The Pattern Behind Self-Deception

I like going to uncomfortable places with my spiritual practice. I'm not sure what this is about but as soon as I get cozy with a point of view I like to begin exploring the opposite view. Especially things that make me uncomfortable seem to hold a perverse fascination for me and I am drawn to jump in there with that feeling and wriggle around in it. Usually I learn from it. Sometimes it gives me the heebie-jeebies and I flee. I think it has something to do with reconciling opposites.

The most interesting states of consciousness have emerged when apparently irreconcilable forces crashed in my inner world, hurling me to the outer limits of what I can conceptually frame. Often catastrophically collapsing everything I thought I knew and then from that rubble something strange and shiny emerges. I have got a huge amount of mileage out of magically jamming God and the Devil like this for instance, to name one dualism that I like to meddle with. The other being the atheist perspective with the theist - which as you may have noticed took the form of this recent controversial posting.

Lately it has been the attempt at reconciling scientific materialistic and animist perspectives. Reconcile is a strong word, I suppose. It really just is two parts of my own experience, both vivid and undeniable, reacting horribly to the utterly alien radiation of the other.

This has taken the form of investigating ideas which scientifically attempt to explain away, well, pretty much everything about magic, spirituality and the paranormal. This glib TED talk hits a nerve in that regard - striking at the heart of what magic and divination are all about: the emergence of meaning from pattern and how we delude ourself in that process. What if our preoccupation with sorcery really just is some cognitive defect - an evolutionary artefact? Check it out and share your thoughts. As occultists, conjurers, card readers  - how do you respond to the ideas presented in this lecture?


On the mend

Just a note to say thank you all for the sweet e-mails, lights set as well as the patience of my clients after my recent health collapse. The good news is after a trip to the hospital yesterday they were able to plug a cerebrospinal fluid leak by injecting blood in the lumbar puncture site. Rather miraculously this fixed the problem almost instantly and I am able to walk upright again! You don't realize how useful sitting and standing upright is until you can't do it any more. I must say my relationship with western medicine had become rather troubled after the whole spinal tap business, so this fix has been welcome to say the least.

At any rate I wanted to let those clients who have outstanding readings know that I will be upgrading your readings to a full spread/geomantic chart combo reading to express my appreciation for your patience. Folks who ordered oils and bags that have been delayed will be getting a free gift in each package.

Thank you all for being so patient. May your Christmas festivities be blessed with good health and much love.


Best laid plans of mice and men

Well that was interesting.

Went to bed on Sunday evening feeling a little under the weather and woke up on Monday with a high temperature, cough, aches and pains etc. I assumed it was a bad cold so I stayed in bed. And then my temperature climbed, and climbed, and climbed. Got up on Tuesday morning not feeling good at all. Sat next to my husband on the couch and said; "I feel kind of dizzy baby". I then had a seizure.

I have never had one before and let me tell you it gets people worried.

Anyway, about fifteen minutes later we are in the ER and the doctors were reaching consensus that bacterial or viral meningitis might be the cause; and then my physician casually remarked that a spinal tap would be needed to make sure. I assumed he meant the other spinal tap. You know, the one that doesn't involve shoving a long thick needle into my spine in order to siphon out cerebrospinal fluid. Oh wait.

I fainted during the first attempt. So don't let any of those crafty doctors smooth talk you into a recreational spinal tap. They definitely hurt. A lot.

It turns out I don't have any kind of meningitis but rather a truly severe form of flu. I am part 0.2% (or something) of adults who have seizures when their core temperature goes critical.

Another interesting thing about the spinal tap is that until your body has replaced that cerebrospinal fluid it has the curious side effect of leaving you unable to sit or stand up fully because the change in pressure produces blinding pain in your head. I also discovered that during a seizure you kind of sprain every muscle in your pack as your body goes rigid exorcist style (apparently the sound effects were pretty awesome too).

Resultanty I am unable to lay down, sit or stand up without being in some degree of agony.

I suppose I should mention some deft sorcerous trick that helped to swing things in my favor but frankly there was none. I was quite out of it for the most part, although I did manage a terrified Our Father as the second spinal tap attempt commenced. The real magic was having had enough insight and good fortune to marry my wonderful husband; who got me to the hospital in a flash and blur practically carrying me in his arms; who sat through the entire day of brainscanning, tests and whatnot holding my hand whenever he could and who cried along with me during the second spinal tap. Now he is busy doing all the house moving stuff by himself after only having had a few hours sleep fussing with me the whole night.

Just wanted to let you all know what has been up. Keep us in you thoughts and hopefully all will be back to normal pretty soon.


Dear Rootwork Clients

Lovely people, my response time with e-mails will be a bit slower over the next two weeks, though I will do my best to always get back to you as soon as I can. We are about to move house and between packing here and fixing up there, things are bit in a shambles right now.

Apologies for the inconvenience, I hope for everything to be back to normal shortly.

Happily my conjure room will be much bigger! I have been tripping over lamps, jars and vigils which are spread across every available surface and even the floor...  can't wait to have more surfaces to put client work on. The space thing has been driving me a little nuts.


Atheism, Diaspora traditions and the end of exoteric religion (or the world)

It strikes me that some the most valid critiques that atheists and humanists level at mainstream religions, in some sense, collapse when you look at the Diaspora traditions such Ocha, Vodou, Hoodoo, Umbanda, Quimbanda etc. Sure, atheists might point to the preponderance of seemingly irrational or superstitious beliefs that are found in the ATRs - beliefs which seem all the more more fantastical, bizarre or sometimes even down right insane to the mechanistic gaze of scientific materialism.

However, when compared to mainstream religions the Diaspora traditions demonstrate a nimble, remarkably robust application to human experience that not only gives meaning to particpants, but more importantly, transcends the dualism and deadening dogma of mainstream exoteric religion. Dogma which has had a tyrannical strangle hold on the planet so toxic and undeniably destructive that humanist/atheist movements have made an entirely legitimate case that religion should be removed from the public sector entirely.

That it harms.

This then is where Diaspora traditions differ in my opinion. Where mainstream religion wants to impose a rigid moral order on society - one that is founded on the promise of reward or punishment in some idealised afterlife - Diaspora faiths focus in great part on ways of improving the quality and enjoyment of this life. This is done in various ways; the most distinct being the magico-religious interaction with the spirit world with the aim influencing the material world tangibly.

More than that, the preoccupation with some idealised after-life in which all meaning and hope is vested is almost entirely absent from the main thrust of these paths. Instead direct experience of the spirit world in meaningful lived relationship to this life and body; it's connection with the natural world, the community, wealth, health and well-being are all of central importance; domains which are understood to profoundly interconnected and above all rooted in the present life. Similarly, notions pertaining to an afterlife are rooted in the present with pervasive emphasis of ancestral veneration. Death and the dead are  interconnected with life and living rather than being sublimated into a strange necrotic obsession with the consequences for your own soul after death. As such these traditions maintain pragmatic and sophisticated technologies for relating to the manifest world, and human mind and soul which are all understood as being a direct expression of the spiritual dimension rather than being at odds with it.

