some blatant crap I’ve seen lately via reader tips and search terms

No, Crown of Success is not the go-to formula for stopping gossip.

No, you do not use oil to “cleanse” a mojo.

No, you do not feed a mojo with magnetic sand. You feed lodestones with magnetic sand.

No, the term “coffin nail” is not used to describe any rectangular or square iron nail.

Yes, children count as people when you’re talking about whether someone can handle your mojo bag.

Yes, someone that says a mojo bag should be buried to return it to the “mother” is importing shit from some other tradition into what they are telling you and you should be skeptical.

No, mojo bags are NOT “offerings.” They ARE charms. This is some mix-and-match shit by somebody who couldn’t even be bothered to skim Flash of the Spirit for topic sentences.

No, mojos in traditional conjure are not considered or said to have “ashe” by traditional practitioners who are not also on an ATR path. This is mixing apples and oranges in terms of culture and vocabulary. Now, it is true that lots more people probably know that word than did in the 70s or 80s, and the underlying concept is not so much the problem here, given that the word could be said to have entered common parlance in many circles. The problem is that when somebody pretends to be an authority on traditional conjure and says:

* “a mojo bag is made of ashe” or

* “we don’t use salt on altars in hoodoo” (apparently totally ignorant of the fact that salt is a traditional ingredient in plenty of conjure formulas, and too stupid to realize they contradicted themselves by advising you cleanse your candle holders with salt water – this is all shit imported from Wicca or some European tradition, y’all.)

…they are betraying themselves as not only ignorant but also unapologetic about playing some mix-and-match shit. In my book, when you misrepresent the spiritual and religious practices of others, blatantly rifle through the vocabulary and concepts of no less than half a dozen traditions in one blog post, and then try to “educate” people according to your mix and match shit, that’s called being a liar and fraud.

Look, I get search terms. I had an ebay store for ten years. I wrote some phrases for the purposes of having my stuff turn up in search results typed in by people that didn’t know what else to type besides “voodoo doll,” even though the popular conception of voodoo dolls is pretty insulting to vodoun and pretty ignorant of how doll-babies are actually used. If I had refused to put in the key terms that people use to search for things, then they would have found fake crap and only fake crap; I do have to sell stuff in order to stay in business. I have put “wicca” and “hoodoo” in the same ebay listing before – it’s called search engine optimization. I understand why it’s a necessary evil. But I then went on, in the listing, to explain that – I figure if somebody is going to find my stuff via some fuzzy or messy concept or vocab, I can at least try to ensure they get access to more accurate info after having done so. I make sure that if they bother to read the listing, they will understand that wicca and hoodoo are not interchangeable, that the common conception of voodoo dolls is pretty inaccurate, that my voodoo rosaries and oils are not traditional/historical but things I created because there is a place for them among today’s serviteurs (and the loa like them), that chicken feet usually don’t have a damn thing to do with the “voodoo” search term that brings people to the listing, etc.

I have pissed off both narrow-minded Christians AND conjure practitioners by writing about St. Clare being associated with psychic vision. The former group is offended that a saint is associated with psychic and occult stuff, the latter offended because they think I’m misrepresenting conjure by making it seem that saints are integral part to it. Sorry to both, but I didn’t invent it – saints ARE used by some (not all) traditional conjure practitioners, whether you like it or not, and St. Clare IS associated by plenty of folks with psychic vision. It’s not my fault – it’s just a simple fact.  I have pissed off followers of multiple ATRs, I’m sure, by saying that in some houses/temples, such and such orisha is sometimes associated with such and such loa. I’m not defending or even commenting on the practice (and in the description of the thing under consideration, I always explain that this is not necessarily a widespread association or even a wise one to make) – but I am reporting on *what I have seen with my own two eyes,* and sorry, but I have seen practitioners of one ATR put a statue meant to represent a spirit in another ATR on the same altar. It happens. (It probably happens a lot more in New Orleans, but you also have to realize something about the loa — they have their preferences and make them known, and most of these statues and things were made in China anyway, by people of no religion even vaguely resembling that of the person who eventually buys the statue. If Ghuede wants a plastic Wal-Mart tumbler with Halloween bats on it for the altar, or a carved skull pendant made by Buddhist monks, Ghuede gets it.)

