In a forum that I am part of the topic of jackballs came up and that inspired me to write a bit about them because I find that I use them in my work frequently and that they are an effective and potent tool/technique of working. First, however, a bit of background.
Jackballs refer to small balls of rolled up twine that were crafted by conjurers and rootworkers for themselves and their clients. A mojo hand was often considered someone's prized possesion, but a conjure ball or jackball was considered the most prized of all. This is logical if one considers that a poor person would have to pay from what precious little they had in order to get one of these objects of power. The jackball draws its influence from two of the roots of hoodoo: the African magical practices and European magical practices.
African magical practices have many traditions of tying things down, knotting them, nailing them etc. These types of magical actions can be seen in practices like nailing someone's footprint down, or tying down spirits. In European magical practices we see things like tying knots to bind your lover to you, or tying knots on rope in order to bind the winds and storms. These type of traditions inform the workings of a jackball.
So what are jackballs? A Jackball is a derivative of a container spell; it has herbs, roots, curios, minerals, and personal concerns that are contained in a little ball of twine, string, yarn. They can be used to influence people and events, they can be used as talismanic objects, they can be apotropaic and ward off, they can be used as objects of personal power and insight, and for much much more.
Each rootworker has slightly varying methods of making jackballs which probably stem from differing family traditions and regional differences. The following is a recipe for crafting a power jackball that can be used to bolster your magical abilities, heighten your psychic awareness, and help you gain spiritual mastery.
What you'll need:
Ball of red twine/yarn
Power Oil (or if you make your own oils a similar product)
Psychic Vision oil (or if you make your own oils a similar product)
Mastery Key Oil (or if you make your own oils a similar product)
Sampson Snake Root
Tobacco (aimed at helping one contact spirits, but I also know a derivation of this recipe that replaces Tobacco with Acacia).
Small John the Conqueror (This is very male root, but can be used by females. Some women I know prefer to replace John the Conqueror with Queen Elizabeth root which has similar qualities of John the Conqueror, but is more female-oriented).
Personal concern of either yourself or your client
Dress your purple candle with each oil while you stroke it towards you to draw the power to you. Hold the candle in your hand and pray that you be granted spiritual mastery, psychic insight, and personal power to accomplish what you seek. Light the candle and work by its flame. Set out each of your herbs and roots and lightly dress them with the oils.
Take the beeswax and melt it so that it becomes soft and malleable. Take your John the Conqueror root and wrap your personal concern into it. Slowly roll the John the Conqueror into the softened beeswax forming a small ball. As you do this pray for your intent, which in this case would be increased personal power, spiritual mastery, and psychic insight. Speak to the John the Conqueror root and ask that it lend you its strength and power. Take your Master Root and add it to the ball of wax that you've got forming while continuing to pray and focus on what you want. Again speak directly to the root. Repeat this process with each of your roots and herbs making sure to pray over each as they go into the wax ball. Keep adding beeswax to ensure that all the roots are covered in wax and that you have a solid, unbroken ball. You'll want to use smaller roots and herbs and temper your amount of wax so the resulting ball is the exact right size you want--you don't want the wax ball too big because you are going to be wrapping it up in twine. It takes a bit of practice, but eventually you'll find a size that is just right for you.
Once you've got yourself a ball of wax with all your herbs and roots inside dress the ball in each of the oils as you again pray for your intent. Just use a little oil to dress the conjure ball. Then take this ball of wax in your cupped hands and breathe into as you pray for what you desire. Keep doing this for a few minutes until you feel that you've really got the power going. The idea is to first dress it with oil to help tune its purpose, then to combine your breath and prayer to begin to wake up the spirit.
Now take up your yard/twine and begin to wrap the jackball. I was taught to do this in a specific fashion so I'll share that method with you, but bear in mind that there are many ways of doing this so don't feel that you have to dogmatically cling to one. I was taught to first wrap the ball in an "X" fashion crisscrossing the thread while wrapping it towards me. This is symbolic of the crossroads and helps to draw the power of the herbs out while tying them down into the jackball. For those familiar with it, it's like fixing a trick inside a quincunx. Once you've got some crisscrosses going then begin to wrap it all over while continuing to wrap towards yourself. Make sure to cover the entire thing so you have no wax showing and make it as even as possible so you have a round ball of twine. Leave a long piece of tail unwrapped which shall be used shortly. Keep your focus and prayers up the entire time that you are wrapping the ball, calling for the herbs to give you power, insight, and master, asking that Spirit fill you with its power.
Once the entire thing is evenly wrapped and the wax is no longer visible then it is time to tie of the jackball and set its power. Thread the tail you have left into a needle and using this needle run the thread under one of the firm threads wrapping the ball, pull the string through and repeat to create a knot that will keep the ball from unraveling. Create a total of three knots like that. Then knot the end of the string, knotting it twice to complete the jackball.
Finally take a little bit of your oils and dress the jackball as you do this say, "As I feed you, so you feed me." Then take the jackball in your cupped hands and breathe your prayers unto the ball. Pray fervently and let your breath waken the spirit now inside the jackball. Finally hold it by its tail and carefully wave back and forth over the flame of the candle while you call out your goal. Let the candle burn down and keep that jackball close to you.
The jackball is now alive and part of you. You can work the jackball by holding it by its string and use it as pendelum to divine answers, you can feed it a bit of oil from time to time, you can place it under you pillow to dream true, you can keep it safely away in a flannel bag that you keep on you and it will augument your spiritual powers, you can place it on your altar to help develop a connection with spirit, or you can keep the jackball on you as you conjure to help hone your abilities. One way that I've loved using it in the past is by holding it by its tail and circling it towards me while praying for what I desire.
Jackballs are powerful allies in conjure and following the general principles above I'm sure people can come up with dozens of recipes and uses for them. Happy conjuring!