Instead of having a passive religious experience mediated, interpreted and codified by a textual dogma of some sort; spiritual meaning and revelation is grounded in the demand and indeed, expectancy, for direct ecstatic experience for each participant. This then taking various forms such as; trance possession, divination or mediumship. Instead of being at mercy of an uncompromising, distant and inflexible exoteric expression of Godhead - one which demands total submission and obedience - participants are able to negotiate and communicate directly with the Divine forces.

These forces might become befriended, rewarded or even punished based on their influence and performance in the devotee's life. Now that's what I call a personal relationship with Jesus.

Most importantly these traditions maintain an unbroken chain of initiatic teaching; older ways of knowing and being in the world that might prove vital if the human race is to grow up and develop in ways that avoid self-annihilation. A downward spiralling global economy, impending environmental collapse and political turmoil pervades our planet as the gears of the scientific materialistic project revolves to its final deadly conclusion. Looking forward to science's next cold wonder to improve us, reward us and ultimately save us from ourselves has clearly proven to be a failed strategy. Yet, that seems to be the only thing we can do when operating from that broken world view.

Instead of looking at new technology, just perhaps, it is the technology that preserved in these older ways of being with the planet, each other, and fundamentally, the universe itself that holds the key to moving forward with any scrap of hope.


Revenge, death and destruction

I think I've finally been able to frame my formal position with regards to doing dark work for clients. Which is to say; throwing juju at enemies. It's taken me a while to figure out where I stand on the matter because, in principal, I am just fine with doing dark work. And I have done so. I would even go so far as to say it is an important part of the tradition and an art that needs to be maintained. The question really then remains: when am I willing to take on the task of throwing truly corrosive juju around for clients?

I wasn't all that sure. I was just deciding on a case by case basis.

However, I have been dealing with a severe case of this nature and this got me thinking that I need to have a formal position that people can familiarise themselves with before asking me to do that kind of work. I began to examine my motives very carefully and I asked myself: what genuinely motivates me to do this kind of work and when do I feel personally comfortable and morally indemnified (or compelled) doing so for a client?

Justice? Money? Righteousness? Malice?

Then it became clear to me. I have to apply the rules that I use in my own life to my client work.

In my own life and affairs you would need to harm me or someone I care about, substantially, before I will ever consider going to a graveyard with black candles in my hand. You can insult me, annoy me, spite me, anger me - you might even manage to get me flame spitting furious but that alone will never be enough to get me to the point where I will scratch your name into a black candle with a rusty coffin nail.

That just isn't my style.

You have to either directly harm or substantially threaten to harm me or someone I really care about. What does this mean for my clients? It means I need to know you well enough and have worked with you long enough that I would be willing to go to that place for you. Justice alone is not enough for me to go there. The world is full of injustice. Not my job to fix it. Money won't do it because, very simply, I am nobody's hoodoo hit-man. Similarly, your hatred and fury means nothing to me. But if you mean something to me then you might have my ear and my heart. Nobody hurts anyone I care about on my watch.

It might sound a little peculiar but what it comes down to in practical terms in my own conjure practice, is this:

If you come to me out of the blue seeking revenge, pain, death and destruction on your enemies - no matter how justified it all seems; no matter what the reading says; no matter how angry/sad/bitter you may be... it's pretty darn unlikely you will get me digging around the graveyard for you. Sorry.

I'll hot-foot a nuisance gladly, I might jinx up a competitor and I will most certainly dominate and control an idiot when it is called for; but I will never rain down destruction on anyone  - for whatever reason - if you are a total stranger to me. Never.

However, if you are an established client of mine who I have been reading and doing spiritual work with for some time already (and enough so that I have had the opportunity to get to know you; your character; and your story adequately), then, there is some chance that I might consider doing this kind of work for you. And this will be based on my sincere and very genuine personal concern for you as my trusted client and friend.

Like I said - nobody hurts anyone that I care about.


Divinatory Literacy

I have had the good fortune of being able to read for people from all over the world lately. What I have discovered is that people that hail from countries which have a culture of divination (even if it was just something that the older folks did) tend to get far more out of a reading than those that don't (very broadly speaking of course). I think I have come up with a term for this: divinatory literacy.

Allow me to me elaborate. On Thurday evening I attended a regular bi-weekly misa and this was an unusually small misa because of a furious storm raging in Amsterdam on Thursday. Not one easily put off by storms and in need of a good cleansing I jump on my bicycle, (almost getting blown into a canal) and I made my way to the centre, to find a small group of damp but determined espiritistas.

When a misa is smaller the format changes somewhat. In the larger 20-plus people misas there is an 'audience' that sits in rows and the white table gets 'worked' by a group of espiritistas in the front. They step into the audience and give messages or pull people out to cleanse etc. However, in the smaller misa everyone sits in a circle and as such everyone becomes a medium and is allowed to give messages from the spirits who come to attendance. The idea being that there is no hierarchy in espiritismo and that a junior medium can possibly give a message to an elder in need of it. Or even more interesting - sometimes one medium will get one fragment of a message and another medium another piece and together they make sense.

Anyway, in this smaller group setting an elder explains the rules in the beginning so that the whole thing does not devolve into chaos with people talking at the same time or worse. The first rule being don't cut a medium off, apart from being rude it cuts off the contact to that spirit which is disrespectful to the spirit. Secondly, when you are given a message from a medium that makes no sense whatsoever (and some messages do sound strange indeed) - don't argue with the medium. It isn't a discussion circle. Once you try and enter into a whole discussion with the medium the spirit contact weakens, and really, what you have is two egos bumping together which is a waste of time. Worse, our elder informs us, is that this then sabotages the energetic dynamics at a misa and the whole thing devolves into a less healing experience and more irritating/confusing one.

If you get a message that is confusing you are supposed to just hold onto it and if in time it still makes no sense then you let go of it as mere gibberish. Sometimes the message comes out wrong or gets given to the wrong person altogether. However, what happens usually is a few days later something happens and BAM it makes sense. The spirits experience time differently - so they might be talking about a future context and that message only falls in place when a certain set of circumstances are in place. They don't care if you don't understand it now. You will.

So the idea is to be relaxed and open - at least for the duration of the misa. Later you can be critical. In your daily life experience the whole thing plays out and you get to see what the validity of it all was. And let me tell you; I have received some truly bizarre messages that fall into place with such incredible clarity that I felt like I might faint with shock.

I have noticed at misas and during my own client readings; those who get the least out of the experience are the ones who are going, yeah but, yeah but, yeah but. It's not making any rational sense yet, you see. Westerners are addicted to reason. I had someone come to see me the other day who upon plonking themselves down on the chair across from me informed me, arms folded, that they are in fact a 'critic'.

Oh joy.

What this really means is that I am supposed to play the psychic mystery revelation game with them. This is where you pull something out of your hat that so unlikely, so spot-on, that only someone familiar with the most intimate details of their life could have possibly known it. And you know what? Even if you do that, even then, they will tighten up their body language turn their head ever so slightly - one supposes to cut of those invasive psychic rays - and inform you that this was due to some marvellous guess work.

My job isn't to make believers. I have no interest in converting anyone to the wonder and joy of interacting with the numinous directly or the satisfaction of living the magical life. I do have an interest in getting people their money's worth, or getting something out of the reading at least. Even if it was just talking to someone about your personal experience in a supportive context. Coming to it with a closed attitude is a total waste of time. Further, it places the reader in the awkward position being tested in some way. Now, a reader is being tested for ability during every single reading they give anyway - this is a given. Just as a pilot is being tested during every flight. This is different to having a nosey passenger sit up front in the cockpit scrutinising all the dials. "I don't believe in flying anyway" they might interject during take-off.

