Hoodoo Rootworker’s Seven-Way Rosary Chaplet – SOLD

Available through Seraphin Station, this rosary is handmade with a mix of pressed glass and Czech glass beads, each decade being separately attached to the center ring — a finger rosary — and embellished with a focal Pater bead of pressed glass, Czech glass, or in one case recycled sandcast glass. Whether you want to see this as a charm collection on a charm hanger displaying seven individual chaplets or single-decade rosaries, or as a sort of deconstructed All Saints’ rosary for contemporary rootworkers, this is a striking and unusual piece created by a rootworker with over 35 years of experience working with the roots, rosaries, and these saints in the folk Catholic tradition.

Large, sturdy, colored aluminum jump rings connect each decade to the center ring, so it’s possible, should you ever want to, to remove the individual decades and treat them as separate single-decade chaplets. This could be useful if you are working intensively with one or some but not all of these saints or if you’re traveling and need to cut down on how much spiritual stuff you’re lugging around.

Saints are chosen for their importance in the spiritual landscape of deep South hoodoo rootwork, with an eye towards popularity and contemporary usage (in the sense that while 100 years ago, St. Dymphna was probably not petitioned so often in conjure, today she is an enormously popular saint invoked by folks from all kinds of backgrounds and in all kinds of folk belief contexts. So she’s here!)

It’s made with strands or decades for the following:

  • St. Gerard, patron of pregnancy and childbirth in the Catholic tradition, also represents Baron Samedi of Haitian vodou in some houses and temples. He is the patron of communication with the ancestors and the dead. On the other side of this medal is Our Lady of Perpetual Help pictured with Christ and the angels Michael and Gabriel. OL of Perpetual Help is called on for all kinds of things – in hoodoo in my region, it’s often against sickness, income uncertainty, hunger, and unstable households. She’s known to help with all of those things. She’s also associated in some houses and temples with the lwa Erzulie Danto.
  • St. Lazarus is the patron saint of lepers and against leprosy, and by extension against plague and pandemic in contemporary practice. He’s also sometimes invoked by beggars, the homeless, people with HIV/AIDS, people with Hansen’s disease, and those who have unusually close relationships with dogs. He represents the lwa Legba, the patron of Yoruban divination and master of the crossroads, in many temples and houses, so he’s a powerful ally in road opening work.
  • St. Expedite is the patron saint invoked for fast luck, for help breaking through obstacles, for help with procrastination, and, increasingly, in desperate cases, much like St. Jude. He’s also the patron of computer programmers. In some regions and in some houses, he’s associated with the Ghuede lwa who rule the crossroads between life and death, esp. Baron Samedi.
  • St. Jude, the patron invoked for hopeless causes, is also called on more generally in conjure for financial prosperity and stability and is a good ally for those whose livelihoods involve working with emotional clients/customers and whose incomes can fluctuate for a host of reasons.
  • St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, children, and boat captains, invoked for safe travel. In some houses in New Orleans Voodoo, in which Santeria has had a noticeable influence, he is associated with the orisha Agayu. He presents his devotees with difficult obstacles but also grants them the inner power to overcome those trials and grow strong enough to carry all burdens.
  • St. Philomena is widely considered a miracle worker invoked by devotees for all kinds of things when other measures have failed. She’s the patron of babies and children and is considered the patroness of the living rosary. In some houses and temples, she is a lwa in her own right, seen as a helpful and pleasant spirit who helps those who make their livings as market sellers, removes negativity and evil from the surroundings, and grants the ability to have prophetic dreams.
  • St. Joseph is the patron saint of happy death, carpenters, stepfathers, and workers more generally, invoked in all kinds of situations to do with the financial wellbeing of a family and/or household, but especially petitioned by those seeking employment. He’s also called on by folks who need to sell their house. He’s associated with the lwa Papa Loko, the originary houngan and healer. St. Dymphna is on the reverse side of this medal. She is widely invoked against mental illness, anxiety, and depression, and she’s the patron of incest survivors and teenage runaways.

Some of these associations vary by region and the religious background of the practitioner, so I don’t mean to imply here that most modern rootworkers work with St. Gerard because of his association with a particular lwa in Haitian sevis. Most rootworkers do no such thing. Hoodoo and vodou are of course two distinct traditions, the former being folk magic and the latter being a religion. In Louisiana, though, especially New Orleans and surrounding areas, there is a strain of practice where the two are often blended to a greater extent than elsewhere as a result of the city’s unique history.

Continue reading “Hoodoo Rootworker’s Seven-Way Rosary Chaplet – SOLD”

saints and sacramentals: relics, badges, scapulars, detentes, amulets, etc.

Again, no time for a real post, but a quick collection of notes about saints, sacramentals, scapulars, relics, badges, and the essentially-untranslatable usually-South-American but sometimes-European item called a detente, which is often what gets called “scapular” on sites like ebay and pinterest. These are links to some Pinterest pins in which I comment on a few examples. If all goes well, I’ll elaborate with more examples when I’m caught up later this month (fingers, toes, etc. crossed, God willing and the creek don’t rise, etc.)

Sacred Heart and Mother of Sorrows – this one has the word “detente” on it even.

eBay seller called this Sacred Heart badge a “scapular” and a “second-class relic,” which is total rubbish since it’s neither, but it’s a beautiful piece.

Now this is actually a scapular.

Peruvian Sacred Heart detente.

Good example of handmade embroidered detente described inaccurately on eBay – I wish I’d captured the original seller notes since those are long gone and you can’t read what I’m responding to anymore.

Beautiful hand-embroidery on this scapular, and it IS a scapular.

Handmade Peruvian scapular.

Even reputable sellers can give you bad info on relics, which can get quite technical and complex.

Silly rabbit! Relics aren’t for kids! Bad Latin, no cookie for you!

I’d call this a badge, but you could make a case for detente (I’d want to see the whole piece, 3D, before I made my own call). It might be a relic – can’t tell from the photo. But it’s by no means a scapular.

Beautiful St. Rose of Lima detente.

I’ll eventually get around to posting some info and definitions, history, and descriptions, but not this week for sure. I’ll also eventually get around to finishing all my own examples I’ve started over the years, like the one below (which admittedly isn’t my fanciest — I made it very quickly as a gift so as not to hold up a package from shipping any longer than necessary). (And yes, many of mine merge elements of South American packet/package and bottle amulets — like the ones I make custom for clients — with elements of other sacred and religious folk art and sacramentals.)


front and back, (c) Karma Zain 2015

And here’s one in progress, below – as you can see, many of the ones I’ve previously made or am making combine traditional saints’ iconography and images with elements of that saint’s manifestation or portrayal in religions of the African diaspora, like the below piece that features elements of the vodou loa Ghuede / Gede and will have St. Gerard on the other side.


(c) 2015 Karma Zain

Look for the next post on how to win a custom handmade badge/detente for the saint or spirit of your choice.