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.

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.

Manman Brigitte bottle up for auction on eBay

I rarely do auctions, but I have one up now on eBay for an altar/libation bottle for Manman Brigitte.

Voodoo Libation Bottle + Spirit Bath ~ Manman Brigitte

Item listing is for an etched- and cut-glass hand-decorated perfume-style altar or libation bottle, decorated for and dedicated to Manman Brigitte, mistress of the large, powerful, and rambunctious Gheuede family of loa.  The neck is embellished with glass beads, ribbons, a wire-wrapped purple glass heart bead, and a pewter St. Brigid medal, secured with raffia (this raffia actually comes from Africa directly, if you like to know the little personal histories behind the components of the pieces you buy – I buy the large, lost-wax-method-cast African brass beads that I use in some of my jewelry locally, from a twenty-something kid who works at his uncle’s import shop.  The kid’s grandfather is a tribal chieftain in Ghana, he says, and wearing all that jewelry all the time is very heavy, he also says!  The raffia is what the large beads come strung on, and I like to use it rather than raffia plucked off a shelf at an art supply store.     The bottle it decorates, I’m afraid, just comes from a factory in China though.)

It will reside on my three-tiered Ghuede altar until it finds its new home with a devotee of the loa.  It comes with a four-ounce bottle of hand-blended ritual bath for Manman Brigitte.  My voodoo baths are hand-blended here from my formulas, and are the very same baths I use in my own sevis and when I perform in-person headwashings and spiritual baths at my usually-annual headwashing/spiritual cleansing events.  Like most sacred baths in Haitian and New World vodoun, these are strongly scented and contain perfumes and colognes in addition to herbs and hydrosols, so a little goes a long way; a bottle of bath mixture could be diluted in a tub of water if taking a full immersion bath, or a few splashes could be added to a basin of water for a stand-up bath, or you could use the mixture undiluted as a sprinkle or spray.

Entire piece is app. 5.5 inches tall, including the stopper.  The bottle itself is 4 inches tall and 2" wide. 

A portion of proceeds from sale of voodoo altar bottles and voodoo rosaries goes to Fonkoze.org, a not-for-profit, no-missionary-strings-attached organization designed to empower the poor of rural Haiti, give them literacy and financial skills, and help them build a firm foundation to better their lives and their quality of life through micro-banking and small-business startup help — all, crucially, while putting Haitian nationals (especially women) in leadership positions and giving them religious, artistic, aesthetic, and economic autonomy instead of asking them to reject their culture or religion of origin.

I create these ritual folk art items individually, in a ritual context and in service to the loa. Thus they are not meant just for spooky decoration or "goth chic" – they are ritually constructed, consecrated, "fed" religious items and are intended for altar use in a religious context, not to look cool or freak your mother out, ok?

Shipping is via priority mail with delivery confirmation and insurance.  If you order additional items and they will fit in the same priority flat rate box as this bottle and the bottle of bath, then there will be no additional shipping charge for the other items; feel free to write first and ask if you aren’t sure if your items will qualify or if you want me to confirm what the postage will be before you bid.

Please note handling times before bidding!!  The handling time is because nearly all of my items are custom-finished and prayed over, blessed, or consecrated before leaving my hands (so feel free to tell me a bit about the situation you’re getting this item for and I can customize the prayers or consecrations of your item as I thank the spirits for their guardianship of the ritual object and ask them to guard it and their new owner in its new home). And have a look at the FAQ and ALL of the item listing details on this page, please, before purchasing from me, *please* – it’s frustrating to put things like handling time and postage cost in the item listing but have people freak out and write me 50 messages when the item doesn’t ship within 24 hours!  I *always* answer my email and am happy to answer questions – but given the volume of messages I get every single day, it usually takes me about two business days to respond.  However, half of the questions I get have already been answered in the item listing and/or FAQ 🙂

custom ghuede/ancestor box

This is nearly finished (something unique to this loa and therefore not for public consumption still needs to be added), but I wanted to photograph it because it’s a new "feel" for me on a Ghuede box – less flash, more Victorian, more "mourning cabinet" type of thing. 

This is NOT for sale; it’s a custom piece.

what I’ve been up to [pictures]

Continue reading “what I’ve been up to [pictures]”

manman brigitte and baron samedi altar (SOLD)

I cleaned these bones myself, so in a way I feel like I’ve been working on this piece for six month! These are possum bones that I got away from the dogs before they were done with him and buried. There are teeth and everything, and some genuine Alabama dirt still on them, too. I didn’t peroxide them so don’t go licking them or anything.

Includes a vial of graveyard dirt, a little top hat, a tiny little glass lampwork pepper bead, real Mardi Gras beads, and boxwood skull beads. Absolutely positively one of a kind.

Now I really am taking a nap.

hand painted saints medals

Collection of various hand painted saints medals, including St. Cyprian and two for the Ghuedes.

brigitte box and chaplet (sold)

Continue reading “brigitte box and chaplet (sold)”

ghuede rosary [SOLD]

Continue reading “ghuede rosary [SOLD]”