Why then, dear sir, did you buy the ticket?

This I put down to divinatory literacy. Which is having a certain understanding and attitude towards divination and the diviner. Which, mind you, isn't the same thing as blind faith. No, divinatory literacy is about cultivating an open attitude and being willing to make contact with the sacred. One in which the most critical part of the self is put on hold for the time being while the more playful, receptive part of the self is allowed to come out. It's not unlike the attitude that you might have when going to see a film, or listen to a new piece of music. You don't hype it too much for yourself or you might be disappointed and you don't arrive with your clip-board and qualitative evaluation checklist either. You just relax and let it happen.

In addition, a good reading really proves its value over time. Sure you might have a few things lock into place for you there and then, or get some details about the past you might only have known about (which can be affirming too), but what you want is something that helps you navigate ahead. The reader interprets the cards, shells, chart or whatever the tool being used is but the sitter then has the job to carry that seed given during the reading and to interpret it further for themselves as their own life unfolds. There will be parts that make no rational sense but if you stay open things begin shifting inside (and outside), lining up just right, and then there might be a sudden insight that can be profoundly transformative.

People that come from countries, communities or families where there is a culture of divination, it seems, have an instinctual relationship with diviners that comes passed down to them. Part of it respect and faith, sure - but from what I can tell it mostly is the willingness to make some space and time for that which is not altogether rational and possibly therefore, wondrous.


Free Stuff!

Gordon is giving away free catholic folk-magic goodies! Apparently my chances of of getting some are increased by reposting about it. So go check it out!


The Mojo of Jesus

Attracted by the colour of hoodoo, people seem to make a beeline for the saints. Saints are accessible and much of that has to do with exquisite iconography that is so readily available for them. People make spiritual choices based on aesthetic criteria all the time and I think this is one of the reasons the saints have such magnetic charm - their images are visually very evocative. Additionally, when faced with the Christian framework of these New World paths; people with occult leanings, I think, find the saints to be an easy doorway to access these traditions without having to face up to the broader Christian underpinnings.

In terms of hoodoo; historically, the inclusion of saints was really very tiny and mostly limited to a select few geographic regions; not surprisingly these regions were more densely populated by practising catholics. For the most part hoodoo is a Protestant tradition - you wouldn't think so when you look around online! I know I for one am fond of talking about the saints.

However, if you want light a rocket under your rootwork and give it some real spiritual clout - even when petitioning the aid of saints - you have to square it up with the big JC. That's right. Nobody delivers the goods like the King of Kings. If you want to make mince meat of any obstacle, manifest any goal, overcome any enemy then the Lamb of God is an unstoppable, indomitable, inexhaustible treasure house of spiritual force. Can I have an Amen?

I invite you to discover the power of the magical Jesus. In fact I dare you.
Jesus the greatest conjure man ever to walk the earth.
Jesus the master of miracles.
Jesus the magician.

I was taught a powerful trick by Momma Starr: take a picture of Jesus and put it under anything you are working on, whether it be a jar, candle - whatever. Put that picture there and see what happens! Just the image of Christ is so potent that I have found by adding this simple element the speed and efficacy of a spell is radically boosted.

This is the true beauty of hoodoo as a spiritual path; you get to discover Jesus in a whole new way. I'm not talking about the Sunday school version.

His Spirit and power will reveal Itself to you and ooze down into your work, your mind and your spell-craft and blow open your mind to a whole new dimension of Christ and what he means on the most secret inner levels. He can reveal Himself to be something completely different; something magical,  extraordinary and entirely unorthodox.

Become a truly antinomian magician.

In fact, I would say that if the idea makes feel squeamish then it might be especially useful for you to work with Jesus directly. Go to that uncomfortable place, expose it and see what happens. If you are a Neo Pagan and you are about to unfollow from my blog, then I would like to point out that the early Hermetic magicians would invoke the power of Christ right along with Abraham, Hermes and Anubis - all in one the same conjuration! They didn't have Jesus issues because they knew a powerful Divine name to conjure by when they saw one. And they weren't afraid to call it out, either.

If you are a would-be hoodoo then you gotta get you mind and your heart wrapped around the role of Jesus in this tradition. He cannot be deleted from hoodoo - anymore than the Lwa can be from vodou. So why not look Him in the eye and see what He has to say about your juju? Why not call on His power for you next candle working? I am willing to bet my last penny that you will be very, very surprised by what you find.

Earlier this week I was working on a new client's case. It's a story that really touched me, a grave injustice and tragedy had befallen this family. I was busy preparing a lamp for the case and as I was putting it all together I felt the Spirit move around me so I stopped and I began praying; at first quietly but as the intensity of my words began building I felt  this sudden wave of force come down and I switched over into Tongues - ordinary words no longer being adequate for what was being expressed - an urgent primal call swept through me. Suddenly I had a vivid spiritual encounter:

I see Jesus ablaze in golden light. A network of stars; constellations knitting together his body and robe. Woven throughout this is an exquisite chain of sigils, symbols and divine names cycling eternally throughout His luminous form. And in that moment He seems utterly alien to me - cosmic and inexplicable. Ineffable. Magical. Timeless. Breathless and startled I discover my body becoming filled with a gentle surge of peace and heat. It extends everywhere, into the lamp, the walls, floor, ceiling - everywhere. 

I sat quietly like that for a few minutes, dazzled, and then eventually pulled myself together and lit the lamp...

Now, I am not saying you go all bat-shit 'hallelujah' crazy, waving your bible around. This isn't about religion. I am simply inviting you to discover what is probably the most powerful magical secret held within this tradition, hidden in plain view.

The "Lord is my Shepherd, I Shall Not Want" Mojo Bag:

A holy card of Christ the Shepherd (any picture of Jesus will work)
Three coins
A magnet/lodestone (I prefer magnets)
High John the Conquer root
Master root
23 Psalm printed out
Red thread
Pine resin
Magnetic Sand
A Picture of yourself
I Shall Not Want oil

A red flannel bag.
A vigil light adorned with picture of Jesus Christ.

Inspired by the beauty of Psalm 23 I formulated the "I shall not want" bag as a perpetual abundance mojo. It calls on the Divine promise issued in Psalm 23, and Christ the Shepherd for its power.

On the back of the psalm you should declare all areas in which you shall no longer want in your life; money, love, career, friendships, knowledge, peace of mind etc. Then cover and cross it with your name seven times. Seven is the number of Christ but it's also the number of victory. Dress it with I shall Not Want Oil in the quincunx pattern. Fold this up towards you and wrap it around the Master root, then wind it up with red thread praying: the LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want. Tie it off.

Take the picture of Christ the Shepherd and place upon it your pic, so that you are being held by Jesus. On that put the magnet/lodestone and feed it magnetic sand and I Shall Not Want oil. On the magnet place the three coins. I use these little Chinese lucky coins that I bought in bulk because I send bags all over the world and I like to use a universal symbol for money. Also, they are really pretty!

Next, fold the holy card around all of this to form a packet and tie it in with thread to keep it together.

