Kindoki and much of the African diaspora branch of Brujeria has its origins in pre colonial practices from central and west Africa and central America as well as Spain and Portugal. So many of the commonly used ingredients and herbs are either native to central and South America or frequently imported. Because of trade lines and the internet, many things are available that weren’t before, or that were more difficult to get in reasonable quality. Technology has also made many new things available. So Kindoki and Brujeria have come a long way since the 1500’s.
There have been waves of innovation in magic in the Americas, with all sorts of shops and companies mass producing supplies. In the 1970’s, there was an explosion of them, and we all know of Anna Riva oils. On this site, where possible though, I like to do things the old fashioned way. There’s just something about crafting things by hand at home where you know what went into them. It is my hope that some of the larger manufacturers may also turn towards more natural products. Even better if they give some credit to those of us who post the old fashioned recipes, but I’m not holding my breath.
Anyway, here is my list of herbs and other ingredients.
Absinthe – offering to death and underworld related deities, and “making death” in the mouth or when mixed with some live substance like purposefully cultured microbes that are vulnerable to alcohol. When something really needs to end, I find that holding it in my mouth long enough to kill many microbes before spitting adds the right energy to the situation. One should remember that even a microscopic life is still a life…a microscopic death still a death.
Aguardiente – libations or offerings to most deities, spirits, and ancestors. Also used for preparation, purification, and a basis for cleansing, depending on the type.
Allspice (a.k.a. English pepper) – used for increasing good fortune, and heals or enhances the masculine or fire element. It is a good ingredient for Shango or other fire deity oils that are meant for wearing.
Andiroba – a medicinal oil from the seeds of Carapa guianensis trees, used to repel insects and heal bites as well. It is used to make traditional red body paint when mixed with annatto or other highly pigmented herbal powders. It adds to their protective energy, but is also helpful in severe cleansing when mixed with charcoal. If a home is being plagued by malevolent Ancestors who have not moved past worldly obsessions, the whole family needs to be coated and surrounded by a ring of fire. Only certain curandos/as and brujas/os know how to do this properly, so I am only writing this as an example, not something to imitate. If it is done wrong, it will be ineffective or anger the spirits.
Avocado – The flesh of the fruit is used for fertility and increasing sex drive. The seeds are used to make ink and pigments. The skin is used for protection and dispelling malevolent energy. Crush the skins well to use it as a scrub for people who have to deal with people’s problems often, such as nurses, police officers, counselors, etc.
Bauhinia (Pata de Vaca, Cow’s Hoof) – leaves are used medicinally to manage diabetes, and magically to cure someone of a harmful affection or habit, flowers are used to validate or increase status. For diabetics, a thumbnail sized section of a leaf steeped in 1 1/2 cups hot water overnight daily is usually enough. If the blood sugar does not lower reasonably, consult a doctor familiar with this herb to adjust the dosage. To validate or increase your status, make a tincture of the flowers and leaves, and wear as a perfume. It doesn’t have a heavy smell, but it works very well.
Blue Mist flower (Bartlettina sordida) – hard to find outside of cloud forests, and hard to grow from seed, but if you are lucky enough to encounter one, it has similar properties to bone-set. It can be very toxic if ingested, so don’t just make a tea of it or something, but do use the leaves as fans for air elemental work, and the flowers for their scent in air and change workings.
Cahinca (David’s root) – the bark of the root is used medicinally for liquid purging and soothing urinary tract pain. Magically, it can be used for forceful unmasking or making a person deal with problems directly.
Calabash – promotes prosperity and good health. It is also widely used as a container and as a rattle. It holds good energy very well. I use these often as containers for talismans. Other dried gourds are good as well, though each one has different properties.
Chilli Peppers (including Bell Peppers) – Both hot and sweet peppers have magical uses. They are associated with Shango, and used when there is some fire elemental energy needed. The core and seeds are used for exorcism, warding, and banishing malevolent spirits and energy. The different colors are used for different purposes: green for prosperity, yellow for stimulating thought and imagination or vision work, orange for changing cleansing and clearing space for the new, red for energy and virility, and the dark near black for hardcore protection and cleansing. Cayenne peppers are a common ingredient of hot-foot and other banishing concoctions.
Chocolate – offerings to various deities, feasting, increasing status, and for courage. There are too many uses for a short blurb. You can read about the ritual use of chocolate in mesoamerica here. Nowadays, it is often a favorite offering for Oya, probably because of its courage enhancing properties and its frequent use by high ranking people in the past. If it is possible, buy your chocolate for offerings from ethical sources.
Christmas bush (Devil weed, Siam weed) – used medicinally as an antiseptic, and magically to get rid of toxic people or exorcism. More information.
Cinchona – medicinally for curing malaria and reducing fevers, magically used for protection and recovery from the effects of the evil eye and other draining curses. More information.
Coffee – one of my favorite ingredients for speeding things up or waking people up. If you buy ethical Kivu coffee, you’re also directly helping the economy of the people of the Congo, Rwanda, and places that distribute it around Africa. It helps to make spells work faster if you add it to an oil or a nkisi, and if you use it in the ink you use to write spells or draw symbols. The Goddess of Coffee is Atete, the fertility Goddess of the Oromo people, who are the ones who first brought coffee to the world. A coffee bush is often planted on the graves of sorcerers/medicine people because of the belief that coffee came from the tears of the Supreme Deity when the first sorcerer died.
