A Picture Says a Thousand Words…


With such a wonderful reception to the premier issue, we are now starting to get the questions:

When is volume 2 going to be out?

What are the topics about?

Volume 2 will be out by the end of May. And though I can’t tell you everything that is in it, I will tell you that it will have more content than the first issue…about 30 pages more, and the subject matter? Again, off the hook!

For example, here is a sneak peek of one of Madrina Angelique’s articles. If a picture ever told a thousand words, this one says that much and more:

Women in Power

Marie Hicks Steele, Conjure woman from Washington County Georgia and great grandmother of HCQ artist Inga Kimberly Brown.

A fabulous new artist has joined us, Inga Kimberly brown, and this is a photo of her great grandmother. Inga’s grandma Marie represents so much of what southern hoodoo is all about. She was black and Cherokee Indian, and that cigar…you’ve got to love it!

New Orleans Voodoo has always been a tradition with women in charge. We call them Queens in New Orleans, but it is the same thing as the Mambos of haitian Vodou. The Spiritual and Reverend Mothers dominate the Spiritualist churches. Yet in other related traditions, women are not held to the same status as men. This is an issue we are addressing in Volume 2.

Stay tuned for more glimpses into Volume 2 of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly.

Conjure As the Latest Cash Cow Trend?


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The Voodoo Doktors of New OrleansThere are so many folks taking advantage of the tradition into which I was born and which is my lineage. It simply amazes me how many folks take a course or read a few books, join a forum or two and “practice” for a couple of years or less and then see fit to criticize those of us who didn’t have to learn it that way. Like, we don’t fit in to their cozy little insignificant worlds, we don’t fit the definition of “rootworker” or “hoodoo” or “Voodoo” that they have closed their little minds to. Funny how these same people were supporters of the very folks who stole my work a few months back. Things that make you go hmmm…

The fact is that the appropriation of indigenous spirituality and religions is nothing new. Non indigenous people have been taking what they want from my ancestors for a long, long time, without respect. They just take and do what they want with the spirits and traditions and criticize us, the ones from whom our traditions and spirituality are stolen, as if we are less than or somehow not worthy of their approval. Somehow, we can’t possibly know more than they know because they have fallen into the deeply ingrained societal belief that people of color are not equal to White folks. They would never admit this though, and would fight to the finish denying what is the absolute truth because of sheer arrogance and ignorance.

Shoe and Foot Track Magick by Carolina DeanThen, there are those who are not indigenous who have respectfully adopted indigenous spirituality and traditions and do not promote an air of superiority, though they are as white as those that do.

In fact, the contributors to Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly are from a variety of different backgrounds, some of which are of European descent. Most of these folks I didn’t even know before publishing the magazine but when approached about the project they were intrigued, enough so that they were right on board with us. And get this… they don’t get paid. I have funded the entire project myself and I have haven’t even been paid yet, much less have the ability to pay others. Yet they are eager to contribute and are dedicated to the purpose. They believe in the magazine as I do and know we are successful and know our success will continue to grow. So where is this so-called cash cow?

But, a legitimate question has been raised, and that is, just what is the allure of this fabulous publication that yes, was my idea? How is it that Chad Balthazar, a Lucky Mojo graduate, and Carolina Dean, another Lucky Mojo graduate, would actually contribute to the publication? And how could it be that the one and only Aaron Leitch would find this project worthy of his contribution? And Madrina Angelique, one of the strongest and most intelligent spiritual women I know, why would she waste her time writing for a magazine I created? Why would a successful author like Dorothy Morrison give away her time and talent? Oh, and why would Catherine Yronwode subscribe to the magazine and give us her complements for a job well done? Just what is the allure anyway?

planetery magickWell, I could tell you what the allure is. All you have to do is pick up a copy and hold it in your hands and see for yourself. You can see the love and respect that forms the very essence of the publication, you can feel the positive energy that surrounds it, and if you read it, you can even learn a thing or two.

But don’t take my word for it. We are getting glowing reviews at Amazon.com. Here are a few of the reviews we have gotten thus far:

“I received my copy at the beginning of the week and I just can’t put it down. It’s full of wonderful articles, stories, pictures and more. It’s obvious that a lot of time, energy and love went into putting this journal together. Kudos to all that participated in it’s making.”

“I recently received my copy of this magazine. It arrived quickly, despite being sent to an APO in the mid-east. I have to say that this journal blew away my expectations. I started reading it as soon as I opened my box and didn’t put it down until I reach the back cover. The articles are well planned, and the artwork is superb. I am already starting to re-read many of the articles so I can better understand and put to use the knowledge and techniques described. Can’t wait to see the next issue!”