Take every single ingredient, one at a time, and pray the 23rd psalm over it - declaring at the end of the psalm once again the areas in which you shall no longer want:

The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want for money.
The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want for friendship.
The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want for safety.

Place them in the bag as you do this and then finally breathe life into the bag and tie it off. Feed it some oil and whiskey and place it in under an over-turned bowl so that you can burn a the vigil over it. Dress and fix the vigil - light it and let it burn over the bag. Take the bag in your hands daily and pray Psalm 23 over it, feeding it oil and breath each time you do. When the vigil has done burning the bag should be rocking and ready to go!


Divination, divination, divination

The value and power of accurate divination when doing spellwork professionally has been on my mind a lot lately. Firstly, when a client comes for a consultation and you are able hit the nail on the head with your reading, or even perhaps pull out a few secrets or little facts that only they could have possibly known; this goes a long way to establishing confidence and trust in your abilities and in the work itself. Which in turn helps create good rapport between the worker and client.

You could be the most fabulously powerful magician in the world but if you can't read adequately then you are flying blind. Secondly, you really do need to know what the shape of the situation is so you don't take on work that you are unable to successfully conclude or handle. Naturally, nobody is able resolve every single job successfully but you want to be able to assess carefully what is and is not possible in any case and be sure to build your work on top of that - flowing with the pattern of events rather than against them.

Then there is the matter of the client themselves - you might be able to do the job successfully, but even so some clients might prove very difficult to work with. I find it is good to be forewarned so I know how to handle a client appropriately.

Then finally, divination is really powerful for guiding any decisions regarding what kind of work would be most suited to any case. This is either by deduction, looking at the reading as a whole, or more specifically by doing extra divination to see what kind of work should be done; how long for; ingredients employed, as well as for decisions regarding which saints, spirits and so forth you might want to work with. You know that old saw: genius is 1% inspiration 99% perspiration? Well, sometimes I feel like one could say: rootwork is 1% conjuration 99% divination!

The ratio is probably a little exaggerated there, but you get the point...

If you divine accurately, you are able  see the important connections, relationships and forces at play in any given situation - and with the blessing of the Divine sometimes all that is needed is a gentle magical push or pull in exactly the right place; creating a cascading domino effect, leading to the perfect outcome.

It doesn't always work that way but with a bit of practice, good divination can certainly help make this kind of thing happen more frequently.


Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly: Fall 2010!

How cool is this! Check out the Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly. Its a new journal for rootworkers and eclectic practitioners of the magical arts with a special focus on New Orleans Voodoo, Hoodoo and folklore! 

Another neat thing is that it includes a feature length piece by yours truly! If you found my Venus "Love-Tub" Lamp post tickled your fancy, you might like to check out the Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly because it gives that working in full detail; including all the herbal ingredients and planetary conjurations along with theoretical underpinnings - offering detailed instructions for performing the spell yourself.

More than that the journal includes workings, articles and reviews by a whole team of skilled practitioners. I am happy to say I have been invited to become a regular contributor and I am thrilled to be writing for such an exciting publication.

From the press-release statement:

Recognizing the resurgence of folk magic and the growing community of hoodoos, healers, and conjurers, Planet Voodoo (www.planetvoodoo.com) has created a new, high quality journal that meets the needs of today’s conjurers and the curious. Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly journal shares historical and contemporary information about aspects of the conjure arts, including magico-religious practices, spiritual traditions, folk magic, hoodoo, and religions with their roots in the African Diaspora and indigenous herbology. Each issue of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly magazine brings you original and traditional formulas, spells, tutorials, root doctor, spiritual mother, and conjure artist profiles, workshop listings, book, product, & website reviews, and more!
Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly is a thoroughly researched periodical created by New Orleans-born author, artist, rootworker, and PhD level social scientist Denise Alvarado and her business partner Sharon Marino, and New Orleans style Voodooist, eclectic witch, and Wiccan High priestess. When you read a copy of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly, you can be confident that what you read is the real thing. Whether you are a beginner who is just intrigued by the notion of folk magic, want to pick up some techniques for your trick bag, add to your personal grimoire, want to learn about the African -derived and indigenous spiritual traditions, or want to keep up with the social world of today’s practitioners, Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly delivers!

The content of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly comes from a variety of channels. There is a veritable hoodoo admixture of contributors that includes several notable authors, as well as “regular folks” from the hoodoo and conjure community. The intentional input of professionals and experienced lay people involved in varying degrees in the magickal arts guarantees the reader receives multiple perspectives, a broader base of information, and cross-cultural and cross-regional views of occult phenomenon. Our contributors include Aylene Pustiano, New Orleans author, occultist and paranormal researcher who specializes in New Orleans folklore; Dorothy Morrison, a practicing Witch for nearly 40 years, and award-winning author of numerous books on Witchcraft and its practical application to everyday living; Chad C. Balthazar, a gifted reader and rootworker, avid blogger, current resident of Amsterdam who was born and raised in Africa, and descendant of a line of mediums, dreamers and madmen; Madrina Angelique, Tarot Reader, Conjure Woman and Mojo Witch, as well as Madre Nganga of Munanso Centella Ndoki Nkuyo Malongo Corta Lima Cordosa and Iyalorisha of Ile Ori Yemaya, born and raised in rural Georgia, and student and practitioner of traditional southern hoodoo since childhood; Papa Curtis, a gifted intuitive trained in the arts of traditional Rootwork, Hoodoo, and Dowsing; and Matthew Venus, a rootworker and eclectic magician who has been practicing, studying and teaching the magical arts for the past twenty years; as well as Sharon and myself, of course.

So don't miss out and get your copy!


Triumph of the Sacred

Not sure what this phrase means, exactly. It came to me during an ecstatic experience. I suppose we could ask what does it mean to you, dear reader (if anything)? Open thread... muse away.


Most Powerful Tools the Arte

Without a doubt my most potent and often used tools. 
  1. The dropper, for oil. 
  2. The engraver, for inscribing candles, fixing vigils, moulding wax doll-babies.
  3. Thread, for everything... (wrapping, sewing, tying).
I can work without any tools if need be, but damn, these three are so handy...


The Full Canvas and its Threads.

It's kinda spooky because I have been sitting on this post for a few days trying to figure out how to frame what I am trying to say without sounding whacky. Well, less whacky than usual.  Then Rufus Opus posts this. It kind of comes from the opposite end of where I was going but it really hits the nail on the head.

More specifically, I was sitting contemplating the differences between the main thrust of classical western magic and folk magic systems like hoodoo. It occurred to me that western magic's preoccupation with language, symbol and sign-making (whether this be in the form of sigils, pentacles, barberous words, angelic languages or their equivalents), these all seem kinda like the aristocratic literary twin of the tangible sympathetic and very material processes of hoodoo.

And with that I mean to say, is, that the sympathetic gestures that are encoded in these sorts of hoodoo spells are a kind of manifest language. A kind of divine script that permeates the natural sympathetic signifiers found all around us and then seized upon and deployed in conjure. Sweet things, for instance, mean more than that yummy taste - in the magical context their potency extends far beyond the sensory experience of taste and on to the much vaster abstract symbolic value of sweetness itself. What it means when something is delightful, attractive, magnetic - or what it feels like when people get together in happiness. It's sweet.

