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.

damballah wedo rosary necklace

damballah wedo rosary
Originally uploaded by Karma Zain

I’ve had an etsy account for over a year now, but my camera wasn’t quite up to the task in terms of my selling items there. Now it is.

Introducing my etsy shop, also called Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies, where you will find items exclusive to the etsy shop, such as this Damballah Wedo rosary, made with clear crackle-glass beads, white stone cross beads, and a white snakeskin topaz pendant set in white copper. NOT available on ebay.

(You may also find slighly cheaper shipping options on etsy. I’m still experimenting. If the etsy thing works out…. well, we’ll see. It could reduce my “overhead” — ebay’s fees are getting worse every time you turn around — and that could mean lower prices in the long run. So if you shop at etsy, let me know, and I’ll keep listing items there!)

bit of a convo with another attendee at local solstice gathering – info on points chauds and pakets

> Please excuse my ignorance, but I have never worked with pakets before. Is this a part of rootwork, or voudon, or both?

In my opinion, and I’m not trying to set myself up as some kind of expert on this stuff, pakets and mojo bags have a great deal in common and probably spring from the same sources/places.  A paket is, really,
just a charm that is somehow tied up or contained.  Mojo bags used in hoodoo are often little bags that are tied with a drawstring, but they needn’t be. They could as easily be a small cloth packet tied up like
an envelope, in whatever shape, with string or cord.  A paket can be a jar full of herbs and offerings which is covered with cloth and pinned together and tied with ribbons.  The word simply means “packet.”

I have an introductory paper that covers points chauds (as physical objects) on my blog at [redacted; write for details]; I know you and I have talked about them; this is in case anyone reading this wants to read
more.  A point chaud would literally be tying a spirit to a physical object — in a way that I believe to be similar to the work we are doing on our own physical and astral bodies as we work the points
system in a hands on way.  A mojo bag is never going to be traditionally used for tying a spirit (in the sense of a loa or saint) to an object (though it may occasionally be made to call on a certain spirit or saint); a paket may or may not be dedicated to or call on a particular spirit; a point chaud always ties a spirit, or rather a “moment” or “Flash” of the spirit — it’s something along the lines of a time/space snapshot, in
my humble opinion.  My intent with points chauds on the solstice will be to see if we can get this “snapshot” of our holy place itself, to take home with us into our own private spaces.

So, should we be thinking about what we > want to “charge” these items for? Are we talking practical magick here, like > I want x to happen, so I’m going to make a paket to push that in my favor
> kind of thing? Or am I completely off track?

this can certainly be done.  For instance, I will be doing some work for myself for success in a publishing endeavor this summer.  I could choose to make this with Legba specifically in mind, or not. personally, I will not; one of my household “adopted ancestor” spirits is Gloria Anzaldua and I am more likely to call on her assistance with this b/c I have worked with her on writing-specific stuff for a long time.  (Using or working with spirits in this case is not the same as the ‘bought points’ – points achete –  where you pretty much enslave a spirit; obviously only a fool would try to do that to a loa in the regleman or even an ancestor).  Also, a paket could be made for calling on Dantor’s protection, or for beginning a relationship with Bawon Kriminel, or whatever you can think of, really.

> On another note, I am very interested in govi work. Again, excuse my
> ignorance, but if I’m understanding it right, a govi is a sort of clay or
> glass jar that you evoke a spirit into and keep around for…whatever you
> keep spirits around for.

If I’m correct, govi very literally means “clay jar” or something like that.  but my understanding is similar to yours in that they are often used for the sort of thing you’re talking about.  They are used in ancestor work sometimes, or even to house part of the spirit of a serviteur or temple member.  In many cases it’s less that it contains a spirit, or the whole of an entity, and more that it’s a means itself, a time/place/space itself, where a spirit can come.  So on my ancestor altar, I have a container for my grandfathers, but they
certainly do not live in the containers and are not confined to them. However, there’s a sense in which they reside there, in a way, if that makes any sense at all.  It makes it easier to work with them.  My
long-deceased grandfather’s container has his graveyard dirt in it. My more recently deceased grandfather’s doesn’t, yet, and the connection is weaker.  In other cases, though, and in a sense even in
this case, a govi can be thought of as a particular type of paket, in a way.

 I have no experience with this in the context of
> Voudon (I do in other traditions), but would be interested in exploring it.
> So add that to the list of possible things to do this next weekend.

Fabulous.  This is a good place for me to mention, or reiterate, that I am by no means trying to recreate any so-called authentic Haitian practice into Arabia work.  We’re not in Haiti 🙂  but we are in the direct lineage of + Michael Bertiaux, whose work, however difficult it may be to trace sometimes in terms of specifics and vocabulary, is shot through with Franco-Haitian magickal influence and terminology. We are heirs to a vodoun current that hasn’t been explored as much as some of the other elements of our Work. THAT is what I’m interested in. So I think your work with govis from other traditions is exactly the sort of thing we should talk about and experiment with.

> And for those who are coming that are new to Voudon, I highly recommend
> Karma’s suggestion about doing lave tete (a.k.a. “head washing”), which is a
> way to “clean” or “purify’ your “head” with sights on gaining knowledge of
> who your met tet is. The tradition says everyone has a met tet, or “head
> lwa” – the lwa of your head. This would be the lwa who you have a special
> relationship with, the one that is most prominent in your work, and the one
> you should begin to cultivate a relationship with. At least, that is my
> understanding of it, based on my own experiences. Others should feel free to
> share their own experiences with this.

I would like to hear any other perspectives on this too.  In my experience, lave tete can serve other purposes than identifying your met tete; it may or may not do that, but it is certainly useful for
many other cases.

Note to attendees: if you are coming to this and would like a head washing and want me to make it and administer it (with the assistance of whoever would like to assist – I’m not trying to the boss of this
show), please let me know so I can bring the materials I need.  If you have a specific lwa in mind, let me know that.  If you don’t, but have a specific need in mind, let me know that too.  If you just want to
see what happens and have nothing in particular in mind, let me know that as well.  The ingredients will differ according to what you have going on, and so will the colors of cloth you will need to bring.

> So, I take it we are not talking about drumming, dancing and singing loudly
> on top of the mountain as is often done at larger, more “formal” voudon
> celebrations.

No, not at all.  One of the reasons I am interested in making pakets on the mountain is that I am afraid that our access to the mountain may one day be restricted.  In that worst-case scenario, I would like us to still have a way to visit it and I think this will help.  We may also consider doing some protection work on our “space” there.  But in any case, I don’t picture anything formal with drumming by any stretch of the imagination, not there.

 I’m sure if
> we threw down like we do each year for Fet Gede, we would attract unwanted
> guests, and I mean the kind that have flesh and bone and blood, not the
> mysteries…

Precisely 🙂  And well said.

on healing, orishas, and the diaspora

“The deities, which numbered more than four hundred in Africa, were reduced to several dozen relevant entities in the New World.  Termed orichas in Candomble, Shango, Batuque, and Santeria, and loas in Vodoun, these gods are inexorably linked to the spiritual and material well being of their devotees.  Osanyin, the secretive god of leaves, has special importance in the area of health and medicine.  Among Yoruba-Dahomey descendants in the Old and New Worlds, he symbolizes the mysterious and curative nature of the vegetal kingdom.  Legend describes how Osanyin’s knowledge of plant lore was coveted by Iansa, goddess of storms and winds, who in her jealousy raised her skirts and caused a great wind to scatter the sacred leaves in all directions.  Quickly collecting them where they fell, each oricha retains his or her own medicinal healing domain and associated plant pharmacopoeia.”

— Voeks, Robert.  “African Medicine and Magic in the Americas.”  Geographical Review 83.1 (1993): 66-78.