The other day I was looking through my spiritual supply closet and it occurred to me that there is an important aspect of Voodoo and Hoodoo work that we have not yet explored: the use of perfumes and colognes in the preparation of baths, floor washes and other spiritual workings. Almost on a daily basis I use products such as Florida Water, Pompeia, Kolonia 1800, Kananga Water and Hoyt’s Cologne which are admittedly an indispensable part of any New Orleans Voodoo or Southern Hoodoo practice, so today I would like to discuss the uses for these various products as well as the history of how they became such a fundamental part of many spiritual traditions of the African diaspora.
Florida Water: If nothing else, the one item on this list that every spiritual practitioner interested in Voodoo, Hoodoo or Kardecian Spiritism should have at all times is Florida Water, or as it is popularly known in Spanish, Agua Florida. Florida Water is an incredibly versatile product. It is applied directly to the skin and hair as a spiritual cleansing agent and can also be sprinkle around the home or altar to cleanse a sacred space. Practitioners of Caribbean style Espiritsmo often sprinkle Florida Water on their bóvedas or spiritual altars when they refresh them each Monday. Also during the Misa Espiritual copious amount of Florida Water are sprinkled about the room and even set of fire as offerings to the spirits and as a means of attracting them.
Florida Water is produced by Lanman & Kemp Barclay and according to the company was originally produced in 1808 in New York City designed to have a refreshing citrus and spice scent based on colognes that were popular in Europe at the time. The product does indeed emit a beautiful orange-like scent with hints of clove and cinnamon. As more practitioners of Southern Hoodoo, Espiritismo and another African Diaspora traditions migrated to New York and other US cities from the Caribbean and the American South, they noticed that Florida Water had the power to cleanse away negative energies and repel negative spirits while attracting good ones and they quickly assimilated it into their spiritual practices. Florida Water is a valuable tool when working with spirits and ancestors, but I would not advise you to use it with saints and Orishas. As a Santera friend of mine in Massachusetts once told me, “Agua Florida is for muertos. Period.” The best and simplest way to use Florida Water is to use it as a cologne and to sprinkle it around your home or altar as an agent for spiritual cleansing and a means of summoning your spirit guides and to create an overall positive vibe around you and your sacred space.
Kolonia 1800: Kolonia 1800 is a rather new product as compared to Florida Water. It was been on the market only since 1967 which would account for its uses being more limited and less defined when compared to other products that have been available since the early 1900’s. This pleasant slightly floral scented cologne is less intense than Florida Water. Kolonia 1800 was originally made in Miami by Crusellas and Company, a company that had been famous in Cuba for making soup and other household products. Following the 1959 revolution and the nationalization of all major businesses in Cuba, the company relocated to Miami in 1960 and began to produce its signature cologne in 1967. Kolonia 1800 can be used for cleansing and as an addition to spiritual baths, although its powers and effects are not as intense as Florida Water, based on my personal experience. Many people use Kolonia 1800 as an offering to spirit guides who enjoy the scent. I find that this particular perfume has luck drawing properties and when I make money drawing gris gris charms or baths, I will often add to them a few drops of Kolonia 1800 to increase their efficacy.
Pompeia: Pompeia or as it is also called Lotion Pompeia is a sweet scented perfume first made in France by fragrance experts Jacques Rouche and Georges Darzens in 1907 as a high quality women’s perfume. The scent of Pompeia is floral and potent. In Haitian Vodou, Pompeia is used as an offering to the Rada Lwa, especially Erzulie Freda and bottles of it are often sprinkled on altars for the lwa and before services dedicated to the rada lwa. I first learned of Pompeia years ago in Massachusetts from a Puerto Rican Santera and Espiritista who used it as an ingredient in love spells and spiritual baths. The Santera was a daughter of Ochun and would always have a bottle of Pompeia on her altar as an offering to her patron orisha.
Hoyts Cologne: Hoyts Cologne is a fresh and clean smelling cologne that since the early 1900’s has been popular in Southern Hoodoo circles for conjuring good luck and money especially as related to games of chance. People often add it to bath water or apply it directly to the skin before playing the lottery or going to the casino. I have heard stories of people dumping an entire bottle of Hoys Cologne on themselves before participating in games of chance or even blessing their dice or cards with this lucky cologne before playing. I often add a few drops of Hoyts Cologne to gris gris bags and other charms that I make for the purpose of attracting money and luck. It’s proven highly effective and I definitely recommend having a bottle on hand for use in money magic.
Kananga Water: Kananga water shares many of the same uses as Florida Water, although its scent is less citrus and spice based. As the name would indicate, its main ingredient is Kananga which is a plant also known as Ylang Ylang. Much like the other colognes listed here, it was originally meant to be used as a refreshing fragrance but spiritual workers noticed it had benefits that go beyond smelling nice. I personally find that Kananga water is not as powerful a spiritual cleanser as Florida Water, but spirits are attracted to its scent so I do recommend sprinkling some on your altar as an offering.
Chinese Floor Wash: This last item is not exactly a cologne, but I’ve decided to include it since like the other ingredients on this list, it is a fundamental part of Southern Hoodoo practice. Chinese Floor Wash, particularly the name brand Young’s Chinese Floor Wash, was a commercial pine and lemon scented floor cleaner popular in the early 1900’s that ceased production sometime during or shortly before WWII. Southern Hoodoo Root workers quickly noticed that this cleaning product also spiritually cleansed a space and promoted good luck and positive energy. Today there are many Chinese Floor Washes, some are of decent quality, and others are little more than dyed water. Below is my personal recipe for Chinese Floor Wash which has worked wonders for me over the years. Think of it as a spiritual bath for your entire home. I use it around January 1st each year for clean beginnings and also sometime in October before Halloween which is the Pagan and Voodoo New Year (Fête Ghede).
James Duvalier’s Chinese Floor Wash
One Bucket of Warm Water
One Cup Ammonia
Handful of Pine Needles
Handful of Dried Lemon Peels
Handful of Dried Orange Peels
Pinch of Kosher or Sea Salt
One Dried Corn Husk
Mix all the ingredients together and allow to sit for at least an hour.
Mop your floors as you normally would while saying a prayer for peace and prosperity in the home.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. As always, I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings.