Pecan Cream Cheese Pound Cake: When St. Expedite Wants a Little Better Than Sara Lee

Tradition has it that St. Expedite loves his Sara Lee pound cake. Some devotees will even say he prefers it to homemade pound cake. I don’t know about all that. But I do know a few things.

One, you should try to be as specific as possible when working with St. Expedite.

Two, you should give him your agreed-upon offerings when you see specific movement congruent with your petition. You can’t always get *everything* you want all the time in a hurry – recognize that he did work for you and acknowledge what he was able to do. He’s not a surly teenager whose allowance needs withholding until he gets a work ethic and moves out of your basement. Give him his damn flowers.

Three, he is not gonna get mad if you give him a homemade pound cake instead of that tasteless, pale yellow brick of stuff you can buy at the gas station. Plus you can impress the currently-living and not-yet-sainted with this pound cake. This is a family recipe from my mother’s side of the family.

1 1/2 cups butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cake flour divided
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, butter, and sugar until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating between each. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Mix. Reserve 1/4 cup flour; dredge pecans in it. Add remaining flour a little at a time, beating on low speed. Fold in pecans.

Pour batter into pan and bake 1 1/2 hours or until cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in pan before removing cake.

Feast of St. Expedite

St. Expedite’s feast day is the 19th of April, and I set lights and began work on his altar for the community altar work last night.

But there are still spots left if you’d like to jump in – you can find out more at Seraphin Station.

Saint of the Month Box

Finally, St. Expedite is the saint for this month’s Saint of the Month box.

Standard box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history and recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a charm, medal, or curio. 

Deluxe box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a fixed, blessed, dressed, and decorated vigil candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history and recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a handmade chaplet, rosary, or necklace.

Learn more or order now at Seraphin Station.

More St. Expedite resources in the education section’s index of rootwork topics.

Saint of the Month: St. Martin of Tours / San Martin Caballero

Louis Galloche. “A Scene From the Life of St. Martin.” 1737. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Image Library. Public domain.

November’s saint for the Saint of the Month Box is St. Martin of Tours, aka San Martin Caballero, whose feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar is November 11th.

He was a 4th century bishop in Tours but had once been a soldier, and this is how he’s almost always pictured in the art of Western Christendom – a soldier on horseback cutting his cloak in half to clothe a beggar. He had a reputation for miracles even while he was still living, and he was one of the first non-martyred saints to be venerated so widely.

Officially, he’s the patron saint of beggars, the cavalry (and equestrians generally), innkeepers, soldiers, and geese, and he is invoked against poverty and alcoholism.

In popular practice, however, especially in the Latin American tradition, you’ll find his image in restaurants, hotels, bars, shops, and anywhere else where the proprietors rely at least in part on strangers/passing travelers for their income. You’ll also find his image — and especially his horse’s horseshoe — serving as a fairly broad-based good luck token in all kinds of contexts. Folks call on him when they need a job, pray for his intercession to protect them from evil and change their bad luck, carry his package amulet or bundle when they’re gambling, hang his image in their homes for general luck and prosperity, even build a shrine with his horseshoe when they need a better place to live (and they are sure to give the shrine pride of place when they move into the new digs!)

(c) Karma Zain 2014.

You can get your very own cool box of San Martin Caballero stuff in the Saint of the Month box for November at Seraphin Station. They usually contain something you don’t already have because I’ve collected a ton of cool stuff over the course of my lifetime working with saints and spirits, and they will usually contain some item or product that you can’t get elsewhere or otherwise.

Learn more or order your Saint of the Month box now at Seraphin Station.

October Saint of the Month Box

Seraphin Station

Saints of the month for October are St. Teresa of Avila (a mystic author and Doctor of the Church, invoked against headache and heart attack, feast day Oct. 15) or St. Jude (neglected apostle, invoked for hopeless causes, feast day Oct. 28).

Looking to spruce up your altars, add to your chaplet or holy card collection, or just learn more about saints and spirits in folk Catholicism? The Saint of the Month box gets you a hand-picked and handmade bundle of saints’ goodies selected for you and shipped to you.

Whether you’re just starting to learn about saints and spirits in the hoodoo rootwork tradition or you’ve been working with them for years, I strive to delight you with something new and covetable to add to your collection with every box. (I have some pretty neat stuff squirreled away.)

This gives you a chance to get something new for an…

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Questions You’ve Asked: Patron Saints Playing Favorites

Seraphin Station

A client is getting set up with some Law Keep Away work, some of which involves physical items being installed at the front entrance where a St. Michael paket has been living. She wonders if she needs to move/remove St. Michael, whom she petitions for physical and spiritual protection, since he’s “the patron saint of police and general law and order guy.”

What a great question!

Short answer, no. No need to remove St. Michael.

A fixed paket of the type I used to make for clients/customers, when I could still source those detentes for reasonable prices. I haven’t been able to do that since reopening, but I like them very much and I hope I can offer them again one of these days.

Longer answer explaining my rationale: for one, human beings declared him the patron saint of law enforcement – he didn’t proclaim himself that lol… and even…

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When Angels Are Saints and Saints Are Angels

Seraphin Station

I very frequently see folks online say things like this: “Though technically speaking Archangel Michael is not a Saint [sic], sometimes this entity is venerated as one.”

I’m not linking to the source for that because my goal is not to single anyone out for being wrong. Thing is, this is not an uncommon misperception. It’s pretty easy to find multiple websites and blogs that say something to this effect – even those of folks who are otherwise pretty well-versed in folk religion and/or folk magic. If this were just a couple of blogs and not a pretty widespread point of confusion and error, I wouldn’t be going to the trouble to write about it.

I get that not everybody comes from a Catholic background. But if you’re going to write about saints in the context of hoodoo and folk religion, you should do your research before you make assertions…

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Why Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde Are Not Just “Narco Saints”

Seraphin Station

I can’t count the number of references I’ve seen over the past 15 or so years to Santa Muerte being a “narco saint,” with the implication (or even the straight-up assertion) that she’s a saint for drug dealers, boom, like that’s the whole picture. This kind of statement is incredibly reductionist and oversimplified. It ignores nuance, never mind facts, and it betrays a lack of respect for the (sub)culture(s) from which she springs and a total lack of concern for understanding folk religion – in Mexico or in general.

Seriously, it’s insulting and dismissive even if you *are* a drug dealer. It would be reductionist even if it were true that only those associated with the drug trade in Mexico venerate this folk saint. That it’s not even true just makes all that rhetoric exhausting (and those who uncritically repeat it lazy).

Even though this interview in Vice is called…

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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.

saints: St. Benedict and his sacramentals

The clock is ticking quickly away on my self-imposed deadline to get caught up, so I don’t have time to make the post I want to make — I happened across this excellent information on St. Benedict and his sacramentals, plus September features the feast days of a few of my favorite saints like St. Cyprian, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Sts. Cosmas and Damian, and *God* how I have missed writing about interesting things and posting cool prayers and images on this blog! — but I still want to share a couple of links about St. Benedict anyway. I’ll post again later about status update stuff and the latest coupon codes.

So here is a link about the medal of St. Benedict, its uses, and its authorized blessing formula.
And here’s another, which explains the symbols on the medal in detail (with pictures).