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.

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/

 

 

 

A Groundbreaking New Publication!


Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly

A family in New Orleans awakened not long ago to find a cross of moist salt on the front porch. Neighbors gathered and the newspapers carried headlines concerning the symbol that portended trouble for the members of the household, for Voodoo, hoodoo, and conjure, though subdued, still exists in that city.

If you should wake up tomorrow morning and find a cross of salt upon your front porch, what would you do?

If you live in Iowa or Michigan or even Pennsylvania, you might just sweep it off the porch and chalk it up to a neighbor’s prank. But if you live in Louisiana you might act quite differently – for a cross of salt, in the language if hoodoo, means trouble!

That is why Mr. and Mrs. Gautier of New Orleans thought twice before sweeping away the cross of salt that they found on their porch a few months ago and that is why neighbors flocked to the Gautier home to examine it and the newspapers carried headlines about it. For Voodoo and hoodoo is not dead in New Orleans. It has been trampled upon by the police, it has been scoffed at by the intelligent element of the city, it has dwindled, withered, lost many of its followers – but it still lives! (Hammond, 1930, New Orleans Times Picayune)

In 1930, the three  by two foot cross-caked mass indicated someone put it there in a thoroughly dampened condition. There were neighbors who insisted that they had heard strange noises in the early morning hours: there were others who spoke of seeing a dark form glide by the house: there were some who had heard nothing but the baying of hunting dogs. But on one thing all agreed: a cross of salt does not mean death. A coffin with a name written upon it with pencil dipped in vinegar would mean that, or a voodoo doll and a burning black candle left on the front porch, but a cross of salt placed on the front porch by someone other than oneself only means trouble.

UNCROSSING with a FRIZZLY CHICKEN

One can imagine how the neighbors stood and gossiped when they heard about the event. Those familiar with being “fixed” or “crossed” might recommend throwing finely chopped basil leaves over the cross to destroy the “gris gris.”  Others would stake their all on a frizzly chicken, the most potent of all spell-breakers. But, gradually they would speak of other things and to recall the tales told by their grandmothers and great grandmothers of the days when Voodooism was at its zenith in Louisiana.

In the 1800s, tales of Voodoo in the Louisiana swamps were prevalent. Voodoo worshipers gathered on St. John’s Eve every year to celebrate their Holy Day with New Orleans’ own Voodoo Queen Marie Laveaux. Every Sunday, they gathered at Congo Square to dance and invite the Voodoo spirits to mount them and protect them. Legends of Doctor Jean Montenee, who lived in a house on Bayou Road, say he was sought by those who wished to gain fortune, love, or domination over the mind of a hard master. Stories were told of the infamous Marie Laveaux, the greatest queen that the Voodoo religion ever served. Marie Laveau’s successor Malvina Latour, though a force in her own right, never did rise to the status achieved by Marie Laveau 1 or 2. Each of  these calm, deliberate and powerful names are not forgotten, for they once struck terror into the hearts of thousands. These names still remind us from time to time of  what many believed to be a  short, strange chapter in Louisiana history (Hammond, 1930, New Orleans Times Picayune). Truth be told, it was never a short chapter; but, more like an ongoing epic saga with many chapters defined by the cultural dynamics at a given place in time.

Today, Southern folk magic traditions such as hoodoo and conjure are emerging from the shadows and into the lives of everyday people. There seems to be more root workers, two-headed doctors, conjurers, Voodooists, and hoodoos more than ever before. People are flocking to related social networking sites, hungry for information about taking control of their lives, defending themselves from enemies and negative energies, thriving in a recession, and connecting to the world of the Invisibles. Websites pop up daily that specialize in the art of conjure. These websites feature “love doctors”, “rootworkers”, and “Spiritual Mothers” who offer a variety of psychic and spiritual services and carry the hard to get sticks, stones, roots and bones needed by the eclectic conjurer. Hoodoo practitioners cross every racial, political and socioeconomic line in contemporary society.

