Bearing Witness to Fate: Ifa Reading for 2014 by Baba Eli


Jogo de Ikin Orossi

Jogo de Ikin Orossi

Put in simplest terms, Ifa is a religion of the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria West Africa.  Priests of Ifa are called Babalawo. Probably the most important job of the Babalawo is that of translating the teachings of Orunmila for Ifa’s many adherents. Orunmila, who is said to have walked the earth thousands of years ago, is the great prophet of the Yoruba people. He is said to have been the only Orisha to be permitted to witness the whole of creation from beginning to end. He knows the fate and all possible roads of everything in existence. Because of this, he is called “Eleri Ipin” The Witness of Fate. His many teachings, which range from how best to navigate the everyday affairs of the human condition to contemplating highly esoteric ideals, are coded in the 256 Odu of the Ifa religious corpus.

While Odu cannot be easily explained within the confines of one short article, I will for the purposes of this writing, define Odu as the language through which Orunmila speaks to the Babalawo in order to impart his wisdom, knowledge and advice on those who seek it. The precise methodology of this communication is a matter for another time and is best left to those in training for Ifa priesthood.

The tools of the Babalawo – the Diving chain (Opele) and the Ikin – are consecrated to provide a direct connection between The Babalawo and Orunmila. It is with these tools that Ifa divination is performed.  Dafa or Ifa divination is performed for a myriad of reasons. These reasons range from the aforementioned issues of every day human existence to the more in depth knowledge of the individual life experience such as Life path and/or Guardian (crowning) Orisha.

Opele Ifá Orossi

Opele Ifá Orossi

One of the most popular divinations performed by the Babalawo is the Reading of the Year. This is not performed for a single individual, but instead it is for the community at large. Through this reading, Orunmila imparts upon the Babalawo the most prominent energy patterns for the coming year along with knowledge of how to walk in balance with these energies to maximize blessings and prosperity. In Nigeria, his reading is done during their New Year Celebrations in June.  In the United States, we stick with our Gregorian calendar and perform the divination for the New Year on or shortly before December 31st.   My rendition of the Ifa reading for 2014 is as follows:

Ifa Reading for the Year 2014

I     II

II     I

II     I

I     II

 

The Primary Odu for this year is Iwori-Idi.  Each of the 256 Odu of Ifa consists of two “legs”.  The right leg speaks to us of the organization of our daily, temporal life, while the left leg pertains to the organization of our emotional and spiritual life.  The two legs of Odu work in harmony and are interdependent.

Iwori on the right side of the Odu suggests that this year we must steer clear of making snap decisions.  We must go forward with clear heads weighing all options carefully.  Don’t rush into anything.  Make plans.  Look at things from all angles.  My Baba likes to say “Measure twice and cut once”.  You may not get a do-over so make a good impression the first time!

Idi as the left leg of this odu says that we should seek opportunities to express qualities associated with Osun in our emotional and spiritual lives: love, sensuality, movement, adventure, curiosity and abundance.  With Idi it is not only that we need to express these qualities, but also to realize that we DESERVE the happiness and fulfillment associated with these qualities.

All praise to Olodumare that this Odu of Iwori-Idi comes to us Ire (On path/in good fortune) as confirmed by the Odu Otura-Ogbe.

Otura as the right leg of this Odu indicates that maintaining the balance of Ire requires us to approach our temporal/daily affairs with a sense of calm, clarity and focus.  We are instructed to maintain this in order to help us make, clear, concise and informed decisions.  Those based on logic and not the heat of the moment.  Otura also says to take the time to listen to the wants, needs and concerns of others before sharing our own with them.  Others may have insights that you never thought to consider.  This action also serves to show others that you care how they think and feel.

Ogbe as the Left leg says that our emotional and spiritual lives are full to the brim with opportunities this year.  By using calmness, clarity,  focus and empathy we will be able to choose the best paths and opportunities for all concerned.

The area of life governed by this year’s energy is that of relationships as confirmed by Ogbe-Ose.  Ogbe on the right leg of this Odu indicates There is tremendous potential and opportunity for growth in our day to day relationships.  We must remember the lessons of Otura (See above) to help us maintain balance, and the lessons of Iwori (above):  Choose wisely.  Make concise, clear and informed decisions.  Don’t make commitments without thinking long and hard about them.

