Showing posts with label modern conjure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label modern conjure. Show all posts

Hyssop of the Holy Writ

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” 

Talk to any rootworker and ask them to name the best herb to use for cleansing and uncrossings and their response is likely to be, or at least include: Hyssop. This makes sense given the heavy influence of the Bible on modern conjure, and in particular, the influence of Catholicism and the use of the Psalms - specifically Psalm 51 - in conjure work in New Orleans.

Although well-known for its association with the Bible, the hyssop we know today as Hyssopus officinalis is disputed as the plant referred to in the Bible. Biblical hyssop is often called the “unidentified plant” of the Bible. Some maintain that hyssop is actually a type of marjoram (Origanum maru), while others posit it is the caper-bush (Capperis spinosa). Despite the question of its true identity, Hyssop officinalis is the one used in both perfumery and conjure today.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a decorative herbaceous plant in the mint family that is native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea.(1) Hyssop is believed to have come to North America with the early European colonists as it is listed among the seeds John Winthrop, Jr. brought to the New World in 1631.(2)

Over the years, it has escaped from gardens and is now naturalized at roadsides and in waste places here and there in North America from Quebec to North Carolina. When it blooms, hyssop displays spikes of fragrant blue, pink, or white flowers. Hyssop has been used in a variety of ways since Classical Antiquity. The classical age was a time in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe and the Middle East. During this time, hyssop was widely
used for its medicinal properties.

Historically, hyssop has been used medicinally as an antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hypertensive, nervine, sedative, and tonic, among other things. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of bruises, colds, cough, fatigue, fevers, flatulence, indigestion, inflammation, loss of appetite, nervous tension, sore throat, stress related conditions, and wounds. Hyssop should be avoided by those with epilepsy and those who are pregnant.

Hyssop also has culinary uses, although it is considered a bitter herb. It can be finely chopped and sprinkled on salads and game meats, and in soups and stews as an aromatic condiment. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste due to its tannins, and an intense minty aroma. Due to its intensity, it is used moderately in cooking. The herb is also used to flavor liqueur, and is part of the official formulation of Chartreuse.

Hyssop is most commonly associated with cleanliness and sacrifice from a religiomagical sense. It is known to have been used in the ritual cleansing of holy places. Bundles of the herb were dipped in sacrificial blood and water and touched upon doorways and other areas in need of cleansing. The dried herb was used in bouquets and burned to fumigate areas in an effort to ward off plagues. Beekeepers were known to rub the fragrant flowers on beehives to encourage bees to stay. In Hoodoo and Rootwork, hyssop maintains its biblical associations with cleansing, uncrossing, and getting rid of negative conditions.

Here are a couple of ways hyssop can be used to improve quality of life.


For the treatment of rheumatism, boil several handfuls of hyssop leaves and flowers along with a handful each of thyme, marjoram, lavender, mint and rosemary in two gallons of spring water. Allow to cool until warm, then strain out the herbs and add the tea to a warm bath. Soak for fifteen minutes.


Infuse a quarter of an ounce of dried hyssop flowers in a pint of boiling water for ten minutes; sweeten with honey, and take a wineglassful three times a day. This tea is said to be good for rheumatism and upset stomach and can be drunk in conjunction with the above aromatic bath.


Holy Hyssop Oil is ideal for times when you are in need of comfort, hope, and spiritual relief. It is useful in times of grief and when you are facing despair, a sense of hopelessness and would benefit from the reassurance of Divine intervention.

Holy Hyssop Oil is made in a base of the purest Olive Oil you can get. Olive oil from Israel is ideal for this formula. Add the dried herbs of hyssop, lavender and rosemary in a pan with enough oil to cover the herbs. Simmer for thirty minutes. Allow to cool and strain into smaller bottles, adding a pinch of hyssop in each bottle. You can repeat the simmering process if you want a stronger fragrance by straining the oil and adding fresh herbs and boiling for another thirty minutes.

Note that this is my personal recipe and name for the oil; you may find others calling it simply Hyssop Oil, which for me would be simply the hyssop herb steeped in olive oil.


2. Mother Earth Living,

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* The above article is an excerpt from Hyssop: The Holy Herb and its Uses, one of many such documents and ebooks that is received by members of my Conjure Club.

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