Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What is Van Van Oil and why is it so popular?~~~~

“Dear Ms. Q,

I’ve seen and read about Van-Van Oil or New Orleans Van Van Oil are they the same?  What is it used for?”

Well Dear Readers,

In this post I’m going to cover a basic work horse oil that is used a lot in folk magic, hoodoo, witchcraft etc.    And that is Van-Van Oil.   So be prepared for reading a long post.

Now the recipe can also be made into a powder or a few drops of oil can be added to your bath water, and a drop or two behind the ears can be worn for effective results, the oil is also used to anoint candles, mojo bags, loadstones, and “lucky” rabbits foot and other amulets as well as floor washes.  

So what is Van-Van used for and how old is it,  well Mrs. Washington came from Louisiana in the 1930’s and was making and using it,  Mrs. Harcourt knew of it in England but she learned it from an old South African woman who cleaned houses in her small town in England.   And the formula was pretty much the same with a few exceptions depending upon where one lives and what was available. 

For Mrs. Harcourt before the War (WWII) she and her Mum had to get what was needed from specialized importers. Mrs. Washington said that was pretty much the same since New Orleans was a major shipping port, so once a month her father then later her husband drove her, her mother and some other ladies that squeezed into their model T Ford, that wheezed and coughed it way to a particular store that was near the docks to get what they needed, Mrs. Washington use to make me laugh describing how to communicate with the owner of the store who spoke in what was called “pigeon English”.     

Granny and the ladies would go to a couple of shops in the old China Town and a shop that was in the warehouse district that was run by an elderly Portuguese man, and since Granny and Uncle Mannie could speak Portuguese Uncle Mannie would do the bargaining, as a kid I would go with them but they never went without my Uncle Mannie because it was a rough neighborhood.

So how old is the formula?  Well that is hard to say, but it has in the 100 plus years been a standard among Hoodoo formulas.   Perhaps going as far back as the late 1700’s to very early 1800’s.

Because some of the ingredients seem to also repel insects but still smell good, and knowing that in the early days of New Orleans and Louisiana, the insect repelling properties of these ingredients would not have gone un-noticed, so by putting it into an oil and even heating it up in an oil burner it would make sense to early day root-workers that this combination of ingredients would have magical properties. 

So I’m sure in other countries which would grow similar grasses and flowers there would have been variations of this formula which eventually condensed down to the one we know today, especially from New Orleans, which is why Van Van is sometimes called New Orleans Van Van or Louisiana Van Van oil, etc.

According to Cat Yronwood she has a quote that says ----    "At one time, it is said, a person could not walk down a street in the Algiers district (of New Orleans)  without smelling the scent of Van Van oil. Prepared from aromatic Oriental grasses, all-purpose Van Van is favoured for dressing Amulets and Charms and is reputed to Clear Evil from the Door-Step, Change Bad Luck to Good, and Open the Way to New Opportunities."

Van Van is an old hoodoo formula for oil, incense, sachet powders, and washing products that are intended to get rid of evil, provide magical defense, change bad luck to good, as well as strengthening other charms. It is the most popular of the New Orleans hoodoo recipes. As a good luck enhancer, it is closely associated with both the rabbit foot and the lodestone.

[This] …old hoodoo formula for oil, incense, sachet powders, and washing products … are designed to clear away evil, provide magical protection, open the road to new prospects, change bad luck to good, and empower amulets and charms. It is the most popular of the New Orleans or "Algiers style" hoodoo recipes. As an amulet enhancer, it is closely associated with both the rabbit foot and the lodestone – [in the  1940s there would be  advertisements for a rabbit foot key chain charm that was sold with a small vial of Van Van oil] ---   from the   Lucky Mojo Curio Co. catalogue.

Van Van is one of the most popular hoodoo condition formulas out there. It has a long history of use in root work, but is especially associated with the New Orleans and Algiers areas of Louisiana where it seems to have first appeared.

To reiterate this nearly all-purpose formula effectively provides spiritual cleansing and jinx-breaking, road-opening to new fortune and opportunity, protection against negativity, attracts money and business prosperity, brings good luck, as well as draws love all in one oil.  It's often used to powerfully feed mojo bags, empower amulets, talismans, or other magical tools to keep them working strongly for their owner.

The oil can be used to dress candles, or can be worn as a personal power scent for any of the above uses. It can be added to cleaning solutions in order to cleanse and impart its empowering energies on the spiritual level as well as the physical. It can be added to nearly any magical working in order to enhance its overall potency.  According to a number of practioners there's nearly nothing that Van Van can't do. For the frugal practitioner Van Van can pretty much do a lot of stuff, which makes it an excellent choice or go to oil in one’s magical cabinet.

