While it hasn’t gained the same notoriety in the general public as the lucky rabbit’s foot or the pentagram, among Santeria followers, cascarilla is a well-known and respected source of protection. Its reputation has even made an impression on some adherents of Wicca and other pagan religions. Part of this is due to its versatility, but the fact that it’s easy to obtain can also explain some of its popularity.
Like Santeria itself, cascarilla can be traced back to the native traditions of West Africa. Among other beliefs, the people of this region brought to the New World the concept of sacred white earth they called efun. They believed this substance could provide an individual with protection against evil. Cut off from their ancestral lands, they sought an alternative that could achieve the same effects. This came in the form of an herbal powder called cascarilla. The finely ground outer bark of this large, tropical shrub was already known among the Caribbean natives for its medicinal properties that included reducing fevers, operating as an expectorant, and even clearing flatulence. In fact, the word cascarilla refers to any kind of outer skin or husk. Cascarilla also happened to possess a nearly white color. Over time, Santeria practitioners transitioned from using this herbal powder to using crushed egg shells. These were easier to come by, and the symbolism of the life-giving egg also made it very attractive.
The Key to Cascarilla
Cascarilla has two primary abilities. First, it has the power to expel negative energy in all its forms. Second, it creates a barrier between the natural and supernatural realms. With these capabilities, cascarilla can be applied to any number of situations. Since it’s usually in pressed chalk form, it has some flexibility in how it can be used. It’s even possible to use it in the form of a loose powder or incorporate it into candles or incense for even greater coverage.
Putting Magic to Work
Cascarilla wards off negative energy regardless of its source. This can include negativity you accumulate through your own trials and tribulations that life throws at you. The simplest way to understand how this material can be utilized is by considering it in it various forms. Cascarilla is typically sold in pressed form. This permits it to be used for writing or marking. In this case, it can inscribe boundaries around your home by merely drawing a continuous line to block harmful energy from entering. It’s also common practice in Santeria to use the material to draw crucifixes on objects, including one’s own body, that require shielding from hostile energy. Usually, these symbols are drawn around any entry portals of the house like doors, windows, and even vents. This action will both guard against antagonistic forces and blockade immaterial creatures, harmless ones included, that could otherwise gain access.
In powdered form, cascarilla can be put to use more extensively than in solid form. To safeguard the home, the powder can be sprinkled on the floor or it can be blended with plain water or a floor cleaner and applied to the floors. Likewise, you can dust your entire body with it. You could also limit the dusting to only your hands in case they contact anything potentially bad. An alternative custom that blatantly reveals the Caribbean origins of this magic is to coat a coconut with the powder and roll it about the floor while gradually guiding it out through the front exit.
Just as it can be added to floor cleaner, it can also be incorporated into a bath. This method drives out the antagonistic forces you’ve built up in yourself over time from assorted unfriendly encounters. Customarily, such baths are performed weekly and include honey and holy water as ingredients. About three cups of cascarilla are used with one-sixth this amount of honey. When bathing, you should wholly douse yourself with the water three times. This practice not only rids the body of negativity, but also purifies one’s self so that other rituals have a better chance of success.