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Waste Not, Want Not: Collecting Materials for Spiritual Work

Marie Laveau probably collected many items to make her famous packets and workings
Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen was probably very ingenious collecting materials.

Oftentimes I like to think about those who have paved our way for our religious practices. Some names are paramount for me in Santería, such as the great iyaloshas who now belong to the realm of the ancestors, like Aurora Lamar, Timotea Albear, Ferminita Gómez and many other great women that shaped Santería in the New World. Other great ladies distinguished themselves in Voodoo like the famous Marie Leveau and like her, countless other two-headed women have lived as root workers, voodoo and hoodoo practitioners .

What did they all had in common, dare I ask, when putting workings together?

Well, I seriously doubt it was a well stock Botánica or Spiritual Curio Shop around the corner! No, they more than likely wasted not, wanted not. In other words, they collected items and kept a good supply of tools available to carry out their spiritual workings.

After all, Oyá teaches us that the world is a great market filled with fascinating items to help us further our spiritual journeys. However, commercialism and fancy wrappings simplify a process that should involve more forethought and dedication. Intention is key part of the process of doing a successful working and if when we lose touch with the process of gathering resources we also diminish a vital element of will.

It is all too easy to go online or to visit a Botánica and get the supplies you need to put together any spell jar, mojo bag, gris gris, trabajo (working) or whatever you want to call it. However, in my years putting together things of this nature for myself and for others, I have found that most of the items required for successful workings are within reach and at none or little cost.

Depending on which spiritual path you follow, there will be variations on what items you consider essential. However, most people would agree that a well stocked spiritual cupboard must have items from the four elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth.

Based on those four elements, I will share with you a list of the basic supplies I like to keep at hand as well as a list of some of the items I have collected, you may catalogue them differently, this is merely my system and I do not hold all the answers. Sometimes friends come to me in search of odd items because they know I am collector of oddities and things that strike my fancy, sometimes I share, sometimes I smile and don’t.

Some of the interesting articles I have collected over time include lots of zoological specimens such as bats, centipedes, spiders, spider webs of different kinds, cocoons, snake skins and bones, clippings of cat, dog, goat and other animal furs (it is not necessary or cool to hurt animals so I just use my scissors with great care as to trim just a bit of fur).

Other odds and ends are simply things that strike my fancy such as exotic herbs and spices, rocks, stones, interesting pieces of fabric, nails of all kinds, jars, salts, oils, brooms, pinwheels, compasses, baggies of different sizes, beads, different kinds of binding materials (hemp, silk, cotton, leather) and so on.

Next time you are taking a walk and enjoying nature, speak to the elements, speak to your guardian spirits and ask them to lead the way in a treasure hunt to find interesting materials.

I am sure that there are a lot of collectors like me out there, but for those who buy everything readymade, consider this article as an invitation to shop in Oya’s market…for little or no cost. Remember, it is always nice to leave a few coins where you find important treasures. Perhaps someone in need will find them, or find in them a sign of good luck, what comes around, goes around.

Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá

14 Responses to Waste Not, Want Not: Collecting Materials for Spiritual Work

  1. Garnet says:December 20, 2010 at 3:36 pmThis is very helpful thank you and may blessings )0(

  2. Mikki says:December 21, 2010 at 2:32 amGreat awesome post!! I love it!! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Omimelli says:December 21, 2010 at 3:43 amHello Mikki, I had fun writing it and made me also want to go and update my collection of findings. 🙂 Omimelli

  3. Kjerstin says:December 21, 2010 at 5:24 pmThank you Omimelli for taking the time to write the great articles! I always use what is ‘provided’ for me. I seldom have money to buy ready-made pagan items. I will just have my attention drawn to something, and if it is OK to pick it up I will. (I always ask the Earth if the item is something I can have). I also leave an appropriate offering in return. This is to say thanks. Until your article I did not think about the empty birds nests I have been drawn to as being of the element wind. One was, and is a hummingbirds nest. I left it where it was because I am unsure if hummingbirds re-use nests. I would prefer that they have a place to live over my having a sacred item. If it does turn out that I can harvest the nest – I think I will need to plant something succulent for the hummingbirds to enjoy when they are here next. I really appreciate how differently you make me think. Thanks for that! Much Love Kjerstin

    • Omimelli says:December 24, 2010 at 5:07 amHello Kjerstin, I am sure you can find sometimes nests that are no longer in use or that fall out of a branch, those are just as good. Nests are excellent for working to keep families together and couples in happy union. 🙂 Omimelli

      • Kjerstin says:December 26, 2010 at 1:52 amThank you for this Omimelli I was drawn to the nest, and at the same time I am so much more blessed to see the hummingbirds that come for our lillies and clemantis – I wouldn’t touch it for the world, I just marveled at how small and powerful it was. As it is – it in in the snow crab tree that my husband and I planted when I was pregnant with our son. We gave the tree special blessings for our life together. The hummingbird nest brings in an element of joy. I plan to leave it right were it is, hidden safely in a crook of the tree where it can only be seen from above. I found the hummingbird nest on the day that I had that spirit visit I wrote you about. I did not remember that till now. I am grateful that the hummingbirds trust us so much to nest this close to our front door. It is unusual I think. Something else to think on. Much Love Kjerstin

        • MrsB says:June 7, 2011 at 10:57 amI was reading this wonderful post and it’s comments (I learned several things, thanks to all!) and I just had to add this comment. Hummingbirds will reuse their nests if the nest survives the winter. It’s also technically illegal to possess a hummingbird nest (it’s a very old law and probably not very paid attention to) because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. What a wonderful thing it must be to have them nesting near your door! A real blessing, indeed! =)

  4. bornspirit says:December 24, 2010 at 4:20 amGreetings, What could a Wasp nest be good for?

    • Omimelli says:December 24, 2010 at 5:03 amHello Bornspirit, A wasp nest is a very practical ingredient if you are in need to speed up a working, it can have many other uses depending on the project. However, it is a matter of always double checking all materials to be used with the entity that you are working with. In the case of Palo Mayombe with tne Nganga, in the case of the Orisha with the particular Orisha in question, or, in the case of Egún with them or with the particular egún leading you. Omimelli

  5. gineajacmel says:December 24, 2010 at 4:20 amAshe excellent article, I have a mini Botanica in my house, just in case I need to do an ebbo I am not worry about not having the materials. Buying materials wholesale is more cost effective, like cloths, florida water, effun(cascarilla), candles. When it comes to holy water, I buy a bucket from home depot for five dollars. And I always go to the church when I get a chance and fill up my bucket not all at once but within three or four days it is filled up.

    • Omimelli says:December 24, 2010 at 5:05 amGineajacmel, Don’t get me started on buying cloths, I have always enough in stock not only for workings but also for making any Ashó Orisha, no matter which you need. I love cloth. 🙂 Omimelli

  6. Lucinda says:June 7, 2011 at 11:27 amI love your ideas, I have gotten to a place where I like to use natural gifts and this is helpful. Bright Blessings Lucinda

    • Omimelli says:June 7, 2011 at 9:29 pmHi Lucinda Thank you so very much for reading and for commenting, I am glad the post was useful. Many blessings for you as well, Omimelli

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