Adam & Eve Root: Rant + a Crash Course in Corms

Cover image adapted from Corms by Gerrit Davidse, CC by NC SA.

Breaking with my usual practice, I am NOT going to cite this source, because the whole point of this post is how incredibly freakin’ stupid it is, and in any case, what we have here is one plant-ignorant person posing as an expert and printing bullshit who has copied this misinformation from some other plant-ignorant person posing as an expert, so it’s a whole serpent-eating-its-own-tail type of mess and there’s definitely not a single guilty party to point to as an originator. [1]

And my goal here is not mockery for its own sake – rather, it’s for you to not spend your hard-earned money on bullshit but to educate yourself so you don’t uncritically accept whatever you see on eBay and Pinterest. (Or in books on Amazon by self-proclaimed hoodoo experts.)

Here’s the recently published stack of malarkey in question.

If the author had just stuck with that ubiquitous photo of an acorn and a bud – the one that is *all over the internet* with the caption “Adam and Eve root” – that would be one thing. We could maybe just go, “Oh, yeah, that acorn-and-bud combo that some huckster decided to start passing off as the valuable hoodoo herb a couple of decades ago. That’s adorable. Bless their hearts.”

But they didn’t do that. Nope, they went for it – they gave the Latin binomial, which completely jettisons any claim they could have laid to a bare minimum of competence as writers, researchers, or rootworkers. In identifying that crap in the picture as Aplectrum hyemale, they aren’t just saying, “Here’s an herb that lots of people call Adam and Eve root.” That would be a true statement, even though I wouldn’t hit a hog in the behind with that acorn-and-bud combo for use in love work – has all the magical efficacy of a flattened tuna tin on the side of the highway.

But no – they just print some total horse shit. And it is easily verifiable as total and utter horseshit if you spend literally 30 seconds with Google. So the level of research here is just… honestly, they didn’t even try.

Alrighty then, let’s have a crash course in corms so you can avoid being swindled.

The thing we call Adam and Eve root that comes from Aplectrum hyemale or closely related members of the orchid family is technically not a root at all. It’s actually a corm, which looks like a bulb but is really a swollen stem base that stores nutrients. (A bulb is just a dense little bundle of immature leaves. Corms don’t have layers like bulbs do.) The roots proper grow out of the corm. [2]

But when we talk about Adam and Eve root in hoodoo, we’re talking about the corms. That’s what folks used to use. A young plant will only have one corm. An older plant will develop a second corm extending out of the first one, so then we have a “pair” of “roots” from the same plant, one Adam and one Eve.

As you might gather, they don’t look drastically different, both being corms. Neither of them looks like a Balm of Gilead bud or an acorn or a peanut or whatever, and as a pair, they certainly don’t look like what you get in a package when you order Adam and Eve roots commercially.

Now as far as I know, it’s still pretty much impossible to buy real Adam and Eve root dried and commercially packaged. And if you find some out hiking, you should generally leave it alone. To quote the New England Plant Conservation Program [3]:

This species is rare throughout much of its range from southern Canada (Quebec and Ontario), to Georgia, and west to Oklahoma and Minnesota, with only Virginia and North Carolina listing the species as secure. In New England, the species is known from five current occurrences (one in Vermont, four in Massachusetts) with populations generally consisting of only a few individuals. Aplectrum hyemale is presumed extirpated from at least one state, Connecticut, and is listed as critically imperiled (S1) in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. (i)

This plant is endangered in many states and is legally protected, so don’t screw with it if you find it in the wild.

But if you’re into growing your own, it’s totally doable. You’ll just need to be patient, buy your plant when it’s available and the nursery is shipping it (which will often NOT be year-round), and do your research on how to care for it.

(Note that because the second corm develops as an offshoot from the first corm after the first growing season, you cannot just buy a live plant and get your Adam and Eve root that way. If you buy a live plant, you’ll have just an Adam root, no Eve. You must be patient and learn how to grow an orchid 🙂 )

[1] At least not one that features in this blog post lol, because I haven’t tracked down where this bullshit started. But seeing as cat yronwode mentions her shock upon ordering Adam and Eve root several decades ago and being sold what she described as packaged pairs of Balm of Gilead buds and “somethings” that might have been peanuts, I imagine she might have a good idea where this started. I can’t say it any better than she does: “[O]nly God can make a root, and . . . He sure doesn’t make orchid roots grow on poplar trees” (HHRM 16).

