There are many types of hoodoo spells and one that is very popular right now is container work. The ubiquitous honey and sour jars seem very simple, which attracts many people to them but they can be complex and require some knowledge to do properly.
First and foremost, as this is hoodoo, this type of work isn’t actually called a “spell.” They are, for the most part, called fixes and tricks. Most container work is meant to fix someone’s mindset or life on an idea or concept over a long period of time. As such, they are built in one sitting but worked over a long period of time. The term “work” would be more accurate than using “spell” for these. That being said, we recognize that using spell to refer to these works may come naturally to many practitioners, but it is good practice to try.
Hoodoo, also called conjure and root work, container work can be used to bring good to your own life or to bring trouble to someone else’s life. This piece will discuss all of their uses. Remember, in hoodoo there is no three-fold law or any idea of karma.
Types and functions of container works
There are three very popular types of container works. Honey jars, sour jars, and freezer work. These are used for three different types of effects. All three of these works are generally directed at individuals. Although this piece will discuss the popular types of container works, at the core, container work is any type of fix or trick where the components of the work are in a container.
It’s really that simple. If you use a jar, bag,1 box, or bottle to contain the components of the work, then it is a container work, regardless of what you do after the container is prepared.
These types of magick are used to effect the energy which surrounds a target. They can be used to sweeten up a person or circumstance to your favour or they can be used to bedevil someone’s life. They are worked over a long period of time.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when doing this type of work is that they think it is a one-time investment, and become discouraged when they don’t see results right away. However, for all container work, it is a long-term processes. You can be waiting weeks into months to see them come to fruition, so they are terrible for situations in which you need something right now. For example, if you need rent money by the first and it’s the 28 of the month right now, then a honey jar to sweeten your finances would likely not help you.
So, the first thing everyone should be aware of when it comes to container work is that they are for longer term goals, not instant gratification.
Secondly, they all contain petition papers or photos of the intended target. This is how the energy knows where to go. Petition papers are usually brown paper, the type used in paper bags on which your intentions or the target’s name is inscribed.
Finally, they all work with roots and/or curios that are added to the jar to help pull in the desired energies. Since these are all individual and you should use what you have handy, it’s important to read up on different herbs, roots, and curios and their purpose in conjure. Hoodoo Medicine by Faith Mitchell is a good place to start for those interested in learning more about hoodoo and conjure.2 I’ll be including some here, but these are just basic suggestions to give readers an idea, not strict guidelines.
The honey jar
For many people, the honey jar is their first introduction to hoodoo work. A honey jar is a sweetening fix which is an awkward way to explain that is meant to draw good energy towards a person or situation. Honey jars are used to attract love from others — or even yourself — as well as influence home life and financial matters. Like all container works, it takes some time and attention. Its influences are small in your life, but if you look at where you were when you started your jar verses where you are three months from then, you’ll see a world of differences.
In order to construct this jar, you need one — a jar. Empty pasta jars or fruit jars are fine, you don’t need to go out and buy a brand-new mason jar, just clean one after you’ve emptied it. The size of the jar is also irrelevant, but keep in mind that you have to fill your jar with honey, so a very large jar might not be the best option.
The first step is to gather up all of your herbs, roots and curios. Since this jar is meant to bring positive aspects to your life, there are a variety of things you can find right in your spice cabinet to use. Basil, cinnamon sticks, lavender, and chamomile can all be used for that purpose.
For curios, you should focus on things which represent what you wish to attract. A silver dime for money, a heart pin for love. This part is really personal and up to the person who is making the jar.
Once you have gathered your things, write your desire on the petition paper and place it on the bottom. Then add your herbs and curios, thinking of the things that you want. Finally, add your sweetener.
Although they are called honey jars, you can use other sweet confections. Plain sugar or maple syrup, for example, are commonly substituted. You can even use dollar store honey, if that is all you have available. Your sweetener can be a combination of multiple things, but don’t add water or alcohol. Water will dilute your sweetener. Alcohol is used in some container work, but it functions as a type of sweetener meant to confuse or cause a target to overlook something. That is not the purpose of a honey jar.