Van Van has an unmistakable clean, crisp scent that comes from the variety of Asian grasses which make up the formula. Lemongrass is the central ingredient, a plant which brings great magical flexibility to the table.  Lemongrass is linked to the planet Mercury, (this is more for Wicca information) so one should see quick results when working with the Van Van formula. It will also help increase effective communication, so any act should go more smoothly.

Lemongrass in the East, is considered an aphrodisiac, and so Van Van can be used in love-drawing work as well. This is especially useful for men who wish to wear a love-drawing condition oil as a personal scent, its aroma is crisp and gender-neutral as far as fragrances go.

Lemongrass is considered an excellent purifier of spiritual energies, which makes it great for general spiritual cleansing or jinx breaking and removal. It not only cleans up negative energy, but it also repels any incoming negativity, so it is useful in protection work and can be used daily to keep one's energies clean and clear throughout the day and during difficult interactions.

The other Asian grasses used to round out the Van Van formula share a lot of qualities in common with lemongrass, Van Van is related to other cleansing and luck hoodoo formulas like Success and Eloquence, and Road Opener.


Dr. E gives a great description on his web site which I quote here:  

“Van Van Oil is an effective tool used to cleanse away evil and bring success with love and money. Apply some Van Van Oil to a lucky rabbit foot and carry it for good luck with money and gambling. Put a bit of Van Van Oil behind each ear before going on a date so that you'll have a good experience, keep away troublesome people, and have good luck with love. Add a bit of Van Van Oil to your mop water before you mop the house to cleanse away any evil spells or negativity and fill the house with refreshed good luck. Dress yellow candles with Van Van Oil and burn them for a successful outcome to your efforts.

How to Use Van Van Herb Bath:

Van Van Herb Bath can be used to bathe your body to cleanse away negativity and draw in good luck with love, money and meeting influential people. You can also use Van Van Herb Bath prior to any spells you cast to go into it clean and energetically refreshed.

Brew the Herbs
Start by taking your packet of Van Van Herb Bath and placing it in a coffee cup. Pour boiling water over the herbs and allow them to sit for about ten minutes so that they can release their essences into the water. After ten minutes, strain the herbs out and save the liquid. You can dispose of the herbs either in the trash, or you can sprinkle them in your garden around the front door of your house. Pour your cup of full-strength Van Van Herb Bath infusion into a large washtub or bowl full of bath-temperature water. It is now properly diluted and ready to use.

Set Up Your Tub or Shower
Take your bowl of Van Van Herb Bath into the bathroom. Place two small white candles on either side of the bathtub or shower so that you cross between them as you enter and exit the tub. Plug up the tub so that you can capture the bathwater that runs off of your body (or if you are using a shower, place a bowl in the shower and stand over it to catch some of the water that flows off of you when you will bathe.

Take Your Bath
Light the two white candles, disrobe and enter the shower or tub with your washtub or bowl full of diluted Van Van Herb Bath. Traditionally, hoodoo practitioners will pray the Our Father and Psalm 23, or you may pray in your own words to remove negativity and bring luck with money, love and people of influence. Then pour the bath on your body working your way downward from your head down to your feet. Remember to get your back side, hands and feet. (Ladies who have recently had their hair done and don't want to mess up their hairdos can simply bathe from the neck down, then moisten their hands with the bath and lightly wet their faces and/or hair.) Set your bowl aside and begin to wipe the excess bath off of your body with your hands (always wiping downward to remove the negativity). Note that some of the water that you used was caught in the tub or in the small bowl you set at your feet. It doesn't have to be all of it, just some.

Dry Off
Exit the bath, walking between your white candles and air dry. Do not use a towel. If you are cold stand in front of a heater. Continue to wipe your body with your hands, always wiping downward until you are dry. At this point you can anoint your body with some Van Van Oil by dabbing a bit on your wrists, behind each ear, over your heart and on the bottom of each foot. Dress in clean clothing, preferably light in color (not black).

Dispose of the Bath
Now take the original coffee cup you used and scoop up some of the captured used bath water. You don't have to get all of it, just some of it. Take this outside. Toss the water over your left shoulder toward the east; toward the rising sun (your back will be to the sun if you're doing this right) and say "AMEN!" Then walk home and don't look back at the water you tossed. You can now go about your day knowing that you are covered with Van Van Herb Bath, and it is working to bring you success with love, luck with money and draw influential people into your life.

Ideas for Using Van Van Sachet Powder:
Van Van Sachet Powder is a great way to cleanse away evil, draw in success with love and money, and attract influential people. Add some Van Van Powder to your talcum powder so that you will always remain energetically clean and have fortunate events happen throughout your day. Sprinkle business cards with Van Van Powder to draw influential clients who are willing to hire you and pay you well. Sprinkle some Van Van Powder across the threshold of your business to have luck with business dealings and fortunate outcomes. You can also powder candles that have been dressed with Van Van Oil with Van Van Powder to amplify their effect in the spells you perform.

