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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Job’s Tears: Folklore, Healing & Magical Uses

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Job’s Tears is the grain of the grass-like plant, Coix lacryma-jobi also known as adlay, adlay millet, coix seed, tear grass.

The wild variety of the species, Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi, produces the hard shelled grain used for making beads for jewelry and prayer beads while the cultivated variety, Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen, produces a smaller, softer grain and is grown as a grain crop, sold commercially as Chinese pearl barley.

This plant is not, however, closely related to barley. There are additional local varieties found throughout Asia.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Job’s Tears, scientifically known as Coix lacryma-jobi, have a rich history steeped in folklore, where they are believed to bring protection, good luck, and ward off evil spirits.

These unique tear-shaped seeds are relatively easy to grow, thriving in various climates and soil types, making them a versatile addition to any garden.

Job’s Tears are widely used in magick and spellwork, with practitioners incorporating them into rituals for their protective and divinatory properties, as well as their connection to the moon.

In the realm of healing, Job’s Tears have been employed in traditional medicine for centuries due to their potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.

History and Folklore

Archaeologists have also found Job’s Tears in Indian sites from 1000 BC. Neolithic pottery found in China suggests that Job’s Tears was used for brewing beer as early as 3000 BC((https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/05/18/1601465113)). 

close-up of Job's Tears by tina caro magickal spot
Copyright: Tina Caro

The hard white kernels of Job’s Tears have been used for jewelry and other objects. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have historically used them for decoration and Job’s tears are occasionally called “Indian Corn Beads”. 

The common name Job’s tears references the tears shed by Job, a Biblical figure who was tortured by the Devil on a bet with God to see if he’d stay loyal. 

Folklore/SymbolismMeaning
Protective CharmJob’s Tears are believed to bring protection against evil spirits
AbundanceThe abundance of seeds represents fertility and prosperity
Healing PropertiesJob’s Tears are associated with healing and well-being
Divine ConnectionThe seeds are often used in spiritual practices and rituals
Table 1: Folklore and Symbolism of Job’s Tears

Growing Job’s Tears

Some modern horticultural nurseries sell Job’s tears as an ornamental grass. It can also be grown quite easily from seed. Job’s tears is an attractive plant that can reach 4 to 6 feet tall and will perennialize in areas where there is no frost (it is considered hardy at zone 9). It may be grown as an annual in other areas.

If you have four to five months of good growing weather, the ripe seeds may be gathered in autumn to replant in the spring. Broadcast the seeds in moist soil and keep it moist until the young plants are established. The plant prefers dryer conditions when the seed heads are maturing. 

Using Job’s Tears for Magick

Job’s tears are used for luck and health. Wear a string of Job’s tear beads around your neck to ward off sore throats and tooth pain.

Carry three Job’s tears on your person, or add them to a mojo bag, for general luck. To gain your heart’s desire, carry 7 Job’s tears on your person for 7 days. Tell them every day what you are working toward. On the 7th day, take them to a river or other running water and toss them in one at a time while reciting Psalm 23. Then walk away and don’t look back.

Job’s tears correspond to the Earth element and the planet Venus.

UseDescription
Jewelry and CraftsJob’s Tears seeds are often used in jewelry and craft projects
Medicinal PropertiesThe plant is used in traditional medicine for various ailments
Rituals and SpellworkJob’s Tears are incorporated into rituals and magical workings
Prosperity and AbundanceThe seeds are believed to attract prosperity and abundance
Table 2: Healing and Magical Uses of Job’s Tears

Healing with Job’s Tears

The root and grain of Job’s tears is used in Eastern medical traditions for a variety of conditions. Research supports its use to help reduce high cholesterol levels.

Human studies suggest that the fiber in the grain may inhibit the absorption of excess cholesterol. Some research using animal subjects and cells suggests that Job’s tears might inhibit the growth of cancer and might be useful against bacterial and parasitic infections (sp Toxoplasmosis).

Job's Tears growing in nature by tina caro magickal spot
Copyright: Tina Caro

However, no human studies have been done in this area yet. There is some evidence to suggest that Job’s tears grains may reduce blood sugar, so it should be approached with caution for those for whom this may be an issue.

Job’s tears should not be used medicinally by pregnant women. Research in animals suggests that its use can damage an embryo and it can cause uterine contractions. 

In traditional medicine, Job’s tears is used for arthritis and to remove heat. 

Culinary Uses for Job’s Tears

Job’s tears kernals are cooked as a grain, like rice or porridge. They may also be powdered and added to tea as is traditional in Korea or the whole grains may be simmered as it is done in China.

Job’s tears grains are also cooked into a sweet dessert soup in China and Vietnam. The grains are also used to make distilled liquors and brewed into beer throughout Asia. 

A gluten-free grain,  job’s tears can be ground into flour or used in grain-based side dishes. Experimentation is encouraged. 

Crafting Uses for Job’s Tears

The immature seeds of Job’s tears turn white when fully dry and can be used as beads for any crafty thing you’d like to use beads for. They are beautiful for jewelry as well as prayer beads. 

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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