In The Skeleton Key, Ben Devereaux had a stroke which left him paralyzed and unable to speak. It is later revealed that Ben never did have a stroke and he is paralyzed and cannot speak due to more sinister reasons.

Papa Justify and Mama Cecile practice or believe in a type of magic called Hoodoo.

Caroline finds a beef tongue that is wrapped in paper with some type of thread going through it in the attic when she is snooping around: tongue

There is actually a Hoodoo spell called the beef tongue spell. This spell is used to tie the tongue of those who wish to speak against you.

Did Papa Justify and Mama Cecile put this spell on Ben? Later, after Caroline inhabits the body of Mrs. Devereaux, she can't speak either. Is this spell the reason why?

1 Answer 1



Everything needed to perform the spell is there

As you've already researched and pointed out, there is an actual hoodoo spell used to curse other people by taking away their ability to speak. The site you linked to gives a list of materials needed to cast this spell and it appears that the screenshot you included contains many of these items.

  • A beef tongue - check
  • black string - check
  • a needle - check (used to sew the black thread)
  • a piece of brown paper - (this is used in a different part of the spell)
  • a pen - (used to write names on the brown paper)
  • sulfur - (we can't tell visually but this is used to prepare the tongue)
  • alum - (we can't tell visually but this is used to prepare the tongue)
  • slippery elm - (we can't tell visually but this is used to prepare the tongue)
  • A black candle of any size - (used to burn the paper with names)
  • A knife - (used to cut the tongue) check
  • A plate - check

We don't see so in the film, but we can assume that the ritual of writing names on paper and burning them has been done already, as well as the cutting, curing, and sewing of the tongue.

Caroline performs a counter-spell

Caroline performs a counter-spell on Ben to allow him to speak.

Cleanse this man. Cleanse this room. Cleanse this house. His words have gotten lost, lost and wandering in his mind. Let the water run down... and wash away this condition. His tongue has gotten tied, tied and tangled in his throat. Let the water run down... and wash away this affliction. Send his voice to go free. Let the water run down... and wash away-

This spell has been used in other movies

I recently watched "The Devil's Advocate" (1997) and noticed this same spell was performed by Kevin Lomax's first client in that movie who is being tried for sacrificing a goat in accordance with his religion.

When Lomax visits Phillipe Moyez the first time, they talk about his case and Lomax tells him he needs his help.

Moyez: What is the name of the man who will prosecute us?
Lomax: Merto. Assistant District Attorney Arnold Merto.
(Moyez takes out a large cow tongue)
Lomax: What are you doing, Mr. Moyez?
Moyez: With this tongue, we create silence. You can go now. You will have all the help I can give you.

Later during the trial when it is the ADA's turn to present his arguments, he is unable to speak and is coughing uncontrollably.

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