“[The Psalms are] a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended.”
The tradition of praying the Psalms for magical, medical, or social remediation is an old Jewish custom. Additionally, Jewish folk magicians and kabbalists have, over the centuries, developed a method of working with the Psalms in prescriptive rites, such as the consecration of talismans, and as an adjunct to spell-casting for various conditions. The earliest book on this subject, the Hebrew text “Shimmush Tehilim” (“On the Use of the Psalms”) dates back to the 10th century CE.
In the 1700s, Johannes Gottfried Seelig, a German Jewish convert to Christianity, translated “Shimmush Tehilim” into the German language. Shortly thereafter, it entered the United States when Seelig himself emigrated to Pennsylvania, where he lived with a group of devout men known as “The Monks of the Wissahickon.” By the early 1800s, the book had been well accepted among Pennsylvania German Christian practitioners of brauchererai folk magic (which is better known to English-speaking Americans as Pow Wow magic).
In the late 19th century, the American Ashkenazi Jewish publishers Wehman Brothers translated Seelig’s German-language edition of “Shimmush Tehilim” into English, and Anglicized the author’s name as well. Under the title “Secrets of the Psalms, A Fragment of the Practical Kabbalah” by “Godfrey Selig,” the ancient Jewish magic book was introduced to the African American folk magic community by Jewish pharmacists and occult-shop owners. By the early 1900s, “Secrets of the Psalms” had become one of the most popular books used by conjure doctors and spiritual practitioners of hoodoo and rootwork, and its wide popularity continues to the present day.(2)
Much of what brujos and curanderas do resembles another magical practice heavily rooted in Catholicism, that of stregheria. In both, you are likely to find:
• Divinatory practices – Sometimes by cards, but just as often by very specific items like eggs broken into a glass of water or the ashes left by a smoldering cigar.
• Saint magic – Calling upon the intercessory power of saints to accomplish specific tasks. This is usually accompanied by rituals such as candle-burning and prayer.
• Statuary or charms – This goes hand-in-hand with saint magic for the most part, though other types of charms like milagros (little pewter, silver, or gold charms shaped like hearts, body parts, animals, etc. and used as devotional offerings) are also frequently used.
• Ritual cleansing – Especially using holy water or natural elements, like eggs, limes, lemons, etc. This can be done on a person or on a specific place.
• Liturgical prayers – These are used outside of the orthodox liturgy, and are usually repeated several times to gain their benefit in magical settings. Examples include the “Our Father,” or “Ave Maria” prayers.
• Novena candles – These are easily found in places with large Hispanic populations, and usually have a pillar candle encased by glass with a picture of a saint, angel, or other holy being on them. On the back they typically have short prayers (often in Spanish and English) which are recited while burning the candle. (1)
Psalms for Magick
See all 150 Psalms – A Complete List of Psalms for Magick
Against bad luck:
Psalm 4 and Daniel 12: 3 are used when a person is often unlucky despite his good efforts. Tradition says it must be said three times and before sunrise.
Need for financial capital
Recite the Psalms 4 seven times in a row before sunrise.
To deal with issues of administrative and legal papers:
Recite Psalm 5 at sunrise and sunset.
To break a spell of black magic
Recite Psalm 7: 1-10
Against oppression and persecution:
Psalm 11, Psalm 12.
Recite Psalm 17 once in the morning and once in the evening.
Prosperity and money:
Recite Psalms 23 for seven times in succession for seven days at sunrise
Divinations and dreams:
To purify oneself before a rite:
Psalm 26: 6
Psalm 29: 3-4
Psalms 30: 11-12
To find and understand love:
Psalm 45 or the Songs of Solomon
For House consecration:
Against magic attacks and accidents:
To succeed in business:
Protection of the children:
To acquire material goods:
Psalm 132: 12-18