Hoodoo Notes – Water of Notre Dame
While working on my Conjure Woman’s Cat novella, it was very easy to become derailed by spells, curios, recipes, oils, candles and waters.
Many things are mixed with water, but it must be living rater. Not water out of the kitchen faucet or the pond you created in your garden. Living water, aside from its spiritual connotations, is moving water as found in nature, including streams, oceans, snow and rain. Many of these–such as rain water–are collected at special times of the month.
These waters end up in baths, toiletries, cleaning supplies (for purification of rooms) and tinctures. Baths are not only relaxing but are intended to remove what ails you and supply what you’re needing while acting (based on their colors) and other as a tonic to your aura.
Water, writes Voodoo Queen, “is vital to human life, it has always played an important role in religious and magickal rituals. Water is commonly used in religious rites to cleanse people, places, or things. In many churches especially fundamentalist churches, people were ritually immersed in a natural body of water by the preacher to symbolize their “rebirth in Christ” this was and is an outward sign of their inward spiritual transformation.”
One of these prepared waters–which I discovered because of a typical curio catalog ad–is Water of Notre Dame. The ad shown here comes from an early 1900s Curios Catalogue from the King Novelty Company. Note that to stay on the right side of the law, hoodoo supplies were sold as curios and novelties without claims of supernatural powers or medicinal properties. This statement in the ad is similar to the statements still used on curios websites today:
Recipes varied for those traditional root doctors who preferred to gather and trust their own ingredients rather than trusting a commercial company. Some companies collected water and/or gathered herbs during the wrong seasons or times of day; others substituted one herb for another. Generally, though, Water of Notre Dame included:
- Oil of White Rose – Traditionally the old garden rose.
- Holy Water – If you bought this commercially, you never knew if it was true holy water or tap water.
- Blue Coloring (optional) – I never did find how those using blue food coloring kept it from giving a bluish tone to the user’s skin.
Other than the pleasing aroma, Water of Notre Dame can be sprinkled around the house or used as a bath or toilet water to bring peace and ensure a happy home. Belief in its efficacy is the primary ingredient than must come from both the one preparing the water and the one using it.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a Jim Crow era novella set in the Florida Panhandle which tells the story of an ancient root doctor who uses folk magic to undo the work of the KKK.