Monday, May 23, 2011

Halloween Hair Magic

Halloween is a spooky time of year when children and adults alike dress up as witches and warlocks, ghosts and goblins, to scare their neighbors and abscond with a sweet morsel or two.

With all the focus on the supernatural, it's interesting to take a look at how "real" witches practiced magic by using aspects of their everyday lives - including their hair.

In her book, Enchantments: 200 Spells for Bath & Beauty Enhancement, author Edain McCoy devotes an entire chapter to "Hair Magick." She begins by discussing traditional folk beliefs about hair in different cultures: how some believed that hair holds the soul, that long hair can protect children from evil spirits, and that hair can be used to bring curses as well as deflect them and heal illnesses.

As a divination tool, a single hair was tied to a jewel or other weighted object and allowed to swing while the practitioner asked yes and no questions, such as, "Is my future husband someone I already know?" Clockwise or up-and-down motions were usually interpreted as "yes" and counterclockwise or side-to-side as "no."

Another divination called for a mirror and a hairbrush in order to catch a glimpse of a future love. A woman would sit before her mirror just before sunset and brush her hair 100 times. Just before the 100th stroke, she would peer through her veil of hair into the mirror to see her future husband.

Braids were used to "bind power" to the practitioner. Creating a slow tight braid while visualizing a lover was said to ensure that he would be faithful. At the end, the braid was bound with a colored ribbon: red usually represented passion while blue stood for fidelity. Women also used braids to "bind a child" to them while trying to conceive.

McCoy also discusses how women used hair brushing to "brush up" magical energy. This practice was believed to be especially effective when the brushing produced static electricity that sparked and cracked in the dark. While brushing, a woman would concentrate on her need or wish. Then she would smooth her hair with her hands and envision the brushed-up energy being released toward her goal.
For the current-day practitioner, McCoy includes "Magickal Shampoo & Conditioner" recipes that you can use to attract a new love, conceive a child, banish something bad from your life, or break a curse that's been put on you.

She lists the following herbs and their "magickal properties" for use in a dry shampoo to be mixed with cornstarch and brushed through the hair:
  • Psychic Skills: dill, marjoram, mugwort, thyme
  • Attracting Love: vervain, yarrow, myrtle, jasmine
  • Inciting Lust: fenugreek, basil, hyacinth, damiana
  • Fertility: bistort, hawthorn
  • Fidelity: sweet pea, thistle, chickweed, rye
  • Money: cowslip, comfrey, woodruff
  • Curse Breaking: vetivert, wintergreen, galangal
  • Healing: fennel, bay, feverfew, boneset
  • Mental Prowess: rosemary, sage
  • Protection: cinnamon, clove, bay, nutmeg.
In addition to "Hair Magick," Enchantments: 200 Spells for Bath & Beauty Enhancement covers "The Magickal Bath," "Soap and Shower Magick," "Lotions and Potions," Perfumes and Aromatherapy," as well as "Magical Makeup." It's definitely a fun read, during the spooky time of year.