That's all encoded in a cube of sugar just as it might be in the seal of Venus.

Yet the sugar is different - its language is direct, more primal. Sugar needs no translation. Sweetness is inscribed upon it wherever you go in the world, whoever tastes it. That essential quality, is what I am talking about. Those essential primal signifiers permeate all of creation, kind of like the fingerprints of God.  These fingerprints are everywhere - in the stickiness of sticky things, the sharpness of pins, the sourness of lemons, the magnetism of lodestones - their meanings and values all fantastically capable of functioning with as much magical precision as any arcane cypher, any angelic script.

Rufus remarks: You take a symbol and do something symbolic with it, but you tell a story.

Exactly. These stories can be threaded together with the most common of objects; the winding up of thread; by cutting apart; sewing together; by setting aflame; burrying; nailing down or tying a knot. This vernacular of the ordinary when transposed to the magical context becomes the syntax of the Divine.

Considering what Rufus has to say about manifestation process through the spheres, it's not all that surprising that the magical materiality of this kind of sympathetic vernacular can be so effective when wielded skilfully. Perhaps the reason that happens is because these things are already manifest, and by employing them in spellwork we are able to pull on the very same threads woven by God throughout all of creation - that full canvas.

Oops, still came out kinda whacky.


God's Treehouse

This is so much better than waving a bible and ranting at people through a megaphone. What an inspiring, deeply magical idea. God told Horace to build at treehouse and that if he obeyed he would never run out of materials.

The treehouse is currently 97-foot high with ten floors, and growing!

It really makes me feel so amazingly good to know that God is as eccentric as all this. As a long-time lover of treehouses, folk-art and crazed prophets I highly recommend reading the touching story about Horace's treehouse.

Also check out this flickr set of pics detailing the treehouse in all its arkish glory.


Grimorium Beerum

You can find almost anything in Amsterdam.

Hellishly good too.


Inscribing Prayers

Sitting in my conjure room, inscribing a psalm on a pillar candle. A quiet prayer on my lips. Suddenly I feel small and overwhelmed by the movement of the spirits around me. I'm still a conjure baby, I realize.

Just a baby.


Old Style Conjure radio

Well, let me tell you - if you want to hear some powerful and important messages you gotta listen to the esteemed Momma Starr and Dr. Love Bug's new blog talk radio show.

This is all about the ethics of conjure, and what it truly means to be a spiritual worker and about the inner attitudes that you need to cultivate if you want to be a decent good hearted worker. I have been blessed with the very good fortune of being able to take classes with Momma Starr and she tells it like it is. Marc is right once you talk to her, your ideas about a lot of stuff suddenly gets put into a whole new perspective! Some difficult stuff comes up but its very important stuff. Similarly, Dr. Love Bug has got an infectious fiery passion for the tradition second to none, and his spiritual skill is formidable. I have had the pleasure to chat quite a bit with him (we hail from the same region in South Africa) and he is sharp conjure doctor, to be sure. I can't wait to hear more from these two strong voices representing the essentials of the tradition at a time when conjure is reaching a global audience at such a rapid rate. Tune in and enjoy folks! Highly recommended.


The Venus Love-Tub Lamp

Sometimes it's kinda hard having a conjure blog. I constantly have to resist blabbing out personal tricks and techniques on this here blog thingy. Being at least a little secretive about what you do is an important part of the tradition, but sometimes the joy of blogging overcomes the need to keep tricks up my sleeve (like today). And after the discussion about lamp work on MyHoodooSpace yesterday I thought it seemed all the more relevant.

I devised this lamp for a love reconciliation case. What's more -  it wasn't pure hoodoo. For some reason I got all *cough* eclectic and mixed up doll-babies; astrological timing; renaissance conjurations - along with an an afro-caribbean style lamp that employs hoodoo herbal symbolism.

I  know, I am all 'traditional' this, 'traditional' that - and then when left alone in my conjure room for five minutes I turn into a magical hypocrite...

It just felt SO good :)

The work was wrought on the day and hour of Venus; sculpting two beeswax doll-babies filled with appropriate goodies and then baptised with holy water. My latest obsession is to write petitions on dried bay leaves.

Next I take three pieces of cotton bandage and I braid the wicking as I pray.  I then pin the bay-petition to the wick with pink topped dressmakers pin. I thread the wicking through the tinfoil platform. The secret to creating a good lamp is the wicking; it needs to be thick enough to draw up enough oil and stay burning brightly but not so thick that it blazes too brightly and empties out the well every three hours.

I tie the doll-babies together so that they are embracing, whilst praying my petition, then I place them on a bed of controlling and compelling roots along with a generous portion of libido and love enhancing herbs. Like so...

I drench the doll-babies with syrup, I add vegetable oil, along with the appropriate condition oils, making sure to saturate the wick. Don't those doll-babies look like they are cuddling in a hoodoo hot-tub?

Finally, I draw the seal of Venus on the ground with blessed chalk along with sigils for the planetary spirit and intelligence of Venus. I place the lamp atop this - and intoning conjurations from the Heptameron I invoke the appropriate planetary agencies as I light the lamp, making sure to include my petition and an offering of appropriate Venus-attributed incense. I refill the lamp with oil every day in the hour of Venus repeating the conjurations, along with incense offering and petition as I do each time. I also add different herbs to the lamp as the job progresses - to sweeten, heat or otherwise manipulate the situation as the case may need.

Day 1: Client texts target. Target at first does not respond at all and then eventually responds with cold and disinterested attitude.

Day 5: Target's phone makes a 'phantom' call to client. Client sees missed call, excited, phones ex to hear what the call was about. Ex denies having called, something weird is going on with the phone. Client and ex both confused - they chat a little. 

Day 14: Receives early AM message begging client to come out. Client in shock and disbelief - so much so that she turns down the invite! Rootworker wants to strangle client when he hears this.

Day 16: Ex contacts client at more sensible hour hoping to see client again. Client agrees. Much fun had, sexy time etc. Happiness all round.

They all lived happily ever after. 


Nocturnal Weirdness

My sleep time is prone to weirdness . For some reason if anything is going on spiritually with me then night time visitations or interlopers are prompt to follow turning our bedroom into an occult wonderland. My poor spouse has had all manner of things happen to him at night; grabbed by unseen hands, spoken to, growled at, and generally - just having the living daylights frightened out of him. The fact that he stays with me through all this shows a true and abiding love. I don't think I would stay with me.

Anyway, it is safe to say I have the bedroom battened down. The husband is also trained in a emergency night-time protection drill - which he does with remarkable efficiency for someone who has been has been accosted at 3am by unknown forces, and without blinking. Now, I don't want to keep everything out because for whatever reason my dreams and nocturnal interactions with Spirit are an important source of information and feedback - but on the other hand this makes for a crack through which unwanted intrusions can happen.

Nonetheless, last night we saw an entirely new spin on our usual nocturnal programming:

The hubby gets woken by yours truly standing next to the bed gently stroking his leg. He wakes to find me standing with someone unknown beside me. Alarmed, he asks what I am doing and who the stranger our bedroom is? We both walk out the door. And then...THEN...he notices, ah, but in fact I am still sleeping in the bed next to him.

I don't remember a thing.

He tells the story with a remarkably prosaic attitude - such that it makes me think he is just relieved he didn't get growled at, again.