What is Hoodoo?

The prevailing contemporary definition of hoodoo posits hoodoo is a magic and folkloric system that taps into the ancient healing traditions of our African, Native American, European, and Latino ancestors and is not connected to the religion of Voodoo. I do not agree that hoodoo and Voodoo are separate from one another, in Louisiana. Perhaps because there hoodoo and Voodoo are not separate for many practitioners; rather, they are intertwined, connected, and complementary. In fact, a close examination of hoodoo in News Orleans may have elements of Obeah from the Caribbean, Gris Gris from Africa, and traiteur traditions of the Louisiana Cajun in its expression. The emphasis on magic is one characteristic that sets New Orleans Voodoo, or Creole Voodoo, apart from Haitian Vodou. The predominantly solitary practitioner is another difference. That said, as public perceptions of and attitudes towards Voodoo and Hoodoo change, there is a growing community of practitioners stepping into public view, holding public ceremonies and offering education for the curious.

In its purest form, however, hoodoo and rootwork tap into the primordial belief that every living thing has Spirit. Every rock, tree, root, and stone is connected to a single Divine energy and as such, is Divine energy. The practitioner understands that it is the root that connects and grounds the universal life force; thus, the ultimate power lies within the root.

Hoodoo and Conjure Magazine

The contents of Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine™ are primarily hoodoo, conjure, folk magic, indigenous cosmology, and topics related to the African derived traditions. This is what folks asked for, and we mean to deliver! We offer articles in each issue outlining various aspects of hoodoo, conjure and rootwork, including  laying tricks, botanical and zoological curios, candle magic techniques, dreamwork, divination, New Orleans gris gris, magickal formularies, working with the saints and psalms, doll magick, international conjure traditions, and applied magic techniques from the best practitioners around.

Our sources come from a culmination of growing up in New Orleans absorbing the culture, lifelong learning from family, teachers, and other practitioners, sacred texts, folklore literature, and what speaks to us through Divine channels. When you read a copy of Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine™, 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, want to learn about the African -derived and indigenous spiritual traditions, or want to keep up with the social world of today’s root worker, Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine™ delivers!

Here’s some of what you can expect with every issue of Hoodoo & Conjure Magazine™:

  • A presentation of the seminal folkloric texts and European grimoires that heavily influence hoodoo
  • Indian Spirit Guides & the Contributions of Native Americans to Hoodoo and Spiritualism
  • The Power of the Root: Magico-Pharmacology
  • Today’s women and men of conjure
  • International hoodoo and conjure – meet practitioners from around the world
  • Spells, works, and conjuring tips and tricks submitted by you, the reader
  • Our ongoing Voodoo Hoodoo formulary that you can add to your own personal spellbook
  • Working with the saints and psalms
  • Conjure artist profiles – meet up and coming new artists as well as established artists inspired by Voodoo, hoodoo, magick and mojo
  • Contests for free products
  • Interviews with well-known authors and artists

Did you know that hoodoo is one of the most effective types of folk magick around? It’s true. Not only will you benefit tremendously from the empowering nature of hoodoo and conjure, but you will also benefit a lot from the every day aspects that are an inherent part of  this kind of magicospiritual tradition. So why is a southern style folk magick a good thing, and how can having more information in your knowledge base benefit you? The first thing that you need to take into consideration is the fact that learning is a journey, not a destination. Most helping professions require ongoing education to keep up with the latest techniques and trends of their field. Hoodoo can be considered a helping profession because most rootworkers actively help others improve their lives using the power of the root. A person’s spiritual wellbeing is often directly associated with how fast or balanced their lives happen to be, and how connected they are to the world of nature, Spirit, and other human beings. This means that if you are interested in living your best life, you’d be well served to apply a little mojo to it. Hoodoo and Conjure Magazine aims to help you do just that.

What are you waiting for? Learn how to conjure your world, new orleans-style today!

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