 

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If that pisses anybody off, well, I serve Ghuede, not them. If Erzulie Freda wants a string of shiny beads that were made for another saint, spirit, or orisha, and those things are available for me to get without having to change my religion or lie, then I don’t see the problem. Erzulie Freda knows she isn’t Oshun or Babalon, so people getting upset about beads made for Oshun, or a rosary made by a Thelemite for Babalon, but sold to the public and residing on my Freda altar, can get mad if it makes them feel better. Whatever. I serve Freda, and if they did too, they’d probably chill out because they would know how Freda gets about what Freda wants 🙂

But what you don’t see me doing is trying to teach anybody about Oshun, or claim that I serve Oshun, or claim that Freda IS the Mother of Sorrows, or that Mater Dolorosa IS Freda, etc. The loa sometimes seem to be more “catholic” (see sense 2) and adaptable than many modern practitioners of ATRs tend to be 🙂 I have a twenty-plus-year relationship with Erzulie Dantor; I listen to her even when she tells me something that contradicts what somebody in another house or temple does..

BUT. When you pretend to teach people or explain things to them, and you call your shit something it is not, you suck and you deserve to get called out. If you are brazen enough to make a claim like “all good hoodoos must do [X thing that I do],” when what you do is import shit willy nilly and play mix-and-match and expound factually incorrect information, you are disgusting. If you are then so astonishingly stupid as to plagiarize and copy people who should be schooling you, well, some lawyers will eventually get involved, but what you should really be worried about is what Manman Brigitte is going to do you when you farm her out to non-vodouisants who want a charm for a court case and don’t know or care the first thing about the traditions of serving this spirit. You are likely to get schooled with a boot. You should not only be ashamed of yourself – you should be worried.

The Truth about Haunted, “Spelled,” Charmed magical items (or eBay, MST3K style)

Every once in a while a potential customer or client who is fairly new to the world of magic, conjure, spellwork etc will write me about some Haunted Fairy Djinn Thing they got on eBay from a 7th Generation Witch who has 3 dozen identical pendants, all with The World’s Most Powerful Love Spell Ever! ™ on them, sitting in some warehouse or box in her basement. They wonder if another spell will “clash” with this Haunted Fairy Djinn Thing, or if two “styles” of magic (like conjure from the Southern United States and Haunted Fairy Djinn Vampire Lover Wrangling from, er, well, eBay) will “cancel each other out,” or if the Bind Your True Love Forever wishing box they got could have turned on them and cursed them or given them bad karma.

The answer to every one of those questions is no.  There’s a fairly good chance that no spell at all was cast on any of the items you bought from such a place.  If a spell was cast, there’s a fairly good chance that it was cast by someone who knows just enough about marketing but not very much at all about spell-casting. Chances are good that the item you have is magically inert.  Even if a spell was cast on it by a knowledgeable person, if the spell was cast en masse while thirty of them were sitting on a table still with their Dollar Tree tags on them, and you order it later and it’s popped into a box and sent to you and nothing is done by you or the seller to customize the work or link it to you, then I’m not sure I’d even categorize that as you having had a spell cast for you.  Magic is not a gumball machine where you put your quarter in, turn the knob, and get your cookie-cutter result out of the slot. In any case, while I can let my imagination run really really wild and think of a couple of extreme situations in which two spells cast for the same ultimate goal might conceivably “clash” or “cancel each other out,” that kind of thing is really pretty rare.  Spells don’t “turn” on people, generally speaking, and spells don’t actually “cancel each other out,” at least not in the way that people are thinking of when they write with such a question. [1]

giza

The pyramids at Giza, where all Fairy Vampire Demon Pirate Djinn Lovers who get trapped in cheap rings made in China by coven members from Poughkeepsie apparently originate. This image is from Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

 

 

Anyway, a recent customer question had me looking at one of these eBay listings myself and feeling torn between chuckling and making my best Disapproving Face – the latter not because I don’t have a sense of humor but because sometimes people prey on other people who are in a really bad spot in their lives, don’t really know anything about magic that they didn’t read on eBay, and are willing to part with vast sums of money because they are desperate and believe the bullshit they read on eBay.  But read along with me, and I will provide vaguely educational, distinctly sarcastic reader responses as we go along.

Hello and welcome! Up for auction is an Authentic Blah Blah Witch Fairy Gemstone Vampire Blah Blah Thingamajig.  As you know, ABBWFGVBB Thingamajigs are very rare.  (Yes, that’s why I saw twenty of them at Dollar Tree last weekend.)

This Thingamajig is one of the most powerful Thingamjigs in the world. (According to the person writing this website copy who wants you to buy one.)

This (glitter covered magenta polyclay) Thingamajig (made in China) will work on every Djinn, Spirit, Demon, spell item, spirit item, and cursed item, from our coven or not.  (I can’t even think of anything clever to say.  I am reduced to “No it won’t.”  Unless the claim you are making is that it will brighten up the room with a sort of Kindergarten Kitsch style, and will probably keep the dust off of anything you can fit into it.  That would be true.)