Ose is the left leg of this Odu.  Ose is another sign of Orisa Osun.  In our spiritual and emotional relationships, Ose is a sign of pure joy, exploration, sexuality, curiosity, all those traits for which Osun is most well-known.  I leave it to each person reading this to interpret what this means to them.

The main Orisha to work with this year to maintain the balance of Ire and maximize the possibilities of this year’s primary Odu, is, of course, Oshun.  Oshun is the spirit of sweet water, of love, of prosperity, of abundance, etc.  Oshun is the Orisha without whom anything about life would be palatable.  She is what makes life worth living.  2014, therefore is a year of love, exploration and prosperity in our relationships. We must, however, remain vigilant.  Do not become careless or complacent.

Aboru Aboye Abosise

Baba Eli

Awotunde Ayodele Ifalere

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What’s Inside Hoodoo and Conjure Issue #2


If you were wondering what is inside Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly Issue #2, this blog will answer that question. It is over 50 pages longer than the premiere issue and chock full of good and interesting information. I hope you have a minute or two because we have a lot to cover including our new contributors and some fabulous new artwork to go with their incredible articles.

REGULAR FEATURES

For those of you interested in the Native American influence on Hoodoo and conjure, I have written an article Indian Spirit Hoodoo that discusses some of the various Native American herbs and curios that can be found in New Orleans Hoodoo.

Indian Spirit Hoodoo

Indian Spirit Hoodoo by Denise Alvarado

Appalachian Hoodoo practitioner Byron Ballard, also known as Asheville’s Village Witch, reminds us of the benefits of DIY Hoodoo in her article Homegrown and Homemade: How to Grow a Botannica in Your Backyard.

Homegrown and Homemade

Homegrown and Homemade by H. Byron Ballard

A fascinating look into the journey of Doc Miller and his legendary Hoodoo Drugstore is presented in Issue #2. Who knew that it would be a mess of cobwebs that would make a believer out of Doc Miller?

Doc Miller’s 21st Century Hoodoo Drugstore

Doc Miller’s 21st Century Hoodoo Drugstore by Denise Alvarado

CHARMS AND FORMULARY

Of course we have a nice selection of charms and formularies for those applied folk magic practitioners out there. The illustrious Dorothy Morrison brings us her Sex Magic Formulary with artwork by our new artist Inga Kimberly Brown.

Sex Magic Formulary

Sex Magic Formulary by Dorothy Morrison

For our readers interested in GLBTQ issues in the ATRs, Chiron Armand brings us his article The Lavender Passage. Armand is a magickal practitioner for almost a decade, he is an initiate in the Unnamed Path shamanic tradition.

The Lavender Passage

The Lavender Passage by Chiron Armand

NEW FEATURES

We have a new column brought to you by Koz Mraz called Myth, Magick, and Motorcycle and he takes us along his journey to Joshua Tree. You may be interested in knowing that it is Koz’s band Studio Voodoo that provides the music for our video trailer.

Myth, Magic and Motorcycle

CONJURE ARTIST PROFILE

Contributed by Alyne Pustanio is our featured conjure artist profile on The Slow Poisoner (alias Andrew Goldfarb). According to Pustanio, Andrew Goldfarb “is a one man surrealistic-rock-and-roll- band from San Francisco. He strums a guitar shaped like a dying swan and sings about swamp women, weeping willows, furtive rituals, cosmic paranoia, creeping fungi, forgotten diseases and witches in the woods. He keeps time by thumping on a kick drum rigged with sleigh bells, and while performing displays elaborately painted signs that bear the title of each song being sung…” (Pustanio, 2011, p. 109).

The Slow Poisoner

The Slow Poisoner by Alyne Pustanio

INTERNATIONAL CONJURE

And as the infomercials say “But wait, that’s not all!” We also have a couple of new contributors that offer their experiences with conjure from an international perspective. Witchdoctor Utu gives us a unique glimpse into working with Mama Moses (Harriet Tubman) and the ancestral spirits of the underground railroad in Canada. Utu discusses the historical background of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad and shares with the reader how to build a cairn to honor Mama Moses and the ancestors. He is the founder of the Dragon Ritual Drummers, the Niagara Voodoo Shrine, and is a member and drummer for the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple.

