Saints Clare and Philomena Candle Services and Novenas Begin Tonight

*While I normally ask that clients book one service per order and check out for separate services separately, in this case, since Saints Clare and Philomena are so closely associated in some traditions, I’m offering a bundled discount if you book both services together. To get the discount, you have to check out with both services at the same time.

Saint Clare Candle Service & Novena – Clarity, Wisdom, Insight, Clairvoyance

Have lights set and worked on my St. Clare altar in a nine-day community altar work service beginning the night of August 11th, the feast day of St. Clare of Assisi. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”

I will begin a nine-day novena and chaplet recitation to St. Clare on this same day, focused on petitioning her intercession for your stated intention, which will be included daily in my novena and chaplet work for the duration of the nine days along with appropriate offerings.

St. Clare is the patron saint of television, goldsmiths, and eye diseases. In folk Catholic practice, she is also petitioned for clear vision, literally and figuratively. Her devotees call on her when they need insight into a situation affecting their lives or guidance on how to make a difficult decision. Spiritual workers and diviners also call on her for aid in developing their clairvoyance.

In some houses and temples of vodou, St. Clare is served as the lwa Klemezin Klemay, who aids her devotees by helping clear away bad luck and negativity, and who is known to grant clear insight and the gift of dreaming true. I do serve Klemezin and have for many years, so I will accept petitions related to service of this lwa.

Learn more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.

Saint Philomena Candle Service & Novena – Lost Causes, Mental Illness, Health, Committed Love, Better Business

Have lights set and worked on my St. Philomena altar in a nine-day community altar work service beginning the night of August 11th, her feast day. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”

I will begin a nine-day novena and chaplet recitation to St. Philomena on this same day, focused on petitioning her intercession for your stated intention, which will be included daily in my novena and chaplet work for the duration of the nine days along with appropriate offerings.

Known as the Wonder Worker, she’s invoked by devotees for all kinds of things when other measures have failed and it seems pretty much hopeless. Some call her the patron saint of the impossible. In that respect she’s become something of a companion saint to St. Jude in contemporary folk practice.

Those who have formed a relationship with her have sought and received her help with everything from the conversion of unbelievers to fertility problems, healthy pregnancy and delivery, cure of mental illness, attraction of a spouse, and the sale of real estate. She’s said to have effected miraculous cures of injuries and illnesses ranging from heart defects to cancer. But officially, she’s the patron of babies and children and is considered the patroness of the living rosary. Padre Pio called her the Princess of Heaven.

In some houses and temples of vodou, St. Philomena is served as the helpful and pleasant lwa Filomez. She helps those who make their livings as market sellers, removes negativity and evil from the surroundings, grants the ability to have prophetic dreams, and aids her devotees seeking love. Some consider her related to Erzulie Freda, while others do not, but while the two lwa might appear to have a good bit in common, Filomez is not as demanding or haughty as Freda and doesn’t have to be handled quite as “carefully.” I do serve Filomez and have for many years, so I will accept petitions related to service of this lwa.

Learn more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.

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”

passing of Lenord “Azor” Fortune

The music legend Lenord "Azor" Fortune, of Racine Mapou de Azor, had a funeral service (presided over by Max Beauvoir) last weekend in his native Haiti.  It is a shame this artist passed so young.

damballah wedo chaplet (SOLD)


damballah wedo chaplet
Originally uploaded by Karma Zain

Silver-foil lined Murano glass medallion beads separate white cat’s eye beads and pumpkin-cut clear glass beads. Terminates with a silver toned snake pendant and a silver-toned filigree egg-shaped pendant.

manman brigitte and baron samedi altar (SOLD)

I cleaned these bones myself, so in a way I feel like I’ve been working on this piece for six month! These are possum bones that I got away from the dogs before they were done with him and buried. There are teeth and everything, and some genuine Alabama dirt still on them, too. I didn’t peroxide them so don’t go licking them or anything.

Includes a vial of graveyard dirt, a little top hat, a tiny little glass lampwork pepper bead, real Mardi Gras beads, and boxwood skull beads. Absolutely positively one of a kind.

Now I really am taking a nap.

erzulie freda altar piece (SOLD)

I stayed up way too late finishing this and a couple of custom pieces last night, so now I have to take a nap.

This little confection will reside on my Erzulie Freda altar until it finds its new home.

new stuff on ebay

A new hoodoo medium’s necklace/rosary for auction

Damballah Wedo rosary, completely handmade

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!)

voodoo oils

I’m getting tired of painting the two dram bottles for the voodoo oils.  I started them as a limited edition run, and I think the run is going to end soon.  I’m considering other ways of getting the veves onto the bottles, and I’m also considering just offering them unpainted, in the usual one dram sizes like my other oils.  Input, feedback, opinions welcome; let me know what you’d like to see if you like these oils.  I am just going blind painting these tiny little bottles and I don’t think I’ll post any of these anymore after the current listings expire or end.

on chicken foot charms, now and then

I keep running into statements like this online, ref. Chicken Foot charms: “Used in hoodoo, voodoo, and ceremonial magick for centuries for love, luck and protection.”