Just place your item in the box and after 48 hours it will be good as new if not better then new.  (You can believe this because anything spelled so creatively and written in 24 point Papyrus typeface just *has* to be true.)

The special spells on this Thingamajig are very unique.  (As opposed to slightly unique?  clue brick: by definition, if it’s plural, it can’t be unique.  Look it up.)

This box has a cloning ability. Just put your spelled item inside and it will duplicate the spell to the non-magical item.  (Seriously, if you believe this, you need to put the credit card down and step away from the computer. Do not spend another cent on anything magic-related from anybody making claims about magical anything in their inventory. You have a LOT to learn about the principles of magic.  This is not Harry Potter or Dungeons and Dragons.  You cannot buy a wand that will do anything when you point it at someone and say “Expelliarmus,” and you cannot buy a box that allows you to cast spells by osmosis.)

I am known all over the world as one of if not the best spell caster.  (I’m so good that I can cast spells on items that enable them to exist in violation of all the principles of magic, all the suggestions of common sense, and all the teaching of history and geography. That’s why I’m casting spells a dozen at a time on cheap Chinese ceramics and pot-metal costume jewelry for $39.99 a pop. This title was awarded to me by an independent, unbiased, and expert panel consisting of my three closest friends in grade school, my cat, and a guy from Nigeria who keeps emailing me to tell me how wonderful I am, how I’m blessed, and how we are going to go into business together as soon as I can scrape up the startup money. The unfortunate side effect of my incredible magical power is that it renders spelling and grammar checking features nonfunctional on all word processing programs within a 5-mile radius.)

I have won many spell casting awards including the Golden Spell award and Spellcaster of the Year.  (And I’ve employed my spellcasting abilities to such great effect — to hide my name, location, and identity from my crazed fans out there worldwide — that everybody who hears of these world-famous awards immediately forgets that they ever heard of them, including the members of the organizations that do the awarding.  I’d name those organizations, but you’d just forget that they were world-famous before you finished reading this really long bio of me, anyway.)

I was rated the #1 Spellcaster in the world six times.  (Of course that identity protection spell means that no professional rootworker, spiritual advisor, or spellcaster can remember that such an award exists, or figure out what sort of governing body would award such a thing and by what criteria. And it means I have to keep repeating this because nobody can remember how great I am otherwise. See? I’m so good, you can’t even remember ever having heard my name before! There’s your proof!)

This Haunted Beauty and Sex Spell Celtic Bracelet will make your skin tighter and your hair and nails grow shinier and your wrinkles melt away.  (It is made with authentic Celtic nylon and authentic Celtic Tourmaline, and you know it’s truly one of a kind since the Celts wouldn’t have known tourmaline if it bit them in the ass and set their mothers on fire, since it isn’t found in Europe and wasn’t introduced until probably 1000 years after anybody stopped identifying themselves as a Celt.)

 

What every self-respecting Celtic Pagan Demon Djinn Vampire Werewolf Angel Fairy Isis Mermaid Unicorn spellcaster has hanging on her bedroom wall, right next to the batik pentacle tapestry, the Twilight poster, and the Azure Green poster depicting the Witches Alphabet.  (I stole this photo from somewhere online when I was making fun of the dominant aesthetic tendencies of certain subsets of neopagans. I wasn’t paying attention to sources so I cannot properly credit the artist – if I just ganked it, I doubt I saw an artist credited or a copyright notice, but if this is your art I will cheerfully remove it if you’d like.)

 

 

Our Haunted Goddess Erzulie Wish Box from a Voodoo Shaman is extremely rare and powerful.  (It’s so rare that not even initiated practitioners of the religion of Vodou have heard of such a thing, and it’s so powerful that it can overcome the facts that Erzulie is not a goddess and there is no such thing as a voodoo shaman.)

All you have to do is write your wish on a piece of paper and put it inside the box for 24 hours.  The Goddess Erzulie is not stingy with her gifts and will shower you with riches, love, and money. She asks nothing in return. (BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!  I’m sorry, I’m choking on my tea; therefore I can’t expand on how even a person with knowledge of voodoo as deep as can be gained by spending an entire grueling lunch hour in the metaphysical section of her local chain bookstore, thus absorbing the arcane wisdom of the Ancient Index of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Voodoo, would know better than this.)