In honour of spooky, yet somehow funny weirdness - I believe a song is in order:

UPDATE: I was just informed by my spouse that I got some details in this post wrong: apparently, said ghostly apparitions left by way of the window. (sorry pooks!)


The Sweet Success Jar

So, you want a spell that will help your business to take off? You want loads of spending customers, goodwill and a steady flow of cash coming in, along with ever increasing profits? To this end I offer you the Sweet Success jar. And I am happy to say it works pretty darn well. May it bring you limitless abundance and sweet, sweet success!

What you will need:
A glass jar with metal screw-top lid
1 magnet - not a lodestone, but a strong magnet*.
Magnetic sand
Pay-me oil
All Things Under My feet oil
Dirt from a busy marketplace
Dirt from your business premises
A list of goals and ambitions for you business; your business plan along with your business name or logo.
Sugar syrup or honey (I prefer syrup)
Calamus root chips
Liquorice root chips
Sassafras root chips
Bay leaf
Coin of every denomination
A brand new, crisp bank note of any denomination (higher is better).
A hair from your crown
A Pay-Me vigil-light
Red thread

First cleanse your jar properly, wash it and wipe it out with a little Florida water. Then fill it one third of the way with sugar. Next wipe off the coins with a little Florida water and anoint each coin with Pay-Me oil - then drop them into the sugar. When the jar is done - looking through the syrup it kinda reminds me of sunken treasure on bottom of the seabed.

Next, write out your petition and cover and cross this with your name. Be thorough - word your petition carefully and with thoughtful consideration. Work this out before hand. Naturally you want to ask that your business be blessed with many customers, who spend generously, come back often and have good things to say. Also ask that obstacles and negativity be removed and cleared away from the path ahead. Place your petition on top of that crisp fresh new bank note - dab some Pay-Me and All Things oil on the corners of the bank note.

Now, baptise the magnet and name it after your business. To do this I sprinkle a little holy water over the magnet and making the sign of the cross, I say "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit I baptise thee N." Then I blow a puff of cigar smoke over the magnet to feed its spirit and I also feed it some oil and a pinch of magnetic magnetic sand. Next, take the dirt from the market place and mix it with the dirt from the business. I sprinkle this onto the magnet praying that as the market place teemed with customers, so too will customers be drawn to the business. Then cover this with the roots and herbs, along with a few drops of Pay-Me oil - at this point I like to blow another puff of cigar smoke into my hands which I cup over the petition, magnet and herbs. I pray that the smoke awakens and feeds the roots and herbs - sending my petition to the spirits of the plants, feeding them and enlivening them.

Next, I fold the entire assembly into a packet by folding the bank note toward me - that way the bank note forms the outer layer. When the packet is folded I take the red thread and I begin winding it around the packet in a cruciform - I wind toward me praying with as much intensity as possible. When I have nice red cross holding it all together I tie it off. I place this in the jar along with the printed logo and business plan and I cover it all with syrup. Before I close the jar I add some Pay-Me oil in there.

Finally I dress fix and light the Pay-Me vigil on top of the jar. I work that vigil with daily prayer (Psalm 8 and Psalm 23), adding Pay-Me and All Things Under My Feet oil daily. When the vigil is done I burn tea lights daily atop it thereafter. Each day that I work it I take the jar and I shake it calling out the petition with confidence. You need to take care not to neglect your jar and work it often, or else all the power will get sucked out of it and it will go stale.

I usually create all my work under the aegis of a spirit - whether it be a saint, ancestor, one of the helpful dead or some other guide or spirit. You don't have to but that works well for me. You can work with only the Holy Trinity - and that is the traditional way- and you will have fantastic results, but being catholic and coming from spiritualist background I like working with a spirit or saint for each thing I do. It takes the work where I can't take it myself. I am not saying which spirit I worked with for my jar, that is my business - but there are many powerful spirits that might be suited to yours; San Martin the Caballero being a well-know all-round generosity inspiring saint. Alternatively you might do some research - chances are your line of work has patron saint that might be willing to lend a hand ;-)

*Stay tuned for my upcoming lodestones vs magnet power rant


Winning with Green Fast Luck

Got this awesome bit of feedback about winning at gambling using my Green Fast Luck formula from a dear client of mine:

"I didn't expect to play today cos the table was full. I decided to play a little blackjack for fun and lost initially. I refrained from using the Green Fast Luck for gambling cos its unstable luck, waiting till I combine it with some Money Stay with Me oil. Didn't have a choice but to use it, and I ended up winning!

One of the guys commented. You're running hotter than the sun! That's a great start B. Can't wait to reap the full benefits when your good work is complete my genius conjurer :)" 

I'm like totally jazzed! I would almost give the stuff away for free - just to hear this kind of story! Almost... ;)
Testimonials aside, this brings up an important distinction about Fast Luck formulas that I would like to clarify. Green Fast Luck is designed to bring lucky money, fast. However, these kinds of formulas give what can described as an unstable luck. When my client heard about that part it made her a little nervous, like it might backfire on her in some way. This is not the case, what is meant by 'unstable luck' is very simply that you will experience a sharp burst of short term luck rather than a lower intensity but sustained form of luck.
For instance, you use the oil in some money work and as you walk down the street and you find a hundred dollars lying on the pavement - wow lucky money! This is quite different to walking down the street and getting offered a job that pays hundred dollars an hour - which is unlikely with Green Fast Luck. Do you see the difference? The latter thing is a long term luck and the former is quick lucky flash - green fast luck.


The birth of the Unmanifest Fact

OK brace yourself, we are going for a little trip to into the strange land that is my personal mysticism...

For me, the key part of all magical success involves getting into the paradoxical place where I know the spell has worked, before it has. This is a rather peculiar emotional state because it requires knowing/feeling with certainty that something has happened when, apparently, it hasn't happened yet. Some call it faith, and that is one way of talking about it but what I don't like about the word 'faith' is that it implies the work is going to happen still - it rests all its hope on some future event. No, what I am talking about here should rather be described as an unmanifest fact. What exactly, I hear you ask, is an unmanifest fact? Well, very simply put  - it is the unwavering knowledge inside, an indisputable fact - that states something has already happened but the outer stuff, you know what some folks call 'reality' is still, shall we say, catching up. And it catches up quickly too - sometimes so quickly that the gap is nearly unnoticeable.

Now, what's important about this is that once spawned an unmanifest fact invariably becomes a manifest fact. You see, they are both the same fact already - and the latter must necessarily proceed from the former just as the sun must rise in the east and set in the west. The question then becomes how to spawn an unmanifest fact in ones internal experiencewhich to say - the condition of knowing with absolute certainty something is true without having any evidence yet? What I am suggesting here is a kind of gravity defying mental/emotional contortion; a fabulously sparkly yet affordable form of non-dual awareness; a kind of inverse magical perception of reality; a radical point of view that sees things the way they are before they are the way they are.

