Hello fellow Grimericans! Have I got a good one for you. I must admit, when I first thought of doing this post, I thought it would be relatively short. But my research of the interwebs just couldn’t allow that. I had always wondered why, in the paranormal movies and shows and books that fill my free time, that the use of salt was used in a variety of ways to ward off the things that go bump in the night as well as just about every other creepy, crawly, evil thing. From wayward spirits, to flesh-eating ghouls and of course, maybe most importantly, demons.
“Damn it Sammy! Get the Salt!”
But it wasn’t until I heard Joshua Cutchin of the Canadian Third Party Ranking System fame, on The Gralien Report speaking of his yet-to-be published book on food’s association with the Fortean realm. More specifically, the accepting and eating of food from humanoid entities such as the fey folk for example, and its aftermath. Our Tequila Ambassador from south of the border, Red Pill Junkie was also in the chatroom that night and inspired him to write this blog post over at Mysterious Universe. And while it didn’t cover exactly what I had in mind, a lot of the replies in the comments had. Or so I thought. I finally decided to delve deeper into the supernatural properties attributed to mineral known as sodium chloride. What I found was a slew of claims and explanations as well as arguments for and against our table-top friend. Reasons why you should use salt and reasons why you shouldn’t use it, at least in the context of magical (or, out of respect for those who wrote the arguments, magickal) endeavors. I will give the caveat that, like I said, once I had looked into this topic, I realized it wouldn’t be a short post and so in the interest of keeping this to at least a moderate length, I haven’t included everything I came across. I do however leave some links at the bottom for those so inclined to look more at the subject. Okay, I’ve done the research, now it’s time to A-salt you with my knowledge.
Salt has been used for purifying food since recorded history and probably before. Imagine being an ancient person and discovering that these innocuous grains of white rock, when placed on a fresh kill, allow you to eat the spoils of your hunt long after it should have, well, spoiled. This allows for longer travel without having to stop and reload your food supplies meaning more lands to be explored and more lands to be settled. Now try to imagine the time before salt was utilized for this purpose. As an ancient person, you have life sustaining meat that you had to work to get, and now, after a day or two, if eaten, will make you deathly sick. It’s almost as if something evil has inhabited this once live giving substance causing the evil to be transferred to whomever ingests it. Now flash back again to these little white grains of rock that seem purify and keep out the evil and sickness from your essential food supply. I think it’s easy to see how this could seem almost magical, even spiritual. And not only did the utilization of salt allow for farther travel, but it allowed for larger food stocks in times of winter and harsh summers. And while I haven’t seen it quite spelt out like this in my research and I’m not saying this is exactly how it happened, but it was me imagining a scenario similar to this that led to this post. I’m sure it was a curiosity to the first people who used salt to purify meat how exactly it worked, which is, by the way, salt’s natural ability to suck up water. It’s this property that is also the reason why you can kill a slug by sprinkling salt on it. This also proves that slugs are 100% Evil Incarnate.
It is also its ability to absorb, some people claim, which make it magickal. It is said that salt can absorb energy. This ability makes it quite useful in magical spells and rituals as well as amulets and talismans. Salt water is used in spells and rituals as well and is even used to purify tools and objects for the former. It is said that you can make a magical salt battery as energy sources for such rituals. Although I haven’t tested out this claim, I can tell you that there are such things as salt batteries that produce electricity. Also on salt’s absorbency, it is said that placing a bowl of salt in a room will suck up any unwanted negative energy, but by the same token, salt’s attractiveness toward “loose” energy can also absorb any good energy that the practitioner is using potentially causing the reverse effect of what was wanted. The last point is argued and is said that as long as salt is used “correctly”, it is a very useful tool in the modern magician’s arsenal. And on the more paranormal note of warding off spirits, using the unproven hypothesis that spirits draw energy from the surrounding atmosphere or from power sources such as batteries from digital equipment, could the inherent power of a solid line or circle of salt to absorb energy provide enough disruption in the “energy field” to prevent what we call humanly spirits from interacting with the inner circle. Or is it salt’s purification qualities that keep the evil spirts at bay? Or is it both? This could explain why it supposedly works with spirits that aren’t necessarily evil and entities that never walked the earth in human form that didn’t just simply adopt the darkness, they were born into it. Molded by it.
“Not until the post is over. Then you can have my permission to stop reading.”
A circle of salt isn’t the only way to ward of spirits. You can use a line of salt over doorways and windows to keep a spirit or other spookies out of a room or a house altogether. But one must be weary of using this technique for if you seal all of the entrances off with a line of salt, you may trap an entity inside the house with nowhere to go and nothing to do but show you how displeased it is for not being able to go hang out with all of its otherworldly buddies. Speaking of otherworldly beings, mirrors have often be thought to be doorways or windows into other worlds or realms, so it should go without saying that to prevent anything curious enough to try and come through, one should put a bowl or line of salt in front of one; Ya’ know, just in case. The idea of salt having purifying and healing powers are indeed ancient. References of salt’s powers and spiritual importance are recorded in the bible numerous times.
And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, ‘Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
- 2 Kings 2:21, King James Version
Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.
- Numbers 18:19, King James Version
Probably the most well-known reference to salt in the Bible is Genesis 19:26 wherein, after being warned by an Angel of the impending destruction of the two cities Sodom and Gomorrah due to sinful acts of its citizens, the Biblical character known as Lot, along with his wife and two daughters, are fleeing from the sites and despite being told not to look back, Lot’s wife, sometimes called Ado or Ildith or Edith, can’t help but to gaze back into the direction of the destruction and upon doing so is turned into a pillar of salt. This verse might actually have modern ties with salt as well in a not so obvious connection. Some hypothesis that the phrase “a pillar of salt” was the only way the witnesses could describe what they had seen, which was in fact, a nuclear explosion. This implies that either some ancient civilizations had nuclear capabilities or the ancient alien hypothesis comes into play and that the “Angel” that warned Lot was a being from the sky. What’s the modern connection you ask? Iodized salt. For those of you who don’t know, Iodine is a micronutrient that is often added to salt and helps prevent iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency affects about two million people and leads to thyroid problems. Iodine itself helps prevent radiation poisoning as well. And while you’d have to consume 3 1/2 pounds of iodized salt to obtain the 130 milligrams of iodine that’s contained in a single tablet of potassium iodide for use in a radiation emergency, according to the Salt Institute, I still find it thought provoking at the very least at the minor connection.
Okay, so I’m not as thought provoking as Jack Handy.
At one time in our history, salt was a very valuable commodity. It was even used as payment. The word ‘salary’ comes from the Latin word ‘salarium’ which means salt cellar. So spilling it could be very costly. But if you did spill the salt, it was thought that throwing it over your left shoulder would ward off the Devil. Why the left shoulder? Because that’s where the Devil resides… duh… I actually couldn’t find a source for the specificity of the left shoulder but I remember being told that it was because the left side is where your heart is and hence, your soul. Whether that’s the reason for the left should or not, it sounds good to me. Another interesting thing that I came across in my reading, is that in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting “The Last Supper” which in where he depicts Jesus’ last meal with his apostles and declares that one of them will betray him, Judas Iscariot is second to the left of Jesus, his right hand gripping a sack and a knocked over salt cellar next to his wrist. He also is notably the only one with his elbow on the table.
Is it just me or does the guy on the far left have a really long bib?
Alright kiddos. I’m going to wrap this up before I stumble down another hole. The links below are so that you can do that on your own. Happy spelunking. Okay, that’s it for me Grimericans. Until next time, stay classy.
Down The Rabbit Hole