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Thoughts FromThe Four Gates

  • Writer's pictureKai

Spell bags, charm bags and the like

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Three spellbags bound with twine on a piece of wood surrounded by candles and herbs.

Spell bags are one of my favorite types of spellwork, but I’ll admit to having put this off. Mostly because this has some very important and specialized meanings in Hoodoo, which while not exactly initiatic, it’s the kind of thing that there’s simply too much argument over it being closed for my pasty white butt to feel comfortable speaking for. I’ll be very clear here. Bag spells are everywhere, and I’m not trying to claim that this is Hoodoo style mojo bag work. I’m trying to find a source that I think has authority to speak on that, at which point I’ll slide a link to that here. The way I do bag spells might be unique.

Bag spells as a host for thoughtforms

One of the interesting things that we discover when we look at spell bags is that in some traditions, these are the kind of thing that gets life breathed into them. While it’s rarely stated outright that you treat it like it’s alive, it’s hinted strongly. This is a hint for me then, that what we might be looking at here is what we call a thoughtform.

How I do this

For me, spell bags are one of my favorite ways of working. I say all the time that spells are semi intelligent. This is the largest representation of that. You’ll find components of poppet magic in the way I do this, as well as thoughtform creation and a few other things. This is something where layering becomes very important.

“Required” reading

This is “more advanced” by which I mostly mean that it’s something that I add many layers to. I’ll give you the list of the other articles I’ve built this on below, so you can poke at them all at once.

Start with words of power and sigils. Divide your words into 3, so your spirit’s name will have a first, middle and last name. When you’re ready to do the ritual part, I’ll suggest doing it in a circle and a more formal one at that. if we’re going to layer things, let’s do it up. There’s the basic idea of thoughtforms which you should have an idea of. This is all theory, but you might start here.

Gathering it all

In some traditions, particularly Hoodoo, these are always done in red flannel. I’ve never gotten into that. I’ve always felt that the bag of a spell bag should be another layer of symbolism you can add. Most easy to add is color, but I’ve also chosen material for symbolic reasons. Love spell bags out of worn underwear work really well. I usually use a small square of fabric, 3 or 4 inches is enough as you likely want to keep the spell bag pretty small. Of course, a bit of string to tie it off as well.

The herbs and things like that are pretty much exactly the same as anything else. I like to do these in sets of 3. Of course correspondence lists are everywhere, and they’re all about as good as each other. Only thing to note here is that harder larger herbs might be suitable for the heart.

The heart of the spell bag for me is some sort of symbol or something like that that functions as the core around which everything else is wrapped. It should symbolically be broad enough to be flexible, but focused enough to know what it’s doing. If you’re the crystal type, those make great hearts for spell bags.

You’ll want to have Words of Power, again, in a 3 word phrase as a name if you can. A sigil as well, in a small enough form that it’ll fit inside your bag.

For taglocks or personal concerns, you only really want one if you’re directing things at someone else. Spell bags for me are more about things that radiate around you, but every once in a while these are the right option here.

Small charms and trinkets can go either on the inside or outside of the bag. I tend to mostly like inside, but will decorate with one charm on the outside, as much for identification as anything.

The Ritual Elements

While there’s many layers of something like this, it’s actually pretty simple. Like I said, you’ll do this in a circle. I keep the herbs separate, because it lets me add a layer with each different herb.

Gather ingredients, and cast your circle. Again, layering and the more complex circle is probably better.

Invoke whatever spirits you’d like to involve in the process. This isn’t for me about asking them to help long term with your goal, but having them help create a spirit to do so. It’s actually not needed if you don’t want to, but if you do Spirit work, why not?

Bless and charge each ingredient in turn. I tend to like following kind of a formula, loosely based on Solomonic stuff, because the repeated pattern helps with trance induction, and adds layers. Something like “I conjure thee o creature of (material), and awaken thee to thy purpose. I charge thee with (energy), that thee might (intent).” Repeat for each ingredient, starting with the cloth. Layer each thing inside as you go.

Tie the bag off, using one of a few specialized knots for the purpose. You might consider the millers knot, as it’s probably the simplest, although I tend to like the look of a common whipping. Technically that’s for keeping the end of a rope from fraying, but I think it looks better, you can trim the top of the bag, and it’s super easy to tie. I tend to run pretty big loose ends then trim, as I think that looks better.

You can bless this with any incense that you want to, but it’s not essential. For me, the important bit next is this. Pick it up, gather up energy in a big breath, and blow into this bag saying: “I breathe into you now the Breath of Life, that you might be alive and active. I name and charge you by the name (spirits name/words of power), by which you know your instructions, and by which I shall Call you.”

Sprinkle a bit of water/holy water/ florida water or whatever. “I baptize thee by the name (spirits name again), and by this you have your duty.” Sprinkle either alcohol (whiskey or rum is traditional) or coffee on the bag. “And I feed you with the Water of Life. The symbol of this bag shall be the symbol of thy spirit, used as a link between us, yet you are free to roam in service if your goal. Go forth, to success”

At this point, the heavy working is done, and you can open the circle back up as normal.

Care and feeding

At this point, you’ll need to sustain the spirit. This is of course carried with you regularly, both to keep it energized, and as a link to the spirit. Once a week, I’ll feed mine with a bit of either whiskey or coffee. You have the tone of words you might say, but I tend to feed these things fairly casually. Pick a day of the week in line with your goal, and of course any other timings you might want. Particularly long term bags can be instead fed on a monthly basis if you’d like. I prefer active feeding methods to things like moonlight baths, as it allows for a check in.

Feeding times are great to combine with things like candle magic if you’d like, and the bag can sit next to any active candle work on your goal.

You can mostly work with this the way you would any other spirit, including coffee offerings. I usually sprinkle a bit of the coffee on the bag, but then offer a whole cup like normal. Only thing to remember here is that they’re young. They might look to you for guidance, at least until they get their feet. If you included spirits in their creation, you might find that the spirit “adopts” them, so to speak, you might not. It can vary.

Disposal and the end of its lifespan

When you’re sure of having achieved your goal, you might consider that the end of the bags lifespan, and you could bury or cremate it, with a bit of a ritual. You COULD design a ritual to separate the spirit from the physical objects, with thanks. Some folks will have an ethical consideration with that, and a belief that free thoughtforms like that go crazy over time. It’s certainly something you could consider, but I wouldn’t consider it lightly. I tend to disassemble, but hold on to the hearts for later spell bags, kind of a form of reincarnation if you will. Usually I do these general enough that you can swap out sigils, and baptize with new names and purposes. I like general enough that they’re actually fairly evergreen, and a long term ally for me.

This is a bit more involved than most things I’ve put up so far. If you feel you need a hand, of course you’re welcome to book some time with me and I’ll walk ya through it.


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