How to Use Van Van Mojo Bag:
Van Van Mojo Bag is the perfect charm to carry for luck with money, luck with love and successful outcomes to your efforts. Carry a Van Van Mojo Bag in your purse when going out on a date to have a good experience and have luck with love. Keep a Van Van Mojo Bag behind your business' front door to attract customers that are willing to pay and to have unexpected success in business. You can also carry a Van Van Mojo Bag when gambling, playing bingo, shooting dice, playing cards or the lottery for added good luck.

Ideas for Use of Van Van Setting of Lights:
Van Van Setting of Lights can be used to remove evil and witchcraft, and for good luck with money and love. ……dress, bless and light a Van Van Candle on [your} altars along with your specific petition and photograph……..Van Van Setting of Lights is perfect for clearing away negativity, drawing influential people, for success with money, and good luck in love.”

Other Uses:
Used as a sprinkling solution to attract good luck and power of all kinds  when used in full strength. Add to scrub water to wash down the floor  and steps of a home or business to get rid of negativity.
Put 1 1/2 oz of Louisiana Van Van oil in 16 oz of alcohol. Shake well before each use.  Van Van is used to prepare a magickal working space and to anoint ritual participants. Add it to mop water, washrags, and room sprays.  Dab a bit of Van Van Oil on the corners of your bed for a restful sleep free from any negative vibrations, use it to anoint love petitions and put under a yellow candle to draw love to you.

HOW DO THE HERBS OR ESSENTIAL OILS WORK aka what is their purpose?:

Lemongrass (and all citrus grasses) have a powerful “cut and clear” effect, if you look on the grocery store shelves in the US  have you seen  how many lemon-scented cleaning agents there are.  They seem to make things  cleaner (lemon also has some antibacterial/antimicrobial properties, and is a potent preservative in small doses—sliced apples are often treated with a lemon juice extract to keep them from browning). 

Citronella does something similar (think of how citronella candles, torches, and oils repel nasty insects like mosquitoes).  These grasses cut and clear any negative influences, warding off bad luck.

 Palmarosa and gingergrass (which come from the same plant, in reality, Cymbopogon martine Palmarosa is from a different pressing) are muskier, and so have a slight sexual connotation. 

If it smells clean, bright, and sexy, it’s not hard to imagine lucky as well the best description is to think James Bond in a casino.

 Vetiver is the muskiest of all, with strong earthy tones.  Earth has connections to abundance and prosperity fertile black soil planted with seeds which grow into crops, plus there is that strong sexual current all over again.  Sex + money + nothing standing in your way I would consider that a lucky combination.

Most of these herbs are not easily available in bulk herb form, with the exceptions of lemongrass, which can be find at almost any Asian market and has started appearing in major grocery stores where there is a good size Asian community and vetiver which is often found in herb or metaphysical shops. 

If you are doing oils for yourself then all of the oils except gingergrass are readily available from any aromatherapy or herbal extract dealer.  Gingergrass oil can be hard to find and so is often left out of homemade Van Van recipes, or something else might be substituted for it.  But that does not weaken the potency of Van Van oil


 16 parts lemongrass oil
    8 parts citronella oil
    1 part vetivert oil  ( the dried botanical is also called “khus-khus” grass in some places--- not to be        confused with the food cous-cous)
    1 part palmarosa oil
    1 part gingergrass oil if you can get it
And finish off with almond oil as the carrier.  (please read below)

Mix together and let sit for at least week. This is your stock oil. Do not apply it directly to the skin in this condition, because as uncut essential oils it can be a skin irritant to people.

Therefor in each 1/2 oz. bottle of VAN VAN OIL to be made up, put in ---
  a pinch of dried lemongrass leaves
   a pinch of crushed pyrite crystals
  one full standard dropper-full of the above stock blend
 Then Fill the ½ oz.  bottle with  almond oil as a carrier to reduce the possibility of it being an irritant.

The proportions above are merely suggestions, and you might be able to use just the first three oils and have some pretty solid Van Van oil, so don’t spend  money tracking  down gingergrass or palmarosa ingredients unless you really feel the need to do so, the full formula is for you own information and if you happen to get lucky and find those two last ingredients then you’ll know what to do.   

The ingredients for Van Van Oil have always varied depending upon the preference of the practioner, but the absence of any one or two of the  Asian Grass oils will not hurt the results much, because usually  the blend will focus on citrusy lemongrass and citronella, with only a hint of musky vetivert, floral palmarosa, and spicy gingergrass.

Adding a pinch of  lemongrass leaves helps carry over the potency from the Master bottle, the crushed pyrite crystals is a money drawer, especially good for businessmen and gamblers, although pyrite is called “Fool’s Gold” adding a pinch of Gold dust is prohibitively expensive especially with the price of gold now a days,   so why use pyrite if it’s called “fool’s gold”?

