The sweetgum tree is a common sight throughout the southeast United States. Often mistaken for a maple tree, this deciduous tree also has large, five pointed leaves. But one easy way to distinguish the two is the spike-covered seed pods that the sweetgum drops all summer long. Though they can be murder on bare feet if they fall before softening, these brown spiky balls are popular in arts in crafts and also, apparently, in magic.
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In the video, a TikTok witch explains how to use sweetgum balls, which are also known as “witches burrs” due to their supposed spiritual properties. They’re “amazing for protection workings, warnings, and getting rid of negativity,” she claims. As a type of sympathetic magic, the burrs are thought to be especially good at protection because of their spike nature. The witch advises placing them around the perimeter of your house as a ward or using them in protection spells, wreaths, jars, or amulets. Other possible uses would be in a fertility charm or spell, to protect the mother and child, or to be strung on a garland and placed on a mantle or altar.
And you don’t even have to count on the magic spells to take advantage of the burrs. “They also work to ward off annoying baby brothers. I used to chuck them at mine,” jokes one viewer in the comments. “I use these in my potted plants to ward off naughty cats,” says another, which sounds like a really good idea to me.