New Shrines at karmazain.com

I’m working on several more, but these two are up at my website now. If you are fond of Erzulie Freda, keep your eyes open – I’m trying out a number of techniques and effects as I work on a custom piece commissioned by a client, to see what does and doesn’t work for the effect the client wants, so you should see a few more Freda pieces over the next weeks as part of my design drawing board.

For more photos, click through to the web store.

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San Martin Caballero Shrine

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Erzulie Freda Shadow Box Shrine

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.

questions you’ve asked: santisima muerte

Can Santisima Muerte be petitioned for uncrossing and healing?

If you are already a devotee of Santisima Muerte and have a strong relationship with her, you probably wouldn’t be typing such a thing into Google, so I’d wonder why you want to do this. There are plenty of other saints to petition (and plenty of non-denominational methods) to get help with uncrossing and healing, and you need to establish a relationship with Santa Muerte before you go asking her for things. Since uncrossing and healing generally have some sort of urgency attached to them, it seems like an odd place to start for your first approach to Santisima Muerte and I would recommend other methods, something non-denominational, or if you already know something about working with saints and spirits more generally, petitioning one you already know.

I’d advise that you establish a good working relationship with any saint or spirit before asking for favors. And the penalties for treating Santa Muerte with disrespect can be quite severe, so that’s why I don’t advise you just go buy a holy card, bring it home, and start demanding shit. I’d advise that you first establish a good working relationship with a protective saint like St. Cyprian or St. Michael before working with Santa Muerte, as well.

But he short answer to the question is yes, she can be petitioned for uncrossing, healing, and a host of other things. Those who have long-standing, strong relationships with any saint will petition that saint for all kinds of things. That’s how patronage works, which I touch on in an explanatory post on working with saints as well as in various posts throughout the years including the one on St. Martha (particularly in the comments section of the version on livejournal).

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As you can see from this photo essay by Time magazine, devotees petition her for all kinds of things, sometimes the same sorts of things one would petition any saint for, and sometimes for the kind of assistance that other saints wouldn’t touch. Here is a collection of prayers that demonstrates some of the range of things for which her devotees call on her.

Above all, I think it’s important to recognize her and to honor her. Get to know her and let her get to know you. Give her gifts and make a place for her in your home and your life. Use the rituals and traditions of the Catholic church. Don’t try to “paganize” her or skimp on the incense and scapulars and rosaries and novenas. Invoke and establish a relationship with a figure like St. Michael or St. Cyprian (or Christ or the Trinity or Holy Family) as well, to honor and call on alongside her. Then you can ask her patronage for blessing, uncrossing, healing, protection, money, justice, etc.

But if you’ve never dealt with her before and you have a pressing need for uncrossing or healing, I’m not sure why you’d want to start with her for your first attempts – there are simpler and safer ways to approach your goals. But once you have a relationship with her, she is a powerful ally for all kinds of things, is said to love and protect her children fiercely, and will help the under-dog and the disenfranchised get help and justice from persecution.

Can you put Erzulie Freda with Santa Muerte?

I would not recommend this. First of all, they come from two totally different traditions. This is not a buffet and neither will appreciate being treated as mix-n-match. Second of all, they have very different personalities and very different realms. Third, they have both been described as a bit choosier or pickier about the company they keep than some others might be, and neither is a spirit that you want to piss off. Fourth, they do not like the same decor or offerings. Fifth, you complicate an already complex situation by risking displeasure if one perceives that you are treating the other better or not giving her the respect or offerings she deserves; Freda especially can be picky or demanding, and you don’t need to invite trouble.

If you don’t have much room in your home and can’t give every saint a separate altar, at least delineate separate areas; for instance, if you have only one mantle on which to keep statues, then have one section set off with a cloth covering of a color appropriate to your work with Santisima Muerte (if you are setting an altar up to her for the first time, I’d start with her white aspect), and have a separate section with pink or lighter blue or a lacy white cloth for Erzulie Freda, so they have their own “rooms.” But I would avoid putting them together like this if I at all could. I have heard of both of these making their displeasure known in very unpleasant ways.

