Whilst watching the film The Skeleton Key (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397101/) I noticed that red brick dust was used to protect a room or house from those who would harm, as part of a voodoo ritual. This got me wondering if:
a) it really was a voodoo ritual (since we're dealing with Hollywood, aka the producers of Braveheart)
b) if so, how did it come about.
Unfortunately, I've only got access to the internet on this Sunday afternoon, but I did pick up a few likely sounding snippets:
The first organized voodoo ceremony in New Orleans is said to have taken place in an abandoned brickyard on Dumaine Street. It was probably presided over by Sanite Dede, the first of the great voodoo queens. (Voodoo was a matriarchy. The witch doctors and kings paled in comparison to the strong queens, always free women of color, never slaves, who reigned over the rituals). Repeated police raids on the brickyard drove the cultists out t0 Bayou St. John and Lake Pontchartrain ... Superstitious Creoles scrubbed their front stoops with brick dust to ward off curses
As usual, anything to do with brickyards, and we're into shady dealings of one kind or another! Though brick dust being used to ward off curses is hinting that brick has protective properties is rather nice.
Red Brick Dust, also known as Brick Dust, Red Dust, Red Powder or Reddening derives from the ancient use of red ochre clay for sacred purposes. For protection, sprinkle Red Brick Dust across the doorstep of your home. For money, drawing mix Red Brick Dust with cinnamon powder and brown sugar into water and scrub your doorstep inward for quick and continuous cash
So there's Red Brick Dust for sale on the Internet ... I knew I'd missed a trick somewhere :-) My doorstep is gunning for a right scrubbing with brick dust plus cinnamon and brown sugar, and I can at least supply the brick dust for free!
And here is another supplier, who is obviously a wiccan:
But it was the reference to red ochre that got me really interested. It's known in prehistoric graves for examples, and there's a reference to a particular article (Red Ochre and Human Evolution: A Case for Discussion [and Comments and Reply] Ernst E. Wreschner, Ralph Bolton, Karl W. Butzer, Henri Delporte, Alexander Häusler, Albert Heinrich, Anita Jacobson-Widding, Tadeusz Malinowski, Claude Masset, Sheryl F. Miller, Avraham Ronen, Ralph Solecki, Peter H. Stephenson, Lynn L. Thomas and Heinrich Zollinger Current Anthropology, Vol. 21, No. 5 (Oct., 1980), pp. 631-644 ), first page here: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2741829 Definitely worth looking at the rest of the paper, when I get time to go to the University library some time. Meanwhile, there's some further information on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochre
So if red ochre isn't easily available, may be red brick dust will do. I'll go with that any time!