Bullshit.  That’s just utter bullshit.

I’ve been avoiding posting this for some time now, because I’m just going to have my research ripped off and posted somewhere else without proper attribution, but what do you do.  I figure it’s best for the facts to be out there instead of a bunch of speculation.

There is precisely no evidence for chicken foot charms being used in Western ceremonial magick that I have been able to find, and I am much more than passingly familiar with Western hermetic traditions, medieval and modern.  So that right there renders the above statement bullshit.

Now, about the voodoo and hoodoo.  Even if you delete the bit about ceremonial magick, the above statement is still problematic.  I take particular issue with the “love and luck” aspects of it.  I’m not trying to say you can’t make a chicken foot charm for whatever you darned well please — you go right ahead, and more power to you — but don’t make centuries-old claims for practices and expect people who know what’s what to swallow that hook.

In 1920, Dr. Daniel Lindsey Thomas, an English professor who was the founder of the Kentucky branch of the American Folklore Society, published his collection of folklore recorded in Kentucky [1].  There is a section on “hoodoo,” which in this case is used as a verb sometimes with the same sense we would say “someone was crossed” or “someone was conjured,” which is to say that “to be hoodooed” is an undesirable thing.  So what you have here is a description of a mojo bag that is assembled with ingredients to do harm to another.  On page 284, the belief reads:

3845. A hoodoo bag is a red flannel bag about six by four
inches in size, containing a pinch of salt, a pod of
red pepper, a rabbit’s foot, a chicken spur, and
some ashes. It must be “made in dead o’ night widout a spec’ o’ light.”

It is perfectly reasonable to assume that this belief related to the spur from a chicken’s foot predates the recording of this recipe.

On the same page, a belief about frizzly roosters is recorded:

3851. Negroes keep chickens with the feathers turned
back the wrong way, to keep away the hoodoos…

Now, I know keeping a frizzly chicken is not the same as making a protection charm with a chicken foot; my point is not that there is One Right Way to do stuff, nor that tricks and recipes don’t change over time in response to human life and locales changing.  But what we’re seeing here are records of beliefs about using part of a chicken foot to do harm to another, and about the ability of chickens to scratch up enemy tricks laid in the yard when someone is trying to harm to you. The latter especially is well-known and widespread. But anybody who can find me a source for using them for love or money that is older than twenty years old that furthermore doesn’t originate in New Orleans gets a free chicken foot.

Chicken feet are used in Santeria, too, from some reports – I’m not a follower of this religion and I don’t know if the reports I read and heard are accurate or not, but that is one contemporary usage.  They may or may not be used for love or money; my sense is that they aren’t, but are instead used in protective and combative work on the rare occasions that they are not simply a byproduct of ritual sacrifice.  If they are used at all (feel free to chime in if you know more about Santeria than I do!) it doesn’t seem to be for love or money.  Also, as you may have noticed if you have been paying attention, Santeria is not hoodoo is not voodoo is not ceremonial magick, so again, my “bullshit” label still sticks.

I have read a report of someone finding a dried chicken foot hanging from a tree in Spain within the last ten years; this was reported in the popular press.  Since love and luck charms are most often kept in the proximity of the person they’re made for or a target of that person, rather than on a tree on public property, my sense here is again that its use is protective or even aggressive (assuming it’s not a stunt pulled by a teenager to scare a neighbor.  I mean, at the end of the day, severed chicken feet are pretty creepy looking). but even if you wanted to make some serious stretches, this is hardly evidence to support any claims about “centuries” or “love and money” or hoodoo, voodoo, or ceremonial magick.

I have heard reports that chicken feet are used in Jamaica to protect from duppies.  I heard this from some random person at a party in the 2000s.  The nearest I’ve been able to find is a mention of chicken feet used for this purpose in a work of fiction, Anne Rivers’ 2001 novel Nora, Nora, set in Lytton, Georgia.  The teenage character Peyton has a chicken foot, and explains,

It’s got power, no matter how it looks….  Chickens are powerful carriers in vodun.  That’s what they call voodoo in Haiti.  The Cubans have got a slightly different pantheon, but the charms look almost the same.  This chicken foot will absolutely protect you from duppies and were-tigers.  That’s probably why you never see them in the South, all those chickens.

I have no idea how to figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg, in this case — or, rather, which came first, fiction or folklore.  And I haven’t figured out why a were-tiger would be afraid of a chicken foot.  But in any case, we still have strikes against “centuries,” leaving aside the matter of a fairly unreliable narrator of a work of fiction.  You’ll have to ask Anne Rivers where she got her info.  My bet is, a website devoted to New Orleans voodoo.

