet, there’s a rule of thumb that you don’t go over 13 ingredients. Simply because the bag will be way too bulky and will burst open. And make sure all the herbs are for one intention. I’ve had multiple people want one sachet for luck, love, money, protection, divination etc. Basically a fix-it-all mojo. I tell them no. It would not work. That’s the only thing I’ll ever guarantee you. Doing it that way, ain’t nothing gonna grow from that root.

Now see, if I put 13 herbs in a sachet, each one blessed for either love, luck, and so on, it will have a magical charge. But not enough to affect much. That little pinch of salt ain’t gonna protect you from no haunts, nor is that mayapple root by itself gonna make Jimmy head over heels for you. By themselves, they won’t work. And always keep your ingredients in an odd number, so, as they say, “the root can’t be cut in half”. Cause there’s no way to cut something odd in two.

Now if I had 13 herbs for love and control, you can bet your ass Jimmy’ll talk to you and ask you out. Because all those ingredients are working together for the same cause. One spark of electricity won’t turn on the light, but a flow of sparks will. So don’t make a mess of your work just cause you don’t wana carry multiple sachets. It’s actually easier and more comfortable than it sounds. Hell, I forget about mine. I’ve lost more sachets in the washer and dryer than you can shake a stick at.

Now once you got your sachet made, some folk like to name them. If it’s for love regarding a specific person, it’s best to name the little bag after then, especially if it contains some concerns of theirs. Whatever name you give it, it’s gotta be secret. Only you can know the name. Not sure why this is done here but we’ve always had somewhat of an animistic view of things. I think it’s from the Cherokee or Chickasaw. Not sure…

Once you have him named, it’s time to wake him up. You’re gonna need a candle dressed for the work, a glass of salt water, and some incense. Traditionally, the old folks used tobacco, but common frankincense or myrrh works just as well.

You’re gonna call the sachet by name and tell him to wake up in the name of the Creator. “By the Creator, Jack, wake on up. It’s time to wake up now and see the world.” Then you will pass him through the smoke for him to be swift as the mountain winds, then sprinkle him with the salt water to baptize him and birth the spirit in. Then you’re gonna “cook the root” by holding him over the candle flame. Don’t burn him, just get him warmed up into life. This is where you wana be careful with the fabric you use, as felt is very flammable.

Now hold him in your left hand and call his name three times. “Jack, jack, jack.” Then you breath life into it, still holding it in the left hand, to fill the “little bag” with a little soul.

Tell him hello, and what his job to do is. Now, you will put him away somewhere, wrapped up, and the next day you’ll do the process again. You’ll pass him through the elements, call his name, etc. You’ll do this for 3-9 days. After this, he’s awake. Don’t let anybody else see him or touch him (unless you’re making it for a client, in which case I tell him who he’s for). Keep it as close to your skin as possible. Some folks put them in their socks or jean pockets, while others give it a home in their bra or wear it about the neck. Whichever you prefer.

You’ll have to feed him once a week to keep the sachet working. Feed it by dusting it with sachet powders. You can also feed him by anointing the bag with holy water or whiskey. I don’t recommend using oils as it makes a complete mess and could cause the herbs inside to mold. If you use oil or holy water, anoint the neck of the bag, or the edges of the packet. I don’t think carrying mold in a bag would do too good for your working.

Now you don’t always have to name them either, I only do so when i feel led to by the Spirits. If you’re not naming it, simply pass it through the elements, praying your intentions and charging it with your energy for the working. The only times that I always name the sachet is when the work is for protection or love.

Another way we mountain folk like to protect our works is with silk. Now this was a new adaptation to Appalachian Hoodoo when silk became more affordable. Folks found that silk neither repels or accepts a magical charge. It acts sorta like a barrier. Ain’t nothing getting in or out. If he’s wrapped up in silk, ain’t nobody else’s energy getting in. As long as someone don’t open it, they can touch it or see it. This also keeps the energy from being grounded out should the bag fall on the ground.

So now you know how to make them sachets y’all have been hearing me ramble about for so long.

Now, to end this post I’ll give you some recipes for a sachet bag.

Beethoven’s pinky – this bag is for talent in musical skill, usually carried to the crossroads to make a deal with one of the spirits or carried during concerts. For this you’ll need rattlesnake skin, tarragon root, three beans, crossroads dirt, and master of the woods.

