“He who does not believe in himself, fails to believe in anyone else.” -Elhoim Leafar (4)
I was recently inspired to think about Charm Bags again after so long from reading the recent book published by Red Wheel Wiser Books titled, The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags (4) written by author Elhoim Leafar. I am still currently enjoying it and finding little gems in the book!
Leafar seems to be a delightful shaman who had recently immigrated from his homeland in Venezuela and now has taken up residence in New York City.
I first came across the use of Charm Bags when I first read Sybil Leek’s book, Cast Your Own Spell (3) when she talked about a story she read where Philadelphia, PA native, Charles Leland met an individual who made him a Charm bag for success and good luck on a book he was writing. Sybil said the maker of the Charm had put a piece of his book in the Charm bag and thought if she might ask a Charm maker to put a page of her book in a Charm bag too.
(Photo Above: the Charm bag that was made for a witch in need of healing along with her Astral candle and a healing candle. Also, the candles and talismans also on the altar for those in need from a previous night’s magical Work.)
As I continued my studies, I would occasionally come across other types of Charm Bags with all sorts of different names such as Sachet Bags, Quanga Bags, Gris-Gris (pronounced gree-gree), Mojo Bags, tobies, Medicine Bags, etc.
When it comes to sachet bags and powders, I first came across this term in the old 1930s classic book that Sybil Leek recommended called, Legends of Incense, Herb & Oil Magic (1) by Lewis de Claremont. In the book it has a section on sachet powders that can be used to magically scent items by putting them in bags and occasionally opening up the bags and sprinkling them places for a certain effect.
The power of perfumery of strong aromatics is what powers the use of sachet powders and are preserved in bags so their scent is retained. Over time, you may need to re-fresh the sachet bag and powders. Today, we typically do so by adding essential or fragrance oils to them. When used for occult purposes, we may use scented potions or fluid condensers to concentrate thought impregnation on the powders.
When it comes to sachet powders, the most common ingredient seems to be Orris Root – which is the root of a particular Iris that when powdered is highly fragrant and retains perfume scent very well. Even when the Iris is planted in the ground, I can tell how highly scented the root is because if you don’t pack the root down good when planting it or at least get it sprouted a bit first before planting, then a critter such as a rabbit or squirrel might dig them up to munch on. I’ve had this happen to me before when planting them and almost made me want to declare a small war on my local squirrels and bunnies at first!
In de Claremont’s book, he gives a recipe for a Love Sachet that definitely looks like it would be very fragrant because some of the ingredients include orris root, Lavender, sandalwood, musk and a few others.
I then came across quanga bags at first through some of the coven lore passed down in which a good luck personal quanga might be called for in certain circumstances. Though, from what I understand though, the term quanga may be a more common phrase amongst the practitioners of a form of witchcraft called Obeah of the Caribbean.
The practice of the Obeah is a combination of European witchcraft mixed with local customs and practices found in its Caribbean homeland such as Jamaica and the surrounding islands.
The European influence in Obeah heavily comes from the old grimoires imported from the old de Laurence company of Chicago – particularly one of our favorite grimoires of sorcery known as The Sixth & Seventh Books of Moses. Another book that heavily influenced Obeah was also a personal favorite grimoire of Sybil Leek’s and has influenced us in the Wolfa Coven greatly called The Great Book of Magical Art.
Gris-Gris bags and mojo bags seem to be common names for Charm Bags found in American Hoodoo practice and little packets wrapped in brown paper bag called tobies seem to be a common name found in American Rootwork practice.
Medicine Bags are also well known to be used by Medicine men and women among various Native American religions. This subject is an interest among some members of the coven since our coven’s High Priestess is part Blackfeet Indian.
One other type of bag that seems to be a modern invention is also called Crane Bags and is used by some practitioners of certain Druid traditions that seems that it could take on a Charm bag qualities….
Another old book from the 1940s also used and recommend in our coven is The Magic of Herbs (2) by Henri Gamache. This book contains a number of ingredients and descriptions about herbs that could be used as is, or in Charm Bags if you wish.
As I said, Elhoim Leafar’s New Book got me thinking about all these things again and their use. I used to make a number of these Charm Bags many years ago and haven’t done so in such a long while – so I was inspired that I should maybe think once again about this subject. I was intrigued by what Leafar had to say starting with the introduction in how he found a lost red bag and took it to his mother to see what she had to say about it and how he received a small leather Charm bag at fourteen and told not never to open it. From these very quick first stories, I knew that Elhoim would have quite a lot to say.
