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Lucky Buckeye

Buckeye: Carried to prevent rheumatism or fixed with quicksilver for gambling.

When i lived in Missouri, back in the 1970s, i met several boys and men who told me that they kept buckeye nuts in their pockets as a "lucky piece." The "doctrine of signatures" -- the magical belief that items from nature reveal their purpose or usefeulness by their shape, colour, or markings -- may be what gives buckeyes their status as pocket pieces among men, for by "luck," they mean good fortune in sexual matters, and buckeyes certainly recall in miniature the idealized, smooth, beautiful, firm testicles of men.

In addition to increasing the bearer's sexual power, the buckeye is thought by many people in the eastern and southern United States to be a sure preventive of rheumatism, arthritis, or headache. Identical beliefs were recorded in Germany and the Netherlands during the early 19th century, but there the preventive power was attributed to the buckeye's European relative, the horse-chestnut. It is probable that European immigrants transferred the horse-chestnut's magical ability to the buckeye when they settled in America.

In the African-American hoodoo tradition, a buckeye in the pocket is reputed to increase one's supply of pocket money -- and the buckeye forms the basis of a popular hoodoo charm for gamblers:

Take a buckeye and drill a hole into it. Fill the hole with liquid mercury and seal it with wax. Carry it concealed in a mojo bag while playing at cards. Metallic quicksilver is used because Mercury is the god of games of chance and sleight of hand. Sometimes a silver "Mercury" dime is added to the bag to augment its mercurial power. Anointing the charm with Fast Luck oil likewise increases its efficacy. This same charm can also be made with a nutmeg or a whole John the Conqueror root.