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.

New jewelry at ebay and eventually bonanza


St. Peter Keys necklace – leather, vintage skeleton key (SOLD)

Gheude, Manman Brigitte, Baron, Voodoo bracelet – at ebay

St. Philomena chaplet bracelet – at ebay


Erzulie Dantor charm bracelet (SOLD)

Mercury Dime protection bracelet – at ebay


St. Peter's Keys necklace – St Livinus – adjustable – at ebay


Legba rosary charm bracelet – handpainted medal (SOLD)

questions you’ve asked – on item instructions in general and saints candles in particular

Q: Why won’t you tell me what day of the week to light my saint candle on? [Implied: it’s a simple question, and I feel that the purchase of a $15 custom item from your store that it took you an hour to make, custom, just for me, creates an obligation for you to answer any question I have about how to use it even though you don’t know me or my situation from Adam’s housecat.]

A: So many tears would be prevented if folks read the FAQ before purchasing; the FAQ clearly states that this is simply an impossible thing for anyone to expect of me, which if you put yourself in my shoes for a few minutes and imagined that I get twenty emails just like yours every day, there is no way that I would have time to make these custom items.  The FAQ states:

Do your items come with instructions?

Not unless the listing states that they do; there is more than one way to use my products depending on the spell you are using. If you need guidance on general principles of spellcraft, or on using hoodoo oils, powders, etc in general, visit my blog for tips, tricks, and links to reliable, educational internet resources. If you require specific guidance or feedback and want my personal attention on your use of my products or on the spell you are casting, you can purchase a consultation session at my website. It is not humanly possible for me to answer every email I receive asking for free spell advice and for instructions on how to do X,Y, or Z with my products. If you need a spell, your single best resource is probably luckymojo.com – they have hundreds if not thousands of hoodoo spells listed.

If you’re going to order a candle or oil and then get mad at me when I can’t answer questions about the specific spell you’re using with it, then I wish you wouldn’t order from me. I don’t advertise that service and don’t offer it; I do not offer free spell consultations. There are *hundreds* of spells out there. If you need one-on-one guidance, you might consider hiring a rootworker if you don’t know where to begin in doing your own research.

In part this is a problem of time. I spent at least 20 hours a week just answering emails (this does not include typing up light setting reports and consultations; this is essentially work I am not being directly paid for). It is not humanly possible for me to give free, custom advice to everybody who buys an item from my store. I would be out of business in no time because my power would be cut off and I would be starved to death.

But there’s an even bigger underlying issue here. The author of the email containing this type of question presumes that there is one simple answer to the question, “What day should I light my saint candle on?”

In fact, there is NOT one simple answer, and you can’t really blame your rootworker or product supplier if you bought an item without a spell in mind and then find yourself not knowing how to use it. There are a thousand spells and not all are equally suited to your situation; it requires an assessment of your case in order for your worker to advise you, and such assessments take time, and they are not automatically included in the purchase price of a $15, custom-finished, custom-painted, and custom-fixed candle.

Would you go into Lowe’s, buy a few pressure-treated cypress boards, and then bring them back to the cashier and say “Should I build my deck with the steps facing north or west?” I sure hope you wouldn’t. And if you did, I sure hope you wouldn’t get mad at the employee who said, “Actually, had you asked first, that isn’t the material I would have recommended given that you don’t know what you’re doing yet.”

An offer to customize according to client preferences does not automatically equal unlimited post-purchase support and troubleshooting.

But let me illustrate why this is not a question of me being stingy and withholding a simple answer (leaving aside for the moment that if it were simple, you could have found it in five minutes with Google). Let’s say, for instance, that the client purchased a fixed St. Gerard vigil candle. Client then writes and asks, “What day of the week should I light it on?” Here are (some of) the problems embedded in the question that make it NOT something with a simple answer (AND all of this is leaving aside the fact that I only have so many characters allowed by ebay in my response to your message sent on ebay, so i couldn’t type all of this even if I wanted to – and I don’t want to).

First of all, not everybody treats a vigil light for a saint like a vigil light for a hoodoo condition. Some folks will set a love light on Friday, because somebody told them to, or they read it somewhere, or it’s customary where they come from to do love work on Friday, or because Friday is associated with Venus through a long chain of complicated etymological, linguistic, and historical reasons [1] and Venus is the goddess of love.

Note First Huge Problem: this reasoning does not fly with somebody working that candle in an orthodox Roman Catholic tradition. Goddess of love? Surely you jest?!