“Denise Alvarado has outdone herself with this quarterly magazine! It is more of a book rather than a simple mag. They cover so many different “techniques” of VooDoo and HooDoo and I especially enjoyed the Folklore and Folk Magic articles. This is a MUST for anyone who is interested in VooDoo and HooDoo whether you are a beginner or an old soul. I highly recommend this publication and cannot wait for Issue 2 (or as I said, their second “book”). Bravo!”

“Conceived by Denise Alvarado (The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual, The Voodoo Doll Spellbook) and her business partner and brought to you by Planet Voodoo, Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is a full color journal published four times a year. It is bound in the same manner as a paper-back book and contains several recipes, a template for a hoodoo-doll, formulas, spells, tutorials, beautiful art and photographs, as well as articles written by some of today’s most talented writers and practitioners. As the first of its kind, it will definitely become a collector’s item. I look forward to the next issue!”

“For a start, I must say that this is a beautiful book rather than a journal. It is “perfect bound” like a paperback book, and so far transcends simply the title “magazine.” It is also a beautiful work of art. The detail that has gone into this journal is superlative. I have never seen a journal packed so full of useful information. I have spent the last couple of decades reading journals, and usually find only one article per journal useful; on the other hand, I found every article in this journal most useful. I was unable to put it down, and stayed up reading it until the wee small hours of the morning. I have since referred to it several times.
This is the very first issue, and clearly will become a collector’s item. For this reason, I suggest buying two.
I most highly recommend the Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly. If you are even half way interested in any magickal tradition, you will find the Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly a superb, even necessary, addition to your shelves.”

“This is a great magazine covering topics not found in many other periodicals. I have always enjoyed Denise’s books and artistry and the art work in the magazine is a real treat. If you are interested in these traditions I would recommend this magazine, it is very well done. Keep it real!”

And so, there you have it. HCQ sells itself. It is real, it is pure eye candy and real substance, and it is everything and more that it was envisioned it to be. I for one, am very grateful to all of my contributors for making the journal such a success. And though we can’t milk money out of the cow just yet, when we do, and I know we will much to the chagrin of the naysayers, we have plans to give back to people of New Orleans who continue to struggle as a result of hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast oil Spill. Yeah, we are humanitarians too. Damn, guess that makes me doubly inauthentic.

Marie Laveau Poster from Zazzle.com


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I have had quite a few requests for prints of the cover of the premiere copy of HCQ. The original painting I had done as a commission for someone. For the cover of HCQ, I took the image of the young Marie Laveaux and superimposed her into a black and white photograph of the French Quarter. The print is of the original painting and you can find it here, in case you are interested.

Marie Laveau Poster from Zazzle.com.

Been Down to the Crossroads and Back and Bring you the Dawn of New Day


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Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly

Cover of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly Premiere Issue

Give me a Hell to the Yeah! y’all! because after every setback imaginable, the premiere issue is on the way. We will have them by the 15th and shipped to you as soon as we get them.

Indeed, a new day is rising…

There was a time when a journal about the subject of  hoodoo and conjure could not have been published. Not because there was any law against it, but because the social climate regarding African derived traditions and indigenous religions and spiritual practices was not the subject of mainstream media outside of fantastic stories about voodoo dolls and ritual murders. That attitude still prevails today, evidenced  by the recent so-called Voodoo Sex Fire, described elsewhere as “Woman dies after candle knocked over in voodoo sex ritual”. The media just can’t get enough of sensationalizing events linked to Voodoo and hoodoo that have nothing to do with Voodoo and hoodoo in reality. They persist in the negative stereotyping and insist on perpetuating false information. In my news feed today alone, there were references to “voodoo economics” (yawn…can’t we come up with a better descriptor? really it is so old), ” this is not voodoo accounting” (describing the antithesis of a simple mathematical formula to boost return on investments), “legal voodoo” (describing Amazon.com’s sales tax fight), “Voodoo House Mystery” (what the hell is that?), “The Dummies Guide to Zombies” (here we go again), “Voodoo Viral Marketing System ( not at all exploitative), and others too ridiculous to mention. One link that may have had some actual relevance about the psychological healing of Haitians published by Psychiatric News was a dead link. Damn. It’s another day in the news of the world related to hoodoo, Voodoo, and conjure – NOTHING.

