Sweetgum Balls: Household Magic

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Sweetgum Balls

Image © Getty Images 2007

For many people, being an effective practitioner of magic includes the ability to think outside the box. By being a creative and imaginative thinker, you can find magical uses for non-magical items. In 2008, About Pagan/Wiccan featured a weekly series in which readers were challenged to find ways of using regular household items as magical tools. For eighteen weeks, our readers came up with unconventional ways to turn regular items around the house into components in magical workings. Let's take a look at some of the mundane items that we offered, and some of the clever and creative ideas our readers had.

Sweetgum Balls

Ryan: I’d use them in protection spells that are designed to keep unwanted people away, or in Witch Bottles because of their spines, or use one to top off a phallic wand.

Claudia: It reminds me of the sometimes harsh exterior I can have, if I am not careful. So placing one with my seasonal decorations, I would use it to remind me to ease off, to reflect before taking actions that could affect others negatively.

Phoenix WindWalker: Seein as how sweetgum balls are the containers of seeds of the sweetgum tree and the spines are to protect the seeds from being eaten,one could use a sweetgum ball as an amulet for protection, fertility, and prosperity.

Spellcaster: SweetGum Balls have a magick all of their own and don't need enchanting.They in themselves are a gift from The Great Mother, sure they look somewhat horrid but they remind me that even tho life is sometimes hard and ugly and prickly, underneath all of that are seeds of life that are sweet. To me that is the most magickal!

Heartsong: These are everywhere here in southeast Tennessee. As a child, we collected them, sprayed them with gold and silver paint, and made Yule (for us at the time, Christmas) ornaments out of them. They’re really pretty, dirt cheap, and a fun thing to do with the kids. That has its own kind of magic, don’t you think?

SolarRaven: I’ve used them as a focus in nature healing work and communicating with the nature Deva, the spiky multiple seeded circular form of the sweet gum ball lends itself to be a gateway to journeying and to becoming aware of reality streams as a model of the multidimensional universe or more simply as a meditation or spell focus when making choices. The Plant Deva of sweet Gum balls are very lighthearted heart healing as well as protective they have an uplifting optimistic message which helps us make our way through difficult situations they can represent the growth and positive possibilities which are born out of difficulty as represented by their spiky outer shell.

Jennifer: I always find these on road trips, so I pick them up and put them in the doors of my car. Just as some added protection on the road!

Kovas: Actually these Witch’s Burrs are a traditional American Hoodoo magical item. They are considered a powerful protection amulet. We ourselves sell and use them for protection on altars, in witch bottles and in Mojo or spirit bags.

Zak Zennii: I have one of those tied to my broom to represent the element of Earth (and a feather for air, a seashell for water, and a lightbulb for fire, but I digress). I like the idea of using them for protection spells.

StarStorm: I like them to keep around in various places I see often to remind my self not to judge from the out side, just because something looks bad and is prickly like many of us they may only hurt others to protect a sensitive interior that needs nurturing in order to grow and become strong.

JDHortWort: I make banishing Witch burrs with wax and appropriate herbs. The amulets can be burned or buried. Those who have used them report good results. From a gardening standpoint, a mulch of sweetgum balls around your favorite plants will keep the snails away. I’ve also seen them used to construct wreaths, globes and (one of the most creative uses) pieced together somehow to make a lovely bell!

Kara: I think that the Sweetgum Ball is a fruit and could symbolise fertility. The Sweetgum tree is a wonderful tree with STAR shaped leaves. It was once used for soap and medicines. The most beautiful Yule tree that I ever put together was of brass stars, brass cones with dried flowers and weeds, and sweetgum balls and oak leaves painted gold and tied with red string. Makes me want to gather and decorate early.

John: I like to take dried Sweetgum balls, some elmer’s glue, whole cloves, a small brass eyelet screw and some red and green ribbons to make sweet smelling Christmas tree ornaments. Now it only takes a small amount of glue inside the ball to anchor the whole clove and when you’re done, it’s beautiful and fragrant.

Tree Witch: The Sweetgum tree is a tree of good energy and attacts likewise spirits with good vibes. Just being around this tree lifts the spirit and offers hope to those in need. It’s energy feels cleansing, light and breezy. It is a tree aligned with the Vernal (Spring) equinox. It’s leaves have 5 points like a star. The number 5 being a Goddess number. Sweetgum balls, the spiky pods that contain the sweetgum seeds are sometimes called “witch balls”. They can be used in spells as a catalyst to increase the potency of magical energy. Being seed pods they can be used in fertility spells as well. The seed pods are also used for protection r/t their spiky outer surface.