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Saturday, August 9, 2014

MIPC: To Draw Trade to a Brothel

MIPC stands for Magic in Popular Culture and is an ongoing series of blog post in which I take a spell, belief, concept, trick, etc... from a work of fiction such as movies, television, books, comics, etc... and analyze it against real world magical theory and practice.

Increase Mather: Do you not sense it? The commingling of sin and sorcery? Take a breath. [Breathes deeply] You can almost taste it Satan's toxic nectar, designed to divert and disarm. Ah.The proprietress of this charming establishment.
Mab: What'll it be today, Reverend? Thin and pliant, or thick and playful? 
Increase: Mind your betters, madam.
Mab: I run an honest house. You'll find nothing here.
Increase: I have made my name finding things where there is nothing to be found. Orris root? 
Mab: Strangers tramp in and out of here every day. I do not know what substances they carry.

Salem, Season 1 Episode 8 "Departures"
Original Air Date:  June 8th, 2014

His-Story Comes Alive...

Salem is a fictional account of the Salem Witch Trials. It portrays real people such as Mary Sibley, Increase Mather, Tituba, etc... who took part in these events. While some events shown throughout the series are true to what history tells us (such as Tituba being accused of witchcraft) a great deal of liberty is taken with other events. For example Tituba has an integral part in the Witch Trials but not in the way that history explains.

In the fictional story of Salem the local coven lead by Mary Sibley and assisted by Tituba is attempting to complete a Grand Rite by killing 13 innocent souls. The powerful witches of Salem, which includes the Magistrate as well as the local Madam,  form a conspiracy in which they use the Puritans fears against them by manipulating the general public into believing that certain (non-witch) parties are accused and subsequently put to death for the crime of witchcraft. 

The spell cited above is not exactly spelled out in this scene (to use a pun) but rather is more implied, therefore let me explain. In the scene above, Increase Mather has come to Salem where his son, Cotton, has been investigating claims of witches and witchcraft. Though Cotton believes in the existence of witches he is more soft hearted than his father and is more willing to give the accused the benefit of the doubt which angers his father. Increase seems aware that his son has been visiting the local brothel and arrives there while his son is enjoying the company of his favorite working girl.

Cotton is able to slip out without being caught with his pants down. However, while he is at the brothel Increase seems to sense the commingling of sin and sorcery. Increase barges into the office of Mab, the brothel's Madam, as she is at her desk seemingly going over the books. On the desk about her can be seen a tall taper candle surrounded by a number of coins which she was presumably counting.  Increase takes in the scene and notices the smell of Orris Root and some burnt remains near the candle but Mab feigns ignorance. Investigating further, Increase finds a hidden compartment in a wall in Mab's office inside of which are casting stones thus cementing his belief that she was a witch. 

The Spell

As stated above, the spell here is more implied than stated out rightly. I cannot even say for certain that the writers intended to imply that Mab was casting spells to draw good paying customers but there are too many coincidences for it not to have meant something. They are:
  • The Candle- Candles have long been used in the practice of magic. During the time period in question, the source of light was often lamps or candles so they make excellent tools for casting spells in plain sight as everyone would have candles and wouldn't raise as much suspicion as a doll baby stuck full of pins for example.
  • Orris Root- Also known as Queen Elizabeth Root, orris root is one of, if not the most, powerful love drawing herb/root and is said to draw men. 
  • The Coins- It is a common belief in magic that "like attracts like". Images of money in the form of coins or paper bills are often used spells to draw more money. Money follows money.....
Putting it All Together 

With the above information is it easy to see how one could craft a spell to draw trade to the brothel. I could certainly see Mab burning powdered orris root in the flame of this candle surrounding by money while chanting an incantation to draw good paying customers to her brothel. 

However, if I were to cast this spell I would make a few changes Such as:

  1. The candle would be red to represent lust, sex, passion. 
  2. I would dress the candle with an appropriate condition oil(s) such as Better Business Oil, Cleo May Oil, etc...
  3. The candle would be rolled towards me (to draw) through powdered orris root (to attract men) and jezebel root (to make them compliant) and powdered cinnamon (for money).
  4. I would write a petition on a dollar-bill that was given to me by a previous customer and place it under the candle. Other forms of money (bills or coins) can still be placed around the candle. 
  5. Finally, the candle would be lit as I make my prayer or petition to attract good paying customers. 

A spell such as this could easily be adapted for use by other businesses as well to attract good customers


Carolina Dean

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