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Some saints aren’t picky about this kind of thing, but some are. For instance, I have Erzulie Freda and Erzulie Dantor in separate rooms of the house. I happen to have Erzulie Dantor, the Ghuede family, my ancestor altar, Ogoun, and Santisima Muerte in the same room, but each has their own altar structure, table, shelf, whatever. Dantor and Santa Muerte don’t share the same wall (but Santa Muerte shares the same wall with my ancestor altar). And even though I work with St. Cyprian and St. Michael when I’m working with Santa Muerte, they all have their own full altars separately.

New items at ebay and bonanza – jewelry and Sanguis Veneris

Somebody wrote me asking for a goat horn, and I said I’d order one from my "animal bits" supplier. I also said I was not likely to recall who asked me for it.  Sure enough, I forgot.  But I have a polished, hollow goat horn up on ebay for you. ETA: they found it and got it!



Santisima Muerte altar spell bottle, FIXED, customized, and chock full of herbs, roots, curios, etc.  Perfect for a spell of the Intranquil Spirit variety.

St. Expedite rosary bracelet with customizable spell pendant



Custom love-drawing mojo rosary bracelet
– non-denominational, but Erzulie Freda approved, and can be customized for her

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Limited edition Sanguis Veneris oil and powder.

If you read my older post about Sanguis Veneris, you know it’s a medieval love and healing formula, and I wanted to give it a go even though it’s European and I no longer work too much in European herb-lore, because it has uses in conjure as well and because the astrological event for its creation happened to be coming up. So I went ahead and took this astrological opportunity to make up a batch of Sanguis Veneris oil (HIGHLY concentrated, quite thick and full of powdered resins and herbs, so dilute, dilute, dilute) and powder (pure, 100% powdered herbs and resins, NO base or filler or mineral ingredients). The oil can be worn (see caveats below), used to dress candles, mojos, objects, etc, just like any condition oil.  The powder can be burned as incense on a charcoal block, added to mojos, added to a base oil to make your own oil, etc.  Caution: MAY STAIN SKIN if a lot is used, WILL STAIN FABRIC etc so handle with care, especially in concentrated amounts.

This formula does NOT contain human blood, just plant matter and essential oils.  It was made in a ritual context under the appropriate astrological conditions and set under the light of the full moon.  (My initial formal hands-on training in herblore was in European traditions, so I do know how to do this stuff even though I work primarily in African-American herblore, and I spent nearly two decades as an initiate in a couple of formal hermetic, ceremonial magic, wand-waving and robe-wearing and qabala-using traditions and do know my astrology, sigils, grimoires, K and C of the HGA etc as well, so I broke out some of the old altar implements for this one). It does not contain anything that is not theoretically safe for use on skin, and I tested it on myself before listing it, but as with ANY ritual oil, you might want to dilute it and do a spot test before wearing it, and you wouldn’t use it as a perfume but rather as a ritual anointing oil. 

It *may* stain your skin – there is no way to avoid that given the ingredients – but if used in small enough quantities and away from white clothing, you might be alright. You might not want to dab it behind your ears, of course, but you could use it similarly to body paint and paint symbols or sigils on yourself, or dab it at appropriate spots (at the heart and right above the pubic bone below your navel would be good places) or, if your lover is adventurous, on him or her.  However, please note that it is not edible and would taste absolutely horrible, and should not be used as a personal lubricant nor on any areas where you want someone’s mouth to go.)  You can also use it to paint your lover’s name on the soles of your feet to put a little "commanding" action into your love workings.  (You can use a toothpick if you don’t have a paintbrush that’s that small).  I tried the foot-painting trick and it did not stain the bottom of my foot, and I dabbed a bit on my wrists and it did not stain my skin, but I can’t promise that it won’t stain you.