Peaceful Hand – to calm family quarrels and bring peace to the home. You’ll need frankincense, tobacco, chamomile, amethyst and goldenrod root. *feed with water from a river or waterfall*

Safe travel – Saltpeter, motherwort, dirt from 7 churches, pine needles, licorice root, feverfew, and egg shell powder. *feed with whiskey*

New love – rose petals, may apple root, yellow dock root, violets, and dirt from your home.

To order a handmade and fixed sachet from me, see the contact information at the bottom of this site.

We hold our own: protecting hearth and home in the Appalachias 

Buffalo mountain, taken from my front door step.

Now you gotta remember that the people of Appalachia share one major thing with the Irish, superstition. Most of this was rooted in the folk magic traditions, while others have no explanation for it. It’s just what the old folks said to do. These superstitions were mainly on protecting oneself from harm, the evil eye, haints (troubled spirits), and the mischievous activities of the Wee folk.

Firstly, I’ll explain how black cats are treated in the mountains. Some folk see it as bad luck while other see it as good luck. So it seems to be a matter of preference. A lot of people still harm black cats, especially on Halloween, due to this superstition. My folks see them as a sign of good luck, but each family in these hills treat things differently.

Before protecting yourself or the house, the children came first as they were the most vulnerable; newly brought underneath Fate’s stare, ain’t no one want to tempt her. Yarrow (Squirrel’s tail as the Cherokee knew it) was hung at the head of a crib to drive away curses, witches and the evil eye.  A variation of this is done by driving a nail into the post of the crib. Milk with chamomile was also given to infants every night  for their first few months to protect from evil and to preserve their life till the next dawn. Back then they didn’t have much access to medical professionals and ain’t no one back then heard of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; they thought it the work of the Devil so they learned to bare arms against such and take precautions whenever necessary.

A bundle of oak, honey locust, and walnut bound by willow throngs was also placed either under the cradle or in with the babe for protection.

I was also told growing up, to never crochet a hat or footies for a baby until after it was born. They said it was bad luck but there weren’t any specifics as to what could happen. My mother also did the following with all her children: she’d let us roll off the bed or couch by ourselves without catching us. It was said to make us strong and protect us from an early death. I can’t say it didn’t work.

The old folks would also make a nail cross to hang in the nursery or on the cradle for protection. Some would also make a doll to sleep in the cradle for the first week, to act as a decoy should the wee folk be tempted to steal the child.

       Protecting oneself was just as complicated when it came to the superstitious hillfolk and wise workers. Some people had hard jobs that could likely kill them, such as working in the mines or mills. Working around them dangerous machines, Fate was definitely not to be tempted.

They would carry such items as an iron nail to protect from the activities of the Wee folk, dried leather beans for good luck and protection, and rabbit foot for good luck, among many others.

Knocking on wood when an ill event is mentioned was to advert any bad luck from affecting that event. If driving in a car, and someone mentions a wreck, you knock on glass to “save yer ass”.

The weather of these mountains are as unpredictable as all get out. They’d watch the trees and animals to determine the severity of the coming storm. They’d see if the critters were moving to higher ground away from the rivers, especially the Nolachucky, which predicted a flood. If the trees showed the back of their leaves long before storm clouds was spotted, you’d best expect some high mountain winds. Usually, when they showed their backs in the afternoon (bout 2-3pm) you could expect the storm to come in about 7pm.

Because of this unpredictable weather, folks turned to their faith and cunning, folk knowledge to protect themselves. Of course, they carried charms when the chance was right good for a brewing storm. Geranium petals will protect you from lightning, lightning struck wood gives power and protection to the one who carries it, and tapping a black stone against a white stone was said to protect you with a boundary that lightning can’t pierce.

In these mountains, tornadoes are rare due to the bowl made from the mountains and valleys that most of this region sits in, but they do sometimes come. When this happens, you’ll take a kitchen knife and drive it in the ground, blade upwards. You put it at the southwest corner or window of the house and folks’ said when the tornado comes the blade will slice it in half so it don’t harm your home. If it’s a bad one, you can do this on all sides of the house, lest you temp Fate.

Now ghosts were just as bad as the Wee folk, always causing a ruckus. Some dead folk die a bad death and try reaching out , but that don’t help the living none, just causes trouble cause they don’t know they dead and scaring folk.

