Thursday, July 24, 2014

Luck and Voodoo

Charms for luck or control.
I've been thinking about rituals and traditions today. Yesterday I came across a lot of old dolls with some fetish dolls included. There was a voodoo doll with its pin and a Kitchen Witch, meant to bring good luck. I got the chicken "wish bone" from my own kitchen.

The vintage Kitchen Witch
I was surprised several years ago to hear Norwegians described as "superstitious". I didn't think of myself or my family that way. Looking back over the years, however, I realized we have our own rituals. My mother had a Kitchen Witch when I was small. We nearly always had chicken bones hanging from our kitchen cupboard handles. My mother would roast a chicken or make soup often and she would always wash the bone and hang it to dry until we were ready to make our wish. I do the same thing now. The children love the wish bones. To use one, each person grasps one end of a chicken's dried collar bone and pulls. When the bone breaks, the person who has the top joint attached to their side gets their wish.

A vintage voodoo doll with a pin.
We also always wished on the first star of the evening, and if one of our eyelashes fell out we would blow it away and make a wish. My grandfather never ate peas in his life, I don't think, without reciting the poem:

I eat my peas with honey.
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
but it keeps them on my knife!

 That was meant to amuse, however, than to bring any sort of fortune to us. Speaking of food, we always eat our lucky foods each New Years' Day: sauerkraut and black-eyed peas. So, maybe we are rather superstitious as a culture!

Some rituals, unknown to us, contribute to our health. My mother and her mother before her, and as far as I know all the women of our family, have always taken very hot baths. Every other night at least I take my bath with Epsom salts added. My husband will ask, "Going to boil yourself?" when I head off to my bath. There is a reason for this tradition, it appears. In Scandinavia, and in Iceland in particular, people traditionally bathe in the natural hot springs for their health. As it turns out, these provide a host of trace minerals not easily obtained through the diet. Epsom salts deliver magnesium, a mineral most people lack in adequate amounts, through the epidermis. Magnesium is much better absorbed in this manner than through digestion. My theory is the heat somehow contributes to this process and that is the reason we ritualize our hot baths. My ancestors and I just re-created the practice here in our regular American bathtubs.

You can find these ritual dolls, though not the chicken bone, in my store:

A lot of vintage souvenir and voodoo dolls

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