© 2001 by Sarah the SwampWitch

I have gathered together some information on the gathering, preservation and disposal of graveyard dirt. The first part of it is some folklore that I do pay attention to in my own use of graveyard dirt (although I don’t follow all of it exactly). The last part is some of what I personally have discovered that works for me over the years in dealing with graveyard dirt (and remember, mileage may vary on this last part. What works for me might not for you. If you wanna find out for yourself what works and what doesn’t work for you, get your ass to a graveyard, and start digging! .)

Some graveyard dirt lore (from various sources – if I know the source, I note it)

    • When you take dirt, always return something of value to the gravesite. Tobacco is one suggestion, a silver coin is another.
    • Because Haints or sprits might attach themselves to you while you are gathering dirt, you must do something to keep them from following you home, unless of course you want a pet ghostie. If you “pay” when you take a little dirt, this will not happen. A dime is fine, that breaks any links. Plus, you should turn around three times before entering the home after visiting a graveyard, it confuses the spirits. An infusion of bistort root sprinkled around the house will also chase any spirits out of the home. Slamming the front and back doors of the house rapidly in succession several times is said to trap any ghosts in between the door and frame, making it too uncomfortable for them to wish to stay.
    • If you need dirt to send somebody away (not kill them), dig your dirt at the head of an old grave. The oldest one in a cemetery works the best.
    • Graveyard dirt is best when taken from an open grave.
    • Some love spells require dirt that you have gotten from the grave of a loved one. The loved one does not have to be human, but can even be a pet that you loved.
    • A good time to get graveyard dirt and remain inconspicuous is to go each spring to the graves of your loved ones, and plant flowers there. While planting the flowers, you can then sneakily take dirt from the grave sites.
    • A variation on the above theme, is to instead bring potted plants to the gravesite. While placing the pots of flowers on the graves, dig up some grave dirt (act as if you are worried that the posts do not have enough dirt in them) and add it to the pots. Then leave the flower pots on the graves until fall. When fall comes around, go to the cemetery and retrieve the pots – then once the pots are at your house, you can take the dirt out of the pots. (this one is from Hexcraft by Silver Ravenwolf)
    • When you gather graveyard dirt (time and moon phase) depends on what type of spell you wish to do. OR Midnight on the dark of the Moon is the best time to gather graveyard dirt. Or Midnight on a full Moon is the best time to gather graveyard dirt. (Now you see why you need to figure out what works best for YOU? LOLOL!)
    • Dirt dug from the graves of people who were hung, is the most powerful for hexing and revenge magick.
    • Now then, if you are too chicken to go dig up your own dirt, you can always order it…… a good source is
  • If graveyard dirt or Goofer dust is used in a spell, and especially if the intention of the spell is seriously, irreparably harmful (like causing another person grave illness), you should dispose of the material in a graveyard after your spell is done. The wax and other remnants of the spell, (including graveyard dirt) should be placed in a miniature coffin, buried, and marked by a miniature headstone with the enemy’s name on it. When setting such a spell to rest, many mages also sprinkle a mixture of sulfur powder and salt around the grave, then walk home and they don’t look back.

Okies, now then, this is how I, a practical Witch, do the graveyard dirt thing.

I walk into the secluded cemetery, ask the blessings of all the spirits there. I tell the spirits what I want to do with the dirt and I ask that they leave me to gather my dirt in peace.

I gather grave yard dirt at night – either during the dark of the moon, the waning moon or the full moon. I really should take along someone with me, since I am the world’s biggest chicken (LOLOLOLOL). I have found that it is not wise to watch movies like the Blair Witch Project or Scream before I go .

I do not take artificial light with me into the cemetery – so therefore I park the car outside the cemetery and use either a kerosene lantern or candles for light.

I choose what specific graves to dig from by ‘whim’ or by ‘feel’, or sometimes by reading grave stones. I sometimes feel partial to grave yard dust from children’s graves; but I usually end up at very old graves. I get a ‘vibe’ I think, that tells me which is the ‘right’ grave. I usually aim to dig at the head of the grave plot, but am aware that in many old cemeteries – like the one that I often gather dirt from – the coffins are often not exactly where you would think that they are. I also have never gathered from an open grave (ewwwwwwwww).

I only take a few handfuls of dirt from each grave. I dig the dirt with my hands and athame only, as I have never needed to dig such a big hole that I needed a shovel. To take more than a handful of dirt would be silly since I don’t use it that much in spellwork.

I put the dirt in a special pouch thingy once I have dug it up. I also try to sift through the dug dirt to make sure that I don’t end up with any earth worms in my dirt. If I get some by accident, I release them where I found them.

Once I have the dirt I need from a grave, I leave silver dimes in the holes as offerings and replace the sod or leaves or what ever was covering the dirt.

I leave the cemetery (and **force** myself to walk slowly no matter what (LOL)) once I am done collecting dirt. At the cemetery gates, I say thank you to all the spirits. Once out of the cemetery I spin around in circles three times, get in the car and leave. I usually spin before I enter the house too, and make sure that I enter by the door where I have the protection jar filled with a gazillion small pebbles and a bunch of sea salt mixed with sand. (Evil spirits are said to compulsively count things, therefore they will get distracted by the jar and stop to count all the pebbles and grains of sand and salt in the jar….)

I store my graveyard dirt in pottery jars, and label them as to what Moon Phase they were gathered at. I have a special jar for the dirt that comes from the gravesite of Mikado (the horse that we celebrate Dead Horse Day for).

I use Mikado’s grave dirt for the occasional love spell and also for our Dead Horse Day ritual. I use the regular graveyard dirt for hexing and cursing spells.

***A note from Swampy who does not follow the Rede: Hexing IS part of the long and colorful history of Witchcraft, and can be part of spellwork done by the most ethical of modern Witches…. HOWEVER, if you are unwilling to accept the consequences of spellwork, you have no business hexing anyone. In fact, you probably have no business doing any kind of spellwork, but that’s a longer rant than I have time for here .


Document Copyright © 1999-2006 by Sarah Nunn (Sarah the SwampWitch). This document can be re-published and shared only as long as no information is lost or changed, credit is given to the author, and it is provided or used without cost to others. Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by Sarah Nunn.