Saturday, December 10, 2016

Magical concept: sweet & bitter, herbs and spiritual baths

You might want to read my basic blogpost of notes on spiritual baths first

Sweet or Dulce is attracting of the good things that are desired in life and generally blessing.

Bitter, Amarga or Amine is cleansing and removes the negative energy that can block new good things in our life such as a job, romance or healing, and thus a bitter bath, is usually done for a consecutive number of days usually 3 or 7, followed by the drawing in or sweet for the same number of odd days.

Also in cleansing baths is sour ingredients such as vinegar or acids such as coffee and limes or lemons. Bitter herbs are usually naturally high in sulfur and ammonia.

What is bitter is often called strong, "forte" or hot but not always. For example cinnamon is hot and sweet, perfect for love and money work. The heat adds force and quickness. What is sweet also can be cleansing by exceptions, but in general condition or drawing baths are not for cleansing. As you can see almost all flowers are sweet, so perfumes like Florida water while mildly cleansing or more accurately refreshing and used for the alcohol content, is also an attractant to spirits (2 handed) such as with the dead and ylang ylang or Kanaga water, as the sensitive part of the plant, so you must be clear with your intent on using it. Florida water and other alcohol based waters can be added to the bitter as an exception. I am talking about not mixing bitter and sweet leaf in general.

A bitter bath is no rival to cleansing. Usually 7 bitter leafs are used, the number of the forest and celestial, but for more important preparations sometimes 21 are used.
With sweet herbs an odd number like 3, 7 or 5 as the number of the sweet waters of the river. You could just as easily mash up sweet fruits and use this. My apprentice for a time would do dry candy cleanses, wrapped candy passed over the body and then thrown in the trash. We are working with our spirits either emissarios or misterios associated with those areas along with the power in the plant, and our own energy.

An odd number of ingredients and often of sacred significance is used. Ocean water and salt are considered bitter. There is a whole philosophy on bitter water such as of the transatlantic slave trade, diasporic removal from the african homeland and tears. The ocean is a life source as well as a watery grave. It still can be used for finance work, as in trade and ships coming in, and associations with spirits such as Agwe and the riches of the sea. Some consider material such as bluing or minerals of salt, sulphur, and dirt inert and neither bitter nor sweet in themself.

Because bitter is hot and removing, we for the most part do these baths neck down only to not heat up the head, and create hot tempered imbalances, nor embitter the area and disposition for spirits that are beneficial to us, more importantly if you have been crowned with your spirit guides and higher spirits, but also the claimed ancestors. Likewise I personally will avoid salt unless there is a big problem, because our good dead do not like it, as it leaches their energy to the earth until they are of enough elevation or progress spiritually.

There are many technical concepts when it comes to bath preparation. For example in general we do not mix sweet with bitter, flower or fruit with leaf. Root and leaf is generally ok.
There are exceptions to these rules but are general guidelines. Each plant has a sentient spirit that lives in it that can be prayed to and honored. Remember to give an offering and wild harvest responsibly the plants you take. We almost always use fresh herbs for the vibrancy and potency of energy, but the bath can have white rum or alcohol, bay rum, added to preserve a larger amount for a short time kept in the fridge or for hand passes like Florida water.

Alot of people do use dried bay, rue and hyssop though.

There is the disposal of the bitter leaf material away from the house with a payment say of 3 coins to the crossroad, each place having a significance to spirit, energy and number associated. The sweet bath remains usually are kept around the house, such as a floor wash. The bitter wash can also be used to clean the house and spiritual tools.

Certain leaves which are more tropical, in spanish are named to their function such as quita maledicion is bitter to stop evil, same as espante muerte: chasing the dead. leaves and sticks/palo with the name rompe means break negativity, lies and spells on you. We are taught not to put espante muerte on the head nor abre camino due to opening up of this area in which spirits have been placed.