Mama Moses and the Conjure Tradition of the Underground Railroad by Witchdoctor Utu

And then we are proud to have African-born Winsom Winsom from Belize, a very wise woman I am honored to call my friend and soul sister. Yes, that is her real name and it means “Covering of the Ocean.” She shares with us her experiences with the death rites of Belize. Winsom holds multiple initiations including initiation into the West African fetish healing tradition and initiation in Matanzas, Cuba as a Priestess into Santeria. Winsom studied and worked with healers such as Sobonfu Some, and Malidome Patrice Some and has taken part in Rituals in New Orleans Priestess Miriam and others. According to Winsom, “I continue to bring about the synchronization of my art and spirituality and believe “true power originates internal spiritual enlightenment, and that we must use this power to reach our higher selves: creating harmony”. Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about!

Cry a Bucket of Tears for My Daughter by Winsom Winsom

Continuing with our international contributors, we have with us Doktor Snake, legendary bluesman, cult author, and Voodoo conjurer from England. He shares with us the story of how his Hoodoo mentor Earl Marlowe first taught him How to Your Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads. Doktor Snake also wrote the kick-ass forward for my new book the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook.

How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads

How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads by Doktor Snake

FOLKLORE

No magazine about Hoodoo, conjure and the indigenous traditions would be true to the cause without the inclusion of folklore. Oral tradition is the cornerstone of indigenous knowledge. It is the means by which our ancestors pass on their wisdom and ways of life so that we may benefit and carry them to generations to come (Alvarado, 2011). Following this train of thought, we have included not only the article by Doktor Snake, How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil at the Crossroads, we also bring to you How Br’er Rabbit Lost his Foot or The Rabbit in Magic and Folklore by Matthew Venus and the Plate Eye by Carolina Dean.

How Br'er Rabbit Lost His Foot or The Rabbit in Magic and Folklore

How Br’er Rabbit Lost His Foot or The Rabbit in Magic and Folklore by Matthew Venus

Of course, our resident New Orleans folklorist  and my homegirl Alyne Pustanio  presents a fabulous article on The Gree Gree Men: Voodoo Doctors of New Orleans as only she can tell it.

The Gree Gree Men of New Orleans

The Gree Gree Men of New Orleans by Alyne Pustanio

TUTORIALS

We have gotten some very good feedback about the tutorials we offered in the first issue and so we have continued to meet the needs of our readers by providing some very unique tutorials in this issue, as well. For example, Aaron Leitch, author of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, and The Angelical Language: Vols.I and II brings us an Offering Ritual for Archangel Iophiel  where he not only tells how to petition this angel for assistance but also provides a tutorial for making Jupiter Cakes.

Offering Ritual for Iophiel

Among my personal contributions to this issue of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is the very New Orleans Voodoo tradition of How to Make Red Brick Dust that follows my Curio Spotlight on Red Brick Dust.

How to Make Red Brick Dust

I also provide a tutorial for making Ant bed Conjure Dolls to go with my article on Mississppi Death Conjure or Killing Hurts. Don’t let the title scare you off –  this is a class of works that goes way back in the Hoodoo tradition before Hoodoo even arrived on these shores. There are also a couple of video tutorials that go along with the article and tutorial that can be found on our YouTube channel hoodooconjurejournal.

Part 1 of Mississippi Death Conjure is based on a class of hoodoo spells referred to as “death conjure” or “killing hurts”. Part 1 illustrates the creation of two conjure doll babies and their preparation for the ant bed spell.

Part 2 of Mississippi Death Conjure documents the “Ant Bed Spell”, based on a class of hoodoo spells referred to as “death conjure” or “killing hurts”. Part 1 illustrated the creation of two conjure doll babies and their preparation for the ant bed spell.

Now, its no secret that I am a lover of doll conjure, having authored two books that focus exclusively on that subject, Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual and The Voodoo Doll Spellbook. Another of our contributors is also a well-versed doll conjurer in his own right, Carolina Dean. Between the two of us, you can be sure to find something on doll conjure in every issue of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly. Dean gives us a slightly more palatable tutorial than mine in his article Spirit Dolls. He tells how to prepare the doll, how to call a spirit into the doll and how to work with it for any practical magical purpose.

Spirit Dolls

Spirit Dolls by Carolina Dean

Then we have for you another type of fetish tutorial brought to you by Madrina Angelique. This is How to Make a Business Elegba specifically for the layperson. For those who may need a little help with their businesses and finances, try making one of these powerful fetishes and see what happens.

