ritual. Below is the text of her message. The fact that she mentions
"black salt" is profound, as I neglected to mention the presence of the same
at the Reeferman's place in the mess hall. The black salt showed up a day
or so after the white salt first appeared. This does nothing less than
confirm an attempt at black magic. Wild shit, no?
Here's Karen's lowdown:
"The salt thing intrigued me--as you know, I have a decades-old interest in
things mythical, spiritual, and religious, and a bell rang in the back of my
mind regarding salt rituals or cures. You are quite right that salt as
defense against evil is a pretty universal thing, from Catholic baptism
(salt on the lips of the baptized child will bring wisdom to the child),
exorcism (apparently demons hate salt, and it's used in vampire prevention),
and weddings (Christian and Jewish weddings, where salt exchanged between
partners indicates an honest and binding contract) to Shinto purification
"It's also used in Santeria--a blend of Catholicism and Voudoo--sprinkled in the footsteps (or where he or she has stood or sat) of a person who is
annoying you to make them go away. Black salt (a combination of ash and
salt, or salt and pepper) is what's usually used, but regular salt will do.
Also, throwing salt after or behind a person who has threatened you is a way
of keeping them away from you and your premises.
"So if your cook felt threatened by the Reeferman, it would totally make sense that he would do this if he at all had any association with Santeria as a practitioner or even just had a cultural association. First there's the easy availability of salt in the kitchen, and second, if his native culture/land had any Santeria or even old Catholic traditions, it would fit.
"I'm with you--I would very much prefer someone leaving salt in a
threatening person's footsteps or seat as a way to ward them off than
violence. Of course, the strength of the ritual is in proportion to the
strength of the practitioner's will and anger, and the addition of pepper
supposedly makes the ritual even more fiery and potent (typical "rule of
similars" effect). I would think that if pepper was used then or
afterwards, the person using the ritual was angry indeed. The problem with
infusing anger into such a ritual involving pepper is that it can spread
beyond the intended harasser to innocent bystanders, especially if it's a
very strong pepper, and very strong anger. Best to just keep to salt, as a
pure ward against evil and annoyance.
"So there is my wealth of knowledge regarding the use of salt (and pepper) in rituals. :-)
"There probably is some kind of scientific basis behind the universal use of salt as a ritual purifier, such as salt air giving off negative ions, which not only has a calming effect on people, but actually does purify the air and reduces airborne bacteria."
So there you have it: Black salt. I still hesitate to confirm this to the victim--least he turn violent or get locked up as a nut. However, I think the cook is upping the ante. Just this morning, a can of Slim Fast was discovered at Reeferman Brian's seat. Now I'm wondering what my sister will have to say about that.