Previously: Fear Less.
Are you seeking something? Not quite a wish or desire, but… something you might not be fully conscious you want or need? The ritual game known as the Salt Merchant Ritual might be worth trying for you. Not quite a wish-granting game, it’s more of a supernatural tit-for-tat — a situation where you offer something specific (in this case, salt), and then receive… whatever your recipient deems to be an appropriate trade for it.
You don’t have any control over what the thing you receive actually is. But whatever it is, it’s not to be taken lightly.
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As far as I can tell, the Salt Merchant Ritual has only appeared online in one place: Reddit, where it was posted to the r/paranormal sub in 2019. I believe its original poster, u/zombiemonkey89, first posted it to the r/horror sub, where it was removed for being off-topic; I can’t tell for sure, though, as the text of the post isn’t available due to its removal. (It also isn’t available to view archived on Reveddit, alas.)
In any event, it seems to exist only in this one post on Reddit. Is it made-up? Maybe; although I looked, I wasn’t able to find anything folkloric that had these kinds of details, which is often an indicator of a tale newly created specifically for an internet-based audience — “what’s sometimes referred to as “fakelore.”
I did find some interesting stuff about salt merchant gardens during the Qing Dynasty in China — interesting in that the outdoor cemetery used as the playing location in the game could realistically have its roots in a more general garden setting — but without knowing u/zombiemonkey89’s background or cultural frame of reference, we can’t really connect the two in any reliable sort of way.
The salt is significant, though, I think. Salt features prominently in folk beliefs, superstitions, spiritual belief systems, and religions in cultures around the world. Interestingly, though, here, we’re not using it to ward off anything evil, as most Western traditions would use it (which, to me, implies that the Salt Merchant Ritual might have non-Western roots — see also: Shiomajinai, the Salt Water Elevator Game, the Train Game, etc.— although bear in mind that that’s just an educated guess on my part); we’re using it to make a trade.
From one perspective, the salt falls under the heading of goods and services — something to be bought. From another, however, it’s currency — the thing you use to do the buying.
It’s both at the same time.
No matter which way you view it, though, as always: Play at your own risk.
- At least one principal. (See: Additional Notes.)
- One bag full of salt.
- One empty bag.
- Access to a cemetery, burial ground, or similar.
- Within that cemetery or burial ground, a tree.
Making The Preparations:
- Begin at night.
- Bring your two bags — one full of salt, one empty — to your chosen cemetery or burial ground.
- Once you are inside the cemetery or burial ground, locate a tree — ideally a large one. An old one. A tree which has seen much as it has grown, rooted in place, while the world has grown and changed around it.
- Sit on the ground, facing the tree. Make yourself comfortable; you… might be here for some time.
- Place the bag of salt to your left. Make sure you can reach it easily, whether or not you are able to see it.
- Place the empty bag to your right. Make sure you can reach it easily, too, again whether or not you are able to see it.
- Now, you are ready.
Selling Your Wares:
- Reach both of your hands into the bag of salt to your left. Gather a fistful of salt in each; then draw both hands out of the bag.
- Once you have gathered your fistfuls of salt, position your hands behind your back.
- Close your eyes.
- Speak aloud the following words: “Salt, salt, come buy my salt.” Do not open your eyes.
- Repeat the words again: “Salt, salt, come buy my salt.” Do not open your eyes.
- Keep chanting these words, over and over again.
- Do NOT open your eyes.
- Chant until you begin to feel… something gently open up your fists and remove the salt from your grasp.
- Do not open your eyes.
- Allow the salt to be taken from you.
- Cease chanting.
- You may, at this point, feel something else be placed into your hands where the salt once was.
- Allow this item to be given to you.
- Do NOT open your eyes.
- When you feel the… something release your hands, and when you feel the weight of whatever it has given you resting in your palms, bring your hands back around in front of you.
- Do not open your eyes — not yet.
- With your eyes closed, reach for the empty bag to your right. Place the item you are holding into the bag.
- Do NOT look at it.
- Once you have safely placed the item in the bag, you may open your eyes — but do NOT look inside the bag.
- Repeat Selling Your Wares, Steps 1 through 19 — from gathering the salt from the bag to your left to placing the item in the bag to your right — until no more salt remains.
Enjoying The Profits:
- When the bag to your left is empty, and the bag to your right is empty no longer, gather the two bags up and leave the cemetery with them.
- Do NOT look inside the no-longer-empty bag — the bag full of the things you have been gifted over the course of the night.
- Return home. Place the no-longer-empty bag somewhere safe, where it will not be disturbed.
- Do NOT look inside it — not yet.
- Leave it alone.
- Wait until three weeks — 21 days — have passed.
- After the three weeks are up, you may open the bag and look inside.
- Whatever you might find in there…
- It’s worth the wait.
It is vital that the bags do not leak — particularly the one you have chosen to carry the salt. For this reason, plastic shopping or carrier bags are NOT recommended. Paper bags will get the job done. Cloth bags, tightly sewn and with no holes, are ideal.
Additionally, do not use clear or transparent bags for the empty bag. As you fill this bag, you must not be able to see its contents from the outside.
It is, however, not necessary that the bags match. You may use two different style bags if you wish.
You may play this game with more than one principal at a time. However, each principal will require their own individual tree, bag of salt, and empty bag; do not share supplies. Each principal must also perform the ritual individually. Playing this game with more than one player present is less a collaborative effort and more akin to several principals playing their own individual games simultaneously within the same cemetery or burial ground.
Do not play this game with bystanders — that is, with observers who are simply watching and not participating.
Regarding The No-Longer-Empty Bag:
There is no telling what you might find in the bag, after the waiting period is up and you are finally permitted to look inside.
It’s worth it.
[Photo via Castorly Stock/Pexels]