An old North Carolina potato working was used to stop the haunting of a relative. But you gotta have an item that belonged to them. To stop the haunting, you get you a potato (unwashed and unpeeled) and cut it clean in half from top to bottom. Now you’re gonna hollow out a hole in each piece, big enough to hold the item but making sure the walls of “bowl” remain somewhat thick. Then you placed their item in the hole and shut the potato. Bind it shut with yarn or wire or nails. Anything on hand really, just make sure it stays shut. Then you take the potato to their grave and it’s thought the spirit will follow. Leave it there and the spirit will be bound the cemetery until they cross over and heal. This is was especially done when a suicide was committed in the home.

Basil hung over the windows and doors keeps ghost from entering and planting rue outside the home discourages ghost from visiting. Now in the mountains, we do welcome our Ancestors spirits. We’re close with our kin even after death. Ghost are people who ain’t yet figured that they’re dead or they haven’t moved on. They’re stuck. This is what you’re protecting from. Aunt Lou may have been a good hearted woman, but she dead and ain’t know it. All you can do is pray for her soul to join the family.

When going to the cemetery to visit, you always wana cover your head so nothing hops on your back on the way out. Some folk will even hold their breath when passing the graveyard so they don’t “breath ’em in”. Sounds silly, but that’s how folks were taught.

Now, in these mountains the only intruders ain’t ghost. So, to prevent people from breaking in or stealing anything, make you a bundle of plantain leaves and dry them out. Then get a wooden plate or saucer and with nails, hang it over the front door. Then you’ll hang the bung in front of the saucer or tape it to it. Which ever works with what you got. Do this while praying Psalms 23.

To protect yourself from curses or the evil eye, make a charm by tying up a lock of your hair, a a stick from your yard, an a clipped finger nail with red string and carry it in your pocket. You cannot be cursed as long as you have the charm on you. Lose it, however, and these items can be used against you. (The use of red string is fairly common in Appalachian Hoodoo, as well as red flannel, as it represents the life blood).

For the same reason as above, or to just keep others from throwing any kinda stuff your way, make a hole in a silver dime with a nail and wear it as a necklace, bracelet or anklet. It said if the silver turns black, someone’s been throwing at you but the dime caught it. You would obviously change it out then and burry the old one at the fork in the road.

Bells and wind chimes are methods of deterring ghost and Wee folk from disturbing your property. Another method is to hang up dried corn cobs  on the porch, but they were mostly hung in the barns to keep the Wee folk (the Cherokee called them the Nunnehi) from stealing or killing the livestock. This, wrapped in silk and pig fur, also protected against anyone putting witchcraft on the animals.

Picture found through google, photographer’s name not found

Back in the day, every house had a can of oil around to oil the doors and windows. Squeaky doors and such were thought to be invitations to troublesome spirits. I do figure there’s something to this cause when does a squeaky door not sound creepy?

Now everyone’s heard of the superstition on mirrors catching souls of the living and dead, and that if you break one itll being 7 years bad luck on you. Well, them old granny witches knew just how to stop that, cause no good folk could afford that much bad luck in these mountains. So to break the 7 years bad luck curse, you’ve got to take the largest broken piece to the nearest cemetery and at the stroke of midnight touch it to the oldest headstone and the curse will be broken.

Another thing you’ll notice, which I have in my travels, is that the only places you’ll see Boston ferns and English Ivy growing by the doors is in the East of the United States. More so near the Appalachian Mountain range. Nearly one on every porch in the summer. In the winter, folks keep ’em indoors and nurse them thorough out the winter months. Ferns (including the wild ones from the mountains) and ivy were thought to protect the house from being tricked and the family from being cursed. But, if an animal eats any of the plant, they’d say a curse was already in effect.

Now, we may be some superstitious folk, and I could go on about this for days, but we hold our own, either by the Creator Upstairs, by Mamaw who passed a while ago, and by our own stubborn ways.

The Appalachian region has always been dealt a rough hand: with shitty health care, poverty in most homes, the crime rate continuously rising and urban expansion; all that paired with what the rest of the country thinks of us. We may be under Fates gaze, we may be poor, we may not go to the altar every Sunday they’re open, but we know what’s good for us. We keep Outlanders at an arms length, but hold most as close as we can. We’re stubborn, with not-so-common sense, and we may not have all our marbles, but we hold our own.

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Graveyard Dirt in Appalachian Hoodoo

Old graveyard in New York. Photos take by me.