Making Elegba

Making Elegba by Madrina Angelique

ARTWORK

Finally, if you thought the artwork was off the hook in the premier issue, wait til you see this issue! The screenshots I have posted for this blog gives you a good idea of what to expect but there is so much more I am NOT showing and that you will only find in the magazine itself. I have created some powerful pieces to complement our contributor’s articles, and Karen Miranda Augustine has provided us with her take on Pomba Gira while Ricky Pustanio gives us his interpretation of the gree gree men. We also have two new artists, Inga Kimberly Brown and the Slow poisoner, aka Andrew Goldfarb. And we cannot forget the fantastic photography provided for us by Matthew Venus. I’m telling y’all, you won’t want to miss this issue!

There is much more to this issue than I have presented here, but this will give those of you who have yet to see the magazine a good preview of what you will find within its pages. No go forth and get your own copy of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly #2, the magazine that looks, feels, and reads like a book!

Find it on Amazon.com.

Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly Trailer



At long last, Issue #2 has arrived! And it is even better than the first! Over 150 pages of authentic hoodoo and conjure from a variety of traditions, not to mention we have jam-packed it with information about New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo. Read about Louisiana superstitions, New Orleans Gris Gris, how to grow a botanica in your backyard, and home protections and wards. We’ve got information on the Voodoo Doctors of New Orleans, Pomba Gira, red brick dust, Indian Spirit Hoodoo and St. Anthony. Learn how to invoke Archangel Iophiel, make a business Elegba, and feast your eyes on Altars, Crossroads of Power.

This issue features our very first international submissions, one about Belizean indigenous death rites by Winsom Winsom and our featured cover story about Mama Moses and the conjure tradition of the underground railroad by Witchdoctor Utu. These articles will NOT disappoint you.

As far as charms and formularies, we’ve got a whole section on sex and love magic, protection charms, a Lavender Lust bottle for same sex couples,  how to make Jupiter Cakes and more!

As for folklore, read the very informative and entertaining How Br’er Rabbit Lost his Foot, the Dreaded Plate Eye, snake lore in conjure and more.

And that’s not all!

We’ve got book reviews and a contest to win a jar of crossroads dirt and a Papa Legba talisman.

Believe it or not, there is even more than this. And well, to find out everything that’s in it, you’ll just have to pick up a copy!

Book bound, full color bleed, 156 pages of pure, fabulous conjure!

Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is the only printed popular magazine to have ever been published with a focus on New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo. Forever the subject of horror movies, Voodoo dolls, zombies, and novels with supernatural themes, New Orleans is a culture with a serious history behind its story of magick and religion that should be understood, appreciated, and remembered, as opposed to simply exploited and misappropriated. While Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly aims to be entertaining and practical, it also strives to be informative and educational.

The Underground Railroad and Freedom Riders on the Same Road to Liberation


Harriet Tubman aka Mama Moses

Harriet Tubman aka Mama Moses

She was born a slave and severely abused by Massa, yet; she never gave up the fight. In fact, she not only refused to give up, she won the fight for freedom, and brought more than 70 slaves to freedom with her.

Tubman  suffered severe head trauma as an adolescent that left her with life long debilitating temporal lobe damage (Larson, 2004). It is said that she refused to help restrain another slave so that he could be beaten because he had left the fields without permission. The other slave ran away and as he did so, his Massa threw a heavy weight at him which missed him and hit Tubman instead, cracking open her skull.  She was left without medical treatment for two days and sent back to work in the fields. For the rest of her life, she suffered from disabling seizures, narcoleptic attacks, and headaches. She also experienced powerful dreams and visions, which she considered to be divine revelations from God.

Harriet Tubman, also known as Mama Moses, is known mostly for her humanitarian and anti slavery efforts.  She escaped slavery in 1849 and went straight to Philadelphia, where she rescued her family. Using the safe houses and antislavery activists that comprised the Underground Railroad, she brought family members and dozens of others, one group at a time in the dark of night, out of the state and into freedom. It is said that Mama Moses never lost a passenger (Lowry, 2008).

Notice published in the Cambridge Democrat (1849), offering a reward for the return of Harriet Tubman and her two brothers

Notice published in the Cambridge Democrat (1849), offering a reward for the return of Harriet Tubman and her two brothers

Large rewards were offered for the return of many of the fugitive slaves, but no one then knew that Mama Moses was the one helping them. When the Southern-dominated Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, requiring law officials in free states to aid efforts to recapture slaves, she helped guide fugitives farther north into Canada, where slavery was prohibited.

Volume 2 of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly features an article about Harriet Tubman by new contributor Witchdoctor Utu. Utu is the founder of the Dragon Ritual Drummers, the Niagara Voodoo Shrine, and is a member and drummer for the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Utu has a unique perspective on the conjure tradition as it was brought  to and developed in Canada.

As one who lives and works at the “end of the Railroad”  so to speak here in St. Catharines Ontario Canada, I have a rather unique perspective on the traditions of Hoodoo, Voodoo and the conjuring ways of  the North American tradition. It is here that many of the freedom seeking slaves brought with them, across the U.S. border and into my region in Niagara, via the Underground Railroad,  an entirely distinctive brand of conjure.  Harriet Tubman, the legendary conductor of the clandestine movement that brought  several hundred people to freedom in St. Catharines alone, resided here for many years… While Quakers and Christians of a few sects were supporters and enablers of the cause, the religious and spiritual nature of those that made the journey over the years was as diverse and colorful as the quilts that came to symbolize the movement. Indeed, many of the freedom seekers were renowned root doctors and conjurers, and like Harriet Tubman herself, diviners. Spells of  invisibility, protection, and animal totemic magick  were common and paramount to each and every journey. At the height of the movement, there was a bounty on her head  for $40,000 dead or alive. Harriet began to be known as “The Moses of her people”  later becoming known as “Black Moses” and now more commonly as “Mama Moses”.

One of the unique traditions presented in the article is the reverence for Mama Moses and her followers. According to Utu, when you need to break free of a situation, when you want justice served, when you want to attain more knowledge of the mysteries of the swamps and marsh, or when you simply want to honor a legendary spirit who divined and conjured her way to freedom never to be caught, developing a relationship with Mama Moses is the ticket.

I am  deeply touched by the story of Mama Moses and grateful for this unique conjure tradition that is shared with us by Utu. Details about Mama Moses, building a shrine to her and suggestions for honoring her and her followers are provided in Volume 2 of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly, which will be out next month.

Ninety-eight years after the death of Mama Moses, the fight for freedom and equality was still going strong. A court ruling had passed desegregating interstate transportation and hundreds of people fighting for freedom rode through the south on buses to test the new law. Those who rode the buses were called Freedom Riders.

Fifty years ago, the Freedom Riders arrived on buses to New Orleans and were greeted at their destinations by angry, violent mobs. Yesterday, five of the original Freedom Riders stepped off the bus onto the paved streets of the Crescent City. This time, “they were greeted with music and thunderous applause” (Urbaszewski, 2011). My, the times they are a changin’.

Read more about the arrival of five of the original Freedom Riders in New Orleans on May 16th, 2011 at NOLA.com.

References

Larson, K. C. (2004). Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. New York: Ballantine Books

Lowry, Beverly (2008). Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life. Random House.

Utu. W. (in press). Harriet Tubman and the conjure tradition of the underground railroad. In D. Alvarado and S. Marino (Eds). Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly, Vol 2. (pp. 36-42). Prescott Valley, AZ: Planet Voodoo.

Urbaszewski, K. (2011, May 16). After 50 years, 5 original Freedom Riders arrive in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from:  http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/after_50_years_five_original_f.html

Gris Gris Ain’t Just a Mojo Bag


Elements of Gris Gris

Let’s not forget that Marie Laveaux and Dr. John Monenet made a business out of selling their powerful gris gris charms. Dr. John was an expert herbalist and healer and could make a gris gris for any occasion. Same for Mam’zelle Laveaux. She specialized in court cases, love, and in revenge. She knew how to use gris gris to manipulate the system. Just the mention of being gris grised by the Boss Woman, as she was known by locals, was enough to freak a person out into acting like a fool, or desperately coming to her for a cure. There is a certain level of genius that comes with hoodoin’ as a business. She was the go to person for the cause and effect, and she was the go to woman for the cure or reversal. Both ways she got paid.

Gris Gris Ain’t Just a Mojo Bag.