Practicing Vodou - Cleansing Baths, Candle Spells, and the Gris-gris
The essence of Voodoo magic and spell casting is to raise spiritual powers over time through offerings, rituals, and initiations. This may be done individually or in a group setting, which is what happens in Vodou and Santeria. But, because of the power and intensity of the work, it is not recommended for beginners. And most magic is reserved for Vodou initiates. There are only a few types of rituals and spells that will be suitable for the non-initiate, and most that practice Vodou would strongly urge anyone with a genuine interest to seek further instruction with a houngan (vodou priest) or mambo (vodou preistess). However, you can begin an interest in Vodou by taking part in cleansing baths and utilizing candle spells. You do not have to be an initiate to use these sacred Vodou practices.
Vodou has a strong emphasis on cleanliness and calm. The religion takes the old saying, "cleanliness is next to godliness" to heart. The loa Erzulie is especially concerned with these matters. In the Afro-Caribbean religious traditions, the ritual of a cleansing bath is often used. Magical baths are taken for many purposes.
Often various herbs, salts, or oils will be added to cleansing baths to invoke specific states of mind or effect changes in life. For instance, a bath to create opportunity will utilize coconut water, basil oil, and vanilla extract. For physic power, combine parsley and sandalwood oil and sage. This is best done at the new moon. If you would like a different way to evoke the calming effects of water, sit quietly for an hour with a glass of water and a lit white candle.
Many of the spells used in Vodou and Santeria utilize candles to boost their effectiveness. An all-purpose candle is a white seven-day candle, which can be used for many different spells. Usually oils or herbs or other things will be added to the candle in order to personalize the spell to a specific purpose. The candles and other supplies are available at an online store or local botanica that sells Vodou supplies.
An example of a simple candle spell used for opening opportunities to success follows: Add a pinch of pipe tobacco, coffee, and a drop of coconut oil to a red seven-day candle. As you light the candle every morning, think about achieving your goals and walking along the road of opportunity. When you extinguish the candle, do so with your fingers, in order to preserve the candle's power. Continue this daily until you feel you have been successful.
You may also want to create a gris-gris. Gris-gris bags are herbal bundles created for magic. They are worn around the neck or some other part of the body, and are especially popular in New Orleans Voodoo. It is said that at one time, every police officer in the city carried a gris-gris bag for protection. Other popular uses of the bags in New Orleans include attracting money and love, protection, good health, or stopping gossip.
The gris-gris bag is made of flannel or silk, and assembled before a Vodou altar which contains the four elements. Ingredients are never an even number and never more than thirteen. Vodou practitioners may also place stones that correspond with astrological signs into the gris-gris bag. The bags are meant to be worn for as long as necessary to accomplish the desired result. When this has happened, the bag is disposed of by burying it under a large tree.
Some of the herbs that might be used for specific purposes in the gris-gris would be cinnamon, red rose petals, patchouli, rose quartz, and a seashell for love; basic black salt, sesame seed, sandalwood oil, and a cowrie shell for protection, and comfrey, thyme, and basil for traveling.
If you're excited to learn more about Vodou and it's practices, spells, and ceremonies - check out our complete Vodou Guide today. It's the only in-depth guide to Vodou religion and it's practices available online.