What do mercury users say?
In a study conducted by the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies in Princeton University, students conducted interviews with mercury users to examine the methods and rationale of use. They recruited their subjects through newspaper advertisements and on the internet and provided a ten dollar compensation for the twenty minute interviews. After finding response to be relatively low, the students in the center instituted more ethnographic approaches to reach their small target, mainly Latin American and Caribbean mercury users.
The first interviewee reported having played with mercury when he was very young. He went to Cuba thirty years later in 1997 converted his religion to Santeria and began using mercury in religious and magical ways. The man made a distinction between elemental mercury and precipitado rojo,( literally red precipitation), mercury oxide and said he used either of the mercury forms about once a week.
"Mercury is used as a mgical and religious thing. What it does is it speeds up magical spells. And it allows spirits to travel over water."
Asked if he would reccommend mercury usage to others, he admitted having a knowledge of mercury's toxicity.
"Mercury is extremely poisonous and extremely toxic. Bad for people and bad for the environment."
However, this particular user feels he is "immune" to mercury's effects by nature of his usage.
"I don't deal much with mercury. I don't touch the powder and I don't touch mercury itself with my hands. I don't taste it. So that's the precaution I guess I take now because I know mercury's toxic."
The second interviewee was a fifty-eight year old Caucasian male who reported currently using mercury in magic and playing with it as a child. He said he used mercury once every two to three months as an "expiditer" of magic spells.
"Basically, it's a good expiditer in speeding up the action of a spell.
He said he learned magic in a school in 1970 in New York and began describing mercury.
"Mercury is a symbolism of the planet Mercury which is the messenger... in Greco-Roman tradition it relates to Mercury or Hermes. OK. But basically its's a speeder of communications, case of communications or communication spells, to make them pass into the subconscious mind of the person you're doing the spell on faster.
Subject two also admitted a knowledge of the toxicological effects of mercury.
"Well, mercury's toxic. And there's a problem withtaking anything like that internally. The other thing is when you have a toxic thing internally, mercury is a cumulative toxin that causes cavitation in the brain. And so as a result, people get a little stupid when they take mercury."
He said that practically every magician he knows takes mercury. When asked about mercury's role in his life, he said he used mercury for two magic spells. One was to ward off theivery and the other was to promote talking. Both spells required him to put one drop of mercury, about one-eighth of an inch in diameter and .25g in a bottle with a narrow neck. He then covered it iwth holy water and other ingredients such as feathers and ashes. The bottle was then sealed and placed in a corner of his room. According to him, spells "wear off" in about two weeks, so he reuses the mercury.
"I use the same mercury over and over agan. That's why I still have most of what I bought."
He too believes he is immune to mercury's toxicity.
"I don't eat it, so I don't think it would be so bd, you know I wouldn' be too concerned about it. You know it rots your brain if you get too much of it in."
When asked if he takes any precautionary measures in handling mercury, he explained that:
I use a medicine dropper to move it around. Sometimes I use a spoon if I'm going to give somebody some and I have a plastic impermeable spoon for that that I do that with."