A few important characteristics I've noticed about the Unmanifest Fact:
  1. The unmanifest fact is outside of time - it knows no future, or present - it just is.
  2. The unmanifest fact is real, perhaps more real than real stuff.
  3. The unmanifest fact is a feeling, a knowledge, an internal experience but its also the result of that feeling/knowledge/experience.
  4. The unmanifest fact is a fact just like all other facts except it appears to precede them. I say 'appears' here because something cannot precede something if it is that thing already, but we are using dualistic language here and I am doing my best to talk about something that annihilates all efforts to describe it.
One way of describing the mechanism for creating these kinds of facts would be to say that the most fertile ground for the spawning of an unmanifest fact is a state of consciousness that one could describe as the 'miracle-mind'. The miracle-mind is an infinitely available, fabulously wide open, mental-emotional continuum that entertains any possibility - even if only for a single moment. It's not an altered state of consciousness, however (although it can happen during those). I blogged about this idea once before and people thought I was being euphemistic at best or perhaps a little odd - even for a conjurer. Nonetheless,  detractors aside - I was being quite serious. If you want a miracle to happen then you should be able to entertain the possibility of a miracle even if it's just for one second. And whilst this sounds either obvious or crazy (or both) I would like to offer that at any moment of miracle-mind, which is that that impossibly wide open space of anything-is-possible, an unmanifest fact can be born. And you know what I am going to say comes after those don't you?

That's right, true magic.

I know, I know - it sounds like I am teaching a kind of Neo-Advaitan New Thought seminar on acid.

Nonetheless. Perhaps you recognise what I am talking about, perhaps you think it's just some kind of pseudo magical babble I've made up - but in upcoming posts I will try to elaborate more on how this entirely paradoxical  approach works for me.


Smart Magic

Wow, I love hearing about smart magic, even better is hearing about smart magic that worked well because of one my products! What a buzz!

Gordon describes the technique along with the underlying principles that he used to get his partner hired on the spot. It's an excellent post  - and besides the groovy plug, in his ever insightful way, Gordon manages to get me to think a little differently about magic. You should check it out. This isn't chaos magic anymore people it something much smarter. And it works.


The Lenormand Quickies: a reading

So, I have been working my way through, like, a zillion Lenormand readings - OK, OK I exaggerate it's more like thirty-five... ;)

Anyway, I would like to thank the folks who sent in their questions; there were some very interesting questions and then some pretty heavy ones too! Sheesh, put pressure on a guy why don't you!  So, with some of the heavier questions I couldn't in good conscience read using my practice Lenormand quickies alone so I have in some cases cast an extra free geomantic chart to confirm and elaborate on the cards - especially if the question seemed to be heavy or one that carried some special charge. So if I haven't got back to you yet it is because my 'quickies' sometimes turn out to be not so quick after I read and write up the cards and a chart. And in some cases I did extra geomantic readings just because they were so darn interesting I couldn't resist. My mother always says to me "Seuntjie jy weet hoe om a lat vir jou gat te pluk" - which translates as "boy, you sure know how to cut a switch for your own ass!" :)

I especially want to thank the querents who responded with feedback on the Lenormand quickies - the feedback is valuable and helps sharpen up my Lenormand mojo.

Anyway, as promised here is a Lenormand quickie reading for your interest and perusal...

It was for a querent whom we shall call W. - her question:

My boyfriend & I have been seeing each other for a bit longer than 2 years. We're both in our 40s and have had previous not so great marriages. Our relationship is wonderful. We have a lot of fun, delicious sex, enough common/different interests to keep things balanced. However, the dude just won't commit. Never mind that he doesn't really have time to see anyone else, he doesn't want to lose the possibility. So, my question is, should I continue with C. as stated above, or begin seeing other people?



The poor man seems stressed out about his work - it weighs on him heavily and is impacting on his inclination to commit. I think he sees problems ahead with his career, or worries about it a lot.
The cards suggest that you were perhaps a little devious in the past and tried to conceal it by pretending everything is rosy - you might find he is aware of this and it made him a little cautious. The good news is this period of non-commitment looks temporary and it seems like it might well come to an end - probably after he resolves an important business matter that he has been working on, or feels his career is in a stable place he is satisfied with. It seems his past has influenced him in a such a way that expressing himself takes time, possibly he even communicated to you that it would take time - so he might think that you are willing to wait.

I would say yes that he will commit, you just have be a little patient, it seems he is preoccupied with his work and until he feels secure about that he might not be ready to take that leap.

W. responds:

Yep, that rings pretty true. He is starting a business, just sold his family home, is seeking funding for the business...I think some patience is in order. 
I read my Tarot using court cards for C. & me, and the first major arcana for what action to take, and I got Death reversed...so that sounds like "just hang in there" too.  
Thank you! It definitely makes things more clear.

More on the Lenormand technique used above:

One of the cool features of the system is that it works by using key cards and one of the ways a reading can be done, is by searching through the deck (keeping it in order) for the key cards related to a question, and then reading cards that precede or follow the key cards in the deck. So to clarify: you might ask the question, shuffle, and the go through the deck until you get to the key card appropriate for the topic and the draw out the cards, in sequence the precede and follow the key card. In this case above I use two key cards; the ring (for commitment) and the gentleman (for her boyfriend). These cards are then are all combined with each other and the key card to generate meanings. It's a kind of divinatory filtering system, that ensures you get to the information you want and is relevant to the topic, making sure that the spread is talking about what you need to know. I think that's pretty neat! What is interesting is that you will notice that the tone or 'energy' of the deck is rather worldly, or I suppose you could even say mundane - dealing with day to day events and symbolic language. A helpful thing when dealing with such things, if you ask me.


Geomancy, Fractals, Africa

A reader tipped me off about this fantastic TED talk by Ron Eglash, entitled; African Fractals, buildings and braids (thanks George!). As a geomancer and someone involved in african and african descended traditions this talk excites me. If you are interested in geomancy, math, divination and the complex relationship these topics have with African spirituality, village building and even weaving (!) - this talk will be of interest.

Most interesting is that in fairly scientific terms Eglash manages to highlight the incredible legacy of geomancy - both in the spiritual and mathematical sense. Looked at in the light of the information presented here it gives one an inkling as to why it might be that the system is such a blisteringly accurate divination tool. What's more, as far as I can tell it represents a lasting and profound link between the European and African traditions - going way back.


The Traditional Folk Magic Festival

How cool is this! The Traditional Folk Magic Festival, in New Orleans.
From the festival website's blurb:
Some of the highlights of this one-of-a-kind festival:
Knot Work: Weaving the Magic of Spirit with Rev. Mother SUSAN ASSELIN
Love Magic: Calling in the Love You Desire (New Love, Self Love, Enhancing Existing Relationships) with SUSAN DIAMOND
Ancestral Guidance: Working with the Spirits of our Kin with Rev. Mother SUSAN ASSELIN
Candle Preparation and Healing with Archangel Michael and Eggs with Auntie Sindy Todo and Susan Diamond.
The Black Hawk Workshop - with Author and Traditional Root-worker STARR CASAS


Neo-Hoodoo and the dilution of the tradition

With hoodoo's recent surge of popularity across a broad spectrum of the online occult audience some complex, perhaps thorny issues have been brought into the dialogue. A lot of traditional workers - people who grew up in the communities who passed on and evolved this tradition over many, many generations feel that there is a genuine risk of true conjure becoming lost, diluted or bastardised. The influence of new age concepts, wicca and other modern western systems - and even that of its fellow afro-diasporic traditions, such as santeria and vodou can have an unwelcome and destructive influence.