My customers are worldwide and I help many famous people all over the world with their problems.  You have nothing to lose!  (Except $49.99+shipping, your credibility as a critical thinker and person capable of smelling a scam and doing some research and fact-checking, and any shot at a decent love life if you are foolish enough to follow this seller’s directions, make imperious demands of Erzulie Freda while holding a lampwork-beaded trinket and chanting, and thinking that you can walk around calling yourself a worshipper of this goddess who “asks for nothing in return.” Now that’s a spell that *can* “backfire” on you.)

Try our potions, made in authentic sacred ancient voodoo rituals by a voodoo shaman, for instant money.  We are the only seller offering authentic voodoo potions. (I harbor a slightly cruel desire to see this person tarred, feathered, rolled in dollar bills from their ill-gotten gains, adorned with cords from which hang vials of water-purification tablets, and set loose in the communal market of Gonaives, Haiti.)

Selling some comfortably-middle-class college kid in North Carolina a $20 trinket with a non-existent penis-enlarging spell supposedly put on it is kinda sad and I can even crack a grin about it and hope the kid learns a valuable lesson for that $20.  But telling lies about Haitian religion, culture, and history in an attempt to put more cash in your pocket so you can suck up more Venti sugar free vanilla soy Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks while you surf the web for porn, or shoes, on your iPad in air-conditioned comfort is not funny at all. There is a toddler in Jocmel dying of diarrhea today, and a young boy, the family’s only son, dying of cholera in Gonaives.  There is a teen girl being trafficked to the Dominican Republic this week with her parent’s knowledge because her 8 siblings are literally starving to death. There’s another dying of AIDS because antiretroviral drugs are so scarce. Infants die every day because there there is no clean water in their villages.  One child out of a hundred will finish high school. So I hope every dollar you make on your authentic sacred ancient voodoo instant money potion hangs on your soul like an anvil, and I hope you choke on every sip of your fucking Starbucks until you start diverting your profit to UNICEF or the Red Cross or Fonkoze. People who have really traveled the world and spent a lifetime making study of the world’s spiritual practices, religious beliefs, and folk magic systems do not tell such egregious lies while hiding their own faces and do not exploit other religions like this.

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ETA: While I’m at it, a pet peeve: when “spell” is used as a verb in English, it means to form words with letters (“teach the children to spell”); to explain or make understood (“he doesn’t get it – we have to spell it out for him”); to name or print the letters of in order (“reservation for Barnum – can you spell that for me?”), etc.  It does NOT mean to cast a magical spell, so when you say “this djinn vampire lover voodoo ring has been spelled just for you,” you sound like a moron.  See, English already has a verb that means “to cast a magical spell” so you really don’t need to invent one.  People who are not pretentious snake-oil salesmen might reach for the perfectly functional “enchanted,” for instance.  So when you read “I stood over the altar in my flowing velvet ceremonial robes and created these spelled rings” and “these amulets have been spelled for you,” what this person is saying is that they stood up in their polyester RenFair PJs and enunciated “R-I-N-G” and “A-M-U-L-E-T.”  … which is probably pretty close to the truth in terms of ritual efficacy. The effect of such a “spelling” is about what you’re going to get when you purchase one of the 30 available $89 Vampire Energy Spirit Blood Source with Enhanced Erotic Sex Magic keychains. But as this is the same seller who uses the phrase “the biggest majority of my customers” (as opposed to, you know, the smallest majority), and puts most of the listing in 38 point Papyrus typeface, I am only scratching the surface. There is a special place in hell for this guy, and he will merit his own post someday.

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[1] Now, if you actually have a genuine spirit trapped in an object, which is very unwise if you didn’t do it yourself and thus know exactly what was done and how to what type of spirit (and even then it’s still very unwise to treat spirits like your slaves and trap them anywhere and keep them hanging around your living room to do your bidding), then I suppose anything is possible – something like that could conceivably “turn on you.”  That would be the pissed off spirit that you’ve trapped and decided to keep around and probably not fed and cared for correctly, and you would have cause to be concerned. But if you buy a “spelled item” like a ring on eBay for $19.99 that has a “spirit” trapped inside it, please take comfort in the fact that nothing is going to happen.  Because your naivete and blind optimism protected you.  Because you bought a ring.  That’s all you bought.  And don’t even get me started on “charging boxes,” for God’s sake.

  

Feeding spirits is always important, sometimes time-consuming, often at least slightly messy, and will almost certainly cost you more than $19.99. 

P.S. This photo is my personal property and may not be copied or used without my explicit written permission. Don’t be an idiot and go around stealing other workers’ photos. The most mediocre spiritual worker with the most basic photo editing software can slip a digital sigil or two in their work that you’d be hard pressed to counter since you’d be hard pressed to even identify it.