This is a combination of a European idea (witch bottles), NOLA Voodoo/Hoodoo (gris-gris bags/mojo hands), and folk Catholicism (saint packets). The original European witch bottles were countermagical devices, and anthropologists have pulled intact ones out of chimneys and foundations in the UK dating back to the 17th century. Of course, they don’t make anything like they used to, including bottles, and I doubt this one will last that long! But the idea is the spell will last as long as the bottle is unbroken; you shake it up whenever you need it to work.
Saint Lucy was one of the martyrs of the Diocletian persecution, and she’s associated with eyes either because her eyes were gouged out during torture, or because she pulled them out of her head to dissuade a pagan suitor who admired them (in that version, her sight is miraculously restored by God). She’s usually depicted holding a tray with eyeballs on it; sometimes she holds a sword as well (she was finally killed by either beheading by sword, or a sword thrust through her throat), or the palm branch which symbolizes her martyrdom.
My interest in Saint Lucy actually predates my interest in Voodoo and Conjure, from the first time I saw an image of a girl holding a tray with eyeballs on it, because that is some creepy stuff. (It will surprise you not at all to learn I was a goth teenager.) And because I was becoming interested in photography at the same time, it was relevant to me that she was tasked with protecting/restoring eyesight. In folk Catholicism and Voodoo, she’s also become associated with more mystical forms of sight: clairvoyance, divination, truthful insight.
The bottle, which I first washed inside and out with Florida Water, is decorated with the portrait of Saint Lucy painted by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi. I just printed it onto cardstock and used Mod Podge–the glittery kind because why not. Lucy was a teenage girl when she died, I figure she likes glitter. (Incidentally, has Mod Podge changed their label EVER? My mother had a jar when I was a kid that I’m pretty sure she bought in the ’60s, and I swear it was exactly the same.)
Inside it contains several ingredients associated with sight, mundane or otherwise. The petition paper was written in dragon’s blood ink*, folded around a small lock of my hair, and on the outside I drew an eye milagro, which I’m actually sad you can’t see because I think it looks pretty cool. Before I sealed the bottle I burned a small white candle dressed with Blessing Oil in the neck. I dripped wax onto the top and coated it with glitter. (MOAR GLITTER!) Lucy is associated with several colors, including yellow, magenta, and white, in addition to green. I chose green because her feast day is near the winter solstice and has always been associated with light–the root of her name in Latin means “light”. And I thought, winter solstice, evergreens, Christmas trees: green.
*True dragon’s blood ink is crushed dragon’s blood tree resin and denatured alcohol. An acceptable easy substitute is ordinary red calligraphy ink with a piece of dragon’s blood resin and a few drops of cinnamon oil in it. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FILL A FOUNTAIN PEN WITH IT! You’ll have to use a dip pen.