Yronwode, Catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure. The Lucky Mojo Curio Company: Forestville, CA. 2002.

[2] Wood, Alphonso. Class-book of Botany: Being Outlines of the Structure, Physiology, and Classification of Plants: With a Flora of the United States and Canada. Rev. ed. New York: A.S. Barnes, 1875.

[3] Richburg, Julie A. Aplectrum hyemale (Muhl. ex Willd.) Nutt. (Puttyroot) Conservation and Research Plan for New England. New England Wild Flower Society, Framingham, Massachusetts. 2004.

Part of A Bayou Hoodoo Herbal.

Cover image adapted from Corms by Gerrit Davidse, CC by NC SA.

© Karma Zain, Big Lucky Hoodoo, and Seraphin Station, 2020-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karma Zain, Big Lucky Hoodoo, and/or Seraphin Station with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

questions you’ve asked: road opening, timing, haints, czechoslovakia (!?)

Some of these are from my saved-up list of questions that people ask via email or blog comments, that I save up to answer on my blog when I get a chance, and some are implied/indirect questions that come from search terms. Don’t forget that I maintain a directory of Frequently Asked Questions and commonly requested information.


Q: What are some spells to remove obstacles?

It kind of depends on the obstacles. In some cases, you need Uncrossing, in others you might need Spiritual Cleansing or Van Van or Chinese Wash, and in still others you might want Road Opener. If you don’t need uncrossing, but you’re just kind of stuck and have the inertia thing going or aren’t getting the opportunities you need, then the formula you want for removing obstacles is usually going to be either Van Van or else something like Road Opener or Abre Camino. Sometimes it might be called Blockbuster, but you should ask your supplier, because depending on where they’re coming from (theoretically as well as regionally), Blockbuster might be more akin to Uncrossing or Van Van. And some folks, probably those not from the Southeast, seem to make Road Opener with quassia, which is not how I learned it in the Southeast, and in my opinion that will not do the same job (and it cannot then be called Abre Camino, because Abre Camino contains an actual herb called Abre Camino instead of quassia). In short, there may be more or less intersection with other formulas, depending on the background of your supplier and their formula, so it doesn’t hurt to ask the person selling the stuff you are going to buy.

While on this topic, I have heard people claim that Road Opener is not hoodoo. I call bullshit. While it’s true that Road Opener came into hoodoo through Latin American routes, it’s sure as hell part of hoodoo now, and there is a definite difference between Road Opener and Uncrossing. Uncrossing removes crossed conditions. There are all kinds of situations that could benefit from Road Opening that do not need Uncrossing and that may need something that is not precisely Van Van; where once we might have approached that through a combination of herbs or actions that did not go by the name “Road Opener,” what we today know as Road Opener fills a niche, is useful, and is definitely used by traditional practitioners of conjure. Saying it’s not hoodoo is imo being overly pedantic (and is generally part of some online pissing contest and/or the kind of “over-correction” that results in people saying things like “irregardless” and “I feel badly for you” – people trying so hard to be “correct” that they end up “over-correcting” and end up somewhere silly; and if you’re like most of my readers and clients, you don’t really give a crap about whether something was used in the 70s in Florida but not the 50s in Mississippi. You just want your situation remedied.) Saying it’s not hoodoo because it entered hoodoo at some later point than the mythical non-existent “originary” point is going to put you on flimsy ground to talk about Chinese Wash (once upon a time it was not used in hoodoo); Hot Foot oil (once upon a time there was only powder); the method of candle-dressing employed by hordes of workers (because it was popularized in a booklet in the 40s by a man [or maybe a woman] who grew up Jewish; Blackhawk (Native American via Spiritualist churches in Louisiana); and boldo leaf (which is in a shit-ton of modern protection formulas but crossed into hoodoo through Mexican folk practice). Honestly, it’s a ridiculous argument. [*]