If you work with St. Gerard as a Roman Catholic, doing a novena, you would light it whenever. If you were my great-grandmother, you would light it on Sunday, because she started all her novenas on Sunday with only a few exceptions.

If you work with St. Gerard as an image or aspect of the lwa Baron Samedi, then you would light it on Saturday.  I do not know what religion you are when you order this candle; I can’t tell you “the right answer.”

Let’s just say the for the sake of illustration that a petition to a saint would be set according to the same principles as a non-denominational love-drawing or other type of “condition” candle (NOT a wise assumption, but let’s just follow the thinking for the sake of argument). The answer obviously depends in part on what you are petitioning the saint for.

If you decided to use hoodoo guidelines to work your vigil or novena, and you were setting the light for the purpose of having a child, and you needed an eager, cooperative, loving husband and a couple in synch with each other, you might set it on Friday, since it’s the day for love but also the day for general attraction work. OR maybe you’d set it on Monday, since in some traditions it’s associated with the moon, which in some traditions governs fertility. Or on Sunday, since that is the traditional day of blessings in some religions/paths. Or on Tuesday if you wanted to focus on your husband’s virility, as Tuesday is the day of Tir or Tiw, the Germanic counterpart of Mars and known in Scandinavian traditions for strength, victory, battle, and other “virile” attributes [2]. OR you might set it on Wednesday, named for Odin, in turn associated with Mercury, because Mercury days are when you’d work to remove obstacles. Or on Thursday because it’s associated with Jupiter who you tap for any kind of abundance or success work.

I hope you get my point.

You want to get hung up on a day? Fine. Light in on October the 8th.

But it’s March, you say, and you want to do the novena now. Ok, no problem. Then LIGHT THE DAMN CANDLE NOW. If there is ONE DAY associated with a saint, it’s generally the saint’s death day, which generally becomes the feast day. So if you are hung up on certain days, then you are going to be waiting for one chance a year to light that candle.

Another problem inherent in the question is that not everybody uses days of the week to determine when they will set a light, regardless of the type of light. In general, I do not, unless the need for the light is not pressing but is something like a pre-booked set of lights over the course of a few months to improve communication between two people. In a case like that, I might set it on a certain day of the week – but I might not. It depends on a number of different factors. Some folks are more concerned about the planetary hour of the day, or the phase of the moon, or whether or not Mercury is retrograde, or what the sun and moon signs of the targets are. It’s complex. However, that does NOT mean you have to be all complicated in your approach in order to get results. If you purchase a fixed light, it’s fixed – I did everything that MUST be done short of lighting it. Anything else you choose to do is up to you and the framework you are working within.

Bottom line: There IS NO ANSWER to the question “on what day do I set the St. Gerard light” other than “that is up to you and the spell or framework you’ve chosen to work within.” Instead of presuming your rootworker is being mean or stingy, take a sec to listen to what they are saying and chill out with the getting peeved because you didn’t get the answer you wanted. Maybe you didn’t ask the right question.

Other bottom line: if I were independently wealthy and had all the time in the world, I would LOVE to just talk to folks about conjure and religion and spirituality and folk magic all day long. I would LOVE to. But I have to pay my bills just like you do, and I just plain cannot answer questions about individual specific situations and spells for free. If there is something that MUST be done in order for your product or object or item to work, I will let you know, I promise. If you MUST feed it with oil, I will tell you so.

But if it gets into the realm of preference or religious background or worldview or framework, then we are out of the realm of “must” and into the realm of “do your own research or book a consultation, or go ask those super-friendly, super-knowledgeable folks I’ve linked to for help.” I swear on my great-grandmother’s Bible than I do not insist on this to be a bitch – I insist on it because I get 100 emails a day and I have to pay my bills and feed my ever-hungry teenager and fill orders and do consultations for paying clients. If you think about it for a minute, what I’m saying here is not unreasonable – and I promise I charge a whole lot less than your lawyer does for a consultation.

Finally, again, if the shoe does not fit, do not wear it! If you are reading this, then you are the type that reads and probably finds the instructions and FAQs, and so this probably does not apply to you at all. I’ve written it up for the sake of new customers who might not understand my position here, and also by way of illustrating just how complex the choice of some aspects of conjure work can be – and how personal. When I say “one size does not fit all,” that does not mean it’s a free-for-all and that anything goes. Changes and tweaks and additions and modifications are done according to a certain logic that makes theoretical sense according to the conjure practitioner who has internalized this theory or logic. Changes and choices are made for a reason.