Now, Google will point you to some websites selling chicken feet.  I’m one of those people who sells them on her website. I learned how to dry them and “fix” them in New Orleans, from a voodoo practitioner there (this would have been about 1994-ish? They enjoyed a period of popularity as car protection charms in New Orleans, most ). It may be “New World” voodoo in terms of dried feet done up as charms; I honestly don’t know “how far back” something like that goes. I know that my ritual creation of them is informed by lore about chickens being used to scratch up tricks in the yard. I know that from my childhood in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida, there are folk traditions about them that I think are pretty common
around here. One was of the sort of protective variety — you could bury a chicken foot in the backyard to cure what my great grandmother called “cholera morbis,” which by the time I was a child was used as a deliberately fancy-sounding term for any number of minor childhood illnesses (it did *not* ever refer to actual cholera in this context; it was more akin to kissing the boo-boo to make it better, something you told children). I filed that one in the same mental folder as burying the apple for warts and similar tricks — you “put off” the bad stuff on the item, sometimes by rubbing it on the affected part, and then buried it. This was in Florida. Now I never saw any dried chicken feet in Florida, but my family did have a tradition of black chicken feathers, particularly whisks or fans made of them, to “clean up” around the house (and I always put black chicken feathers on the chicken foot charms I make and sell).

Now, I don’t know how much my Catholic great grandmother came up with for the sensation of it (because she loved to do parlor tricks — she would do seances and table rapping and mesmerize us and the lights would come up and we’d have ashes all over our faces or something equally shocking) and how much came from “around,” so I really can’t make any definitive statements, just tell you where I got the idea from. She did collect other feet and animal bits, including dried armadillo shells, one of which, with its tail curved around to make a basket handle, resided in her kitchen, and I can only pray we didn’t use it as a fruit basket or something, ’cause it turns out armadillos are germbags. and we still do this. We collect feet from various animals on back scratchers (alligator ones are easy to come by) and we have an elaborate family hazing ritual for new friends and significant others that involves pawing them with this dessicated foot and uttering a word that I can’t spell in English. (I know I sound facetious but I’m quite serious.  My ten year old daughter does this trick to people, my 90 year old grandmother is too dignified, but her mother taught the trick and she knows about it, and every single one of my first cousins, in six different states, knows the trick too and laughs really loud when someone sneaks up behind them to paw them with the dried foot.  We do it for fun but we got it from my great grandmother.) People who pass the “test” (can take it with a smile) are welcome in the house but they get years of ribbing if they don’t pass.  It’s also helpful, family-test wise, if you are prepared to share your momma’s name, where you went to school, and whether you can make a roux.

From the Louisiana branch came the less protective, more offensive type of beliefs — if you found severed chicken feet on your front step you had had something put on you (though truthfully, if you found any animal part on your front step it usually meant the same thing. This is the branch of the family that would never cop to any knowledge about how to DO any of this stuff, only how to have the traiteur come and clean it up if it resulted in trouble). That part of the family was also Catholic
until this generation; right now some have converted to Episcopalian due to marriage. I sell some of my chicken feet in this part of Louisiana as well, though these are the ones I don’t mojo up — there is a tradition of associating chickens and their parts with Mardi Gras “donations” to people who go around dressed up in burlap and stuff, and there is also a flamingo tradition associated with Mardi Gras in one area where I have family. Since flamingo feet aren’t really easy to come by, the occasional partygoer will buy a hot pink chicken foot decorated with dyed feathers and beads for Mardi Gras wear (this is around Baton Rouge and outlying areas).

I encountered a similar belief about chicken parts in central Alabama, though the parts were more often formerly belonging to cats (the area I was living in had a cat disappearance problem in the early 90s) and entrails seemed to be favored over feet. I don’t know what was backwoods lore and what had been imported by college students, but frankly it didn’t matter — having an animal part on your sidewalk or porch worked the head trick every time. I never encountered anything relating chicken feet to protection in central Alabama, only offensive stuff.

So that’s my back story on why I make chicken feet, and my speculation on where it might have come from.

Now, onto some contemporary chicken foot usages.  In an article by Katrien Jacobs, which you can read here, she interviews artist Barbara Groves.

Jacobs: So the success of the performance must have had something to do with those chicken feet. Can you explain that a bit more?

Groves: I grew up in Pass Christian, Mississipi, where from a young age onwards I came in contact with religious catholic mindsets and types of witchcraft and voodoo that seem to follow me around the world. Even when I moved here to Massachusetts, I remained aware of the hidden tradition of Christian culture, which is on the one hand very ornamental and festive yet morally very repressed. I see the signs of voodoo worship almost anywhere I go, and I see the chicken feet as symbol of rejuvenation and revival.

Absolutely fascinating.  However, it does nothing to weaken my original point.

One final bit of interest comes from a (never wildly popular) Libretto written by Francois M. Turenne De Pres in 1948, ostensibly based on Haitian folklore. [2]  One passage, in which the mother of a sick child frantically tries to think of ways to cure her baby, reads,

A dry chicken foot or the horn of a goat From the altar of sacrifice Will stop the death bell and make my baby well (55).

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like the author may have taken some liberties.  In any case, while this is the only reference I’ve ever seen to chicken feet for healing, exactly, we are still a far cry from love or money (assuming we may accept this as a legitimate piece of Haitian folk belief).  You will not, however, convince me that the chicken foot has been used in voodoo for centuries for love and luck.  At best, this character is talking about removing portions of sacrifices from the altars of some loa.  While I have my guess which altars those would be, assuming such a guess is even appropriate, my argument, I believe, still holds water.

As I say on the item listing for my chicken foot charms, the chicken foot is traditionally used in Southern rootwork and “New World Voodoo” (ie, New Orleans Voodoo) for protection with an undercurrent of “scratching back” against those people, entities, or energies that would harm you (not love or money, folks, sorry! Take the rootworker’s word for it!) and I create mine in the folk magic and rootwork traditions I was raised and trained in. My family is from Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, and I live and work in the Southeast, the traditional heart of hoodoo. (I don’t mean to imply there are not other makers of Chicken Foot Charms making the real things down here in Gumbo Land, because there are, and I didn’t invent them. I’m merely pointing out that some wildly inaccurate information about these charms has recently been propagated, and I encourage you to do your research).

People, doubtless having read other seller’s listings for these, keep writing me to ask me to make one for abundance, or love.  Folks, I can customize your attached mojo bag for nearly any circumstance, including abundance or love, but *chicken feet charms are used for protection,* so it’s more of a “protection in love” or “protection of resources” type working if you use a chicken foot for it.  (They are actually appropriate for slightly more aggressive forms of magic, but I don’t perform that kind of work without prior consultation, and in some cases won’t  perform it at all, depending on what it is, so you would need to write me first if you want that done.)  I’m sorry to disappoint, but using a chicken foot for a plain old love spell is like using a hammer to open a bottle of Coke.  Sure, you can do it if you try, but that’s not what the tool was designed for, there are already better tools out there designed to do what you want to do, and using the appropriate tools means you get quicker and neater results (fewer shards of glass in your sip of Coca Cola, know what I mean?)

Happy hoodooing,

Karma Zain

***********************

Other tidbits I’ve gathered since I originally wrote the first draft of this “article” :

Chicken feet used in the films The Deep and Angelheart as general bad signs or ominous objects.

A chicken foot is used in a modern Ogoun nkisi, titled “AN INKISI TO PROTECT YOUNG BLACK MALES 20TH CENTURY AND BEYOND,” by artist Renee Stout (take a look – this is astonishing work).

http://scottfredrickson.com/?cat=4I
Chicken feet are used for property protection (and, it seems, protection FROM followers of New Orleans Voodoo), in a story by Scott Fredrickson.  He writes,

I thought Marie Laveau was buried in this graveyard but found that not to be true. As I walked around looking for her grave, I stumbled across the local cemetery historian (alright, a homeless guy who knew the area and was taking some tourists on a tour). He asked me if I wanted to join his tour and I said I only wanted to find Maria Laveau’s grave. He told me she was not buried here and that this was a safe cemetery and that they “didn’t allow no voodoo in this cemetery.” He told the me he had previously gotten a bag of chicken feet from the butcher and lined them up at the two entrances to the cemetery. Since then, there has been no trouble for anyone visiting the cemetery – or so he said.

Nappy Roots member Big V apparently believes in the power of the chicken foot.  Why he wears it is not stated.

Notes on a chicken foot painting.  “Part of the conjure act in August Wilson’s first professional play Black Bart and the Sacred Hills; the chicken foot is symbolic of alternate systems of spirituality black people in the New World brought with them and created upon their arrival and commingling with other cultures.”

I don’t know exactly who this guy is, but his name is Rhondell and he was born in Kentucky.  He says, “In a certain area of the deep South, if a man came out of his house in the morning and saw two crossed chicken feet, feet cut off of a frying chicken, lying crossed on his door step or somewhere on his walkway to the street, the man would be in an utter state of panic because he knows that a black magician is practicing voodoo on him, and he feels that he has no chance because the black magician has marked him out. He is much like a member of the Mafia – he knows there’s a contract out on him.

And last but not least, here’s what cat yronwode has to say about black hens.

************************

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Kentucky Superstitions.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1920.

[2] Maia, a Libretto on Haitian Folklore
Francois M. Turenne De Pres
Phylon (1940-1956), Vol. 9, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 1948), pp. 50-57