What you do with those obstacle-removing formulas will, for the sake of easier communication in this blog post, be called spells. (Usually folks who ask this sort of thing want to be given what they think of as a “spell,” which will be specific instructions for exactly how to do some multi-component rite called “a road opener spell” or something like that. Thing is, hoodoo really isn’t a system of “spells” in the sense of “things that have to be done just so on a Friday before a full moon with these rhymes” or where people have spells collected in books and stuff like that. Rather, you light a candle, or sprinkle powders, or take a bath, or do some combination of those things and others that suits your supplies and your situation. Every “road opener spell” I do for a client is probably slightly different; the appropriate actions and ingredients depend on the situation. I do not have a book of spells – the idea is sort of ridiculous, and most folks I know who didn’t come to this from a different background don’t default to calling their work “spells” or telling clients they need to do “spells.” Personally, I call what I do altar work or just plain “work,” and avoid the term “spells” just because 1. it was never called that when I was growing up, and 2. it gives the wrong impression, that conjure is about collections of spells and books of shadows and stuff like that. So people who write me saying “these spells are hard to find” have, in my opinion, *the wrong idea* about how these things are traditionally done; collections of typed-up spells are hard to come by because they’re unnecessary (and when we do post “spells” for the benefit of clients who want to be given “spells”, we usually have to endure dozens of follow-up questions about what herb we can substitute for some herb we list, and what to do if we can’t get that kind of candle or a certain oil, etc, which defeats the purpose of typing the damned thing up in the first place). It’s just the wrong way to think about conjure. When we do altar work for you, we don’t select a spell from out of a book. I’ve written about this at length elsewhere, particularly in the FAQ directory; bottom line, if you want a spell explained or suggested that is specific to your situation and materials at hand, book a consultation with a professional worker who can instruct you on what to do for your specific situation.)

But here are some suggestions from Lucky Mojo. (So when you dress a candle with oil and light it, you are doing a candle burning spell for our purposes here.) If you insist on a given a set of instructions to follow just so, then Dr. E has a thorough, nice Roads of Fortune spell here. But honestly, properly dressing and fixing a candle is powerful work. So is a spiritual bath. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.


Q: Reconciliation mojo bag takes one month to work.

A: I’d be pretty darned surprised. The most important reply here is that there’s no such thing as one simple answer to the question of “how long will X take to work.” It totally depends on the situation (and on your definition of what success is in that situation). You can read more about timing in spells here: “How Long Will It Take to Work” and “Timing Spells, Setting Limits, and the Non-Existent Rule of 3 Days/3 Weeks/3 Months.” But I’d say one month for a reconciliation working of any type, in very many of the situations for which I’ve been consulted,  would be way too optimistic. But it totally depends on the situation and specifics of the individual case. The bottom line: There are too many variables in anybody’s case for anybody to be able to answer your question about how long the candle or mojo you are thinking of buying will take to work, or even if it will.  Spiritual work just doesn’t work like that.  The reality is that sometimes it is NOT God’s will.  And this is not a gumball machine where you put your quarter in and get a prize you can anticipate from the picture in the window.


Q: Sour jar take how long to work? [sic]

A: See above.


Q: What happen to the old fashion hoodoo that was used in the 70’s?

A: Assuming you mean the 1970s, you are actually talking about what I’d call the full flower of “modern hoodoo” (I’d distinguish that from today’s hoodoo, which I’d call “contemporary” and, if pressed, probably use the late 80s as a historical marker for… maybe). The 70s is not “old fashioned” when you are talking about hoodoo history – that is recent as hell. But for starters, you have to define what you mean by “old fashioned.” Do you mean hoodoo as it was in the 1850s? 1920s? In Memphis? Detroit? Natchez, Mississippi? Crystal River, Florida? By the 70s, you had lots of published books on all kinds of practices “cross-pollinating” with older, more rural, less book-derived practice, including European witchcraft and commercialized “Eastern mysticism,” astrology, etc. You’d had mail-order catalogs for generations at that point, and you had drugstores in large cities selling candles and things from China. The old-school candle shop owners (who had once upon a time been new-fangled!) might start selling books on meditation to help their bottom lines; the tea leaf readers might branch out into astrology to get and keep clientele; the tarot was much better known by then, even among those who had grown up reading playing cards; the era of pharmacists blending their own colognes, hair oils, and perfumes in the back from formularies were largely over and everything was imported en masse. In some areas, a cultural turn resulting from Black Pride, Afrocentrism, or Rastafarianism, for instance, might mean that the younger generation was no longer using the hair products their parents had used, or attending the churches their parents had attended, or valuing the same art, aesthetics, music, and even naming conventions their parents had valued. This ties into the other question on this page that spilled over into my footnote about “what is and isn’t hoodoo” – you can’t really say something like “here’s the originary date of hoodoo, and here’s the cutoff date for old-school conjure, and everything that was new after that is not traditional hoodoo.” I see this today in interviewing people in academic contexts about voodoo in Haiti or folk religion or spiritual practice in just about anywhere – often the grandchildren will talk to you about their interest in or return to practices that their parents won’t speak of and tried to distance themselves from. Sometimes the children have to recover these practices on their own, if their grandparents or older relatives are no longer living.