Now just today, I received word that an apprentice witch learning witchcraft from our coven’s Vestal Virgin was in a car accident last night. Our coven’s Vestal Virgin let us know immediately so that we could go to work to aid in healing.
Fortunately, the witch was not seriously hurt but she does have some injuries. She had to swerve to miss being hit by another vehicle and is a sweet girl, so our thoughts, prayers and concentration of healing is being focused on her right now.
My first thought was – why not make my own Charm bag in order to focus the healing with since the idea of Charm Bags were heavily on mind because of currently reading Leafar’s book…. so taking what he had to say in his book, along with my own tradition’s knowledge, I decided to put together a Charm bag that I will share with you.
Now if I had a bit more time to plan and react, I probably could have done a better job selecting ingredients, but had to do this quickly. Fortunately, if you are new to this or need inspiration, Leafar’s book gives 100 magical formulas and recipes that you can pull from and provides instruction for what certain magical ingredients mean.
Here are the items I chose for the Charm Bag:
1. Astral Candle – I chose the color red to represent the witch the bag was made for since she is an Aries. The use of Astral candles, anointed with the proper astral oil is part of our tradition’s practice.
2. Healing Candle – I magnetized a healing candle anointed with Healing Oil for the spell.
3. Solar Talisman – I coated a piece of paper in a fluid condenser to concentrate my thoughts and once it dried and was ready, I inscribed a solar talisman for the purposes of healing and good health. Leafar talks about the use of talismans in his book as well, and Talismanic Magics is used in our coven extensively. One of my witchcraft teachers, Tarostar, says in his book The Witches’ Spellcraft (5) that; “A seal or Talisman is basically a Symbol, not a power in itself, but only insofar that it acts as a condenser of energy which represents or comes from the spiritual Force behind all Matter.”
4. A Green Charm Bag & Quartz Crystal – both were given to me as gifts by a friend who is a Luccumi Priest and initiated Witch. Leafar gives a good description in his book (4) on the meaning of quartz crystal and other crystals if you wish to use crystals in Charm Bags.
5. Sandalwood – some sandalwood powder that was given to me by the witch that this Charm bag for healing is being made for and was brought back by her from her trip last year in India. Leafar says in his book (4) that Sandalwood is great for protection, love and as a purification Incense.
6. High John the Conqueror Root – I included this so that she will have some strength and power while she healed up.
7. Wheel of Fortune Powder – this was given to me as a gift from a good friend of mine, Silver RavenWolf, and is used as a powder for all forms of good fortune.
8. Healing Incense – this is a traditional formula part of the Horsa Tradition that I also sprinkled in the Charm bag.
9. Mercurial Incense – Incense of mercury burned on the coals to carry my wishing prayers to the witch in need of healing.
10. Broomstick Charm – given to me by an initiated witch friend from Arizona. I tied this on the outside of the bag. I saw that Leafar sometimes ties little charms on the outside of his Charm bags and thought this may be a nice touch.
11. Shoestring – I tied the Charm bag up with an old shoestring to add a bit of a personal touch of energy to the witch needed healing. I sometimes save things like old shoestrings to use in knot magic for things.
I then proceeded to cast the spell and construct the Charm bag. During that time, I concentrated on seeing her well again and will continue to for the appropriate time period. When the spell is completed, I will burry the Charm Bag in thanksgiving.
Overall, Leafar’s book is instructive and well worth the read. The only unfortunate thing is that I discovered his book in the middle of winter. I am looking forward to the coming of Spring and Summer in order to collect more items out in the garden that can be used for the purposes of Charm Bags.
In other news….
I hope that you all had a wonderful Yule/Winter Solstice. The Wolfa Coven here celebrated with a great deal of joy and merriment. We look forward to seeing you all in the new year. Happy 2018 everyone!
Bibliography & Works Cited:
1. de Claremont, Lewis; Legends of Incense, Herb & Oil Magic. Print.
2. Gamache, Henri; The Magic of Herbs. Print.
3. Leek, Sybil; Cast Your Own Spell. Print
4. Leafar, Elhoim; The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags. Print.
5. Tarostar; The Witches’ Spellcraft. Print