Scratching Back: chicken’s foot charms

Chicken’s feet charms are common in the American South, Voodoo, Hoodoo, and Conjure traditions.  These traditions focus on a practical, low-cost approach to magick: which is part of what I like about them.  Another advantage of Hoodoo is that it’s a distinctly New World and American branch of magick.  Hoodoo is where European, African, and Native American beliefs and practices converge and this makes it accessible to most Americans.  I think this has to do with part of its growing popularity.  If you look at traditional Conjure and Rootwork traditions you may also find that Wicca and Witchcraft as practiced in the United States has many similarities.

Due to its multicultural nature of Hoodoo, and my own multicultural (religiously at least) background, I often take things that resonate with me – the chicken’s foot protection charm is one of those things I have incorporated into my practice.  These are my chicken feet.  Now, I’ve seen some places claim you can use a chicken’s foot charm for just about anything but I disagree.  It’s been my understanding from my teachers in the past that chicken’s feet are primarily protective or even offensive – they are not likely to aid you in gaining success (unless it’s the sort that requires you to pull someone down to climb on top of them), love, or luck.  You, dear reader, may do what you wish but I would not use a chicken’s foot in work to deal with that.

Chicken Foot Charms

Chicken Foot Charms

Chicken’s feet are ideal when you have enemies (known or unknown), seek protection, and have somewhat of a proactive stance on fighting negative entities and general negativity.  Of course, that “general negativity” one is the catch-22 when it comes to chicken’s feet.  Chicken’s feet are perfect for attack magick or protection based on sympathetic magick.  They’re protective in that chickens are constantly scratching and picking at the ground, making all kinds of messes: in the Hoodoo and Conjure traditions where powders and all sorts of things are often literally thrown or laid in a targeted person’s path, a chicken scratching up all of that powder or whatever would serve to protect a practitioner.  Now, this concept is taken to a metaphysical level when it comes to the chicken foot charm.  The chicken foot will “scratch out” all the negativity and icky-ness that’s coming at you, or in your space.  However, the chicken’s foot (or even better a rooster foot) would also be useful in the act of “scratching back” against your enemy.  It’s not just to protect you and pull out the bad, but also, to scratch back at your enemies.  You have complete control over how your own charm works when you focus and clearly state your intent:  but be aware of the implications of your chosen charm!  If you are your own worst enemy, you might not want to charge something to “scratch” you back.

How to use chicken feet charms: I created these charms myself, and my home. Obviously, if it is carried or worn it protects the wearer.  To protect my home, I place the feet in a crossed position over a door or in a windowsill to ward a home or provide protection to those therein.   Additionally, you could hang the feet outside (as many as you want) like a wind chime (more common in the South) or from a car’s rear-view window.  Chicken’s feet charms may be added to other charms in spirit bags for protection as well.  To use one for magical attack you could leave it where your intended target will find it, or use it as a fetish object for your focus when you perform the spells.

Chicken’s Foot for protection against negative entities or protection against enemies:
These are best made at full moon or on a dark moon (for hidden enemies).
First, find a chicken’s foot and proceed to dry the foot out either by leaving in the sun until dried out or on low heat in the oven for 12 hours in a bowl of salt. If using the oven method, you will know the foot is done when no more fat comes from it. The “toes” may be positioned as desired in end result: I choose to leave them “natural” but for certain charms (especially those made to ward against car theft and theft) it’s traditional to bend all toes down except the middle finger. As these were for general protection against entities and general ill wishes I did neither as the more fingers “ready” to attack. While you are positioning and prepping the chicken’s feet, thank the chicken for it’s feet and pass them through smoke of a cleansing herb to cleanse the feet from any previous attachments or intentions. (Unless they were your chickens in which case, I’m sure any chicken spirit would want to protect you… or maybe not you decide.)

Once the feet are dried and positioned, its time to do the “ritual” of making the amulet. If you are going to cast a circle or invoke, now would be the time – I simply requested that my ancestors and the Mighty Dead aid me in this task – since I don’t work with any deities that particularly like chickens or chicken feet. Thank the chicken for the feet again. Next, focus your intention and “charge” the feet. If you are adding any decorations (optional) now would be the time to do so. You can add crystals, feathers, and paint to the foot to enhance or better direct the energy. As you’ve seen, mine are painted:

  • red and black: for protection against enemies and those who wish me, and mine, harm
  • black and purple: for protection against negative entities and spiritual attacks

Once the foot is assembled and charged, it’s important to speak the intention over the foot in whatever what way you want.  While speaking the intention, anoint your foot with an appropriate oil. I usually use Fiery Wall of Protection Oil or Uncrossing Oil and my own personal oil blend.  The personal oil blend is to attune the charm to myself, of course, if you are making this for someone else you might want to choose to make a blend for them – or choose an oil that corresponds with them in some way, or omit the personal step.

To close out the rite, thank the ancestors, Mighty Dead, or any deities and leave an offering.  I left an offering this time of burning a candle for the ancestors and a Santa Muerte candle. In retrospect, I should have probably left something for the chicken.  That’s it – your chicken foot charm is ready for wearing, carrying, or hanging!

Care of chicken’s feet charms: I believe one should recharge or feed amulets.  Generally, depending on what kind of charm or amulet you are doing, how frequently you utilize it, and how much “power” it needs to do whatever it does, you may want to do this monthly, weekly, yearly – whatever.  In general, I do this every few months or whenever I feel it needs charging or re-working.  Keeping your magical tools in good, working order is important to the potency of your magick – if you use tools anyway.  So, you can charge by the moon at full moons, dark moons, etc.  In general, I re-charge, re-anoint, and re-enchant when I do this.  Sometimes I wait until I really feel it’s necessary – but generally, I do try to work with the moon.  If something comes up though, the best magick is usually done on the fly driven by a real need.
On the practical side of things even if you are not painting your foot, it’s good to put a coat of lacquer or something over them.  When they are dried out completely, there should be hardly any smell. Also, if completely dried, it’s unlikely harmful bacteria or ickyness could live there.  However, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  One other thing, painted or sealed or not, I try not to get my chicken’s feet wet at all.  I know many people don’t worry about it, but if something really disgusting happens after you get your chicken’s feet wet you can’t blame me!


About Pixie

I'm just your average 20-something trying to figure it out. I am also a theologian, yogi, witch, pagan, dirty hippie, activist (progressive politics), feminist, knitter, environmentalist, and friend. I've also been accused of being a hipster - I am not sure about that. I am sometimes happy to be Gen Y (go Harry Potter) and most of the time confused (seriously guys... ) by everyone else. My hobbies including knitting (and maybe crochet), quilting, recycling, cooking, writing, reading, and biking. I'm finishing up a masters in public policy and when I worked worked in political nonprofits as an activist.
This entry was posted in Famous Witches and Wizards, Sabbats, spells, Trad Craft, Witchy Wednesdays, Wortcunning, Yoga and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Scratching Back: chicken’s foot charms

  1. okarnill says:

    that was a wonderful and informative post – also very timely for me lol. As a brit we don’t see this magic very often and it always fascinates me to read about it from others that know their stuff!

  2. Sypheara says:

    I love this kind of Magick, and see it as a very important element of the type of Folk Magick i want to incorporate into my own work. Its unfortunately as the above poster said, not often seen in Britain or within peoples practices who I’ve talked to here. Its a real shame.

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