heart leavesThe signature of plants (the doctrine that the color, shape, name, or other symbolic suggestion of a plant is a “sign” of a charm or cure for which it is effective) is no more strikingly demonstrated than in the field of love charms.  One of the most general of signatures is the ten finger plant, a leaf of which, measured by the middle finger of the left hand, rolled up and kept in the pocket, give one control over people.  Heart leaves and Sampson snakeroot are chewed to soften hearts. (The latter will also make a person brave, give him the best of a bargain, give him some control of the person in whose presence it is chewed, and prevent snakes from biting him, while boiled into a strong tonic, it will bring back lost manhood.)  Devil’s shoestring, chewed and rubbed on the hands, will give a man control over a woman when he shakes hands with her.  Vervain (sometimes called herb-of-the-cross because it is said to have grown on Mount Calvary and so has miraculous power), grown around doorsteps, will attract lovers.  Shameweed or the sensitive plant will shame a recalcitrant woman; sprinkle the powdered dry root in the woman’s path and she will close up like a sensitive plant; mix it with snail dust and snail water and she will leave like a snail going into its shell.

The principle of similarity and contact also operates in the liberal use of hair, nails, blood, and tracks in love charms.  A woman may win a man by laying hands secretly on the back of his head, by giving him whisky in which her fingernail trimmings have been soaked, by putting his tracks under the bed or into an ant bed (to make it hot for him), by sprinkling his coat with alcohol into which has been squeezed juice from a piece of beef worn under her arm for two days.  A man may win a woman by putting some of his blood on candy and giving it to her to eat, by putting her tracks in his sock or wearing some of her hair in his shoe, and then burying it under his doorstep, by mixing red onion juice with tracks (previously worn in his shoe) of her foot and his, and wearing the mixture, wrapped in red flannel, in his left breast pocket (in some areas, a wasp nest in the breast pocket will “make the girls fall”).

To bring a man and a woman together put some of the hair of each into a split made with an ax in the fork of a young sapling, and when the wood grows back of the hairs the two will be eternally united.  To break up a home, roll the damp tracks of a man and his wife with cat and dog whiskers in a brown paper sack, tie up the sack and let it stand until the earth is dry, then throw it into the fire; or simply put the dog’s hair in the man’s tracks and the cat’s hair in the woman’s.  To make running men – to drive a person away or make him crazy – throw his tracks into running water, put his hair in the gill of a fish and return it to the stream, spit in the river if the current is running opposite to the direction in which he lives, or tie one of his socks to a freight train.  And by a variety of charms involving a person’s tracks you may make him stagger or paralyze him, make him your or leave.