What's most confusing about this is that because of the of the way hoodoo evolved it's already comprised of a broad range of magical influences ranging from its roots in the kongo traditions, to European witchcraft and Native American herbal lore. People take that to mean that it's a free-for-all and that it can be mixed with anything from wicca to chaos magic. Most destructive is the fact that the people being drawn to this new glamourous sparkle that the tradition is receiving forget that it in fact is the heritage of a group of people. It isn't simply magical system - it's a folk tradition. Which means that it is deeply intertwined with a group of peoples cultural experience and identity. It isn't this free floating thing that can be claimed by whoever pleases because it already belongs to someone.

Whenever this argument gets put forth it's usually round about now that people start getting uncomfortable. A slippery sense of entitlement rears its head - one which will have you believe we are free to do as we please and take what we want from whomever we want, because we are special. We are spiritual. What harm can we do?

So I will offer an example of the damage that can be done by the New Age machine.

One word: Reiki.

Most people don't know this because I am worried it might damage by bad-ass image ;-) but I have been trained and attuned up the Master-teacher level of Usui Reiki. In fact I went through the whole cycle of training from Reiki I to Master level a total of three times. Each time with different teacher. Why three times? Because I was determined to find an authentic transmission of the original system created in Japan. You know what I discovered? You pretty much can't. The reiki healing system was raped and pillaged so many times by so many greedy self-entitled westerners that the original form, whatever it was, is basically gone. Now you have Crystal Rainbow Dolphin Reiki, and Fairy Pumpkin Kundalini Reiki and Lumerian Varja Monkey Reiki. I personally was considering starting my own school of reiki - called Michael Jackson Moonbeam Reiki after I got a tingly sensation in my palms while watching Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk on TV the other day, just after he passed over to the other side. I swear, I laid my hands on someone and they said they could kinda sorta hear the baseline of Thriller pulsing in their crown chakra.

I am being silly, I know.

I don't mean to bash reiki people, because I have spent a lot of time with them and they are a lovely bunch to be sure. Some of my dearest friends are reiki teachers and I have tremendous respect for them. And I am quite certain that Lumerian Vajra Monkey Reiki really does make people feel a lot better and happier - but what what grinds me is that the Usui system, even the forms which claim to be traditional are simply remnants of whatever Dr. Usui received during his enlightening experience on the mountain. Interestingly, the founder of Aikido received his system in a rather similar fashion (a flash of golden light coming down through his crown) and roughly at the same time as Usui - supposedly they even knew each other. Now, compare Reiki today with Aikido.

Anyone for some Fairy Dolphin Kundalini Rainbow Aikido? Why not? I bet Aikido could be vastly improved by crystals and new age music, personally.

I am being silly again, I am sorry.

But my silliness aims to illustrate how destructive and demeaning sloppy New Age appropriation along with greedy self-entitlement can be. Just because you think it's spiritual and makes you feel good doesn't mean its right. Reiki got eaten up alive by the New Age monster and spat out as a pale spectre of its original form. Word is there is a clutch of original Usui Reiki practitioners somewhere in Japan, in hiding. I really don't blame them, honestly I don't.

Getting back to hoodoo for a moment - we find there is this problem that comes with being an outsider participant to any living tradition that you weren't born into, which is that you are inevitably going to bring your own world view and existing beliefs and practices to it. It cannot be helped. It's a human response to learning - you want to synthesise, blend and find commonalities that overlap so you can integrate what you know already. You are trying to make sense of it all, and this is sane and natural. The goal then should be to study the tradition in its purist form, with greatest respect that you can. To work with it as it stands before you begin chopping and changing the parts which don't fit your cosy expectations or the blinkered ideas you are bringing to the table. In all likelihood you are actually changing the parts that you need most of all, and in fact the part that makes it, you know, work. Before you know it what you have left is this watered down grey goo (or worse, fairy rainbow goo) which you will eventually abandon for next months new magical flavour because surprise, surprise it doesn't actually deliver anymore.


In the hoodoosphere this week

There is so much hoodoo goodness on the interwebs right now I decided to do a little round-up of all the stuff you shouldn't be missing out on :

Firstly, I have been so wrapped up with rootwork clients and readings I cannot believe that I totally missed the advent of the 5 Star Spells radio show! If you like the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork hour then you will love this! It boasts a fabulous panel of speakers including my all-time favourite conjure worker, Miss Dara Anzlowar.  From the blogtalkradio blurb:
Experienced Spellwork Professionals Dara Anzlowar, Susan Diamond, Orion Foxwood, Sindy Todo and Rev. Mother Susan talk about the many types and flavors of magic including hoodoo, conjure, rootwork and witchcraft.

Next, Dr. E shares an extremely potent working for taking a spirit off of someone, and folks, this is solid gold stuff. Seriously, this could be my all time favourite post from Dr.E.

Then, my online friend and fellow Lucky Mojo grad Dr. Raven has entered the blogosphere. Check out his blog - he is a sharp guy and has some good tricks and tips up there already.

Finally, after a brief hiatus due to internet connectivity issues my friend and colleague Devi, over at Queen of Pentacles Conjure, gets back to it with a whopper of a post outlining setting up your magical apothecary at home. Excellent stuff.


Angels Charge Over Thee

I recently was inspired to create a condition oil formula that embodied the feeling and power of psalm 91, my favourite psalm of protection.

Angels Charge Over Thee oil: 
Calamus root
Frankincense resin
Myrrh resin
Angelica root chips
Peppermint EO
Eucalyptus EO
Ginger EO
Rosemary EO
A Secret ingredient
Psalm 91 printed tiny and rolled around a sprig of rosemary, placed inside the bottle.
Olive oil base

First, I take the roots and resins and macerate them till fine in the olive oil base. I then place this mixture in a jar and I leave it for a week or more, shaking it all up daily with prayer. The oil is ready when it turns a yummy golden colour from the myrrh resin - then it is poured through a muslin cloth and squeezed to get the oil out of the pulp. It smells spicy and golden - with the sweet myrrh odour subtle but unmistakable.

To this oil added then are the essential oils balancing them very carefully and only putting one or two drops or ginger or it will overwhelm everything. Next I print psalm 91 in tiny letters and roll this around a sprig of rosemary whilst reciting psalm itself with energy and conviction.

Psalm 91
 1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
 4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
 5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
 6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
 7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
 8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
 9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
 10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
 11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
 12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
 13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
 14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
 15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
 16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

I place this then in the bottle with the oil. I also put some of the roots and resins in the bottle, because, well, I think it looks pretty :)

Next, I hold the bottle in my hands and pray the psalm over and over (I like the number 7 for this) until my hands begin heating up as the Spirit passes into the bottle - awakening the power of the roots and oils. I then place the bottle on top of my bible, on my altar and come to it daily in the morning to pray over it.

The rosemary is significant here because not only is it a protective herb in its own right, but biblical scholars argue that the plant that is referred to as 'hyssop' in the bible might in fact actually be rosemary. As you might notice the starting point for this blend is the biblical high altar oil of the old testament, to which then ingredients are added that bring forth angelic, cleansing and protective qualities.  Additionally it employs the use of rolled up scriptures and the dissolution of prayers in fluid as sometimes is found in Christian, Jewish and even ancient Egyptian magic.