Updated: May 31, 2018
Salt is a mineral composed of Sodium chloride which occurs in the form of transparent cubic crystals. The earliest method of salt production was evaporation of seawater by the heat of the sun, this was soon followed by the quarrying of rock salt which developed into the mining of underground deposits of salt. Rock salt is crystallized salt, also known as Halite, it is the result of evaporation of ancient oceans and lakes millions of years ago.
Salt was prized by many ancient cultures, as a seasoning and an important method of food preservation. With the spread of civilization, salt became one of the world's main trading commodities. In parts of Africa it was used as currency and Moorish merchants in the 6th century traded salt for gold. The Romans used shallow lead pans to boil seawater over open fires. Wars have been fought over salt and various governments have at different times imposed salt taxes.
Salt has been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans invoked their gods with offerings of salt and water, and in Aztec mythology Huixtocihuatl was a fertility goddess who presided over salt and salt water.
In modern times Hindus see salt as an auspicious substance and use it in house-warming ceremonies and weddings. In Jainism, salt is sprinkled on a person's cremated remains before being buried. The Mahayana Buddhists throw a pinch of salt over their left shoulder after returning from a funeral to prevent evil spirits from following them, which is similar to the well-known European superstition that spilling salt is bad luck which requires you to throw a pinch of it over your left shoulder, into the face of the devil. One explanation of this is that Judas is said to have spilt salt at the Last Supper, but a more probable explanation is that salt used to be an extremely expensive and precious commodity.
Many different magical traditions use salt as a symbol of Earth on the altar and for protection, purification and cleansing. Ritual tools and some crystals can be cleansed by either immersing them in salt water or burying them in salt. Do check before doing this to any crystals though as some can be damaged by salt and/or water. Salt can also be used to cast the ritual circle, but I wouldn’t use it outside as it can be harmful to plants, grass, insects and other wildlife.
Salt can be added to pre-ritual baths for purification and cleansing, and it can be used to asperge, which is a purification method of using a small bunch of herbs, dipped in salt water and sprinkled around the circle or home. It is a good alternative to smudging if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions.
Salt can also be sprinkled around doorways and windows to keep negative energies from entering your home or added to witch bottles and sachets for protection. In Hoodoo traditions Black salt can be used in the same way, for personal protection and banishing. Salt is mixed with ashes, iron scrapings from cauldrons or iron pans, charcoal and black pepper to create it. It is also used as an ingredient in Goofer dust, which is used to cause trouble and harm to enemies.
If you have a visitor to your home who you don't want to come back, sprinkle salt on the floor as they leave and sweep it out of the same door through which they left.
Any type of salt can be used for magical purposes, but if you want to try different salts, there are many to choose from:
Used for protection, creating boundaries, representing earth, casting circle. Table salt often has iodine and anti-clumping agents mixed with it.
A product of evaporated seawater, thought to be more natural than table salt and to have undergone less processing.
This has larger grains than table salt and has no iodine added, although some brands will have small amounts of anti-clumping agents. The term 'Kosher salt' comes from its use in making meat kosher by removing surface blood. Contrary to popular belief, it is not blessed by a Rabi and is no more magical than table salt.
Used by some Christian faiths throughout history and in recent times for rites such as Baptism, blessing holy water and as a sacramental to be sprinkled in a room or across a threshold for divine protection.
Dead Sea Salt:
Made from evaporated seawater from the Dead Sea in Israel. Thought to be particularly healing and cleansing. It is a popular choice for relaxing and ritual baths.
Named for a saline spring in the town of Epsom, Surrey, England. It is not actually salt, but a naturally occurring mineral of magnesium sulphate. It is well known for its numerous health benefits as well as beauty, household and gardening uses. It is especially popular in baths to ease pain and muscle cramps.
Himalayan Pink Salt:
This salt gets in pink colour from its high iron content. It comes from the Himalayan mountains and has high amounts of trace minerals and elements. It can be used in cooking and as a seasoning and as a soothing bath salt. Himalayan salt lamps are beautiful and particularly popular with claims that they purify the air and heal many conditions. Huge lists of these claims can be found on the internet, so I won’t list them here.
Below I have included a couple of bath salt recipes, omit the essential oils if you have sensitive skin as they can cause irritation.
Bedtime Bath Salts
2 cups of Epsom salt
2 cups of Dead sea salt
1 tbsp of chamomile essential oil
1 tbsp of lavender essential oil
Large glass jar
Pour salts in the jar, add the oils and stir. Seal the jar and shake well. Leave for 48 hours. To use add 1-2 cups per bath and soak for at least 20 minutes.
Healing Bath Salts
2 cups of Sea salt
1 cup of Epsom salt
1/2 tsp of peppermint, pine needle or lavender essential oil or a combination of them.
Place salts in a non-absorbent bowl (glass, ceramic or stainless steel) Sprinkle on the essential oil and stir with a stainless-steel spoon. Use immediately or store for 2 weeks to maximise the results. To Use: Run a bath and add 1 1/2 cups of the salt mix, swish around with your hands to dissolve, get in and relax. Will keep for 3 - 6 months. Sources: A Kitchen Witches world of magical food - Rachel Patterson
Hoodoo Folk magic - Rachel Patterson
Stones, roots and bones - Stephanie Rose Bird