But that does not mean that all adaptations or changes will be the same in every case, and it furthermore does not mean every worker will do it the same way. I come from a Catholic background, but a worker who comes from a Protestant or non-Christian background may be making choices according to a different set of considerations than the ones I’m using. All changes and choices are logical and coherent within the operative framework; not every aspect of every worker’s framework is the same, though.

NOW, having said all that and it being nearly 3 am and me still needing to type up a couple of light setting reports and contracts before I can sign off for good for the coming week-and-change, HAPPY HOODOOING! I love y’all, and thanks for reading, and thanks for shopping with me, trusting me with your spiritual supplies needs, and giving me the honor of helping you achieve your goals with rootwork and/or advice. Don’t forget to “like” my business page on facebook!

As a reward for those of you who do read, and who have stuck with this post to the end even though you knew all this already, here’s an easter egg for you: at the Spring equinox (aka feast day of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, aka 2nd Sunday in Lent, aka a Fire Festival, aka just-after-the-full-moon, aka the 20th of March), I will select randomly from among those who have left a comment in response to this post, here on livejournal.  [Ed.: this post was originally posted on livejournal; entries have been imported into WordPress but not comments.] I will send the winner a free bottle of extra-special, only-made-once-a-year spiritual oil. I won’t say what it is yet, and in fact I don’t have a name for it yet, but I promise it will be awesome, and I promise it will be rare, and I promise it will be multi-purpose and in the general range of blessing/abundance/prosperity, and I promise it will be hand-made by me with all the attention that all of my spiritual oils, powders, etc get. Just leave  a comment on this post right here to enter.

I do allow anonymous comments, but in order to be able to win something, you have to put either a unique username or a first name and last initial in the comment so that you would recognize your unique name/nickname if I were to announce it.  If you are John S., there is probably somebody else out there with your first name and last initial, so give me something else, like a nickname or city/state, ok?

Have a great March and thanks for stopping by!


[1] In the language of the Anglo-Saxons, Friday was Frigedæg, named for the Germanic goddess Frig. This came about because the language of the learned in Europe at this time was Latin, and so all correspondence, records, prayerbooks etc used when the Germanic settlers were converted to Christianity were initially in Latin. Thus what we now call Friday was then called “dies Veneris,” or “the day of Venus,” as this is how the imperial calendars in the Roman empire worked – all days of the week were named after planets (which in their turn were named after the gods). English-speaking clerics translated this into the vernacular as “the day of Frig,” as they mapped the Roman deities onto Germanic deities in cases of translation like this. So if I were working within some sort of British and/or folk tradition, I might make my choices based on the fact that this is currently Hrepmonað, named for the goddess Hreðe (not that we actually know much about her, as her name was preserved by a Christian monk who was happy to see the worship of the pagan gods pass), and/or that today is Quiquagesima Sunday, when the homilies focus on when Christ was said to have healed a blind man, and/or that the full moon is coming up on the 19th and the moon is currently waxing, and/or that the Equinox is coming up, etc.

If I were coming from a more typical Protestant background in my conjure work, I would probably not be working with St. Gerard at all.  He’s not a household name in non-Catholic circles like St. Expedite is, and it might be more common to call on the angel Gabriel for fertility stuff in some circles, given his role in the Annunciation.

See, working with the saints is not actually shot through-and-through traditional Southern-style rootwork. I grew up petitioning the saints and dressing the Infant of Prague in fancy robes and putting the baby Jesus statue in the arms of the Joseph statue and putting a crown of woven flowers on the Virgin Mary statue in May. But I grew up in a rare family – a deep-South Catholic family. Outside of those areas like Louisiana where Catholicism was everywhere, there actually aren’t all that many Catholic rootworkers, and of the thousands and thousands of saints that the Catholic church recognizes or has recognized, only a small handful are widely known in hoodoo. That’s why it’s pretty easy to find out what day folks might set a light for love drawing in general, but not so easy to find out what day folks might set a light to a Catholic saint that hasn’t quite made it into the “mainstream” like St. Expedite has. It’s hard to find “the rules” on days to set saints’ lights in conjure because there are no rules.  You will find differences in how novenas to even popular saints like St. Expedite are handled, some folks saying Wednesday, some Sunday, etc, some a red candle, some a blue candle, etc.

[2] The word “virile” itself comes from the Latin word meaning “man,” so when I say courage/battle/strength are “masculine” attributes, I’m being etymological here, not sexist.

hand painted saints medals

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

baron and brigitte rosary (SOLD)

Continue reading “baron and brigitte rosary (SOLD)”