So the bottom line depends on how you define some of your terms. What happened to the hoodoo of the 70s? the same thing that happened to the hoodoo of the 60s and the 50s. It changed a bit as the world changed, as horizons changed, as neighborhoods and markets changed. What happened to “old fashioned hoodoo”? Well, how do you define old-fashioned?


Q: Was czech jewelry ever spelled cech?

A: FFS, wtf. Well, this is a hoodoo, voodoo, magic, and folk religion blog, but I happen to be able to answer this, and the question brought more than one person to this blog, so what the hell. (Though these search terms make me baffled at how some people use search engines – they aren’t oracles and typing complete sentences usually helps rather than hinders!) The “czech” you see when a rosary is made with “Czech glass beads” is short for “Czechoslovakia,” which as of 1993 no longer exists; that area is now divided into “the Czech Republic” and “Slovakia.”  There, they speak Czech and Slovak (get it?). In the Czech language, they have different ways of conveying sounds through orthography than we have in English. In English, we use “Cz” to represent the sound we pronounce in this case as a hard “ch,” but they use “Č” (see that little symbol on top of the C? That is *critical* to its pronunciation and therefore spelling – you cannot just leave it out or it would be pronounced differently).  So, no, it was never spelled “Cech,” but it was spelled “Čech” (with the little symbol). I imagine the person who asked this question did not realize that “czech” was short for “czechoslovakia,” or else they could have just looked it up in any encyclopedia, but I digress.


[*] This sort of thing becomes an issue for anyone studying living folk practice. Living practices change. Herbs and resins and dirts and flora/fauna used in Western Africa, for instance, had to change in Haiti, Louisiana, Brazil, Trinidad, Virginia – because the same stuff does not grow in all those places, just to touch on the tip of the iceberg. You can see the sorts of issues it raises in the contemporary practices surrounding Santisima Muerte in Mexico today. I maintain that, from a historical perspective, the use of gold, purple, green etc Santisima Muerte statues is an interpolation that came through modern commercial occult markets and probably has at least a little to do with symbolism and practice found in commercially-available materia magica for traditions such as Santeria. But however they came about, and however recent they are compared to the red, black, and white statues, the fact remains that living devotees of the saint who are actively, at this very moment, living a spiritual life in which the saint plays a significant role, are using them and see a need they fill. And for someone to come in from “outside” their particular community and tell them their practice is not legitimate — well, who’s the authority, finally? The academic or the practitioner? You can do a slippery slope thing with this if you want and say “well, then, since I practice hoodoo, then whatever I do is hoodoo, and nobody can to say any different.” We can — and do, in various corners of monograph footnotes, articles, blogs, and websites — debate this kind of thing ’til the cows come home. You can even accuse me of doing the same thing I’m criticizing here, when I rant about people selling stuff to “cleanse” mojo bags, or when I say “watermelon fragrance oil is not hoodoo.” Sure, there are some lines that are going to be debatable, less than clear cut, in a living, breathing tradition. (For instance, I say that if it’s the consistency of soup, you have no business calling it gumbo, but there are folks winning prizes with gumbo recipes that I would not hit a hog in the behind with. Is it chili anymore if it’s white and made with cannellini beans? When you are really hungry, do you give a crap?)