There is nothing foolish about this mineral. Within its gleaming beauty is a stone of hidden fire, one that can be sparked to life by striking it against metal or stone. An Earth element, it also resonates with Fire energy, symbolizing the warmth and lasting presence of the sun and the ability to generate wealth by one’s own power. It is masculine in nature, a stone of action, vitality and will, and taps into one’s abilities and potential, stimulating the flow of ideas. It brings confidence and the persistence to carry things through to completion.

As a talisman, Pyrite is a unique protector, drawing energy from the Earth through the physical body and into the aura creating a defensive shield against negative energies, environmental pollutants, emotional attack and physical harm. It also supports one with a spirit of boldness and assertive action when protecting others, the planet, or in standing up for important issues of community. It stimulates the Second and Third Chakras, enhancing will power and the ability to see behind facades to what is real.

Pyrite enhances the protective and assertive male energies in both men and women. It boosts women’s self-worth and helps overcome tendencies toward servitude and inferiority. For men, it instills a feeling of confidence in one’s masculinity and supports the enthusiastic expression of male eroticism.

Pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral, and iron can attract things to it as well as repel negativity.  So it makes sense to add crushed Iron Pyrite to Van Van oil.

Additions to the recipe vary by practitioner and region.  For example, in New Orleans, one might find lemon verbena added to the mix.  This may be how the formula got its name.  According to Cat Yronwode, Creole root workers would sometimes use lemon verbena in their blends in order to supplement the strong lemon-musk scent of the oil.  Verbena—a related herb—was often called vervain,  (Has anyone watched “Vampire Diaries, vervain was used to weaken vampires in that T.V. show)  and that was given a pidgin phoneme of “van van.” 

Some formulas suggest adding patchouli in a small amount but I’m not in favor of that preferring the cleaner scent.

You can add other lucky things to the master bottle such as tiny lucky horseshoes or four leaf clover charms.  Or anoint such charms with Van Van oil.

Van Van oil does not contain vanilla or rose oil in spite of the name of some of the ingredients.

After the oil is made as I said it needs to sit for a week, during that time it should be placed within a triangle of 3 lit glass enclosed yellow candles also dressed with van van oil and prayed over every day for a week so that their positive energy is imbued into the oil.  Do not leave the burning candles unattended,  If at all possible,  if you have to leave your home, snuff the candles out and re-lite with a quick prayer to continue the energy.    Then when you are ready to use the prepared oil you need only add your own prayers or affirmations outlining your specific intents, in order to get the Van Van working towards your particular goal.

There are variations to this oil and also to its name.  It can be called New Orleans Van Van Oil, or Louisiana Van Van Oil but it’s still the same oil.  Here are a couple:

 Zora Neale Hurston in her research was given this receipe for Essence of Van Van which was:
10 per cent Oil of Lemon Grass in alcohol. Different doctors specify either grain, mentholated, or wood alcohol, used for luck and power of all kinds. It is the most popular conjure drug in New Orleans.  But according to Cat Yronwood  “It is possible that someone Hurston talked to had mistaken this ubiquitous New Orleans formula-family for Fast Luck ...or, … Hurston herself might have made the error. In any case, the Fast Luck i know is the Cinnamon, Vanilla, Wintergreen one.”

A highly simplified, cheap version of Van Van Oil is  sometimes found under the name Henry's Grass Oil.

    lemongrass oil
    a pinch of dried lemongrass leaves
Put a dropper-full of the essential oil and a pinch of the dried leaves in a 1/2 oz. bottle and fill the bottle with undyed cooking oil as a carrier.

I have to say that IS cheap, and I would call it a rip off.  But then who knows?  If it works, it works.

Except for Hexing, cursing, or jinxing Van Van Oil has many purposes and many uses,  from cleansing your home or work area of negativity, to bringing in positive energy, luck, money, love, protection the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.   If you only make a few magical oils this should be one of them.

Bright Blessings,
Ms. Q


  1. Dear Ms. Q,

    Van Van oil is one of the first oil I have made, I followed the recipe that I have found on the website of Ms Yronwode. I love its smell. I confirm that find gingergrass is very difficult, so finally I did not use it. Also, here in Europe, often people think that lemongrass and citronella are the same plant. In fact, it's same family but not the same species...I like have herbs in my homemade oils and I was looking for dried lemongrass, but finally I have found only dried citronella...hope it works as well

    be blessed


    1. Dear F.,

      It is getting to the point where a number of botanicals are becoming harder and harder to get.

      And you are correct Lemongrass and Citronella are different plants but in the same family.

      I'm sure the dried citronella will work as well.

      Ms. Yronwode's recipe is correct according to her formula, the one I posted was what was in my Granny's notes from the formula provided by Mrs. Washington.

      I think I may do a post that shows all the variations.

      Bright Blessings,
      Ms. Q