Today, March 19th, is St. Joseph's day. My readers may or may not know that St. Joseph is like the unofficial patron saint of New Orleans, having his veneration brought there with Sicilian immigrants. What my readers may not know is that veneration of St. Joseph is popular in all areas across the nation with high percentage of Sicilian immigrants. In fact, St. Joseph is to Sicilians what St. Patrick is to the Irish.
So most people know that St. Joseph was Jesus' foster father, not biological, but the earthly father figure for Jesus. Joseph and Mary never consummated their marriage, which is why St. Joseph is often portrayed as holding a lily, the symbol for virginity. St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade and taught Jesus this skill as well. It is from this that St. Joseph in his role as Joseph the Worker, began to be called upon to help people obtain jobs. Other than job getting, St. Joseph is called upon for money, to quickly sell a home or property, and for an easy or painless death. When it comes to selling a home or property, the work or spell involving burying a statue of St. Joseph upside down on the property has become the most widely popular method of working with St. Joseph. However, most people may not realize that the reason why the statue is placed upside down is because one is causing stress and discomfort to St. Joseph in order to "encourage" him to work fast. In all actuality, this is a typical Italian form of folk magic by which a person threatens or mistreats a saint in order to ensure that they do what the practitioner wants. For another example of mistreating a saint which comes from Italy, reference the practice of stealing St. Anthony's baby and hiding it and not giving it back until St. Anthony returns what was lost.
On March 19 in New Orleans and in other communities across the nation with a large Sicilian population it is customary to create a St. Joseph altar as a means of repaying St. Joseph for his help through the past year. In New Orleans, and in past decades, there were altars on nearly every corner. Today, most altars are found in churches and businesses, with some still keeping the family altar tradition alive. The altars all contain a statue of St. Joseph, flowers, and just about every single item of food you can imagine, from main courses to deserts. Among the food items that are a must on the altar are fava beans and lemons, which I will discuss in detail below. It is also quite popular to offer St. Joseph bread and especially bread that has been baked into the shape of carpenter tools.
If you would like to work with St. Joseph I would encourage people to practice this traditional method of creating an altar for him on his feast day as a reward for his aid. To work with St. Joseph you will need an image of him, either a statue or a religious picture. St. Joseph's colors are green and brown, though it is quite popular to dress his feast day altar with green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag. You will need a glass of water and a white, brown or green candle. If you have a novena candle with his picture then this can also serve as his image as well. Pray his novena for 9 days and make your promise to him that if he fulfills your request that you will create an altar to him on March 19 of next year. If you are using St. Joseph to sell your home quickly you can also purchase a "St. Joseph Real Estate Spell Kit" and follow the instructions provided.
St. Joseph's Lemons
One of the weirdest traditions associated with St. Joseph altars is the inclusion of lemons. Many people my wonder why in the world would lemons be left as an offering to a saint? Well, the answer lies in Italian, specifically Sicilian, folk magic. In Italy there is a strong belief in the evil eye. One way to repel the evil eye is to use a lemon. A lemon, which is stylistically the shape of an eye, is pierced with nails and hung near the door to repel the evil eye. Overtime the inclusion of lemons on St. Joseph altars was meant to symbolically protect against the evil eye. If that's not strange enough then the following will really confuse you. According to local lore in New Orleans, if a woman can steal a lemon from a St. Joseph altar on his feast day without anyone seeing her then she will quickly marry. You will find this concept of stealing a lot in folk magic practices, some of which I've touched on in other blog entries. In this case the act of stealing the lemon is meant to repel the evil eye that would otherwise prevent the woman from getting married.
St. Joseph's Beans
St. Joseph's Beans, a.k.a. African Mojo Beans, Mojo Beans, Wishing Beans, or some combination thereof, are the most traditional element found on St. Joseph altars. These beans are in fact nothing more than fava beans. Today, most St. Joseph altars will contain a bowl or basket of dry, raw fava beans for people to take from. In days past it was traditional for people to steal fava beans from St. Joseph altars just as women would steal lemons. Any bean stolen from a St. Joseph altar was believed to be lucky and to draw money. If the bean is placed in the cupboard then it is believed the family will not go without food for that year. It was from this practice that we get the inclusion of "Mojo Beans" in hoodoo, though today they are usually just bought at the grocery store or an occult shop instead of being taken from an actual altar. Why fava beans? Fava beans will grow and thrive in even the poorest of soils and so are a symbol of prosperity even in the hardest of circumstances and situations. As beans they also "swell up" in water, another symbolic representation of prosperity.
The following prayer to St. Joseph dates back to the year 50 AD.
Prayer to St. Joseph The Worker for job getting:
Prayer to St. Joseph to sell A house:
Prayer to St. Joseph for any need: