ldygry  has an assortment of one of a kind, handmade hoodoo amulets up on ebay.  Seriously, these are very very cool.  Go see them!

client q re. “strongest possible magic available” for her case (this is an FAQ)

A client asks if the spell she’s considering is the strongest magic available considering her situation.

***

Ok, your question raises several related issues:

1. The issue of “the strongest magic available” aka “biggest guns”

2. The relation between “more involved magic” and “the strongest magic available” and

3.  The relation between “coercive magic” and numbers one and two.

I find the analogy of strength to be less than ideal, and only problematically related to coercive magic.  I’ll discuss the issue of “strongest magic available” first.  This kind of thing is less about one spell or way of working being stronger or weaker.  It’s more like food, maybe.  For instance, there is more than one way to make chili.  You may prefer a white chili, your neighbor may prefer one with no meat.  It’s still chili (like there are uncrossing formulas that smell stronger of eucalyptus than lemon, and some people like the smell of eucalyptus. On the other hand, some hate the smell, and would rather work regularly with a lemon-based formula – these are not identical formulas, obviously, adn lemon has attributes with cutting ties to the past that eucalyptus does not have, but both can be the basis for a good uncrossing formula.  Neither is stronger than the other, in any real way.)

Or maybe tools are a better analogy, though still problematic — you need to build a new deck.  You have a good idea you’ll need wood, and a skilsaw, and a hammer and nails, and a level.  But you have a lot of options within that.  The smaller decisions are often related to taste, to previous ways of working that you have found effective, to cost and availability of materials, and to personal preference that’s hard to quantify in some way where it can be said something is “best of all.”  Hoodoo as a folk practice just doesn’t work that way. Different workers prefer different ways of working, and will recommend one spell over another depending on what personal concerns are available. For instance, a honey jar is just not going to be as strong without personal concerns.  It’s the available ingredients in that case rather than spell itself that is “better” or “stronger.”  If you don’t have personal concerns, and/or if you need something to work quickly, I would probably recommend something other than a honey jar.  Does this make sense?

For instance, based on the concerns you have and what you were able to send me, I made the recommendation I made.  I will be sending you the ritual remains of the [work we discussed] to incorporate into your [other work that you’re going to do].  If you were not doing a [certain kind of] spell, and I were doing all the work for you, I might have recommended a [different] attraction spell instead, after which I would have disposed of the ritual remains myself.  Is this making any sense?

Now, as for something being “more involved” — many workers of various levels do very very well with simple candle burning rituals.  Candle magick is as old as fire and many non-experienced practitioners find it easiest to start with. That doesn’t mean it’s not as powerful as other stuff.  It’s just a way of approaching the work.  Some folks prefer things that involve burying something in the earth, nailing something to a tree, or throwing something in water, depending on what they’re working on.  Most professional rootworkers will ask you a few questions about what you have available, what you want to happen, and what your timeline is like and make a recommendation based on that.  In some cases, a spell may be worked on altar for months or even longer — this isn’t necessarily a better or stronger working.  It just depends on what you’re doing.  a long standing thing like a drawn out court case is admirably suited to the slow-but-steady variety of altar workings.

Finally, re. coercive magic. “Strongest” is not the same as “coercive.”  Some rootworkers won’t work coercive magic.  I, personally, will, if I feel the case is justified, the client is forthcoming with me about the details, and my preliminary divination doesn’t suggest I leave it alone.  I don’t actually have a problem doing coercive magic for love workings in many situations.  However, I think it’s a good idea to point you to this livejournal entry
http://karmazain.livejournal.com/11876.html
(if that link doesn’t work, go to karmazain.livejournal.com and click on the Love Spell tags from the list available on the right hand side)
The gist is that coercive magic very often has to be long term work.  Hopefully this entry will explain why.

more stuff that annoys me

I know, I know, getting upset because somebody is Wrong on the Internet is … well, a waste of time.  But one of the reasons to have a livejournal or blog is to vent, so I’m going to.

Seen (not all that) recently on the Internet: an assertion that hoodoo is intimately linked to water, and thus rivers, lakes, and the sea are integral for ingredients in rootwork.

Ok, please qualify your terms before I burst.  Starting with some phrases involving “region” and “culture of origin” and “geography” and “family tradition” and “blended paganism” would be helpful.  Actually, I’m not sure they’d solve a thing for me, but they’d make that statement more palatable.

Similarly, “Hoodoo practitioners are mainly Roman Catholic.”

Damn it, no they’re not. 

Have you MET any?  Have you met any outside Louisiana?  NOTHING in the available literature and fieldwork of the past century that records the actual words and practices of hoodoo practitioners, NOR anything you will see in a tour of spiritualists, readers, and candle shop owners in the Southeastern U.S., supports this.  Will people please stop substituting the unique thing that is New Orleans for the rest of the conjure world (and the voodoo world for that matter)?  I was born and raised in southern Alabama, home of Sister Sheila, Madame Zabrena, Sister Clare, and Sister Moses Collins among countless others (I challenge you to find a Catholic among them). Professor Val had a shop on Holcombe Avenue in Mobile from the 50s until after I moved away the first time in the 90s.  Around there, people go to church every Sunday (not Mass), and then they go see Professor Val right after.  Every Sunday.  These folks are NOT CATHOLIC.  This REGION is not Catholic.  Trust me.  I went to Catholic school as a child and teenager and I heard the shit some folks still spew about Catholics (they use Catholics to get warmed up on Jews, African Americans, and these days, Muslims).  My birth city has a church large enough to be familiarly called “Six Flags Over Jesus.”  It is literally larger than a city block.  The interstate service road curves around it. And guess what — Baptist.  Rinse, repeat.  Meanwhile, my daughter went to Catholic school when we returned to Mobile, and the tuition I paid as a tithing member of the Church while she did preschool, pre-K, and Kindergarten there was less than any decent daycare program within twenty miles.  Our parish had the dubious reputation of being “the poorest parish in the diocese.”  Why so poor?  Well, low membership, spare tithes, lots of financial aid from the parish to needy families who wanted their kids to have a Catholic education.  Ok, I digress.  But the low numbers should be telling.

Not that it’s all Baptist around there.  My father took me to backwoods whitewashed clapboard wooden churches as a child where people prayed in the Spirit and spent most of the service singing and where I was the lightest skinned person in the house.  He took me to suburban fancy churches as a teenager where people prayed in the Spirit (and a couple of them laid hands on me and tried to drive the demons from my body, I shit you not)  and I was one among many, many pink folks.  I know a bit firsthand about the religions, readers and candleburners in this town, largely because my parents were *insane* with the religion thing, and I know a bit about the readers and candleburners halfway up the state in Birmingham, where I did most of my undergrad in the early 90s, and about near Ft. Stewart, Georgia and Savannah, where I lived for three years in the mid-to-late 90s, and not a damned one of them I ever met was Catholic (though in the mid-90s Birmingham saw a big influx of Latin American workers, beliefs, and products, and thus an influx of Catholicism and saints’ imagery, and more Juste Juez amongst the Sonny Boy products on Southside).  One itty bitty, ancient woman in Ludowici, GA, whose daughter booked her appointments, gave me the most expensive cold reading I have ever paid for in my life; I ought to dig up the notes about that from 1997.  She used Tarot cards, and a plain seven day candle, and wore an old flour-sack-print housedress like my great grandmother used to wear.  I digress — again.

“Hoodoo practitioners are mainly Roman Catholic” — I find this sort of statement to be ignorant at best and tinged with racism at worst.

We had a “junk shop” in town when I was in my early teens, and this guy would sell old appliances, old books, old whatever.  I was early in my ceremonial magick “career” and i was there with my mom looking at something or other.  I bought a copy of Waite’s “The Book of Ceremonial Magic” from there that I still have.  (You Gulf Coast folks may remember it — it was later, or maybe earlier, the site of some teen club — it was called “Future Vision & Specialty Company” on Old Pascagoula Road in Mobile).  If you didn’t know any better, it was the place to go to buy lawnmower parts.  I didn’t go much because I didn’t drive then and my Catholic mom wouldn’t have bought any of my reasons for wanting to go.  I got inspired while I was there and asked the owner, an African American man behind the counter, after I saw a tucked-away section of occult books, if he had any dragon’s blood oil for sale.  He went in the back and emerged a few minutes later with a bottle that he sold me.  It took me nearly ten years to figure out why the dragon’s blood was in a mineral oil base, which at the time dismayed me because I was expecting Anna Riva type perfumey stuff (which in 1987 was about all you could get in Southern Alabama unless you had a car or a credit card; I had neither.  I thought since all the oil I could get was stinky perfumey stuff, that if I bought single-note or single-ingredient oils, I could better combine my own without getting headaches from smelly synthetic perfumes.  What did I know!). 

Anyway, I get it now (the thinking behind why one might use a mineral oil base for such a blend — and there’s more than one possibility, one giving him a lot of credit and the other not as much).  But he *knew what it was* and could whip it up in less than ten minutes — obviously had some “special stock” in the back room that was only for those who knew to ask for it — and I wish I’d paid more attention.  I’m mad at myself for not hanging around more (and learning, among other things, why it was pretty neo-pagan of me to ask him for dragon’s blood oil lol).  Anyway, my point is that I go places and check things out, and I have been making a habit of that for a couple of decades now, and I challenge anybody to back up that “hoodoo practitioners are mostly Catholic” shit, even WITH some serious geographical qualifications.  I give Ray Marlborough his due — while I personally would never use some of his formulas, he is generally careful and upfront about the way the stuff he learned is peculiar to his own region, and he generally notes when he has tweaked a tradition — so go on with your bad self.  But you need to check yourself before you say that “most Hoodoos have an altar to Damballah Wedo” because that is fucking Llewellyn bullshit, my friend, and you should be ashamed.

Most of the less than orthodox spiritual stuff I grew up around came from three sources — my great grandmother, and you could never tell when she was being serious and when she wasn’t; books, which I devoured from an early age (ask the five year old what her name means, go ahead); and my parents’ hippie upbringing that veered sharply when my mom went back to the Roman Catholic Church when I was 9 and my dad took a sudden, serious interest in Spiritualist churches when his morning hammock meditation wasn’t doing it for him anymore.  Does not make for traditionalist stuff, I freely admit.  And I do not actually privilege “traditional” practice over .. whatever.  I just believe in making sensible and careful claims and backing up your own shit.  I also freely own my own syncretic practices as well as my White Liberal Guilt and my more than occasional discomfort with the fact that I have landed myself in a position where I end up Holding Forth about African American folk magic practices to people who don’t know the difference between New Orleans, Haiti, Cuba, that Africa is a continent and not a country, etc.  By all rights, according to these people, I should be researching the heretics in the French side of the family and doing benedicaria research on gr-gram’s side and maybe some belligerent holding forth about Catholicism and Irish politics from gr-pa’s side and probably drinking a lot of beer to boot.

Oh wait.  I’m already doing all that.  Er.  Well, anyway, it’s an odd spot.  But there you have it.  Cheers.

on chicken foot charms, now and then

I keep running into statements like this online, ref. Chicken Foot charms: “Used in hoodoo, voodoo, and ceremonial magick for centuries for love, luck and protection.”

Bullshit.  That’s just utter bullshit.

I’ve been avoiding posting this for some time now, because I’m just going to have my research ripped off and posted somewhere else without proper attribution, but what do you do.  I figure it’s best for the facts to be out there instead of a bunch of speculation.

There is precisely no evidence for chicken foot charms being used in Western ceremonial magick that I have been able to find, and I am much more than passingly familiar with Western hermetic traditions, medieval and modern.  So that right there renders the above statement bullshit.

Now, about the voodoo and hoodoo.  Even if you delete the bit about ceremonial magick, the above statement is still problematic.  I take particular issue with the “love and luck” aspects of it.  I’m not trying to say you can’t make a chicken foot charm for whatever you darned well please — you go right ahead, and more power to you — but don’t make centuries-old claims for practices and expect people who know what’s what to swallow that hook.

In 1920, Dr. Daniel Lindsey Thomas, an English professor who was the founder of the Kentucky branch of the American Folklore Society, published his collection of folklore recorded in Kentucky [1].  There is a section on “hoodoo,” which in this case is used as a verb sometimes with the same sense we would say “someone was crossed” or “someone was conjured,” which is to say that “to be hoodooed” is an undesirable thing.  So what you have here is a description of a mojo bag that is assembled with ingredients to do harm to another.  On page 284, the belief reads:

3845. A hoodoo bag is a red flannel bag about six by four
inches in size, containing a pinch of salt, a pod of
red pepper, a rabbit’s foot, a chicken spur, and
some ashes. It must be “made in dead o’ night widout a spec’ o’ light.”

It is perfectly reasonable to assume that this belief related to the spur from a chicken’s foot predates the recording of this recipe.

On the same page, a belief about frizzly roosters is recorded:

3851. Negroes keep chickens with the feathers turned
back the wrong way, to keep away the hoodoos…

Now, I know keeping a frizzly chicken is not the same as making a protection charm with a chicken foot; my point is not that there is One Right Way to do stuff, nor that tricks and recipes don’t change over time in response to human life and locales changing.  But what we’re seeing here are records of beliefs about using part of a chicken foot to do harm to another, and about the ability of chickens to scratch up enemy tricks laid in the yard when someone is trying to harm to you. The latter especially is well-known and widespread. But anybody who can find me a source for using them for love or money that is older than twenty years old that furthermore doesn’t originate in New Orleans gets a free chicken foot.

Chicken feet are used in Santeria, too, from some reports – I’m not a follower of this religion and I don’t know if the reports I read and heard are accurate or not, but that is one contemporary usage.  They may or may not be used for love or money; my sense is that they aren’t, but are instead used in protective and combative work on the rare occasions that they are not simply a byproduct of ritual sacrifice.  If they are used at all (feel free to chime in if you know more about Santeria than I do!) it doesn’t seem to be for love or money.  Also, as you may have noticed if you have been paying attention, Santeria is not hoodoo is not voodoo is not ceremonial magick, so again, my “bullshit” label still sticks.

I have read a report of someone finding a dried chicken foot hanging from a tree in Spain within the last ten years; this was reported in the popular press.  Since love and luck charms are most often kept in the proximity of the person they’re made for or a target of that person, rather than on a tree on public property, my sense here is again that its use is protective or even aggressive (assuming it’s not a stunt pulled by a teenager to scare a neighbor.  I mean, at the end of the day, severed chicken feet are pretty creepy looking). but even if you wanted to make some serious stretches, this is hardly evidence to support any claims about “centuries” or “love and money” or hoodoo, voodoo, or ceremonial magick.

I have heard reports that chicken feet are used in Jamaica to protect from duppies.  I heard this from some random person at a party in the 2000s.  The nearest I’ve been able to find is a mention of chicken feet used for this purpose in a work of fiction, Anne Rivers’ 2001 novel Nora, Nora, set in Lytton, Georgia.  The teenage character Peyton has a chicken foot, and explains,

It’s got power, no matter how it looks….  Chickens are powerful carriers in vodun.  That’s what they call voodoo in Haiti.  The Cubans have got a slightly different pantheon, but the charms look almost the same.  This chicken foot will absolutely protect you from duppies and were-tigers.  That’s probably why you never see them in the South, all those chickens.

I have no idea how to figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg, in this case — or, rather, which came first, fiction or folklore.  And I haven’t figured out why a were-tiger would be afraid of a chicken foot.  But in any case, we still have strikes against “centuries,” leaving aside the matter of a fairly unreliable narrator of a work of fiction.  You’ll have to ask Anne Rivers where she got her info.  My bet is, a website devoted to New Orleans voodoo.

Now, Google will point you to some websites selling chicken feet.  I’m one of those people who sells them on her website. I learned how to dry them and “fix” them in New Orleans, from a voodoo practitioner there (this would have been about 1994-ish? They enjoyed a period of popularity as car protection charms in New Orleans, most ). It may be “New World” voodoo in terms of dried feet done up as charms; I honestly don’t know “how far back” something like that goes. I know that my ritual creation of them is informed by lore about chickens being used to scratch up tricks in the yard. I know that from my childhood in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida, there are folk traditions about them that I think are pretty common
around here. One was of the sort of protective variety — you could bury a chicken foot in the backyard to cure what my great grandmother called “cholera morbis,” which by the time I was a child was used as a deliberately fancy-sounding term for any number of minor childhood illnesses (it did *not* ever refer to actual cholera in this context; it was more akin to kissing the boo-boo to make it better, something you told children). I filed that one in the same mental folder as burying the apple for warts and similar tricks — you “put off” the bad stuff on the item, sometimes by rubbing it on the affected part, and then buried it. This was in Florida. Now I never saw any dried chicken feet in Florida, but my family did have a tradition of black chicken feathers, particularly whisks or fans made of them, to “clean up” around the house (and I always put black chicken feathers on the chicken foot charms I make and sell).

Now, I don’t know how much my Catholic great grandmother came up with for the sensation of it (because she loved to do parlor tricks — she would do seances and table rapping and mesmerize us and the lights would come up and we’d have ashes all over our faces or something equally shocking) and how much came from “around,” so I really can’t make any definitive statements, just tell you where I got the idea from. She did collect other feet and animal bits, including dried armadillo shells, one of which, with its tail curved around to make a basket handle, resided in her kitchen, and I can only pray we didn’t use it as a fruit basket or something, ’cause it turns out armadillos are germbags. and we still do this. We collect feet from various animals on back scratchers (alligator ones are easy to come by) and we have an elaborate family hazing ritual for new friends and significant others that involves pawing them with this dessicated foot and uttering a word that I can’t spell in English. (I know I sound facetious but I’m quite serious.  My ten year old daughter does this trick to people, my 90 year old grandmother is too dignified, but her mother taught the trick and she knows about it, and every single one of my first cousins, in six different states, knows the trick too and laughs really loud when someone sneaks up behind them to paw them with the dried foot.  We do it for fun but we got it from my great grandmother.) People who pass the “test” (can take it with a smile) are welcome in the house but they get years of ribbing if they don’t pass.  It’s also helpful, family-test wise, if you are prepared to share your momma’s name, where you went to school, and whether you can make a roux.

From the Louisiana branch came the less protective, more offensive type of beliefs — if you found severed chicken feet on your front step you had had something put on you (though truthfully, if you found any animal part on your front step it usually meant the same thing. This is the branch of the family that would never cop to any knowledge about how to DO any of this stuff, only how to have the traiteur come and clean it up if it resulted in trouble). That part of the family was also Catholic
until this generation; right now some have converted to Episcopalian due to marriage. I sell some of my chicken feet in this part of Louisiana as well, though these are the ones I don’t mojo up — there is a tradition of associating chickens and their parts with Mardi Gras “donations” to people who go around dressed up in burlap and stuff, and there is also a flamingo tradition associated with Mardi Gras in one area where I have family. Since flamingo feet aren’t really easy to come by, the occasional partygoer will buy a hot pink chicken foot decorated with dyed feathers and beads for Mardi Gras wear (this is around Baton Rouge and outlying areas).

I encountered a similar belief about chicken parts in central Alabama, though the parts were more often formerly belonging to cats (the area I was living in had a cat disappearance problem in the early 90s) and entrails seemed to be favored over feet. I don’t know what was backwoods lore and what had been imported by college students, but frankly it didn’t matter — having an animal part on your sidewalk or porch worked the head trick every time. I never encountered anything relating chicken feet to protection in central Alabama, only offensive stuff.

So that’s my back story on why I make chicken feet, and my speculation on where it might have come from.

Now, onto some contemporary chicken foot usages.  In an article by Katrien Jacobs, which you can read here, she interviews artist Barbara Groves.

Jacobs: So the success of the performance must have had something to do with those chicken feet. Can you explain that a bit more?

Groves: I grew up in Pass Christian, Mississipi, where from a young age onwards I came in contact with religious catholic mindsets and types of witchcraft and voodoo that seem to follow me around the world. Even when I moved here to Massachusetts, I remained aware of the hidden tradition of Christian culture, which is on the one hand very ornamental and festive yet morally very repressed. I see the signs of voodoo worship almost anywhere I go, and I see the chicken feet as symbol of rejuvenation and revival.

Absolutely fascinating.  However, it does nothing to weaken my original point.

One final bit of interest comes from a (never wildly popular) Libretto written by Francois M. Turenne De Pres in 1948, ostensibly based on Haitian folklore. [2]  One passage, in which the mother of a sick child frantically tries to think of ways to cure her baby, reads,

A dry chicken foot or the horn of a goat From the altar of sacrifice Will stop the death bell and make my baby well (55).

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like the author may have taken some liberties.  In any case, while this is the only reference I’ve ever seen to chicken feet for healing, exactly, we are still a far cry from love or money (assuming we may accept this as a legitimate piece of Haitian folk belief).  You will not, however, convince me that the chicken foot has been used in voodoo for centuries for love and luck.  At best, this character is talking about removing portions of sacrifices from the altars of some loa.  While I have my guess which altars those would be, assuming such a guess is even appropriate, my argument, I believe, still holds water.

As I say on the item listing for my chicken foot charms, the chicken foot is traditionally used in Southern rootwork and “New World Voodoo” (ie, New Orleans Voodoo) for protection with an undercurrent of “scratching back” against those people, entities, or energies that would harm you (not love or money, folks, sorry! Take the rootworker’s word for it!) and I create mine in the folk magic and rootwork traditions I was raised and trained in. My family is from Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, and I live and work in the Southeast, the traditional heart of hoodoo. (I don’t mean to imply there are not other makers of Chicken Foot Charms making the real things down here in Gumbo Land, because there are, and I didn’t invent them. I’m merely pointing out that some wildly inaccurate information about these charms has recently been propagated, and I encourage you to do your research).

People, doubtless having read other seller’s listings for these, keep writing me to ask me to make one for abundance, or love.  Folks, I can customize your attached mojo bag for nearly any circumstance, including abundance or love, but *chicken feet charms are used for protection,* so it’s more of a “protection in love” or “protection of resources” type working if you use a chicken foot for it.  (They are actually appropriate for slightly more aggressive forms of magic, but I don’t perform that kind of work without prior consultation, and in some cases won’t  perform it at all, depending on what it is, so you would need to write me first if you want that done.)  I’m sorry to disappoint, but using a chicken foot for a plain old love spell is like using a hammer to open a bottle of Coke.  Sure, you can do it if you try, but that’s not what the tool was designed for, there are already better tools out there designed to do what you want to do, and using the appropriate tools means you get quicker and neater results (fewer shards of glass in your sip of Coca Cola, know what I mean?)

Happy hoodooing,

Karma Zain

***********************

Other tidbits I’ve gathered since I originally wrote the first draft of this “article” :

Chicken feet used in the films The Deep and Angelheart as general bad signs or ominous objects.

A chicken foot is used in a modern Ogoun nkisi, titled “AN INKISI TO PROTECT YOUNG BLACK MALES 20TH CENTURY AND BEYOND,” by artist Renee Stout (take a look – this is astonishing work).

http://scottfredrickson.com/?cat=4I
Chicken feet are used for property protection (and, it seems, protection FROM followers of New Orleans Voodoo), in a story by Scott Fredrickson.  He writes,

I thought Marie Laveau was buried in this graveyard but found that not to be true. As I walked around looking for her grave, I stumbled across the local cemetery historian (alright, a homeless guy who knew the area and was taking some tourists on a tour). He asked me if I wanted to join his tour and I said I only wanted to find Maria Laveau’s grave. He told me she was not buried here and that this was a safe cemetery and that they “didn’t allow no voodoo in this cemetery.” He told the me he had previously gotten a bag of chicken feet from the butcher and lined them up at the two entrances to the cemetery. Since then, there has been no trouble for anyone visiting the cemetery – or so he said.

Nappy Roots member Big V apparently believes in the power of the chicken foot.  Why he wears it is not stated.

Notes on a chicken foot painting.  “Part of the conjure act in August Wilson’s first professional play Black Bart and the Sacred Hills; the chicken foot is symbolic of alternate systems of spirituality black people in the New World brought with them and created upon their arrival and commingling with other cultures.”

I don’t know exactly who this guy is, but his name is Rhondell and he was born in Kentucky.  He says, “In a certain area of the deep South, if a man came out of his house in the morning and saw two crossed chicken feet, feet cut off of a frying chicken, lying crossed on his door step or somewhere on his walkway to the street, the man would be in an utter state of panic because he knows that a black magician is practicing voodoo on him, and he feels that he has no chance because the black magician has marked him out. He is much like a member of the Mafia – he knows there’s a contract out on him.

And last but not least, here’s what cat yronwode has to say about black hens.

************************

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Kentucky Superstitions.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1920.

[2] Maia, a Libretto on Haitian Folklore
Francois M. Turenne De Pres
Phylon (1940-1956), Vol. 9, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 1948), pp. 50-57

how to learn about hoodoo (from a client query)

A client contacted me asking what websites (aside from cat’s at luckymojo, which I figure everybody knows about) are out there that provide good information on hoodoo.  She’s specifically looking for spells.

My answer: there aren’t a lot of them.  Most of what you find out there in internet land is adulterated and eclectic collections of spells from various traditions that are put together by those who follow syncretic, new-age paths. (And that is fine — it’s just not hoodoo).  There might be some hoodoo in it, but there will be a lot of other stuff too, and you pretty much already have to “get” what a hoodoo spell generally looks like in order to know if what you have is worth your time.  Here are a few sites I DO recommend, with caveats or comments, if you are interested in learning hoodoo spells (if you’re looking for formulas, you’re largely out of luck; you’ll have to figure out how stuff works and learn how to put two and two together, or five and seven as the case may be, for yourself).  The thing is — and I hope you’re paying attention right here even if you skim the rest of this — there are no spell books out there that will tell you how to do something just so.  The good thing is that if you grasp the principles, you don’t NEED to have a spellbook to tell you how to do something just so.  There is very little of that “must be done on a Tuesday when the moon is waning and this exact rhyme said just so” business in hoodoo, which is an eminently practical sort of folk practice.

1.  Lucky Mojo.  The single most well-researched, carefully attributed, and thorough site out there for info on hoodoo.  You can spend a lot of time on this site and it will all be worthwhile.  She also has pages of correspondence and emails preserved from earlier, in which people have asked questions or contributed spells, which she has then commented on.  You will learn a great deal from these comments.  This should be one of your first stops, and you should visit frequently; it’s an incredible resource by an incredibly generous woman.

2.  HyattSpells on yahoo groups.  From the list description: “This list is dedicated to the workings of Harry M. Hyatt and his studies of Witchcraft, Hoodoo, Rootwork, Conjuration, Folklore and Mythology. A list to discuss spells collected from conversations with Hoodoo Doctors and informants from the deep South from 1936-1940. Not for the squeamish, this list is to discuss spells that use ingredients that some may find offensive. Don’t join if you offend easily! For 17 years of age and over!”  Dara is another incredibly generous practitioner and researcher who takes time to maintain this valuable discussion list.  A word to the wise: follow the group rules and don’t barge in there asking for spells.  Use the message archive search feature, and stay on topic.  The list is dedicated to Hyatt material and you should keep that in mind when you post.

3.  Of Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston.  The e-text of this book is hosted by the University of Virginia.  Hurston, a Southern-born African American anthropologist who attracted some criticism due to “going native” in her fieldwork, collected material in several states for this book.  You should read her introduction on collecting folklore as well — if you really want to learn conjure, you have to talk to people.  It’s not a “book” tradition. That doesn’t mean books haven’t informed it at various stages in various areas of the country, but that it’s largely been an oral, hands-on tradition rooted in communities and neighborhoods. 

Other resources, which I can recommend with caveats:

Conjure on yahoo groups.  The noise to signal ratio is pretty high on this list, though, and if you subscribe you will have to wade through a bunch of BS about “my voodoo priestess says this” and “well my Palo initiator said this!” and “well Hyatt said this” “well nobody who would use a black cat bone is a good person” etc etc, apples and oranges stuff which frequently disintegrates into conversations about radiators and dieting.  I suppose the safest thing to say is that these folks and this list have a different definition of conjure than I do, and you shouldn’t assume conjure=rootwork=hoodoo on this group (and you will note, if you read Hyatt and Hurston for instance, that the practitioners they talked with sometimes made distinctions between these labels too, but I’ll leave that alone in an introductory post).  Conjure should probably not be your first stop unless you really have a lot of time on your hands.

Mojo Moon.  The spells on this page are all unattributed, but there is some stuff here that works from a hoodoo perspective.  There’s also some stuff that does not.

See also the blogs and sites I’ve linked to in my “links” section; they have info worth looking at.

Got a site to add?  Got a site to warn people about?  Got a question about material on a site?  Post a comment!

hoodoo rosaries and consecrations/blessings

I have been experimenting with different forms and styles of prayer beads in a sort of space where Tau Michael Bertiaux’s chapter on praying the rosary and Louisiana-area hoodoo practice merge.  In that spirit, I created a hoodoo rosary of sorts designed to amplify the practitioner’s mediumistic abilities, using appropriate colors, numbers, and saints’ medals.

 While I’m not, if you’re a newcomer to this blog, an initiate in any traditional Haitian voodoo lineage, I do work within a Gnostic Voudon tradition with full authority and consecration (as a priestess and as a bishop in Tau Michael Bertiaux’s lineage).  I am not pulling this stuff out of my ass (if I seem defensive, it’s because there are some idiots out there who have tried to tell me my business before. These idiots accumulate on yahoo groups and livejournal communities, and for some funny reason, they haven’t usually been initiated in Haiti either.  Funny how that works.)  I can also say the beginning the points chauds empowerment workings with Tau Allen Greenfield, Tau Peristera, and Tau Heosphoros, and later other coWorkers, friends, fellow bishops, and associated initiates has been the single most important magickal event in my life thus far.  The power of the pwen cho is very, very real, and it doesn’t need you to believe in it to work, nay, to knock your socks off 🙂

Anyway, I say all that to say that yes, I know this isn’t a traditional voodoo or hoodoo rosary (assuming for the sake of argument that there is such a thing, and that the term “traditional” is of any great utility in the first place), and I don’t care.

My first attempt is, in my opinion, not very attractive, but I would like to continue the project.  So there’s the public service announcement.  If anybody is interested in the theory behind these things, I’d be happy to post about it, but I don’t want to take up the airwaves if nobody cares.

I also wanted to mention that I don’t “sell” consecrations or blessings.  I sell stuff sometimes that has been variously empowered, consecrated, blessed, and/or ritually treated, but there’s a line between that and the sacerdotal side of the Work, at least for me.  In fact, if you send me an item you would like me to consecrate or bless, I will do so with no cost to you except the postage to and from me.  (You will have to wait on my available time, of course, but as I live with and serve the loa every day, and engage in the Work every day, you will probably not have to wait too terribly long).

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!