Chinese Whispers and Black Salt

In this modern age where everyone is offering magical advice, how do you know what is genuine and what has fallen victim of what I classify as “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” (a childhood game where a “secret” was whispered to one person who then whispered it to another which went around the circle to the last person who would vocalised the “secret” hoping it would reflect the original whisper). This year (probably reflecting the global situations and increase in social media usage), I have noticed an increasing about of “sage advice” about magical practices or techniques often gleamed from other spiritual traditions being incorporated into witchcraft practices. While I personally have not issues with adapting such magical practices or techniques, after all this is what my style of contemporary witchcraft is about, my issue is where the adaption is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of the original magical practice or technique. I will use “black salt” as an example.

In a number of folk magic traditions, black salt (also known as “Sal Negro” and “Drive Away Salt” and should not be confused with the Indian black salt which is a mineral salt used for cooking) is a special salt blend used to drive away evil. It can be sprinkled around your property to keep your home safe from intruders or troublemakers, and even sprinkled in the footprints of someone who is bothering you, to make them go away.

Black salt can also be placed in closets and dark corners in a room to drive away evil or negative spirits. You can even sprinkle it on the floor and then sweep the salt out through the front door for a cleansing of your home or apartment. This protective salt can be added to witch’s bottles and alternatively, sprinkled in a circle around the perimeter of your house for protection, to banish evil and also to cleanse from any negativity.

More traditional recipes instruct that black salt includes salt (preferably sea salt), scrapings from a cast iron skillet or pot, ash from your fire pit (ritual fire), maybe some herbs (such as black pepper) and even powered black food colouring (although black salt is not necessarily black in colour). These ingredients are blended during certain phases of the moon and have specific chants and prayers recited over them for a period of time.

Modern alternatives to making black salt include adding additional protective herbs and even essential oils to the mix, such as rosemary (protection from harmful people or toxic relationships), cayenne pepper (dispel anger or toxic relationships), cinnamon (protection from a broken heart or pain in a romantic relationship) or even lavender (to block invisible ickiness).

I recently came across someone advising their followers to make black salt from Himalayan salt and the left over ashes from burnt incense sticks. This advice I personally consider to be a prime example of “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” in that while Himalayan salt does offer protection, this is more commonly during astral travel or when spiritually travelling between worlds as opposed to protecting your physical space. Sea salt on the other hand is used in purification and cleansing baths, as well as to help release and cleanse negative feelings. Further, I question the use of burnt incense ash as this has little if anything to do with ritual fire ashes or cast iron scrapings.

In this modern age, anything appears to go. While this may be true to a certain level, when you are making products or utilising practices or techniques that come from other spiritual traditions, ensure that you actually have some knowledge of what is required to ensure your success.