Sure, the headlines get traffic, and it even sells products (when its convenient). But for folks who want to read about folk magic and Spiritualism, hoodoo and conjure, and a practitioner’s view of New Orleans Voodoo (not the tourist-kind – and there is a big difference), they have to go to blogs and books. And the information is scanty at best, about real New Orleans Voodoo, and authentic southern hoodoo as viewed by people who live it and breathe it. There are a couple of authors who are from Louisiana and are practitioners who have authored books, like Ray Malbrough’s Hoodoo Mysteries: Folk Magic, Mysticism & Rituals which has gotten mostly poor reviews, and Luisah Teish’s Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals, which has gotten mostly good reviews, and my own books which have gotten mostly good reviews and some fair criticisms and a couple of ridiculous criticisms, but I digress. The information just isn’t out there much, and the understanding of New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo is sorely lacking.

For example, New Orleans is a place where multiple converged and so the influences on its religions and spiritual practices reflect that convergence of cultures. New Orleans Voodoo, which has been for years referred to as Voodoo Hoodoo, is as unique as the city in which it is derived. It is not the same as Haitian Vodou, though there are elements of Haitian Vodou found in New Orleans Voodoo.  For many practitioners, New Orleans Voodoo does include hoodoo, so you will find people that do rootwork also serve the loas and orishas (yes, both may be present in New Orleans Voodoo, as are Catholic saints). There are African influences, and so those same people who serve the loas may well also serve the orishas. In fact, the major Spirit of New Orleans Voodoo, Li Grande Zombi (aka Damballah Wedo), is a direct holdover from the African religion. And alongside the snake (Li Grande Zombi), could be Black Hawk and Annie Christmas, the female version of Ogun in New Orleans Voodoo religion. Most of the criticisms about the unique aspects of New Orleans Voodoo hoodoo comes from outsiders, people who were not born and raised there, who maybe took a class or two and read a few books, and all of a sudden are experts with the gall to attempt to correct those of us who were born and raised in the culture and traditions. Really, I’m tired of it.

The thing is, there are many differences in the way individual practitioners do rootwork and how they practice the religion of New Orleans Voodoo. There are guidelines of course; Joe Feray doesn’t get offered pink champagne or seaweed. Likewise, la Sirene doesn’t like iron and tools. But, Papa Legba is the first to be invoked in a ritual, though when going to the crossroads, it may be Exu that is petitioned. Exu is a Spirit that comes from Brazilian traditions of Umbanda and Candomble, but he ended up in the New Orleans Voodoo pantheon. There’s even San Simon in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual temple, sharing sacred space with Papa Guede, Li Grand Zombi, and Chango, the orisha.

As with many religions, spiritual and magickal traditions, Voodoo and hoodoo in Louisiana is fluid and adaptable. It had to be. When all of the slaves and Native Americans were forced together,  joined by European indentured servants, and forced into Catholicism, it resulted in aspects of each of those cultures (of which there are many cultures within those groups) to be absorbed into the religion.

That doesn’t mean all New Orleans Voodooists work with Black Hawk and Annie Christmas. It just means that each of these spirits are present as a result of the convergence of the cultures. When Voodoo was forced to go underground in the mid 1800s, there was a natural rise in individual practitioners as opposed to community ceremonies. This accounts for much of the variance in style of worship and magicospiritual traditions between practitioners.

New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo are still evolving. The publication of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly intends to reflect this evolution. We also keep to the roots, however. We have struck a delicate balance in content and contributors. Most are practitioners of a related tradition, some of us are also scholars and attempt to provide factual and historical information, while at the same time, we provide the ever sought after magickal tutorials.

We are victorious. We have been to the crossroads and brought back the dawning of a new day with the blessings of the spirits. It is a day where the publication of a journal about hoodoo and conjure is not only possible, it is a reality. Today, we can write about buying cemetery dirt and tell the story of a Baptist Deacon turned Mojo Man. We can discuss what is “real” hoodoo and at the same time present gnostic conjure. We can share secrets of sex magick and talk about how to use dirt dauber nests in conjure. And we can write about the return of psalm magic, share with you a gris gris for protection, and celebrate the conjure artists who are inspired by Spirit. And haunted New Orleans folklore? We’ve got it covered with the legend of the Devil Baby of New Orleans.

Oh, and don”t forget to follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/hoodoojournal and find us on Facebook: Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly.

Find Us on Facebook


If you have not found us on Facebook yet, please show your support and like our page:

Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine on Facebook

You can find the latest information and updates there.

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/