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. Martha (aka St. Martha the Dominator)

St. Martha was and is a popular saint for several different types of conditions, though in modern conjure and hoodoo, she is probably most often called on for assistance by women wishing to dominate their men.

I have finally gotten around to listing a St. Martha the Dominator mojo bag.  ETA: I’ve also listed a St. Martha the Dominator honey jar spell kit. The listing has a bit of info on St. Martha, and reads:

St. Martha the Dominator is called on for domination – usually when women want to dominate their man.  But in the rich and varied medieval traditions surrounding St. Martha, she is also called on for assistance by those who need to get the upper hand in any kind of relationship in which they find themselves “at the bottom of the totem pole.”  Back in the day, employees would call on St. Martha to get better treatment from their employers, for instance, especially if they were household employees like kitchen service or nannies.

In medieval lore and in her iconography, she is shown as a slayer of dragons, and in this capacity she is a great ally for all types of situations in which you are the underdog and you need to find a way to “top from the bottom.”  Be warned, though: many old-school workers who work extensively with saints in conjure have said that if you call on her to dominate somebody in your life, and she doesn’t take to the way they are treating you if they are treating you real bad, she will run them off and out of your life.  If your partner is beating on you or emotionally torturing you, or if your boss is engaged in discriminatory, unjust, or illegal practices against you, please don’t try to use St. Martha stuff, or conjure in general, as the only means of improving things.  If you are being hurt or misused, call a hotline or shelter, or your HR department, as befits your situation.  If you don’t know who to call and you are in danger, contact me and tell me where you are, and I’ll help you find somebody to call.  Do not rely solely on conjure or the saints to protect you from physical harm; the Lord and the saints help us in practical ways, and sometimes the best spiritual act involves picking up the phone.

You can read more about the medieval hagiography of St. Martha in The Golden Legend, or Lives of the Saints, which explains some of her iconography, such as her appearance with a dragon or serpent.

There is a tradition that she doesn’t like men and won’t work for them, but I don’t think that’s always necessarily true – I do think it depends on the case though.  Most stories I’ve heard about working with St. Martha, when they involve successful domination, have involved women dominating men, but the reverse is not completely unheard of; in fact, Madame Lindsey in Algiers, LA, one of Hyatt’s informants, gives a lovely variation of a sweetening/honey jar family spell with which a husband may invoke St. Martha to keep his wife doing her wifely duties (see Vol 2., p. 1503).

This is for use in situations where a wife is not taking care of the house and children.  You make a name paper by writing her name on it seven times, and then you put it in a white teacup or saucer, over which you pour three teaspoons of orange water (aka orange blossom water, orange hydrosol), for faithfulness to her marriage vows.  Next you add honey and milk.  Set it where she won’t find it, in front of an image or statue of St. Martha.  Burn pink candles on it.

The informant instructs Hyatt to set a pink taper on this, but it’s not entirely clear precisely how – there’s some confusing stuff about a cork and the candle floating, and the informant says “Yo’ set dat [taper] right on dere an’ po’ yo’ oil an’ light it- right befo’ St. Martha.”  Pouring the oil suggests she means something other than dressing the candle.  She may be referring to a homemade unenclosed oil lamp, where the cork/taper combo suggests some sort of homemade wick, or it may refer to a homemade floating candle.

In any case, obviously there is always more than one way to do these kinds of things.  I personally add a dollop or glunk of St. Martha the Dominator condition oil to the orange water/honey/milk mixture – and I don’t use very much milk, because I don’t want to risk the smell of sour milk in my altar room, which is often warmer than the rest of the house because of the number of candles burning in it. If you add more honey than milk, it can act as a natural preservative *for a while* – but you probably would not leave this setup in place indefinitely, at least not unless you made this a container spell instead. If you do it this way, the layer of liquid should be shallow enough that a candle with a wide enough base should stand upright in this saucer and burn with no problem (I think you’d have more trouble with a taper.  I recommend a candle with a flat base that is at least an inch wide, probably wider, so it will stand up on its own, though I supposed you could always use a taper in a candle holder and set the candle holder in the saucer or cup).

So – a spell for a man to dominate his wife.  Yet this coexists with a tradition that Martha doesn’t like men. What gives?

Well, I think one of the key things here becomes a bit more clear if you read about St. Martha in scripture — see Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.  She was a woman in a time when managing the household, and being a servant to all guests and visitors, was the proper role of women.  I think Martha is called to work on a wayward wife in the above rite because of her association with the proper running of a household. I do not think that a man could work this St. Martha rite on a woman who was not his wife or committed partner, and I do not think this rite could be worked to get a woman to do something like commit adultery (or do anything else that didn’t have to do with obligations related to the running of a household).  I think the key is that it is worked by a husband on a wife, and it’s worked in relation to the running of a household and raising of children.

