On the Other Side of Pink


Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans 2014

Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans 2014. Photograph Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Holmes , all rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

Only in New Orleans are the Dead given a city in which to reside. Because New Orleans is built on swampland, the Dead cannot be buried in the ground lest they re-surface and float away. Consequently, all but the poor and indigent are laid to rest above ground in elaborate crypts, wall ovens and mausoleums. The decorative ironwork and sculptures adorn the plots, making the cemeteries resemble little cities; hence the nickname, “Cities of the Dead.” The cemeteries in New Orleans attract a lot of visitors each year because of their unique, historic character.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is the most famous City of the Dead. It is the oldest New Orleans cemetery, constructed to replace the older St. Peter Cemetery as the main burial ground when the city was rebuilt after the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is also the place where the infamous Voudou Queen Marie Laveaux was laid to rest. This cemetery tends to get the most visitors of all the Cities of the Dead in part because of its architecture and history, and in part because of Voudou. People from all walks of life want a glimpse of Marie Laveaux’s final resting place. Voudou adherents from all over the country make pilgrimages to the gravesite, a testament to its spiritual significance. Most visitors want an opportunity to make a wish at her tomb in hopes that their wishes will be granted by the Voudou Queen. It is said that Marie Laveaux’s grave is the second most visited grave site in the United States, falling second only to Elvis Presley. That’s saying something.

The tomb of Marie Laveaux is more than just a tourist attraction, however; it is at the heart of New Orleans’ sacred geography. It is the place that connects many sacred sites running the gamut from swamps to churches, shrines, cemeteries, Congo Square, St Louis Cathedral, Bayou St John, and every home where someone lights a candle or says a prayer. Just as the cross marks drawn on her tomb mark the place where the world of the physical and the world of the spiritual intersect, her tomb signifies the place where people from all over the world meet and interact with the spirits of the Dead, as well as with the spirit of the Voudou Queen herself.

In December 2013, the tomb that holds the remains of the Mother of New Orleans Voudou was painted a bright pink. Despite the fact that the tomb of the Widow Paris is both a huge tourist attraction and sacred pilgrimage site, it wasn’t until Dorothy Morrison posted a photo of it on Facebook and I wrote an article for the New Orleans Voodoo Examiner that it finally got the local attention it deserved.

After much back and forth about what to do with the Pepto Bismal pink tomb, the Cemeteries Archdiocesan office decided to pressure wash the paint off of the tomb, apparently a standard method of upkeep for cemetery tombs and believed to be the best method to remove the paint. For folks interested in preservation and restoration, however, pressure washing is not the best method and tends to inflict more damage than desired.

Unfortunately, the tomb did suffer some damage as a result of the pressure washing. However, the tomb has been steadily deteriorating for years and remains in dire need of repair. The cost for its restoration is estimated in excess of $10,000.00, so Save Our Cemeteries, The Archdiocese of New Orleans, and the local preservation company Bayou Preservation, LLC have formed a partnership to restore the tomb. Given the cost of repairs, however, it cannot be completed without fundraising efforts. Therefore, they have started a restoration fund that the general public can donate to help fray the expenses. If you would like to donate to the restoration fund, please visit the website and donate what you can. Every little bit helps.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an obvious link to the project on the Save Our Cemeteries website. But you can go to the “Get Involved” tab and then “donate” and make your donation or contact them at (504) 525-3377 or at membership@saveourcemeteries.org.

Read the whole story from the beginning in the latest issue of Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans 2014.

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2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

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.

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.