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

Easy Riding the Voodoo Music Festival


by Koz Mraz

Retracing the Easy Rider movie route with actresses Katee Sackhoff (24, Battlestar Gallactia) and Tricia Helfer (17th Precinct,Dark Blue, Battlestar Gallactia) we rode motorcycles from L.A to Louisiana to the Voodoo Music festival.

Retracing the Easy Rider movie route with actresses Katee Sackhoff (24, Battlestar Gallactia) and Tricia Helfer (17th Precinct,Dark Blue, Battlestar Gallactia)  we rode motorcycles from L.A to Louisiana to the Voodoo Music festival.  The ladies met on set and found a common bond motorcycling and formed www.actingoutlaws.org  and their 2500-mile motorcycle trek on BMW 1200 GS from Los Angeles to New Orleans was in Support the Gulf Restoration Network http://healthygulf.org/ , the only environmental advocacy group exclusively focused on the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Katee and Tricia’s mission is to raise awareness and support for Gulf Future ensuring coastal communities have the resources they need and making sure we learn the lessons of the BP drilling disaster to keep this from happening again. Their motto is Do Something. Watch their launch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUn_LTIEozc

I’ve written a lot of stories in my time; everything from movie scripts, TV screenplays to song lyrics. As a Moto-Journalist, I’ve traveled Hong Kong to Hollywood filling pages with photos and prose. Usually struggling with traditional writing conventions, I have no plot, no theme, no storyline; just an endless ribbon of road that unfolds before me. This trip though, is more of a rewrite. Yeah, we’re gonna follow the basic route Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper did in the classic 1969 biker-flick, Easy Rider. Sure, we’re meeting up with actress/motorcyclists Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer on their charity ride from Los Angeles to Louisiana in support of the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), but Easy Rider wasn’t scripted; they made it up as they went along and this story too will write itself. Two thousand two hundred miles, five days, two guys, and two girls with one agenda: to ride long and hard. To quote Captain America, “Yeah, I’m hip about time, but I just gotta go.”

Along the way, we stopped at the Joshua Tree Inn. It’s where Gram Parson (The Byrds music group) died in 1973. Room 8 is supposedly haunted and touted as “Home of Gram Parsons’ Spirit.” It was a really bizarre true story made into a movie called Grand Theft Parsons starring Johnny Knoxville that’s well worth the watch. The site of Parsons’ desert cremation was marked by a small concrete slab, which has since been removed by the National Park Service and relocated to the Joshua Tree Inn.

Read the full story  http://www.baggersmag.com/events/1104_hrbp_scripting_an_american_road_trip/index.html

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Koz Mraz is a moto/photo journalist for Quick Throttle magazine and contributor for Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly. His column, Myth, Magick and Motorcycles chronicles his adventures traveling around the country visiting sacred sites and capturing his activities in the world of the haunted in everyday life with extraordinary people. Koz lives in Los Angeles and is one half of the dynamic, award-winning production team known as Studio Voodoo. The intoxicating mix of music and technology that is Studio Voodoo is as much about the symbiotic partnership of founders Koz Mraz and Ted Price as it is about the myriad elements that make up Voodoo’s visionary sonic and sensory cocktail. Studio Voodoo is proud to be part of the film score for the new movie Discover the Gift. The film will be released in June, the message is supreme and uplifting. It’s a compelling , well shot and directed movie…and the sound track rocks, of course.

Check out what the Dali Lama has to say…

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.

Call for Articles


7 African Powers Candle & Sage

7 African Powers Candle & Sage

Are you a practitioner who loves to write or has something to share? We invite you to submit your articles and ideas for consideration for publication in future issues. We believe that the success of our magazine depends in large part on the participation of real practitioners like you.

The contents of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly™ are primarily hoodoo, conjure, folk magic, indigenous cosmology, and topics related to the African derived traditions. This is what we have been asked for, and we mean to deliver! We also will offer a few articles in each issue outlining various aspects of hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork, 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, and spells, spells, and more spells from the best practitioners around.

This is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise to the world.

If you have an unusual technique that you would like to share with our readers, please submit a letter outlining your idea. If the editors are interested, they will contact you.

All samples, queries, and correspondence should be forwarded to:  HCQ@planetvoodoo.com