Well, believe it or not, a lot of people. The use of graveyard dust is common in many magical traditions. It is considered exceptionally powerful because of its associations with the dead and their proximity to the spirit world.
Victim, Healer or Perpetrator?
In many forms of folk magic, the person who’s inside the grave is significant. Dust from the grave of someone who loved you should be used in love spells. While I'd never recommend this, dust from the burial site of a wicked person might be incorporated into curses and other malevolent workings. Dust from a lawyer’s grave can turn a court case your way, and soil from a detective or police officer may help catch a rapist. The dirt from a midwife’s grave lends spiritual aid during childbirth. Who knows? A little dust from a doctor’s grave could cure what ails you.
The dust from the grave has a physical correspondence with the traits of the person buried beneath it. The closer the dirt was to the corpse, the more potent it is considered to be. The dust can be enhanced by combining it with moss scraped from the grave. Or mix it with herbs, coffin nails, a magnet, sulfur, red or black pepper, or chimney soot, depending on how you will be using the mixture.
Nicholas Orenda, a witch in my novel, Song of the Ancients, visits a graveyard on the trail of the person he suspects killed his grandmother. Granted, he took a bit more than dust from the grave.
Chapter 29: Graveyard Dust
Nicholas pulled off the gravel road in the dwindling twilight, stopping at a rickety barbed-wire fence blocking the cemetery entrance. He unlatched the post, scraping the gate across the snowy ground and dropping it where the road’s edge fell off into the ice-crusted ditch.
He dug into his coat pocket and pulled out a handful of pennies, scattering them in the snow. “Alms for the dead,” he muttered. Somewhere behind him, a coyote howled a solitary note, and was answered by a chorus of voices from the dark woods.
Ahead, dull grey tombstones poked up from the earth at odd angles like rows of crooked teeth. Half-way into the cemetery a dark mound protruded above the snow.
Opening the trunk, Nicholas removed a flashlight, shovel, crowbar, and a small hatchet, dropping them into a burlap sack. He tucked the sack under his arm and headed to the new grave, his boots crunching to the ground as they broke through the icy film on the top of the snow.
The burial mound was soft and the digging went quickly. While he pitched shovel after shovel of dirt over his shoulder, his mind returned to the idea of bonding with Samantha. A blood bond would be the strongest, although any bodily fluid would work. Blood would have the added benefit of tying them telepathically. Of course submitting freely, of her own will, would allow him to avoid resorting to dark magic and help keep his soul intact. Oops, too late, he thought, looking at the growing pile of dirt at his feet.
Why would someone sneak into a cemetery and bury a body? He could think of a number of mundane reasons, but why would a witch do so? Unless they defiled the body in some way and didn’t want anyone to know. As the hole grew deeper, his unease increased.
Only three feet down his shovel hit something firmer than the soft soil, connecting with a muffled thud. Digging carefully down one side, he cleared a space to stand beside the box.
He removed the crowbar from his sack and pried the coffin nails from one side, muttering softly. “Coffin nails, familiars of maggot and worms and unsavory creatures of the kind. Do my bidding, my evil works, when I so command.” Blowing on the nails, he pocketed them and opened the lid.
He held his breath and shone the flashlight on the body, a young woman, barely past her teens. Her hands had been folded on her chest. He ran the flashlight further down, illuminating several places on her right arm where jagged chunks of flesh were missing.
Burning bile rose in his throat, making him gag and cough. Something chewed on this girl. Oh, Goddess, tell me she died first.
Nicholas scrambled out of the hole, swallowing to get the acrid taste out of his mouth, and brushed the soil off his shirt and pants with shaky hands. The girl’s injuries were similar to those he had seen on his mother’s body when he viewed it at the morgue. His mother’s wounds had confused him. Now suspicion sickened him.
He closed his eyes for a moment, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then he picked up the hatchet and the burlap sack, and dropped back into the grave.
Working quickly, he lopped off the corpse’s left hand and dropped it into the bag. Then he dug his fingers into the soil adjacent to the box, scooping several handfuls of dirt into his pants pocket. There were spells to catch a perpetrator using graveyard dirt from a victim’s grave. He was pretty sure who had killed this girl and defiled her body. A confirmation spell would provide magickal evidence for the Council.