*And yet* the fact remains that when my 40 or 60 year old clients from Louisiana or Florida or South Carolina order a bottle of Van Van oil from me, they have an expectation of what it’s going to smell like, and if I send them something pink that smells like gardenias, they are probably going to ask if I mislabeled the bottle (and maybe secretly think I’ve lost my mind). They will not have the same reaction to my suggesting Road Opener oil, even though neither of us used a thing called precisely that in our childhoods (probably in part because my clients know I am not some convert who jumped off a Wicca wagon and started making Van Van oil last year, so I am not going to sell them some new age goop that does not “fit” with what we both grew up with). Similarly, while Catholic conjure doctors were a relative rarity outside of Louisiana, they nevertheless did exist, and work with some saints did extend beyond the borders of Catholicism and even those who would self-identify as Spiritualists or Spiritists prior to the internet and folk Catholics like me writing blogs. So saying “work with the saints is not traditional hoodoo” is profoundly ignorant, not to mention insulting. Folk magic is *always, always* influenced by region, including the religion, traditions, culture, and flora and fauna of the physical land upon which its practitioners live, in their physical neighborhoods. I have clients from Alabama who grew up with this stuff who leave offerings at their ancestor’s graves, and I have other clients from the East Coast who grew up with this stuff who hold their breath when they go by graveyards and paint the baby’s windowsill blue to “keep off the haints.” Workers I respect who I know to be authentic and honest say they were taught that women shouldn’t do rootwork while pregnant. I was never taught any such thing and I seem to come from a very different way of conceiving of both spiritual work and pregnancy; the theory underlying such a prohibition doesn’t fit into my worldview, religion, or practice. Those are very different approaches to working with and living with the dead, with the unborn, with liminality, and they can be traced to different regions and distinct “paths” along the diaspora and/or traditions in question; and yet, it’s too simplistic to say that one set of beliefs is “traditional” or “authentic” and the other is not. The bottom line is that there has never been any monolithic central guide to *anything* that’s a folk tradition – if there were, it wouldn’t be a folk tradition anymore. At least part of it would be codified, captured, encapsulated, isolated, no longer “in free play” in a living community. To say that things change does not mean “anything goes,” but to say that any change after some arbitrary, imaginary cutoff date is “not hoodoo” is just ridiculous.


For some further thoughts and conversation that unfolded from this post in the comments section over at the mirror site, go here.

status update and consultation/report queue; how to not get fired as a customer

I started working on reports, consultations, and emails at 10 am this morning (Thurs).  It is now 3:30 am Friday.  I am caught up on light setting reports, caught up on ebay inbox messages with the exception of two people that already got a good chunk of my time yesterday (they can wait a bit before they get more, since other people haven’t gotten any yet), and finished a bunch of consultations.  The updated queue is here.  Obviously I have not made it through my regular inbox yet.

Unfortunately, since sellers can get RATED on how quickly and cheerfully they answer ebay messages, I HAVE to put ebay messages ahead of web store and direct email messages sometimes — even when about half the messages I get on ebay every day are people who want me to answer a bunch of questions but have not bought anything and do not ever buy anything.  I don’t think most people who send me a bunch of messages mean ill – ebay has trained them to expect that sellers  just sit there all day waiting to answer twenty questions about a bottle of oil they are going to make twelve cents profit on.  But after a while, if the same person keeps trying to milk me for private conjure tutoring or free spells, I just block them from bidding and filter all their messages to the trash bin.  I realize it might sound harsh, but I do explain very politely the first time that what they are expecting of me, I cannot do, and I also give them links to places where they can go to learn more.  So the people who get canned are people who don’t listen but just want what they want when they want it, on their terms, and don’t want to hear any different.  I don’t just shitcan people with legitimate questions who are not acting out of an over-developed sense of entitlement.  Questions in and of themselves are just fine – I encourage them.  I shitcan people who don’t respect my published policies and my polite expressions of my limits.

I also shitcan people who demonstrate to me that they do not read item listings, do not read payment acknowledgment emails, and do not read the FAQ. I do not shitcan them the first time (unless they are rude or threaten to do a payment reversal or leave negative feedback if I don’t jump through X hoop by Y date – there is a special place on my altar for those people, and they also get reported to ebay as abusive buyers. And every once in a while ebay listens to a powerseller with nine years in the game).  But when the item listing clearly states the handling time (or whatever), and the FAQ does too, and the payment acknowledgment that was sent directly to the buyer’s email account does too, and yet I still get an email saying "when will you ship my item," or "where is my order," I begin to lose my temper.  I respond with a form letter (trust me , this is for the best – the form letter is sufficiently polite and even-tempered, and usually when I get these emails, I am not feeling even-tempered, because every minute I am answering emails that contain questions that have already been answered is a minute I am NOT in the altar/work room actually making the damned order that you placed). 

If it happens again after that, I usually block the buyer, just because my time, patience, and good humor are finite, and I prefer to do business with people who don’t drive me crazy, instead of chasing down tracking numbers for people who have already had the tracking number emailed to them directly, AND uploaded to their "my eBay," AND had an email and a link outlining how shipping notification procedures work delivered to their email inboxes in case they missed that info in the item listing when they ordered.

