This month I want to bring focus to a very popular herb used in Witchcraft: Cayenne.
Cayenne peppers are native to the Cayenne region of French Guiana, for which it is named. Cayenne peppers are also used to produce red chile flakes, another popular spice in Witchcraft.
Mexico is the second largest producer followed by Indonesia, Turkey, and Spain. Cayenne grows in Zone 10, which eliminates most of the U.S. as viable for even growing your own.
Commercial spices like Cayenne are imported. Even though there are some places in California and the very tippy Southern parts of the country that can grow Cayenne, the brands at the grocery store are still bringing these in from outside the U.S.
Cayenne Magickal Properties
Traditional uses in Witchcraft include cleansing and purification, banishing, removing obstacles, hexing, repelling negativity, protection, and speeding up the effect of any mixture it’s added to.
Cayenne has also been used in certain types of fertility and sex magicks, but I don't generally believe the energy of this plant aligns well with those. I believe we have plenty of herbs and plants available to us that align more effectively with those intentions.
Cayenne is a repelling herb, and while it may indeed spice up passions with a lover, it might also have undesired consequences due to its fiery nature that runs the risk of becoming too passionate, burning too hot or becoming angry or violent.
I break down Fiery Herbs into two categories. Happy and Angry. Some fiery herbs like Cayenne are Angry Hot, whereas spicy herbs like Ginger are Happy Hot. With some exceptions, Angry Fiery herbs tend to be ornery, repel, kick up a fuss. Happy Fiery herbs tend to be warming, cooperative and attracting. For this reason I feel Cayenne works best as a banishing, baneful, and protective herb, suited best for getting rid of things or people you don't want. As with all Fiery or Hot herbs, like Cinnamon, they are excellent at speeding things up, too.
Bioregional Alternatives to Cayenne
Cayenne's characteristic spiciness is due to the chemical compound capsaicin. Peppers are the only plants high in capsaicin, but other plants like cilantro, cinnamon, and oregano also contain trace amounts of capsaicin. Luckily, we don't have to match chemical compound for chemical compound when it comes to using alternatives in our magickal practices. We look for what is bioregional to us that fits or aligns the closest to our intention or goal and our magick will still be potent, effective and work beautifully for us.
Ginger is a spicy root that contains gingerol, which has properties similar to capsaicin. Ginger can be grown in many parts of the U.S. which makes it a possible contender as a bioregional alternative to Cayenne for the purposes of Witchcraft. However, I categorize Ginger as a Happy Fiery Herb, whereas Cayenne is an Angry Fiery Herb, so this means it is not an exact match energetically.
Ginger can be cleansing and purifying, as all spicy herbs can be. It is also protective like Cayenne, just like when we use it to stave off illness. Other magickal properties include promoting sensuality, sexuality, personal confidence, and prosperity. And like Cinnamon and Cayenne, adding a pinch to any spell or blend can help strengthen it and make it work more quickly.
Horseradish lends eye-watering heat to anything you add it to. Horseradish and chili peppers stimulate the same set of sensory receptors (called polymodal nociceptors) in the mouth and nose, which is why we register both of them as hot with both spices.
This root plant is used in magick to drive off evil, get rid of unwanted Spirits, break hexes, and for cleansing and banishing.
Lots of others spicy peppers can be substituted for Cayenne if they grow where you live. Where I live most won't do well here, but they may where you are. Also, black pepper seems like an easy substitute, too, however it is also imported and not bioregional.
Onions can be an alternative for Cayenne in magickal work, especially when used for protection, to curse or hex, banish, repel or cleanse. Some onions are spicier (when eaten raw) while others are sweet, so experiment with the varieties that grow where you live.
More Spicy Bioregional Alternatives
These more delicate plants may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to adding fiery or spicy elements to your spellcraft or magickal mixtures, but they pack a surprising peppery and spicy wallup that will add a lot of punch to your magick.
Italian Oregano Thyme
Remember that you can use anything that aligns with the intention, so it doesn't have to be spicy for it to be an effective alternative.
Create your own correspondences for herbs and other ingredients that do these jobs so you can cross-reference them and choose from ones that are bioregional or that you can grow yourself:
Cleansing & Purification
Banishing, Repelling, Warding
Speed Things Up, Strengthen
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Cleansing + Purification
Banishing + Repelling
However you use Cayenne, I hope this helps give you some ideas and inspiration for working with your enchanted ingredients that bring your practice more into harmony with the Land and your magick!
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