The Appalachian mountains, oldest on earth, harbor more life forms in one space than anywhere else on earth (we have over 25,000 species of flora thriving here, not sure on the figure for fauna.)

The Cherokee lived here for centuries, maybe even millennia; and before them there was another people, Ancestors to the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Chickasaw before the people split up. After that, the white man settled. Then the slave trade began. People and cultures mixed and sifted in the bowl of the mountains. This is still happening today.

Out of all these cultures, we shared one thing in common: our relationship to these Mountains. Most of the families weren’t native, but Mother Appalachia took them in with care and gave of Her fruits. At times, this wasn’t always a friendly relationship, as winters here are hard and unpredictable. It’ll snow four feet in two days, and come next Wednesday it’s 60 degrees out. Many died in the winter, especially youngins and elderly folk. This created the environment for the Appalachian people to develop an odd relationship with death, unique compared to the rest of Western Society. Others were afraid of growing old, while our grannies could careless. Make a smart remark about they’re agin’ and you’d have your ass handed to you.

They’d been piss-poor through the Depression and both World Wars. These hills know plenty of Death. But that didn’t stop the Granny folk from speaking to their mamas and daddies, some long 50+ years after they’d passed. If there’s anything these mountains have taught my people, is that there’s always life. Sometimes there’s death. Oh, but there’s always life. They’d continue to speak to the dead like ain’t nothing wrong. And there ain’t. They’restill here.

A lot of folks hear of working with grave dirt, and the benefits of it in the works it’s utilized with in Conjure. But ain’t no one ever tell you the dangers of it.

Growing up in Tennessee and in the mountains of North Carolina, folk paid close attention to the graves of their families. They are dressed with flowers and other things monthly or yearly. Graves are visited by the whole family on birthdays, graduations, holidays (except in the winter as these mountains can get furious), and after family reunions.

In Appalachian culture, one always stays close to the kin. Which may be why all of my ancestors who came to the New World chose to lay their bones in these hills. We’ve been here ever since.

Now death in these hills is grieved and somewhat feared. But everybody’s gotta die at some point. The majority of these folk are Baptists and Pentecostal. Their passing is celebrated with Bible versus’ and hymns, talking bout the gold city and rivers of diamonds. But when the funeral home empties and people go on home, everybody knows the dead still here. They go Home but they return too.

Growing up, I always felt the peace of the graveyard. It seems have the feeling of a kindergarten class during nap time. Well, except everybody’s sleeping for good. I never liked that term for the deceased “sleeping”. Or even resting for that matter. I’m sure they still got some work to do over there just like we do here. If you’ve met my family, I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a whole job for ’em in and of itself.

Graveyard work seems to be a shared concept in every tradition of American Folk magic, leading over to Ireland and down toward Africa. Graveyard work is the core of “Conjure”. You’re conjuring up assistance from the Spirits, most commonly an Ancestor. Very few folk work with unfamiliar spirits, unless you need the assistance from someone such as a police officer, and if none of your Ancestors (to your knowledge) worked in that occupation. Most of my immediate Ancestors were in the U.S. Army, fighting in the civil war, Vietnam or WWII.

The way I was taught, there are always precautions to take when you plan on buying dirt from a grave, regardless if it’s from family or not. Very few families have family cemeteries anymore, which makes for more dangers, generally from other dead folk in the same yard.

Graveyard dirt or dust (there is a difference which I’ll explain soon), is used in Rootwork for multiple purposes, such as love, protection, cursing… anything that the Spirits are willing to help you with.
The reason behind this post is that surprisingly most folk ain’t been told on what to do and what not to do when doing this work. Which surprised me, as this should be common knowledge for folks, for personal protection.

Now, one should always, always, always be hesitant on working with graveyard dirt. Whether you’re petitioning Grandmaw or the sheriff who passed two years ago, you gotta be on your toes about this work. When you go to buy the dirt you need to feel the place. Cause you ain’t never alone in the graveyard. Never.

Contrary to popular belief, just cause you call on mamaw, that don’t mean it’s always her who’s showin’ up. There are trickster spirits, whether they’re haints or other dead folk, who come through. Their reason is they crave life. They crave any kind of life energy directed their way, either through veneration or offerings.

To get around this, folk would go to the person in town, or one closest, who could speak to the dead. If there wasn’t one around, they’d “arm” themselves with protective charms and sachets; or they would consult the cards (mostly playing cards cause tarot wasn’t readily available then). Most folk here have some degree of sense when it comes to the spirits, so most folk are fine with their “seeing” in the graveyard.

Now the difference between dirt and dust is simple. The dirt is the soil beneath the lawn, the dust in the top-most layer of soil or the dirt that gets caked into the name on the stone. Now the effectiveness and uses are basically the same, but the dust seems to be more effective in crossing work and protecting work. The dust is a bit more potent for certain reasons. It’s experienced the weather of the cemetery and all that energy collected by the rain falling through the air of the yard and splashing around seems to condense into the soil here. Dirt is just worn down stone, but it still works the same way. Stones remember.

For some odd reason, (the answer to which I was never taught), it’s recommended to get the dust at midnight on a Sunday, and the dirt anytime it’s needed. Sounds cliché, but basically everything practiced in rootwork is some type of cliché coming from somewhere.

Now, starting three days prior to getting the dirt, pray to your Ancestors asking for guidance and protection. Pray continuously each day. Should the grave belong to a Beloved One of yours, pray primarily to them. Tell them what the work is for, how it will be used and what the desired outcome is. When going to the cemetery be sure to take an offering for the Spirit and for the “Keeper”, who is thought to be the first person buried there. There was never a specific name designated for this person.

Offerings for the Keeper include cornbread, elderberries and coins (usually pennies, odd number). This isn’t done because they’re a god or lwa, don’t mix the traditions here. It’s simply done because, being the first buried there they are the elder of the “household,” and it’s mannerly. The eldest person of a home has always had a special role in our formulas, simply because of their grace and age.

You’ll also need a spoon, gloves and a container to hold the dirt in. Treat this with respect, it’s the dirt of someone’s grave. And if you’re getting it for a specific work, don’t keep the dirt that’s not used. Bring it back to the grave with another offering. Common sense will take you far if you use what you need and return what you don’t.

Greet the Keeper with respect and ask that as you enter and leave, you will be protected from those who wish you harm. Simply call them us like this, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I ask you of the first grave here to protect me from others that wish me ill while I am here.” Leave your offering and go to the grave in mind. Some folk divine for a grave using dowsing rods or pendulums, while others “feel” for a grave; both of which to me seems very wrong and unpredictable, as well as disrespectful to the one residing there. Your answers may just be that: you’re own which makes it rude and intruding to the spirit there. Unless you know for sure and have your wits about you that it ain’t your mind talking, go for it.

Should you decide to do the latter, I recommend you have your guards up and your senses out. When meeting a new Spirit, build a relationship with them first, over the course of a few months before asking for anything. Which is why most folk help care for the whole cemetery a few times a year, so the dead know you. At the end of the day each worker will have their own way of doing things, this is just the precautions I’as taught.

Now when you’re fixin’ to get the dirt, there are some ways and places to get it, depending on what spirit leads you to do. Now you don’t want no grass it in, so you’ll just take the spoon and raise up the lawn and get the dirt from under that. Pick out all the stones and sticks as well. Some folk get it dirt from the left hand and foot of the grave, while other times you’ll get it from the heart. Situations in which you would get it from the heart include protection work, harming someone threatening the family etc.

The left hand and foot is when some banework is needed. The head and right hand is when strong assistance is needed. These may seem like they blend in, and they do, but in that moment you’ll know which way is right. And Spirit does change this method up often.

Now in this pocket of earth is where you’ll leave the payment. If it won’t fit, place it by the head stone or over the heart. One thing you also need to find out prior to buying the dirt is if the person is buried in front or behind the headstone. Otherwise, the position you get it from won’t matter if there’s no body down there. Possible ways of payment are coins such as dimes or pennies, liquor (not recommended for those who died of alcoholism), tobacco (not recommended for those you died of lung cancer), food, and flowers. Flowers are more so a disguise for the payment. Walking through a graveyard with a pint of whiskey just seem right to some people.

Now the gloves are a precaution to keep it from getting under your nails, especially if it is from a spirit being petitioned for harm (criminal, murderer etc. which I will not be speaking about). Keep your hands from coming in contact with it if this is the case, and especially don’t drop any inside your house!!! These spirits are iffy to work with and sometimes go rogue or take things too far.

Folks leave the payment where they took the dirt from. Sometimes you can put the payment on the headstone if it won’t fit. Sometimes if the lawn is mostly moss, I’ll pull back some moss near the hole and put the money in there and then leave other payment in the hole I dug.

