Anthropology

Graveyard Dirt as Power

Different traditions that consider the dirt of the grave to be beneficial and magical.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…. from dust you came to dust you shall remain. We all know the old adage and scripture passages about the bleak future our bodies will have after we cease to keep living. But to some it’s not all sad and depressing. Some people find that cemeteries and graveyards are their favorite places to relax. The very dirt from these hallowed grounds are believed to be beneficial and powerful.

Grave dirt has been utilized and revered by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Whether it be for ancestor worship, divination, spell casting, or other occult means, there are many people that swear by the power of dirt that the dead are buried in. Here are just a few.

Ancestor worship or honoring one’s deceased loved ones as a popular reason for collecting grave dirt today. Some find taking small amounts of dirt from a relative’s gravesite to be helpful in their magic work or even just to sit on their altar in memorial of the person. This can be found scattered throughout various pagan traditions.

Love spells in different cultures utilized grave dirt. If you took the dirt from someone you loved very much and in turn used it in a spell on someone else, they will love you also. The same logic was also believed to work when gathering the grave dirt of a person that was known to be wicked and thus the dirt would be used for hexing. Ancient Egyptians may have used dirt and other items from funeral sites for their magical practices, particularly when it came to matters of cursing and necromancy.

“Enslaved Africans also used grave dirt in erotic and commanding medicine. One enslaved African woman named Mariana ‘confided to a friend that the earth in her bag was from a grave and that she used it to give to men ‘in order that they may love me’ “,  wrote Jesús C. Villa, in his thesis “African Healing in Mexican Curanderismo” about slaves in Mexico. “. In 1650 CE, another enslaved African named Mariana was accused of serving her slave owners ‘powders of roasted bats and grave dirt in order to tie them, or prevent them from mistreating her.

Similar traditions using graveyard dirt were brought by enslaved Africans to the United States and are still used by their ancestors that practice Hoodoo and Rootwork today. In this tradition it is of utmost importance to be in touch with the ancestral spirit you are obtaining dirt from and paying for it as well. Leaving coins or whiskey or other appeasements is necessary.

 

 

 

 

By: Alexandria Addesso

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