Remember the “old wives’ tale” – throw spilled salt over your left shoulder? There are a few possible origins for this tradition. The ancient Romans believed that salt represented longevity, trust and friendship. They gave it to guests to signify the strength of their esteem; spilling any on the table was considered an ill omen. A European superstition held that the Devil always lurked on the left (or sinister) side. Thus, tossing spilled salt over one’s left shoulder into the face of the demon would drive him away. Many cultures have used salt during sacrifices, festivals and rituals; it was thrown into the fire to make impressive crackling noises, offered to the gods, used in housewarmings and weddings, and placed at corners and entrances of buildings, especially businesses, to ward off evil and attract patrons. For pagans, salt is a symbol of the Earth element; it is used to cleanse a space of negative energy, repel undesirable presences, and protect from harm.
Harnessing Salt Power
If using salt in ritual, you may want to coordinate the type and colour with your intent. Sea salt, for example, is considered, like water, to be feminine, so it’s perfect for magick concerning women or female issues. Edible salts are great for kitchen witchery. Greyish Celtic salt may be the best choice when dealing with the past, memories or ancestors. And the colour black is thought to absorb negative energy and ward off evil, making black salt ideal for protection charms.
Various mixtures can be made by adding dried herbs and other elements such as charcoal, ash and even food colouring to coarse salt. (If you want highly-coloured salt that will last, use powdered, not liquid, food colouring, as moisture will cause the salt to clump or melt.) Here are my two recipes for making coloured salt:
Black Witch Salt (non-edible)
The powerful combination of salt and charcoal, pungent peppercorns (a traditional warding herb), and the leftover ash from fire or candle magick is ideal for absorbing negativity, repelling the unwanted, and bringing all-around protection. Use one of those charcoal discs sold for burning incense, or the activated charcoal used in gardening, aquariums and even tooth-whitening. Do not use barbecue charcoal briquettes.
⇒ With a mortar and pestle, crush 1 tbsp black peppercorns and one charcoal incense disc. If available, add ¼ tsp ash from your hearth, wood stove, cauldron or incense burner, plus any leftover bits of burnt resin or incense cone. Into this mixture, toss ¼ cup coarse sea salt and stir until the salt is well coated. Et voilà – your witchy black salt is done! Store in an air-tight glass container.
To ward off unwanted presences or negativity, sprinkle black salt across thresholds and windowsills, leave in containers at the four corners of your house or property or under your front steps, or add to protection bottles. Fill a small cotton or muslin bag and tuck under your office desk to keep annoying co-workers at bay, or hang wherever trouble is brewing. Keep in a dish under your bed to dispel nightmares. When you feel your purpose has been achieved, return the used salt, which is hanging onto to all the bad energy, to the Earth by burying it somewhere away from your home.
Purple Salt for Love & Luck (non-edible)
Purple is a particularly pagan colour. Witches will often wear it (or black); doors painted purple (or dark blue) are signs that a witch lives inside. Purple salt is an all-purpose luck and protection charm; the addition of skin-friendly botanicals* makes it appropriate for tossing in the bath or mixing with a little oil for a salt scrub. *lavender can be irritating or allergenic for some
I used dried lavender and rose petals for my mixture. Lavender has antiseptic properties, calms, soothes and relaxes, and promotes tranquility and sleep. Rose has always stood for love and passion. Together with pink Himalayan salt, which is supposed to be the purest salt on Earth, this pale rosy-mauve blend is delightfully fragrant and versatile.
⇒ In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup pink Himalayan salt, 2 tbsp dried lavender flowers, and 1 tbsp dried red or pink rose petals. Store in an airtight glass container. ⇒ To make a single-use salt scrub, add a little carrier oil such as coconut, apricot kernel, sweet almond or jojoba to a handful of the lavender salt mixture. If desired, add a drop or two of lavender essential oil. Rinse well after application.
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