13.5.10

Cumulative power in conjure

I was thinking about some of the differences between hoodoo and other forms of magic today and it struck me that one of its important features, and in my practice certainly, is that spellwork (quite often) is not simply wraught and left to do its thing - but steadily fed and built up. The power of the work needs to be cumulatively cultivated; spiritually through prayer, by adding oils and powders daily, extra candles, moving candles, sprinkling magnetic sand  - whatever. You work that spell daily, whether it be a candle, a lamp or a honey jar - it has to have time spent with it so that it grows more and more powerful. If you think you can just make the thing and leave it your results will be as unimpressive as your effort. Especially in the beginning of a work it is important to feed a spell every day. Once it has its momentum then you can come to back to it weekly, until it manifests the goal. Even a good mojo hand in my opinion needs to be worked for a week or more, daily, by burning candles down on or around it to heat it, praying over it as you do. Until the hand is really cooking and only then is it ready to be handed over. After which you also need to feed it weekly. You see what I am getting at?

It's hard work, working like this - especially if you have a bunch of workings going on as many of us do. But this is also one of the powerful features of the tradition - this kind of cumulative force is extremely potent when it is wielded by someone with the Gift. I often hear people who are peeking in from other traditions, opining about the earthy simplicity and directness of hoodoo tradition and I can hear that in their minds are imagining a little old lady sitting at her kitchen table with a bunch of herbs and a candle mumbling a prayer and comparing it to some elaborate Golden Dawn type ritual where everyone is wearing fancy robes and waving around swords and wands invoking jupiter, or something. This is extremely patronising. Hoodoo has a profound material symbol system belying its folkish charm - a subtle technology and craft that is both sophisticated and complex. One of conjure's core technologies is the secret of building up a spell's power over time, maintaining and manipulating that magical force until something snaps and the stamina and spiritual skill involved in doing that well. That is a true Arte, indeed.

9 comments:

  1. Excellent post, and very true. The "engine" of Hoodoo magic builds in power steadily like a locomotive, with the conjure providing the fuel. You're right on in that it takes dedication and discipline to do it, a sort of spiritual concentration upon the matter that is slow building but Intense. I don't think folk who've never worked conjure understand how much spiritual force can be brought to bear over time in this fashion. Thank you for sharing that, Frater.

    That being said...ain't nothing wrong with wearing robes and waving swords about whilst Invoking. We can get a nice-sized train moving ourselves, that way.....

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  2. Thanks Frater, and I hear you - nothing wrong with the ceremonial way of course! My remark was more aimed at pointing out a pervasive condescension, from certain western magical quarters with regards to conjure craft. These folks tend to have the misconception that hoodoo is basic or simplistic when it really is quite sophisticated.

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  3. So, I wonder where one gets the energy for such work - if part of the method involves feeding the work, what/who feeds the worker? this is not a theoretical inquiry.

    thank you

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  4. sure, nutty professor - this is common question and this where being gifted for the work comes in. I have seen this question posed to a few workers and I have seen all kinds of answers and also some clever evasion on their part. You might call it a trade secret, I suppose.

    Each has his own sources of power and ways contacting that power and bringing it into the work. The most common and truthful answer is "prayer" - but what actually constitutes *that* is the real trick! The other is personal power which is cultivated over time - and with that comes the authority that grants one the ability to declare something - and it becomes so. Finally, you have spirits; the Dead, Saints, God and the Devil.

    Personally, I have my own way bringing power into the work, which is mixture of the previously mentioned factors as well as a way of getting into the place where I am able to 'bring back' the goal of my conjure from the 'other side'. Difficult to describe because it is my inner process, and someone else's might be different.

    The common theme one hears in traditional conjure, historically speaking, is that the power to conjure is granted to the conjurer by God (or the Devil for that matter), and the spirits that work with him - either through revelation or by birth.

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  5. I forgot to add another important source of power. Roots, herbs and the other extensive materia magica of hoodoo. These things all have their own power and spirits which is why there is such an emphasis on them in this work.

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  6. Would you say that another aspect of the engine is the use of somewhat low "energies"? (not in the moral sense of course, but as in the lower astral that is very close to the etheric). I have only done one experiment (a honey jar) and it caught me by surprise since I'm usually pretty thick skinned. But as soon as I lit the candle I fell into a trance and the physicality of what was being "generated" was astonishing. I nearly didn't know what to do with that sensation.

    It's like the low bass frequencies that can travel very fast and far in contrast to high pitches. Of course, there's also a bucket load of archangelic red tape and committees if one uses the whole hierarchy when doing CM.

    I've found that its not very practical sometimes. At some days you just need a damn wrench and not an encyclopedia of newly discovered fears, neuroses and karmic repercussions of using wrenches in your life as a gift along with something that looks like a wrench in another country. "High" magic usually feels this way.

    But maybe I have too many issues ;-)

    PS: I hope I didn't offend anyone, these are just my observations.

    Brother George.

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  7. this is just what i thought! hard to put the theory into words...

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  8. I am bit wary when mention of energy is brought into discussions of conjure, but I think I understand what you mean from a subjective experiential place. Hoodoo proper is based on an animist outlook which views everything inhabited by spirits of some order rather than "energies". This is an important shift in perspective both from a practical and spiritual standpoint.

    In any case, in relation to your experience with honey jar, the concrete spiritual sensations you were experiencing might indicate a facility for working with what you were doing. Which is why we work with certain ingredients such as herbs or dirts and go to such lengths to procure them. They have their own power. Even something as simple as honey or sugar, for instance.

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  9. I understand, but sometimes when you don't work with specific spirits (using names and sigils) the boundaries tend to blur a bit. For example, when I do elemental invocations (drawing pentagrams and barking in the air) although I am not referring to a specific spirit, the invocation/license to depart is addressed to spirits:

    "Spirits of Air, children of this World's innocence go now in the name [...]"*

    Of course you can call it semantics and say that because you are not referring to a specific spirit, this way of invocation is just an abstraction and what you are really doing is only bringing elemental "energy" and not spirits. I don't know, you might be right as I haven't yet done specific elemental spirit evocation.

    But semantics and linguistics most of the times play a central role in magic.

    I'm also pretty sure the experiential difference of elemental "energy" and "spirit" will not be that different.


    I think that (and this is only a hunch) because spirits have a sort of "sensation" around them when present, this sensation can be manipulated when called forth "anonymously" and be more, let's say "normalized" (?) than calling forth a specific spirit. This sensation can give off the impression of "energy" and thus the eternal debate.

    "Anonymous" addressing is usual in my practice not because it is safer but that in my opinion as a neophyte I can handle it better.

    * from Denning & Phillip's "Mysteria Magica".

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