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And so this post is not wasted on simply a facebook url, I thought I would let you know about a regular featured section in Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly called the Curio Spotlight. In this section, various curios are spotlighted and formulary is discussed. Many of the elements are discussed in the larger context of folk magick and hoodoo, and then specifically about their use in New Orleans hoodoo. Here is a screenshot of the curio spotlight on red brick dust in issue #2.:

Curio Spotlight: Red Brick Dust

Curio Spotlight: Red Brick Dust

Red bricks can be seen all over New Orleans, from the old brick streets to the brick graves in the Cities of the Dead. New Orleanians have found a variety of esoteric uses for them—they are the preferred writing implement for marking 3 cross marks on the grave of our infamous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and they are used in pulverized form at the front door to keep away evil. It comes as no surprise that red bricks would also be used in the makeshift shrines seen around the city in the aftermath of  hurricane Katrina.

But where did this practice come from? One can only surmise; but a brief jaunt through history reveals that red ochre clays have been used medicinally and ritualistically since the earliest of times. For example, medicinal use of red ochre clay is described in the Ebers Papyrus from Egypt, dating to about 1550 B.C. (Ferguson, 2006). And, ochre pigments were used by Cro-Magnon artists who painted pre-historic cave paintings in southern Europe between 32,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Residues of red ochre clays have been found in burial contexts all over the world from Paleolithic peoples in Europe to Late Holocene peoples of the Americas. Red ochre paint was used to imbue the newly departed with symbolic blood. For example, a human burial ground was found at Caplen Mound on Galveston Island, Texas which had a clam shell covered with a thin layer of red ochre. The shell was found within the grave and is assumed by archeologists to have functioned as the receptacle which held the paint used during body preparation rituals (Campbell, 1957).

Many suggest that the origin of the use of red brick dust can be traced to traditional African    irosun powder. Irosun powder is red dust produced by termites from the barwood (Pterocarpus osun) and camwood (Baphia nitida) trees. Termites eat the outer white portion  of  the  wood,  leaving  the  heartwood to produce the reddish powder called osun. Irosun powder is used in Ifá for divining purposes; it is sprinkled on the divining tray by the diviner and figures of Ifá are marked on the tray in the powder (Bascom, 1991).

In Yoruba, the word irosun signifies menstrual blood and is used to consecrate the pot of Ogun, the Yoruban orisha of iron and technology. The color red is often associated with blood, and blood is associated with power and the sacred. According to Luisah Teish (n.d.):

Oya, the Yoruba Amazon queen is associated with a grass skirt often dyed bright red; she is said to be the heart pumping blood through the body and a fierce warrior. And the most popular proverb for the Goddess Oshun is “Success is in your blood.” (Teish, n.d., par. 38).

In New Orleans, the most commonly known use for red brick dust is its application in pulverized dust form to the front steps of the home as a means of keeping evil away. It is said that red bricks were taken from the Dumaine Street Brickyard—the earliest place in New Orleans in which Voodoo rituals occurred—and were used in rituals and floor washes. The last reference to the Dumaine Street Brickyard in print was in connection with Voodoo Queen Sanité Dédé in 1825. Since that time, red bricks remain plentiful and can be procured all over the city.

Excerpted from Hoodoo and Conjure #2

 

REFERENCES

Bascom, W. R. (1991 ). Ifá divination: communication between gods and men in West Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Campbell, T. N. (1957).  Archaeological Investigations at the Caplen Site, Galveston County, Texas. Texas Journal of Science 9:448-471.

Ferguson, J. B. (2006). The Ebers Papyrus Possibly Having to Do With Diabetes Mellitus. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY. Retrieved August 8, 2011 from http://biology.bard.edu/ferguson/course/bio407/Carpenter_et_al_%281998%29.pdf

Teish, L. (n.d.). Shedding old skin: A search for new origin stories. Metaforma: A Journal of Menstruation and Culture. Retrieved May 2011 from: http://www.metaformia.org/articles/shedding-old-skin/

 

 

 

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Update for Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly


As you may have heard via Facebook, we have had some delays in getting the first issues published. For everyone who purchased a subscription, you have not and will not miss the first issue, so rest easy!

We are very anxious to get the journal published. As this is our premiere issue and first time publishing a magazine journal, we have been learning trial by fire with everything that goes along with creating a magazine of the caliber we have created. After getting all of our contributors on boards, we then had to secure permissions from everyone which we have done. Then we had to find a different printing solution so it could be sold at the price we had settled on (which is comparable to any larger publishing house with publications of similar quality). So we have also done that. Yeah!

Okay, now our issue is getting the formatting right for printing. We are ironing out the kinks with that right now and are confident we will have it ready for printing before the end of the year.

Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly contains full color graphics and photographs. To tide you over and keep up the excitement, here are a few screenshots of some of the articles featured in the premiere issue:

Buying Cemetery Dirt

Buying Cemetery Dirt

In this article, Madrina Angelique shares with the reader the ins and out of  the hoodoo tradition of collecting dirt form graveyards.  Madrina Angelique comes from  the deep south and grew up within the tradition of Southern hoodoo, so you are getting authentic information about proper protocol. In addition, she shares  several of her favorite cemetery dirt recipes for reversing negativity and bringing in money, for example.

In this same section of the journal, you get another perspective about cemetery work from eclectic witch and esteemed author, Dorothy Morrison. Dorothy describes how to petition Oya, the Vodou Spirit of the cemetery. The beautiful artwork is the work of ritual pop artist Karen Miranda Augustine.

Article by Dorothy Morrison, Illustration by Karen Miranda Augustine

The Real Dirt on Visiting the Dead

You may be wondering, where is the folklore and what place does it have in this journal? Well, while we are including many different traditions, we are focusing on southern hoodoo and rootwork and on New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo in a way that it has never been done before. Folklore is what guides much of the healing, and certainly magickal, traditions of hoodoo, and no where in the world will you find a place with richer folklore than New Orleans, Louisiana. There are fabulous local legends of everything from the infamous Dr. John to the most well known Voodoo Queen ever – Marie Laveaux. We have grunches, loup garou, zombies, and devil babies. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface. We are so very fortunate to have on our list of contributors Alyne Pustanio, a New Orleans native and expert in Louisiana folklore. She is a consummate storyteller, and for our premiere issue, Alyne tells the story of the Devil Baby of New Orleans.

The Devil Baby of New Orleans: Fact or Fiction?

The Devil Baby of New Orleans: Fact or Fiction?

I will be posting a few more screenshots and excerpts until the journal is published, though not everything as we want there to be some surprises!

Thanks to everyone for your patience as we get through this process.