Closing the lid on the casket quietly, he gathered his tools and climbed out of the grave.
Nicholas gave a quick look around to be sure no prying eyes were watching before shoveling the dirt back onto the coffin.
For one moment longer he stood by the mound. Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out a silver dime and pushed it into the soft earth of the grave.
Satisfied, he ran his fingers over the mound to erase his footprints and scattered a few dry leaves on top. He looked around one last time to be sure he’d forgotten nothing, then hurried back to the car, holding the sack at arm’s length.
Dumping everything into the trunk, he drove out the gate without stopping.
Collecting Graveyard Dust
No matter whose grave you choose to collect dust from, it’s important to do so in a respectful and honorable manner. Graveyard dust must be purchased, through a contract with the spirit of the person buried there. There are as many approaches to buying graveyard dust as there are ways of using it, but here is one technique:
Supplies to Take:
* Cloth or plastic bag
* Tobacco and small bottle of whiskey (like the airline bottles)
* A mercury (silver) dime
* 9 pennies
* Tea light in its container, and lighter/matches
* Paper and pen
* Small pot of flowers
Waning Moon at Midnight
Some people say to visit the cemetery on the dark or waning moon at midnight for malevolent spells, or on the full moon for love and healing workings. I say let the rules of your cemetery be your guide. If you can enter the premises at night, then go after dark. But honor the law.
Have all of your supplies in your sack and flowers in hand. The flowers are your excuse to be in the cemetery, in case anyone is watching. The fact that the flowers are potted gives you an excuse to dig a small planting hole at the grave.
At the gate of the cemetery, leave your 9 pennies in honor of the spirit who owns and guards all graveyards. Ask for his permission and protection while you do your work, and then enter.
Start in the center of the cemetery, walking by candlelight. Reach out with your thoughts and talk to the spirits of the graveyard. Tell them the magickal work you want to accomplish, and ask who among them will assist you. Wait for a ‘tug’ leading you in the right direction, and proceed slowly to the grave that calls to you.
Take the graveyard dust from the appropriate area: over the head or feet for spells of persuasion, or if you want them to move in a certain direction; from the heart area for love. Cut out a small plug of sod, dig down about six inches for pure dirt without roots, and put a small amount in your sack or plastic bag. You won’t need more than a half-cup at most.
Then drop the silver dime into the hole in payment for the dirt, thanking the spirit and saying, “As I have paid you in silver, so shall you pay me in labor.” Add a bit of tobacco or whiskey (you may ask the spirit if it has a preference) into the hole and replace the plug of soil.
Write down the name, birth and death dates of the grave on a piece of paper and include it in the bag. Hold the bag in your hands and ask the spirit a last time to help you. Leave the candle (only if it’s in a fireproof container!), to burn on the headstone, and place the flowers on the grave.
Leave the grave knowing you have the spirit’s assistance, Walk slowly and don’t look back.
Thank all the spirits at the gate, and when you are outside, spin around three times before you leave, to confuse and detach any entities who may want to hitchhike home with you.
At home, spread the dirt out on a piece of foil to thoroughly dry, and then sift out any roots or rocks.
Store the dust with the name paper, and the moon phase when it was gathered. Every time you use it, call the spirit by name and command it to assist in your work, referring to the contract you made in the cemetery.
Shake Out Your Shoes
Graveyard dust is powerful magic and should never be used thoughtlessly, or without being clear about your intention, as well as any anticipated consequences. Some of its uses go against the Wiccan "harm none" belief, an edict that is not necessarily followed in all magickal circles. For instance, the mixture can be used for foot-track magic, a form of sorcery in which one influences, or even poisons a victim through the feet (ie, the graveyard dust mixture is sprinkled in the shoes of the victim, or on a path where the victim will walk).
Spells of revenge or retribution demand serious ethical consideration. Even if they do work, they often backfire on the user as well. You know, that darn karma….
Instead, consider using your graveyard dust to achieve your goals in a positive and non-manipulative manner.
Next Friday we'll continue the discussion, and I'll post an positive example: a spell using graveyard dust to get a fair inheritance.