Now, if you’re from here (by from here I mean it like Byron Ballard says it: if your great granddaddy ain’t from these hills, you ain’t either), but if you’re from here, it’s likely one of your grannies knew the folk customs well. Most have many who did. These would be the Ancestors to work with, as I always recommend you first build a relationship with your Ancestors before buying dirt from other spirits. Now days, until companies like Ancestry and 23andMe showed up, most folk don’t think twice about their roots, and if you don’t know your roots, well, who are you?

Appalachian folk magic works very close to the dead and other spirits of these hills. We are very cautious of the impact our actions make in this world and the world of Spirit. When you build a close relationship with ’em you’ll know if it’s them or not who show up when you go to the grave. Each person will get their own hints about it, after years of working with the dead. This relationship also gives them consent to guide you in your works, and even stop you from doing things you’d later on regret. A perfect example is given by Starr Casas in her book Working the Root, as to how they can interfere in the works you plan.

Now when you’ve got your dirt, after building the relationship and talking with em for a while before asking, there’s certain things the hillfolk do when leaving the cemetery. Walk towards the gate, thanking the Keeper for their assistance, and don’t look back till your home. You may also wear a head covering as I’ve heard a covered head keeps things from hopping on your back. Some folk walk backwards out of the yard, but if you’re clumsy like me, you’ll just bust your ass. So just walk on out as usual.

For more precaution, bring a small bottle and dish rag. In the bottle, make a mixture of ammonia, salt, black pepper, dirt from your homestead and creek water. You’ll use this to wipe off the bottoms of your shoes before getting in the car. This removes the cemetery dirt from your shoes, cause you don’t wana track that back in. Now when you’re leaving in the car, don’t look in any mirrors either or it “invites em in,” as mamaw said. Wait until you’ve passed the first cross road or over running water before doing so.

When you arrive home, kick your shoes off at the door cause your gonna need to deep cleanse them too. The ammonia mixture holds it off. Some workers either take them to the creek and submerge them the next morning or sprinkle them with holy water. The creek is my personal favorite, cause while you’re submerging them till sunrise you can put your feet in the creek and feel the minos nibble at your toes.

I’ve seen online where some folk are selling graveyard dirt. That is a huge no-no and usually a big red flag, unless you know and trust that person fully. It could either be their own lawn dirt and ineffective or it could be from the grave of someone you aught not be dealing with.

Don’t “stock up” on it either. The cemetery ain’t going no where. Now you can, however, gather dirt for protection from an Ancestor and keep that. But, I’d  replenish it every 6 months to a year. When you replenish, take the rest of the dirt back to the grave and leave it until after the next rain comes. Then go back and get more. Yes, you have to pay for it again. Try not to get the same dirt though.

Before you go to the grave of a stranger, do your research, spend time getting to know the spirit. Don’t use a pendulum or go by intuition. We’re human, it’s our nature to error. So talk with them and note your experiences. And don’t ask the spirits “who wants to help”, cause more often then not, the ones who pipe up first are the ones to avoid.

I speak from experience. I asked a friend to get graveyard dirt for me from the south quarter (not from a grave), but she failed to listen. She took the dirt from the grave of an old woman, as well as the plastic cross from the grave (still have no idea why).

Long story short, my salt and pepper barriers on the window seals and front door kept her out, as we only ever seen her outside the window, beckoning us to come to the window. My mother was asleep on the couch with her legs crossed one day, when something suddenly smacked her leg down; after that she saw the woman in the window. She only ever bothered my friend and my mother, the ones who went to the cemetery. That’s when I asked where the dirt came from and they told me.

The cemetery was four hours away and I was unable to return the dirt to the grave, but I made an offering of incense and the dirt to the spirit with my deepest apologies. I placed it beneath a tree, and she left immediately.

Now, this don’t mean you can go do whatever and think they’re gonna be that forgiving. You’re already fucking yourself there for thinking that. I was lucky she was a kind spirit, and thankful the spirit wasn’t sinister. Keep your sense about you, lay close to your roots, and follow your spirits directions. Don’t “follow your intuition”, unless you’ve spent allot of time fully developing it. Don’t go with what “feels right”, because they can and will have a sway over you. So keep your wits about you and use your head.

Next week, we’ll talk about Ancestor veneration, so don’t forget to subscribe below!!!