Cola de Caballo (Horsetail) – used medicinally to stop bleeding or hemorrhaging, and magically for marking or setting boundaries, stabilizing situations, and ensuring commitments and vows are kept (and punishing breakers of vows).
Corn – often given as an offering and for prosperity and general good will. Some Zuni fetishes and household deities are fed with cornmeal. Almost every deity who likes food enjoys some sort of offering made from corn, from corn grits with hot peppers to sweet corn with coconut.
Culantro – not the same as cilantro, but somewhat similar. It calms the soul, and helps a person to deal with drama and trauma.
False Mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum, jocuma) – used for aggressive cleansing, the fruit of this plant is extremely stinky, like something that died drowning in cheese, but some say it is tasty. It is extremely sticky, and has been used as a food adhesive and a flavoring for its acidic pungency. Its wood is very hard and durable, and was favored for tools, weapons, and boats/ships. Its ashes are also used to make a special soap or cleansing solution for people with problematic personalities. Some use the leaves in boss-fix or against domestic abuse. Its energy keeps bonds while solving behavior problems. Because it is hard to find, preparations with shea butter and argan oil have been used as substitutions. African black soap can be enchanted for the purpose of regulating problematic behavior.
Fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus, Seaside Daisy) – used as a floor covering in some places, it is said to repel fleas, but reports are mixed. Used for protection and love.
Guava – many medicinal uses from helping to get through various viral infections to diabetes, used magically as well. Its leaves are good papers for smoking materials, and an excellent ingredient in Eshu incense. It is good for workings to achieve justice or revenge. The fruit is good for love workings, especially that have to do with long distance or other situations in which fantasies are important. The stems (Palo Guayaba) are good for making hooks for controlling and milder guiding works. They are also burnt at the end for use as writing charcoal for marking charm bags, seals, and scrolls.
Gumbo Limbo (Palo Mulatto) – its bark is used as a pleasing incense and to heal sunburns. Its energy is healing and changing. It is sacred to Oya, and one can give offerings to her by giving some water to this tree.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata, Money Plant) – Planted to attract money and prosperity, and to help a friendship or other relationships grow. Used medicinally to treat warts and digestive problems. Used magically to help good things proliferate and multiply.
Jellybean Plant, Pork-and-beans Plant (Sedum rubrotinctum and similar succulents) – planted around the home for protection. The finger-like “leaves” are poisonous and release a bit of that when stressed. They can irritate the skin and seem to irritate malevolent people more than usual.
Lichen (liquen, Icelandic moss) – strengthens the heart, used for heartbreak recovery and rain making magic.
Malabar Chestnut (Pachira aquatica, Provision Tree, Guiana Chestnut, Monguba) – the nuts are eaten as a food. The bark is used for medicine against anemia and fatigue. It also attracts money and prosperity to grow a living tree. The wool from the fruit around the nuts is used in magic to create a nice “cushion” for an easier life or controlling works wherein one doesn’t want the person to know or mind that they’re being guided.
Obsidian – used for warring, aggressive protection, banishing, and preparing or dispatching offerings to the deities.
Passiflora (Passion flower) – calming and relaxing, it is used for vision and dreamwork sachets, potions, and incense. The fruit is also relaxing and particularly good to reduce menstrual pains and anxiety.
Piche de Gato (also called false verbena) – used medicinally to treat the symptoms of malaria, and magically for driving away malevolent spirits. More information.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) – lowers blood pressure and helps to calm situations. Its pineapple-citrus-fresh scent in the flowers and leaves was probably part of the original Chuparosa oil since aside of smelling very nice, it attracts many hummingbirds. It is hard to find this herb outside the U.S. so you may have to grow your own.
Pinto Beans – used in food offerings and it opens the way for good things. Used in charm bags as a helper in clearing obstacles and opening doors.
Pitanga/Pitango – delicious fruit, the fruit and leaves are used a lot for digestive problems and beauty. It has a sweet fire, much like a fruitier red bell pepper, and is used in some love and attraction and passion inducing magic.
Plumeria (Plumeria obtusa, also called Evergreen Frangipani) – calming and anti inflammatory as a medicinal herb, and also used as an offering to various deities. Wearing and smelling them promotes fertility and easier labor.
Poppy Seeds – mainly used for calming and controlling. Adds a calming, euphoric element to charms and concoctions heavy on the coumarins.
Potatoes – all sorts of potatoes are used for magic. Sweet potatoes are used for prosperity and fertility. White potatoes are used to absorb, draw things in, and for sympathetic magic.
Pumpkins – sacred to Oshun, these are used for prosperity and fertility, but despite their use as jack-o-lanterns in north America, they attract all sorts of spirits both benevolent and malevolent. So they shouldn’t be a stand-alone ingredient unless you want chaos or a “wild-card” situation. In the pumpkin, Oshun holds hands with Oya.
Quartz (Rock Crystal) – used for divination, seeing, seeking, and fetishes.
Tomatoes – used for fertility, to increase sex drive, passion, and endurance, and bring prosperity.
Turkey – the flesh is used for offerings for deities who like to eat birds, the feathers are used in charms to increase confidence and fertility, and the bones are used for divination, tools, and love workings.
Stingray Spines – for ceremonial bloodletting
Sweet Gum – its resin is sedative and calming, and the spiky balls are used for protection.
Vanilla – an offering to some deities, and also used for protection and love workings.
(This is a work in progress. More to come soon. )
Because things can get a bit confusing, here is a list of Latin names of commonly used plants and palos in the binomial nomenclature.