SO the majority of you are not "that guy," and furthermore have already heard this before, and in any case aren’t the type of people who do this kind of crap.  So i do beg your indulgence for trotting out this tired old pony again.  But I post this for the benefit of newer customers, just as an "in general" sort of "things you ought to know" article.  But also because I have blocked more bidders in the past six months than I probably blocked in the preceding six years combined.

If you are a newer customer and you find yourself blocked, feel free to ask to be unblocked. I am very likely to comply (after we talk) unless you were a non-paying bidder, and in many cases, I am happy to comply even (after we talk) then if the unpaid item situation was a result of an emergency or crossed wires or a misunderstanding.  I often block buyers not because I just plain never want to do business with them period, but because I need to make sure we are on the same sheet of music before we do any more business together.  eBay has sellers’ nuts in a vise, to put it crudely and yes, figuratively of course; it is simply too dangerous to let potential misunderstandings proliferate unchecked on ebay.  Blocking buyers is the only protection we have as sellers now that buyers’ feedback scores are purely decorative, utterly meaningless.

So often I block a buyer just because we need to talk and make sure we know where the other is coming from.  So in many cases it is not especially personal – I just had to "put you on hold" while I dealt with other stuff.  so if you find yourself blocked and don’t know why, feel free to ask – I am not likely to bite your head off unless you have been a jackass to me first, and if you have, I probably will just ignore you instead of answering anyway, because I have way too much to do to waste time pursuing optional, unnecessary head-bitings 🙂

this PSA brought to you by an utterly exhausted Karma Zain who is all typed out and needs to go to sleep now.

ebay customers, mine and others’, please read

I get about twenty messages a day just on eBay, on average, including weekends when I am not open (so Mondays suck).  Half of them are people going "I’m just writing to check on the status of my order."  The time it takes me to deal with those ten messages, by going back through my files to locate the proper stack of 60 receipts that has your shipping label in it, or going through my in-house orders to locate yours amongst the other 100 items in queue to be prepped and shipped, is time I am not spending filling the orders in-house. 

Here’s how the math works:

[Ten of these emails]
X times
[the ten minutes it takes me to track down information *that buyers have already been given, in the FAQ, in the payment acknowledgment, AND in their "my eBay" through the shipping label data that is uploaded]
= equals
a blocked bidder. 

So if you have found yourself blocked on eBay, feel free to write to ask me why and/or to unblock you – the overwhelming majority of folks I block, I block because they are costing me way too much time (=money).  If you want to order from me, I am probably happy to have you as a customer, if dealing with you isn’t a pain in my ass and more trouble than it’s worth.  I know eBay courts and rewards sellers with larger setups, higher priced inventory, and multi-person employee structures, making the burden on smaller sellers heavier and heavier every day; they do this at the same time that they cultivate in buyers the impression that every seller on eBay has a separate customer service desk and runs the kind of business where spending ten minutes tracking down info that has already been sent is just part of a day in the life of customer service.

Nonetheless, that’s not how it works for a lot of folks on eBay.  As eBay raises the bar higher and higher, and raises its costs to sellers more and more, it simultaneously punishes sellers – who are worker harder and harder – for not acting BOTH like a small mom-and-pop operation with someone knowledgeable standing by to be friendly AND like an outfit with more than one person running it.  So your favorite sellers, who once upon a time could perhaps take time every night to answer every message in their inbox, now cannot afford afford to take a single night off from packing orders lest they get less than 5 stars in the area of "shipping."  (Yet they also cannot simply bust out all their orders in one night, either, because they can’t go too long without answering emails lest they get less than 5 stars in the area of "communication.")

I say this not to whine – it takes me a lot less time to block a buyer who’s pestering me than it does to answer their message yet again, and I’d rather take care of and keep the customers I’ve got who are happy with my work than chase after customers who are already not happy with my work and with whom I’m already unhappy.  I say it because at the root of all this kerfluffle is deep, continuing, and crushing change at eBay that pulls smaller sellers into an awful lot of directions at once.  We are supposed to have the service and speed of a larger store but the "personal touch" that means the person answering the emails knows every single end of the business, from shipping to taxes to relisting software to Fiery Wall of Protection spells to vodoun loa.  (Hint: if ever I do have someone solely in charge of the emails full time, that person will not be me, and that person will not be able to make custom recommendations about products anymore. It really does come down to a choice between personal attention/knowledge OR speed/assembly line/instant answers.)

