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”

St. Anthony of Padua material updated

anthony post cover (1)The St. Anthony material from the FAQ Directory has been consolidated, updated, and  moved to its own page, with lots of linked sources and resources.

Coming soon, I hope: St. Anthony chaplets and maybe a few pakets, too.

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).

Feast of St. George, Belated Saints Sale, Prize Drawing

Today was the Feast of St. George, and I’m posting late, but I’ve had “post something that isn’t whining or apologizing” on my list of things to do for so long that I’m going to post it anyway.

Dragon Hill is a large mound with the top lopped off, and like the surrounding area that’s home to the Uffington White Horse, there’s natural chalk under the surface of the grass and soil. Steps have been carved into the side of the hill and you can climb up – when I was there, it seemed to be prime kite-flying real estate. It was one of several spiritually significant sites I was determined to visit when I was in England a few years ago, and I think I hiked a total of about 15 miles that one afternoon to get to all of the ones that were accessible from the Ridgeway. But it was worth it.

Legend has it that this is the site where St. George slew the dragon. The dragon’s blood spilled and poisoned the soil so nothing can grow on that scarred patch of white chalk showing in the photo. Like many popular saints, George lived and was martryed during the reign of Diocletian, who had a real thing for killing Christians; lots of martyrs were made during his reign. George was a soldier in Diocletian’s army and was tortured before his death in an effort to get him to renounce Christianity, so medieval iconography sometimes included a wheel of swords. The most popular image of George, though, shows him slaying a dragon. A legend grew around him in the centuries after his death, apparently, in which he killed a dragon threatening a woman (in some versions, a maiden who was being sacrified to it so it would spare a city, and in some versions the wife of Diocletian himself, though of course the dragon is also allegorically held to be Satan and/or a suppressed pagan cult/religion).

Crusaders brought the dragon legend back to England with them from the Middle East and over time there were various versions of it. All good medieval romances have knights battling fierce and even monstrous enemies, so this tale circulated along with those of King Arthur and the giant of St. Michael’s Mount and the various escapades of Lancelot and the like, which is how a hill in medieval England came to be associated with a solider serving in the Roman army in the 4th century.

reproduction of a medieval Byzantine icon of St. George
CC BY-SA 3.0: orlovic

For a long time, St. George was the most popular of the military saints in the English-speaking world. Over time, St. Michael’s popularity eclipsed George’s among the so-called military saints, but he remains a popular saint petitioned by those who need assistance in spiritual or secular warfare or battle. He’s also the patron of Boy Scouts, horseback riders, horses, and farmers, and is petitioned by those with disfiguring diseases such as leprosy, syphilis, and herpes.

Sale covers anything in the Saints sale collection, and I’ve included stuff related to prayer and blessing in general in addition to stuff that is strictly saint-related. In addition, anyone using the sale code during checkout will be entered to win the drawing for a relic of sorts – some dirt taken from Dragon Hill in Uffington and a hand-painted St. George holy medal. I don’t have one photographed already, but you can get the idea of what they look like from the below collection of previously painted medals.

(C) Karma Zain

Current Coupon Codes:

From now through the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena on the 28th, take 20% off anything in the Saints Sale category by using code aprilsaints20 at checkout. 

For instructions on using coupon codes, see the applicable heading in the FAQ.

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Read the FAQ here, including instructions on how to use coupon codes if you need them.
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