If you wanted to dilute this in a carrier oil I would try about half a dropper per half ounce of oil.  At that level it may still stain clothing (when I say it may stain, I don’t mean it won’t ever wash off with soap and water, but it may take a few washings to fade completely if you use it undiluted, or it may not wash completely out of whites).  You could also just add a few drops to a carrier oil for a lighter blend, and/or add a few drops to another type of love or lust condition oil, or to a bath salt base or incense powder base.  The scent is very lightly sweet.  If you dilute it you may not smell anything, so it becomes a matter of personal preference.  Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s not working though.

If you prefer, you could add a drop or two to your favorite ritual or anointing oil if you use such on your skin (please note my usual caveats about my own oils – they are generally not designed for use on skin unless the listing specifically says so, and will nearly always need to be diluted to proper skin-safe levels if you decide to wear them).

This thick mixture makes a fabulous candle dressing and the powder makes a fascinating, unusual incense.  You can certainly add a pinch of it to a less expensive incense blend to stretch it out (and I would advise it – uncut, this can be almost too thick and heady, and it does have a slightly bitter undertone and lots of resins in it).  A little of this goes a long, long way.  You could also dress your candle with another condition oil or plain olive oil and sprinkle the powder on the candle,  or roll your candle in it. 

This blend would be especially appropriate when you’re trying to draw a lover with the means and desire to give you lots of gifts, attention, money etc, or to get your current lover to loosen up on the purse strings a little bit. It’s also appropriate for situations where you are concerned that people NOT gossip or spread rumors about your relationship, if for any reason you need to keep it under wraps, so in that particular area it has a protective quality (though it can’t be expected to totally hide crimes or affairs all on its own!).  If people are gossiping about you because they are jealous of your looks or love life, this can help with that sort of thing.  Finally, it can be used in spellwork to cool off hot tempers in a relationship and put the love back in the center – it’s not a reconciliation oil exactly, it won’t just heal up all difficulties and it wouldn’t work alone to return a lost lover, but it can turn the volume down on the anger and turn the volume up on the love and remembering why you got together in the first place.

From a hoodoo perspective, the ingredients in this blend are healing, relaxing, protective (especially from those telling lies), good for sensual love, and good for money-protection and money-drawing.  So this isn’t a "true sweet romance" love formula, and it’s not a "Fiery Love" blend, but it definitely has sexual/sensual overtones, and within a certain sphere, it’s definitely a multi-purpose oil.

Limited edition – once it’s gone, it’s gone, at least until the next appropriate astrological event comes around.

Finally, remember that everything you see at ebay can also be had at bonanza, often at a discount (chicken, turkey, and alligator feet excluded).

erzulie freda altar piece (SOLD)

I stayed up way too late finishing this and a couple of custom pieces last night, so now I have to take a nap.

This little confection will reside on my Erzulie Freda altar until it finds its new home.

ebay auctions ending soon

St. Michael and the choirs of angels chaplet

Erzulie Freda Rosary

Santisima Muerte Rosary

Spirit Trap box

Remember the November shipping special code for journal readers!

new voodoo and jewelry items [ETA: SOLD]


freda rosary
Originally uploaded by Karma Zain

Erzulie Freda informs me that I will be making another one of these rosaries immediately, for her. But I don’t have any more pinkish-purple beads like this. So if this piece sells, the proceeds will be going directly to the purchase of more beads for Erzulie Freda. That should be a chapter in my autobiography or something… always more beads for Erzulie Freda 🙂

ETA: this piece has been sold.

More here on flickr

More here on ebay

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

August 22 is the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

What is this immaculate heart? Well, perhaps counter-intuitively, it’s that sacred heart image you see in tattoos and in Catholic art, sometimes aflame, and/or pierced by (a) sword(s), and/or roses, lilies, and/or thorns. It’s sometimes pictured alone and sometimes in the anatomically correct place over the clothing of the Blessed Mother. (Jesus sometimes has a very similar one — his is usually “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” and hers is “The Immaculate Heart of Mary.”)

It’s immaculate in the sense of spotless purity, love, and devotion to her son.

A novena from the back of a prayer card I’ve got illustrates some of the qualities associated with the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially …(special intention)

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.
Amen.

Because of the iconography, the symbols of this devotion are sometimes associated in voudon with Erzulie Freda.