A store like mine is *just barely* too busy to run by myself given all my obligations, but it is not nearly profitable enough for me to quit my day job, nor to hire anyone else that wants to actually be paid reliably, thanks in part to eBay’s drastically raising the listing fees and making $5 items – the majority of my sales –  profitless for me.  I am FAR from alone – these things affect hundreds of sellers just like me, who are stuck at that awkward spot in their growth and are paying through the bloody nose for it.  So I say this on behalf of all ebay sellers who don’t have five digit ratings and an 800 number but who are working beyond the flea market and garage sale levels.  If you want them to stay on eBay, take a moment to think about what you value in their items or services, in fact about what you value about eBay’s variety and convenience, and take a moment to think about what that attention or item or service they rendered or sold you costs in terms of time. And multiply that by a hundred people *just like you*. And think about what eBay will be like when smaller sellers are gone because they have been nickled-and-dimed and pestered to death.

Let me make something perfectly clear:

I DO NOT MIND answering customer and client emails.  Helping people apply spiritual remedies to their problems and challenges is at the center of what I do, and if I didn’t like doing that, I wouldn’t be doing this work.

I LIKE being able to make each item by hand, myself, when ordered, customizing when applicable and praying over each one.

If I am to be able to continue to do this kind of thing (and please understand that the overwhelming majority of my professional time is taken up answering regular old client and customer questions, for which time I am only indirectly, at best, paid), I have to prioritize that time (and make sure that I am earning enough money from *somewhere* to be able to spend all this time answering emails and questions).

I understand that dealing with folks with different temperaments is part of owning a business, dealing with customers, and providing services.  And dealing with eBay as a platform means that a lot of those customers expect "mom and pop" customer service even while they expect lightning-fast shipping speeds and miracles.  One of the few useful tools that eBay has compensated sellers for their fairly enormous trouble with is the blocked buyers list.  And I am quick to use it when my extremely limited time is taken up for no good reason.

But since I still answer the overwhelming majority of the emails, and make 95% of my products, and generally package and ship all of them myself, and generally keep all the records myself, I am also usually aware of why I’ve blocked a buyer and am happy to unblock said buyer if we can just have a little conversation first and make sure we’re both on the same page.  My blocking a buyer is not personal; it’s one of the few means by which eBay allows me to protect my time and, maybe more importantly, my sanity, so that I can still provide the goods and services I set out to provide, with the attention and quality I set out to provide them with.  A blocked bidder is someone with whom I am not comfortable doing business unless and until we can talk about some issue, expectation, or tendency.  I have blocked people I know personally and genuinely like as individuals – not because I suddenly wanted to be nasty, but because we can’t keep doing business for some reason until we have a chat.

I’m sure the same goes for very many eBay sellers out there.

Thank you for your indulgence as I made a wearying but necessary addition to the "ebay issues" series of posts.  In partial compensation, I’ll have a post on St. Michael ready soon; I’m translating a prayer to St. Michael from a medieval manuscript, for the benefit and use of you St. Michael devotees and fans out there, and I’m nearly done; there’s just one small phrase still giving me some trouble.  If I can ever get through these eBay emails, I hope to work through the knots on it this week and post it.  (And you won’t ever get anything like *that* from Sears, or, so keep it in mind when you’re wondering "why can’t she just look my damned package tracking up instead of sending me a form letter?")

Happy hoodooing,

Karma Zain

status update / order status and shipping situation

Ok, my one- and two-dram bottles were finally delivered yesterday, I got my wax shipments in (I use a special kind of wax that I can’t buy locally for my custom mojo pendants), and I have enough of the herbs I need to fill orders in-house (even though I’m still waiting on the major delivery – I had to "borrow a cup of white clover flower" so to speak 🙂 )

It’s 6 am here and I’ve been up all night filling orders that have been on hold due to the weather insanity that produced USPS, FedEx, and UPS insanity through this past weekend.  Once I get my daughter delivered to school in a couple of hours, I’ll get these orders delivered to the post office.  Then I will probably collapse, so if you’re waiting on an email, you may have to wait a little longer, sorry.  The product end of things got really backed up when the entire city shut down for a week.

Thanks for your patience – if your order is a bit late and it’s going out in this batch AND you haven’t been a jerk about it, you’ll probably be getting a free gift.

Also, please keep in mind that handling times are *business days* – not calendar days.  Monday was a federal holiday in the US – the mail does not run.  Weekends don’t count either 🙂

Now, cross your fingers for me that the new batch of snow headed our way does not stick to the ground!