We do not boil the fresh leafs but we mash it with our hands and sing and use prayer into the warm water and speak our intention. We may leave it next to certain shrines or altars with a novena candle inside.

The most important herbs in Sanse are probably
Tobacco: messanger Lwa and Taino cemi spirit
Major plant spirits hold leaves such as Loases Gran Bwa, the biggest tree of the forest and Ogu Osain.

Whereas some cultivated herbs would also fall under the agricultural Lwa Azaka, yet both also relate to the land and certain natural areas.
Rompe Saraguay (spell breaker and removes negative dead), bitter along with garden sage and rue
Basil can be cleansing but also blessing and very important, it is also a major exception and can be mixed with bitter such as rue and sage.
Ceiba tree, the silk cotton Mapou: our holy magic and world tree, bitter and blessing
Abre Camino to open paths, bitter
Copal as sacred to the Taino people and the dead, 
as well as Anamu bitter congo weed root a very useful medicine for many ailments such as arthritis and cancer. Anamu is taboo in some Ocha houses due to being poisonous to children of Obatala and toxic to children of Yemaya. It is one of the ingredients in our Taino Indio drink we infuse in alcohol.

Spirit-Blossom Ceiba Tree by Lisa Dunbar Solas

Below is a simple list that most people can find around that do not live in the tropics, which is much more extensive if you need to prepare certain objects and during initiations. Otherwise, there is not as much need to order from tropical botanicas, and you can use what is in your area following certain principles. There are certain plants that have to be used in those cases. Always follow your tradition and godparents guidelines. What is used in Palo is different than Lucumi. One list I saw had abre camino, avocado leaf, rosemary, altamisa and sage listed as sweet, I consider those all bitter personally. Another had mint as bitter and I consider that sweet. Of course there is alot to study about plants, medicinal use, safety and for magical use beyond these concepts.


Bee balm or Bergamot
Lemon balm or verbena
Lettuce and watercress (but not dark leafy bitter greens)
marigold, carnation, lily, lavender, chamomile, violet, rose, orange, jasmine perfumes etc attract 
mangos, oranges, apples, bananas, melon, tropical fruits: pineapple, papaya, guava


Honey, molasses, cane sugar etc
Goat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, dairy milk, rice milk or water


plantain (not the vegetable, the ground leaf next to drainage areas or grass in wetter northern climates)
white sauco elderflower/berry leaf
black tea leaf
dandelion leaf
epasote or epazote mexican cooking herb
sage: usually fresh garden or cooking sage
artemisa: wormwood, mugwort, motherwort etc
white morning glory leaf, datura leaves, but also purple bell flower leafs: morado
Laurel bay
corn leaf husk
spanish broom
horseradish leaf (not traditional but found it works)
vencedor: lilac tree leaf wins battles, triumphs
most tree leaf
thistles: milk thistle, blessed thistle
garlic bulb root, onion, tumeric root
limes, lemons, bitter melon gourd, coffee

I am going to write more on a major magic concept of hot and cool
But as I have been writing on spiritual baths of late, 
my next entry will be for the 2 Christmas and New Years Baths of Bain Noel and good luck Bon chance. This will be so those that want to make them can for Dec 24-26 or January 6th or 8th

I have a bunch of blog entries planned, such as for elevation after death, because I have alot of requests plus, it is that time of year for those to or who have travelled to the otherside of the veil. Contact me if you would like me to cover a topic you have not seen so far.

-Sancista 7 crossroads XXXXXXX


  1. This a great article, thank you! I'm a Mexican brujo living in Colorado. It would be very helpful if someday we could get a syncretic system together with those of us using native Southwestern plants and those in the tropics or American south. The info and spiritual exchange would definitely benefit everyone involved.

    1. This would be awesome, it is said the Taino came up from central Mexico and have origins with the Nahual, so the copal and tobacco use remained :) Other areas like Brazil and Venezuela also have much in common with our spiritism and Curanderismo the curanderos, thanks for your comment!