Magical Dirts & Powders


Dirt or stones from special places are often utilized as an ingredient in folk magic. To me, one of the most important of these is the dirt from the ground surrounding one’s own home. It can be carried along on a trip to ensure a safe return, and to keep one “grounded” in tense or unsure situations away from home.

However, graveyard dirt is probably the most famous of dirts used for magic, and is used to summon the spirit from a particular grave for help in the work at hand. If using graveyard dirt, be sure you know the character of the spirit you’re taking it from. Speak with them using divination to see if they even want to help, and leave a coin or libation in place of the dirt taken.

For money spells, folks have been known to collect bank dirt, from the land on which a bank stands, or dust is collected from inside the bank. Coalmine dirt is used for prosperity as well. Courthouse dirt or dust is used for good outcomes in a court case. Police station dirt is supposed to keep the law away, and railroad dirt is used to send something or someone away from you. Rabbit’s den dirt (carefully collected so as not to disturb the kittens) is used for fertility, easing depression, and for safe childbirth. Churchyard dirt has been used as an ingredient in healing spells, but if you do not hold faith with a church, it would be better to collect dirt from some other place you hold sacred. 

Crossroads dirt is perhaps one of the most potent of magical dirts. The crossroads invokes a sacred center, an in-between, bringing together the four corners of the earth. It also represents travel and movement between worlds. (This symbolism applies to equal-armed crosses and X’s used elsewhere in folk magic, as well. Many think it stands for the Christian cross, though it is much more ancient than that.)

Red clay (redding) is often used in a similar way as brick dust is in the deep south. Dried and powdered, it is paired with *salt and pepper, creating the sacred color trinity of red, black, and white. This mixture, sometimes placed in shoes, is used for protection from all manner of bad luck or curses.

(*Note: to avoid “salting the earth”, one can substitute epsom salts in place of regular salt, if being used outdoors.)

Sulfur is another substance from the earth that is used for magic, usually for cursing, though water from a sulfur spring is considered healing. When sulfur is mixed with saltpeter (potassium nitrate) and charcoal, it becomes gunpowder, which is used for luck, cursing, or protection. It gives your spell a good “shot”. 

Another foul smelling substance is asafetida. Is a bitter yellowish-brown material prepared from roots. It isn’t a local plant here in the Ozarks– it was commonly store bought and worn around the neck in little bags to ward off colds and diseases (mainly for children).

The regional method for making a magical powder is to grind up herbs with cornmeal and salt into a fine powder. This is then blessed and placed where someone will cross over it, or it’s scattered around, or sprinkled on the body. Powder mixtures may also contain the aforementioned special dirt, dusts, or minerals. 

A protective powder may be made by grinding together redding (or brick dust), and egg shells (I use chalk), with salt and cornmeal. This is used to line doors, windows, and used for other barriers. 

Of course, these dirt and dirt-based powder formulas are within the category of Earth magic. At a more basic level, one could simply bury a symbol of something you want to get rid of, as a sort of mock funeral, giving back to the Mother for transformation. Or the opposite- plant something to represent what you want in your life to flourish and grow. For growth or for rot, for life or for death; the Earth has the power for both.

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