Happy hoodooing,


status update – roads better but then i got sick

The roads have improved a bit lately and the mail finally ran in my neighborhood on Saturday (yesterday), for the first time in a week. However, UPS and FedEx have not made it to my neighborhood yet. I am still waiting on one dram bottles, several herbs, and candle wax.  I get my vigil candles locally, but haven’t been able to get there.due to road conditions  If you have an order in that involves any of these things, it might still be a day or two before I can begin your order.  I expect to be back up to speed this week (though tomorrow, Monday, is a federal holiday and mail etc won’t be running, so even the packages I got the USPS to pick up Saturday will not be getting to you in a day or two due to this and due to the serious backlog the USPS is dealing with right now).

I made it out of the neighborhood once last week, on Thursday, to get groceries. I promptly got sick. I finally got off the couch for more than an hour today, I’m not up to full speed right now, so please bear with me.  There is a long, long queue of email, a significant backlog of orders waiting to be packed and shipped, and I am not quite firing on all cylinders at the moment; I just run out of energy pretty quickly.

So, sorry again for any delays, and again I hope to get caught up this week (and get my UPS and FedEx shipments in from my suppliers!!!!! like tomorrow!!)

Stay safe, warm, and hydrated, y’all, and happy Martin Luther King day.

schools and roads still closed; mail still not running in my county

Atlanta has about 5 million people in it, but it only has a few snowplows, so the roads are still in really bad shape in many areas.  This is the enclosure that will go out with orders as soon as I am able to start sending them out again:




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mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
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Sorry for any delay – Atlanta, where I live, has had uncharacteristic ice and snow storms which have caused power and cable outages and a nearly complete cessation of public services, including USPS, FedEx, and UPS, since the weekend of 8-9 January.  This has caused supplier delays, meaning I do not have various bottles, boxes, and herbs I need to fill orders.  As of 14 January, the post office has not delivered or picked up mail in my neighborhood in 7 days.  I apologize for the uncharacteristic delay in processing your order; as a city in the deep South, Atlanta does not have the material and equipment to deal with ice and snow of this magnitude.  Please visit my livejournal for updates on current weather in my area causing supplier and shipping delays, as well as intermittent problems with power and DSL/internet

severe weather and post office problems = shipping delays

Hey y’all,

I live in the Atlanta, GA area, and we have been hit with some atypically bad winter weather the last few days.  As of yesterday, the snow started sticking to the ground and things have not improved since then.  I dropped off about twenty packages Saturday afternoon, but they are probably still sitting in the package pile at the post office, if the trucks haven’t been able to get in to get them since them.  I had several packages prepped to go out today but I was unable to get up the hill and onto the street to drive my car today, and come to find out the local post office wasn’t open anyway. Furthermore, a UPS delivery I was expecting today with some much-needed supplies did not come.  So if you have an order in that was supposed to ship right about now or in the next few days, please bear with me – I have got no control over this snow, and most counties around here don’t have the machinery or the budget to clear the roads, what with getting snowed in not being too common in Atlanta, GA.

Bottom line: everything is delayed right now.  To add to the fun, snow and ice on power lines have made power unstable, so everything from email to candle-making is slow right now. The mojo bags en route from my mom are not here, the herbs I ordered last week are not here, the one dram bottles I should have gotten today are not here, I can’t travel to get more wax at my local supplier, and UPS, FedEx, and the USPS are not functioning as usual.  I appreciate your patience as we wait on Mother Nature to thaw us out over here.

Here’s a clip from the Atlanta Journal Constitution on local weather:

“We have a limited number of offices open, and we are making delivery in some areas, but those areas are sporadic at best,” Michael Miles, USPS spokesman for the Atlanta area, told the AJC.

The postal service wasn’t the only delivery service with problems. Around 11:45 a.m., Sandy Springs-based UPS announced they were suspending all pick-up and delivery service in metro Atlanta.

FedEx has also suspended service in metro Atlanta today, spokesman Jim McCluskey said.

McCluskey said the airports and roads have been affected by "a wintry punch" and the safety of FedEx employees is of the utmost importance.

"Ultimately, we will provide service when the conditions allow," he said.

McCluskey said FedEx will continue to evaluate the weather in the Atlanta market for the coming days.

Mail delivery may be stalled or not happen at all for two reasons: delivery trucks are having trouble getting into central mail processing plants to pick up letters and packages to begin with.

If the trucks are able to reach those locations, then the second challenge is actually getting into neighborhoods to drop off the mail, Miles said.