Zora Neale Hurston’s Love Spells

Conjure up some last-minute romance. In the appendix to her collection of Florida folktales, Mules and Men, author Zora Neale Hurston offers up a host of Hoodoo, including the following love spells:

TO MAKE A MAN COME HOME

Take nine deep red or pink candles. Write his name three times on each candle. Wash the candles with Van-Van. Put the name three times on paper and place under the candles, and call the name of the party three times as the candle is placed at the hours of seven, nine or eleven.

TO MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU

Take nine lumps of starch, nine of sugar, nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red or yellow. Take a dessertspoonful and put it on a piece of ribbon and tie it in a bag. As each fold is gathered together call his name. As you wrap it with yellow thread call his name till you finish. Make nine bags and place them under a rug, behind an armoire, under a step or over a door. They will love you and give you everything they can get. Distance makes no difference. Your mind is talking to his mind and nothing beats that.

TO BREAK UP A LOVE AFFAIR

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person’s name three times on paper. Write one name backwards and one forwards and lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red and three green.

Tie a string across the door from it, suspend a large candle upside down, It will hang low on the door; bum one each day for one hour. If you burn your first in the daytime, keep on in the day; if at night, continue at night. A tin plate with paper and needles in it must be placed to catch wax in.

When the ninth day is finished, go out into the street and get some white or black dog dung. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking, and whoever you curse will run and bark likewise. Put it in a bag with the paper and carry it to running water, and one of the parties will leave town.

“Indian River” — Wallace Stevens

indian river

Zora Neale Hurston’s Love Spells

Conjure up some last-minute romance. In the appendix to her collection of Florida folktales, Mules and Men, author Zora Neale Hurston offers up a host of Hoodoo, including the following love spells:

TO MAKE A MAN COME HOME

Take nine deep red or pink candles. Write his name three times on each candle. Wash the candles with Van-Van. Put the name three times on paper and place under the candles, and call the name of the party three times as the candle is placed at the hours of seven, nine or eleven.

TO MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU

Take nine lumps of starch, nine of sugar, nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red or yellow. Take a dessertspoonful and put it on a piece of ribbon and tie it in a bag. As each fold is gathered together call his name. As you wrap it with yellow thread call his name till you finish. Make nine bags and place them under a rug, behind an armoire, under a step or over a door. They will love you and give you everything they can get. Distance makes no difference. Your mind is talking to his mind and nothing beats that.

TO BREAK UP A LOVE AFFAIR

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person’s name three times on paper. Write one name backwards and one forwards and lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red and three green.

Tie a string across the door from it, suspend a large candle upside down, It will hang low on the door; bum one each day for one hour. If you burn your first in the daytime, keep on in the day; if at night, continue at night. A tin plate with paper and needles in it must be placed to catch wax in.

When the ninth day is finished, go out into the street and get some white or black dog dung. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking, and whoever you curse will run and bark likewise. Put it in a bag with the paper and carry it to running water, and one of the parties will leave town.

“Nomad Exquisite” — Wallace Stevens

nomad

“Florida,” a Short Story by Mavis Gallant

Marie Carette spent eight Christmases of her life in Florida, where her son was establishing a future in the motel industry. Every time Marie went down she found Raymond starting over in a new place: his motels seemed to die on his hands. She used to come back to Montreal riddled with static electricity. Her sister Berthe couldn’t hand her a teaspoon without receiving a shock, like a small silver bullet. Berthe believed the current was generated by a chemical change that occurred as she flew out of Fort Lauderdale toward a wet, dark, snowy city.

Marie had been living with Berthe ever since 1969, the year her husband died. She still expected what Berthe thought of as husband service: flights met, cabs hailed, doors held, tips attended to. Berthe had to take the bus out to Dorval Airport, with Marie’s second-best fur coat over her arm and her high-heeled boots in a plastic bag.

‘Don’t tell me it’s still winter,’ Marie would wail, kissing Berthe as if she had been away for months rather than just a few days. Guiding Marie’s arms into the second-best-mink sleeves (paws and piecework), Berthe would get the first of the silvery shocks.

 

Palmettos, Florida — John Singer Sargent

“Insect Life of Florida” — Lynda Hull

“Insect Life of Florida” by Lynda Hull

In those days I thought their endless thrum
   was the great wheel that turned the days, the nights.
      In the throats of hibiscus and oleander

 

I’d see them clustered yellow, blue, their shells
   enameled hard as the sky before the rain.
      All that summer, my second, from city

 

to city my young father drove the black coupe
   through humid mornings I’d wake to like fever
      parceled between luggage and sample goods.

 

Afternoons, showers drummed the roof,
   my parents silent for hours. Even then I knew
      something of love was cruel, was distant.

 

Mother leaned over the seat to me, the orchid
   Father’d pinned in her hair shriveled
      to a purple fist. A necklace of shells

 

coiled her throat, moving a little as she
   murmured of alligators that float the rivers
      able to swallow a child whole, of mosquitoes

 

whose bite would make you sleep a thousand years.
   And always the trance of blacktop shimmering
      through swamps with names like incantations—

 

Okeefenokee, where Father held my hand
   and pointed to an egret’s flight unfolding
      white above swamp reeds that sang with insects

 

until I was lost, until I was part
   of the singing, their thousand wings gauze
      on my body, tattooing my skin.

 

Father rocked me later by the water,
   the motel balcony, singing calypso
      with the Jamaican radio. The lyrics

 

a net over the sea, its lesson
   of desire and repetition. Lizards flashed
      over his shoes, over the rail

 

where the citronella burned merging our
   shadows—Father’s face floating over mine
      in the black changing sound

 

of night, the enormous Florida night,
   metallic with cicadas, musical
      and dangerous as the human heart.