Once your jar is full, close the lid. Top it off with a dressed chime candle (see my past article for more information on working with candles) in the appropriate colour, or white, and place it upon your altar or other safe space.3
Every week or so you should light a new candle on top of the jar. This charges it and renews your intentions. When you are done — when you have realized whatever your jar was for — dismantle the jar. Dump the honey and herbs in a place where they can return to the earth. Take the curios and jar, wash them, then give them away. Or you can drop it off at a crossroads and walk away, don’t look back.
Fair warning though, you may never be done with it.
Sour jars are the opposite of honey jars. They are meant to sour someone’s life or situation. As such, this work is usually done against other people and would be considered a trick. This sort of work causes annoyance and hardship in someone’s life. Things will just start to go wrong for them.
The base of this work is very similar to the honey jar. You need a jar, a paper for your petition or a photo, herbs and roots. Instead of something sweet though, you use vinegar. This is almost an exclusive ingredient, I have never heard of anyone using anything else as the base for this type of jar.
For your herbs and roots, black and red pepper, knotweed, black mustard seeds, and even lemon can be used. If you are comfortable with conjure, then graveyard dirt can be added — this isn’t a euphemism, it is dirt from a graveyard.
Curios play a bigger part in these jars. Coffin nails and rusty railroad spikes are two very popular additives for these jars. If you can’t access those, pins, like the type used in sewing, or razor blades can be added to the jar. You can also throw in some string to help them get “tripped up.”
Seal the jar when it’s filled and give it a little shake from time to time. When you’re done with the jar it must be disposed of at a crossroads or buried completely somewhere far from you. Don’t just toss it in the garbage.
This type of work is meant to freeze someone or something out of your life. This is not something you turn to unless you want the target to be gone completely. It’s also important to recognize that you cannot control how the universe will answer your request to remove this person or thing from your life, so keep that in mind before you put your boss in the freezer, because it might move you from the job instead.
With these sorts of container tricks you have more options as far as containers go. It’s not a great idea to put glass in the freezer, and tossing your sour jar in there (if you think that you would rather the person be gone) would likely end poorly. Liquid expands and glass breaks when that happens. Instead you can use a wet cloth, a freezer bag, a plastic container, and even fruit. An animal tongue, which can be bought at a local butcher, is used by many people to stop gossip. Whatever you pick, it must be wet (whether you add water, or it is just naturally moist).
Petition papers in these tricks are used only to record names. Either the name of the target or the problem. For example, “Donna Smith” or “my temper.” You don’t need to worry about writing anything else, because freezer work only serves one purpose — removal.
Whatever container you are using, stuff it with similar herbs and curios as used in the sour jar. If you are using fruit, veggies, or a tongue, you will need to hollow out the food in order to create a space to stuff in your petition paper and herbs. You may have to bind the container closed with twine or string by sewing it.
Wrap the whole thing in foil or another kind of freezer-safe bag, and put it in your freezer. That’s it. The thing is though, it must stay there. If it is removed from the freezer, whatever you have asked to be removed from your life will be able to come back.
This trick is meant to last and is not something to do lightly.
Other types of container work
These are three popular types of container works but there are others! Bottle works are used for protection and include curios like glass and string. They are hung on beds to capture hags, or small versions are worn around the neck for protection.
You can also line a box with mirrors as a reflection trick against a target. There are fixings for neighbours and co-workers that use bottles and booze, as well as work for court cases, and just about anything you can think of.
The important thing to remember when doing this work is that you must use the right type of trick for what you need. Honey jars are great at changing someone’s feelings or a negative situation, but they are slow. Freezer spells are awesome for getting rid of things, but it’s a permanent change, and you have limited control of the outcome. And overall, this is just one type of conjure work among many other practical options.