Four Thieves Vinegar

Four Thieves Vinegar is an ingredient found in many Hoodoo and folk magic spells. The recipe seems to have evolved from Western Europe, around the fifteenth century, and there are many variations on how to make it. The common thread between all the legends is that there was a horrible plague in a village, and the only people who survived were four thieves. Each of them contributed one ingredient to a jar of vinegar and garlic, they drank it, and somehow survived the plague unscathed.

The History of Four Thieves Vinegar

Potion in a bottle
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Since they were healthy and everyone else was dying, the four thieves went around the town and robbed the empty houses. Eventually they were caught, and sentenced to hanging, but they were able to escape the gallows by sharing their secret formula. Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess, but Four Thieves Vinegar is a useful item to keep on hand because it can be used in a wide variety of spells, from healing to protection to banishing.

Author and educator Jessie Hawkins says,

"While the legend changes as much as the formula for this historic blend, the gist of the story is this: During the plagues (enter your favorite plague here, the Black Plague is most common, but the tale has even made its way to America, as a plague that struck New Orleans), a group of four brothers began robbing the dead. At first, they were largely ignored, as everyone knew they would eventually pay the price by catching the plague themselves but, to everyone’s surprise, they managed to avoid catching the plague and continued robbing graves, amassing a great deal of wealth."

She goes on to say that, as is common in the different versions of the tale, it was the four men's knowledge of herbal remedies that kept them alive a time of pestilence. She adds that the blend has other names, including Thieves Blend, Legend of the Thieves Blend, and Grave Robbers Blend.

How to Make Four Thieves Vinegar

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First, find the best vinegar you can get. Apple cider vinegar is good, red wine vinegar is popular too. Peel and mince four garlic cloves and add them to the vinegar, in a jar with a lid.

Traditionally, each thief contributed a single ingredient, so choose any four of the following: black or red pepper, cayenne or chili pepper, lavender, rue, rosemary, mint, sage, wormwood, thyme, or coriander. Add these to the jar.

Allow the mixture to sit for four full days; some people recommend placing it in the sun, others in a dark cabinet. Either way, be sure to shake it once a day. After the fourth day, use it in spellwork.

How to Use Four Thieves Vinegar

Here are some ways you can use Four Thieves Vinegar in a magical working:

Banishing: Use this spell to keep someone bothersome away from you. Write your target’s name on a piece of paper. Some traditions recommend you use brown paper, or parchment. Soak the paper in Four Thieves Vinegar. Fold the piece of paper up as small as you can, and bury in the dirt somewhere.

Protection: Use Four Thieves Vinegar to prevent magical attack, as well as to protect your property. Sprinkle it liberally around the perimeter of your property, and keep intruders away.

Ending a Relationship: In some Hoodoo traditions, there are a variety of spells that use Four Thieves Vinegar to break up a couple, or to cause strife in a relationship.

Healing: This is a great ingredient to use in a healing ritual. After all, look at the history behind it! Use it to anoint a poppet of a sick person, or dab it on the walls and floor of the room where the ill individual lies. Believe it or not, it can even be consumed internally as a tonic to keep disease away.

Four Thieves Oil

Essential oils in glass bottles
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If you're not a fan of the smell of vinegar, no worries. Many people opt to use an oil blend in place of Four Thieves Vinegar. Use a base oil, something unscented like grapeseed or jojoba, as your carrier oil. You'll need to be sure to do this, because otherwise the undiluted essential oils can be irritating and damaging to your skin.

Using quantities of your choosing, add equal parts of any four of the following essential oils: rosemary, clove, eucalyptus, oregano, lemon, tea tree, or cinnamon. Store your oil in a dark bottle, and be sure to swirl it regularly to blend the essential oils with the carrier oil.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Four Thieves Vinegar." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 27). Four Thieves Vinegar. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Four Thieves Vinegar." Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).