But I would not call on St. Martha to try to force a wife into doing unjust things, and I would not recommend that a husband who is not holding up all his vows with love and respect try to ask Martha to dominate his wife.  I imagine he might get the smackdown for his presumption.  St. Martha in the medieval tradition is quite atypical of female saints, whose defining characteristic was often their virginity.  While St. Martha was probably a virgin, she took a much more active and independent role as a Christian than was typical. For a discussion of medieval saints’ lives and gender which illustrates St. Martha’s uniqueness, see Daas, Martha, “From Holy Hostess to Dragon Tamer: The Anomaly of Saint Martha,” Literature and Theology, Vol.  22, Issue1 (2008), pp. 1-15.  Daas writes,

The official version of the life of Saint Martha depicts her as Christ’s hostess and one of his first followers. Her popular appeal, however, stems less from her biblical role, than from her position in medieval legend. In the Middle Ages, Martha is reinvented as a Gallic saint whose most celebrated feat is taming a dragon. It is this legend that has often displaced Martha’s original role, both in text and in iconography. Unlike most depictions of female saints, Martha’s power derives from her soul, not from her body. The denial of corporeality as the source of holiness defies the traditional role of the mulier sancta. Martha, as depicted in the texts of the Middle Ages, is a holy person, not a holy vessel. In this article, I am positing a third ‘category’ of female saint: one not defined by her corporeality, that is, her virginity or her physical martyrdom, but by her character, which I claim is indicative of the influence of popular spirituality on the more formal teachings of the Christian church. (p. 1)

In short, there’s more to Martha than her cooking skills; keep in mind that while she was a householder, she was *not* a wife.  So don’t overdo it on the “housewife” thing.

There’s a famous painting by Diego Velazquez which puts into sharp contrast the experiences of Mary and Martha in the household.  Martha is in the kitchen – she’s sweaty from the work, her hands are chapped and rough from manual labor, her face is flushed from the heat, and to top it all off, her sister is not only not sharing the burden, she’s getting the privilege to sit at the feet of Christ and listen to his words, which Martha also desires.  Somebody has to feed the guests, and Christ’s words to Martha could very well sting anyone who gets stuck in the Cinderella role.  But I advise people to look long and hard at this painting and read the scriptures carefully and with open heart before asking St. Martha to dominate a wife.  Look at the look on her face.  I suggest you be of pure heart and clear conscience before you do the above rite.  This is, after all, a woman who’s said to have defeated a deadly dragon with prayer and immobilized it by binding it up in her apron or girdle strings.  Then she called on the villagers to descend on it and tear it apart limb from limb.

My 1956 Missal gives her feast day as July 29.  A novena leaflet that I have for her gives a prayer to her as follows:

St. Martha, I resort to thy protection and aid and as a proof of my affection and faith I offer this light which I shall burn every Tuesday. Comfort me in all my difficulties and through the great favor thou didst enjoy when the Savior was lodged in thy house,. Intercede for my family that we may always hold God in our hearts, and that we may be provided for in all our necessities, I ask, St. Martha, to overcome all difficulties as thou didst overcome the dragon at thy feet.

As a Novena, this prayer would be said for nine Tuesdays, along with the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

In orthodox Roman Catholicism, she is the patron of dietitians, hemophiliacs, housewives, landlords, waitresses, servants, cooks, and women workers.  Will she help a man in any of these roles?  I have certainly known her to.  Her iconography often features keys, a broom, a ladle, and a dragon.

Catholic Online has a lovely summary of Martha’s role in scripture, which goes some way towards explaining why I’ve heard folks say she’s helped them with sibling issues in their family, like jealousy, or manipulative attention-grubbing, or rivalry.  I’ve also heard her called on by folks who are facing difficulties in managing their households, because of strife or poverty; along with St. Joseph, she is a wonderful ally if you have a lot of mouths to feed and you are running short of money and resources to take care of them all.

Cat at originalninjacat has a great post on St. Martha, which discusses the commonly-encountered belief that St. Martha doesn’t like men.  And Mama Star at oldstyleconjure discusses her work with St. Martha and gives instructions for a novena.

St. Joseph’s Day

New Orleans, my old stomping ground and the home of my paternal French ancestors for many generations, has many rich spiritual traditions that thrive and are passed down throughout the generations.  I live in Georgia now, six or more hours away from friends and family in Alabama and Louisiana, but I still love these traditions and keep a tab on them from my new home in Georgia.  New Orleans has a rich tradition of St. Joseph’s Day festivities as well. Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker took some photos of some of the amazing altars on display this past Friday, and posted them online.  Take a look here:

St. Joseph’s Church in Gretna

Sacred Heart cake.

St. Lucy (etc) pie.

And Sindy Todo, whose heritage includes Cajun ancestry from gumbo-land, hosts an annual St. Joseph’s Day feast with lovely altars.

May Saints days

I fell down on the job with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, which all you vodouisants probably already knew.  He is considered a patron of fathers, of carpenters, of workers, and of social justice.

