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 voodoo altar pieces and santisima muerte rosaries

Erzulie Dantor altar bottle (SOLD)

La Sirene altar bottle at bonanza and ebay

 

read about the la sirene bottle

Manman Brigitte bottle up for auction on eBay

I rarely do auctions, but I have one up now on eBay for an altar/libation bottle for Manman Brigitte.

Voodoo Libation Bottle + Spirit Bath ~ Manman Brigitte

Item listing is for an etched- and cut-glass hand-decorated perfume-style altar or libation bottle, decorated for and dedicated to Manman Brigitte, mistress of the large, powerful, and rambunctious Gheuede family of loa.  The neck is embellished with glass beads, ribbons, a wire-wrapped purple glass heart bead, and a pewter St. Brigid medal, secured with raffia (this raffia actually comes from Africa directly, if you like to know the little personal histories behind the components of the pieces you buy – I buy the large, lost-wax-method-cast African brass beads that I use in some of my jewelry locally, from a twenty-something kid who works at his uncle’s import shop.  The kid’s grandfather is a tribal chieftain in Ghana, he says, and wearing all that jewelry all the time is very heavy, he also says!  The raffia is what the large beads come strung on, and I like to use it rather than raffia plucked off a shelf at an art supply store.     The bottle it decorates, I’m afraid, just comes from a factory in China though.)

It will reside on my three-tiered Ghuede altar until it finds its new home with a devotee of the loa.  It comes with a four-ounce bottle of hand-blended ritual bath for Manman Brigitte.  My voodoo baths are hand-blended here from my formulas, and are the very same baths I use in my own sevis and when I perform in-person headwashings and spiritual baths at my usually-annual headwashing/spiritual cleansing events.  Like most sacred baths in Haitian and New World vodoun, these are strongly scented and contain perfumes and colognes in addition to herbs and hydrosols, so a little goes a long way; a bottle of bath mixture could be diluted in a tub of water if taking a full immersion bath, or a few splashes could be added to a basin of water for a stand-up bath, or you could use the mixture undiluted as a sprinkle or spray.

Entire piece is app. 5.5 inches tall, including the stopper.  The bottle itself is 4 inches tall and 2" wide. 

A portion of proceeds from sale of voodoo altar bottles and voodoo rosaries goes to Fonkoze.org, a not-for-profit, no-missionary-strings-attached organization designed to empower the poor of rural Haiti, give them literacy and financial skills, and help them build a firm foundation to better their lives and their quality of life through micro-banking and small-business startup help — all, crucially, while putting Haitian nationals (especially women) in leadership positions and giving them religious, artistic, aesthetic, and economic autonomy instead of asking them to reject their culture or religion of origin.

I create these ritual folk art items individually, in a ritual context and in service to the loa. Thus they are not meant just for spooky decoration or "goth chic" – they are ritually constructed, consecrated, "fed" religious items and are intended for altar use in a religious context, not to look cool or freak your mother out, ok?

Shipping is via priority mail with delivery confirmation and insurance.  If you order additional items and they will fit in the same priority flat rate box as this bottle and the bottle of bath, then there will be no additional shipping charge for the other items; feel free to write first and ask if you aren’t sure if your items will qualify or if you want me to confirm what the postage will be before you bid.

Please note handling times before bidding!!  The handling time is because nearly all of my items are custom-finished and prayed over, blessed, or consecrated before leaving my hands (so feel free to tell me a bit about the situation you’re getting this item for and I can customize the prayers or consecrations of your item as I thank the spirits for their guardianship of the ritual object and ask them to guard it and their new owner in its new home). And have a look at the FAQ and ALL of the item listing details on this page, please, before purchasing from me, *please* – it’s frustrating to put things like handling time and postage cost in the item listing but have people freak out and write me 50 messages when the item doesn’t ship within 24 hours!  I *always* answer my email and am happy to answer questions – but given the volume of messages I get every single day, it usually takes me about two business days to respond.  However, half of the questions I get have already been answered in the item listing and/or FAQ 🙂

rosaries, chaplets, malas, and prayer beads (subtitled, something to offend just about everyone)

A customer writes to ask how folks use voodoo rosaries – are you supposed to just pray a regular rosary with them, like with Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be?

Now, as far as I know, there was no such thing as specifically voodoo rosaries before I started making them.  I started making them because I wanted some and couldn’t find such a thing.  There are voodoo rosaries out there now, besides mine, from sellers who have apparently been inspired by my work, and I choose to take this as flattering.  But I bring all this up because, as these are something of an innovation, there is definitely no "one true way" to "say" or use a voodoo rosary.

Continue reading “rosaries, chaplets, malas, and prayer beads (subtitled, something to offend just about everyone)”

podcast on points chauds and congregational illuminism

If you are interested in points chauds and/or congregational illuminism, drop by Occult of Personality for a podcast sure to contain something to interest you

Earlier this year, Greg at Occult of Personality interviewed + David Beth on Gnostic Voudon.  Beth’s Voudon Gnosis is recommended reading for anyone interested in the Gnostic Voudon material of + Michael Bertiaux.

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!)