What is The Doctrine of Signatures?

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The European Mandrake root resembles a Man!

The European Mandrake root resembles a Man!

 

The Doctrine of Signatures reflects the idea that an all powerful God created every plant and animal for MAN, and that man can determine the purpose of every plant, flower and root, by means of the shape, color, smell and taste of the plant, flower or root.

This is an old idea and seems to be an idea that is generated independently by every people and/or every Shaman. The herbal magic of middle ages grimoires belies this approach.

The famous European Mandrake Root – has lore suggesting its immense power, and happens to look a bit like a human being with 4 limbs and a head.

This is actually how herbal medicine got its jump start. The Doctrine of Signatures used to establish a best guess, and then, trial and error. After a while you figure out what works.

With regards to magic, because belief is so important and because the results, while real, are still interpreted – the causality of the herbs is far less black and white.

The herbs and magical associations I am most familiar with are those of Hoodoo, and my information is mostly from cat yronwode’s excellent book, Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic. Hoodoo is the African American folk magic, featuring strong American Indian and Pennsylvania Dutch, and Jewish influences.

In the Hoodoo Tradition, John the Conqueror root is highly esteemed for granting masculine power, sex appeal, dominance: the root has a look comparable to that of human balls.

Asafoeitida or ‘DEVIL’S DUNG’ – is a resin used in Indian cooking and called ‘hing’ – in its raw form is a stinking dark thing reeking of sulfur. In Hoodoo it is used to protect your from evil or do evil to people that have wronged you. In India, where it is cooked in oil and it then becomes like sweet onion in smell – it is thought to stimulate the brain. In old Europe it was thought to prevent illness.

Things that are naturally sweet are thought to ‘draw’ to you luck and love. Sweet smelling flowers, like roses, are used to draw love.

Pyrite, a mineral often mistook for gold – in hoodoo is believed to ‘draw’ gold and wealth, to you!

So you get the idea.

I remember reading the account of one Hoodoo Dr. online whose approach was to take a plant from their garden or that they found on their property, and sit with it. talk to it. And it will ‘tell you’ about itself and how it can be powerful for you. Now this will not work for just anyone, you have to take on believing the plant has a spiritual nature and that it will communicate with you, that it wants to prove how useful it can be. Play with those ideas, set your imagination free and you too may get a message from the plant, flower or root.

That’s likely the best way.

I found when using cinnamon, established as a wealth and luck drawing spice in hoodoo, I really had to imagine the cinnamon had a spirit, and intend the cinnamon to influence those that ate it (often in oatmeal). THEN it would have an impact, I’d be repaid a loan something as nice.


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One Response to What is The Doctrine of Signatures?

  1. […] folk magic is where sympathetic magic can be overt, the Doctrine of Signatures itself is one application of sympathetic magic, Foot track magic, the colors of candles..etc […]

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