May 15 was the feast of St. Dymphna.  St. Dymphna is very popular with Roman Catholics as a saint to invoke for cases of madness and epilepsy.  She was said to have lived in the 7th century in Ireland and fled to Gheel with her confessor from a very troubled home life. She was caught and beheaded by her father, a pagan chieftan who thought incest was just fine.  Epileptics, the insane, and the possessed have been cured at her tomb.  Some folks call on her for protection and healing for those threatened by or who have survived incest.

May 25 is the feast of the Venerable Bede.  The Venerable Bede is not wildly popular in folk Catholic tradition.  I mention him because my day job has a lot to do with English literature and I’m particularly interested in Anglo-Saxon literature, so the Venerable Bede is an important figure to me.  I recommend that writers, teachers, translators, and historians call on him for patronage.

The 27th is the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury.  He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury and the so-called “Apostle of the English.”  Pope Gregory sent him to evangelize to the English in 596. Again, historically important but not frequently called on in the folk tradition, but I can’t let the 27th slide without mentioning him!

What’s working in the “kitchen”

I have just finished a batch of “Love Me Now Powder” and it smells fantastic.  I won’t say what the ingredient that I’m so fond of is, but it just *smells* like love to me. Since this herb and essential oil’s focus is more on the “NOW” and the imperative voice part than the “Love” part, that might say something a little troubling about my own perspective these days — hope not! 

Tomorrow morning I finish the new batch of Kaliprix powder and get this custom order shipped.  (Powders take FOREVER to make.  Theyingredients must be powdered, and then the essential oils must be blended in, and then, since I don’t use talcum in my “sachet powders,” the base has to be powdered as well.)  Extremely time consuming, but boy does it feel like alchemy.  (Have you ever tried to reduce John the Conqueror root to a powder?  It requires a level of patience and detachment I don’t often attain!  Somebody donate a grist mill to the cause, why don’t you?  I’m getting tired of backing over them with the car.  That was a joke.)

While I’m on the topic, let me vent a little about ebay’s new rating system.  One of the categories on which sellers are now rated is “shipping time.”  Well, ALL of my listings say SPECIFICALLY that I ask five business days’ handling time.  When someone buys something already made, like a saint’s candle, I ship much sooner than that, but the majority of my listings are custom-finished or made to order (using real herbs and essential oils means that things lose potency and even spoil over time, and so I will not make a huge jar of an oil to sell dram bottles from). And then with the hand painted items — well, paint has to dry, and then things have to be sealed, and some of my painted stuff is fired before sealing.  Anyway, the point is, I have only three times that I can think of missed the 5-business-days mark, and in each case it involved a mojo bag.  The candle took longer to burn than expected, or the divination suggested an ingredient I had to rush order.  In these cases, I shipped on day six instead, after emailing the client to let him or her know there would be a delay and the cause of the delay.  So I get really annoyed when I get mediocre ratings on “shipping time.”  If you don’t like my shipping time terms, don’t order from me, dammit!  I ship as advertised, and in my never so humble opinion, I should be rated on meeting my published shipping times.  Especially don’t order a MOJO BAG or other thing involving putting something together on your behalf and then complain that I took too long to do it.  If you want speed over quality and personal attention, order from one of those Big Name Companies that will pluck one off the shelf for you, still wrapped in its cellophane, and slap it in the box for you.  [/rant]

I have a candle spell going for a client, and the flame has been burning high more often than not, and it has mostly been a good clean burn — all good signs for her working.  I was wary about offering these on ebay at first, just like I’m wary of offering readings on ebay (and still haven’t done it), because I have no way of knowing what kind of client I’m going to get, and not all of them are reasonable people.  But so far, so good.

The regular readings, on the other hand, I’m still way behind on.  Sigh.

Still deep in Hyatt material.  I love it.  You know what I would love even more?  Stories from you, dear readers, about things you or your family or someone you heard about does with/for/to saints.  Saints are my niche.  Actually, they will be one day, and in the meantime they’re a big interest.  I just found out last weekend that my grandmother, who is a devout Catholic and who does NOT engage in many of the less-than-orthodox practices HER mother engaged in, nevertheless buried a statue of St. Joseph to sell her home.  Now, I would have expected her to pray to St. Joseph, and to light a candle, and to have a statue, but I did NOT expect her to have buried his statue.  I wonder now if there are other things in her practice she was slow to share either because nobody asked or because she was aware that some of the more traditional Roman Catholic members of the family might have said, “You did WHAT with a statue of a saint?”

Anyway, she sold her house (counts on fingers) four years ago.  The image of my then-84 year old grandmother out in her yard with a shovel burying and then, later, after the house sold, digging up St. Joseph just blows my mind.

And this reminds me that I sent a batch of my St. Joseph oil to another rootworker for her critique and she never ever got back to me.  As she has a special and long term relationship with St. Joseph, I particularly wanted her opinion.  I hope this doesn’t mean she hated it and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings.