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Friday, November 27, 2009

Review: Doktor Snake's Voodoo Spell Book

Spells, Curses, and Folk Magic for All Your Needs

With Lucky Mojo Doll

by Doktor Snake

* Hardcover: 128 pages
* Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (September 9, 2004)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0312265093

Doktor Snake's Voodoo Spellbook is a little grimoire that I have had my eye on since I first heard about the author in alt.lucky.w. (See Links Below) Considering the dubious nature of Doktor Snake's sources and the information given, I finally decided to purchase his book and form my own opinion.

The book itself measures roughly 8 X 8 inches and has been created in the style of a coffee-table book. Although mine came from the publisher brand new in its original packaging I was disappointed to see that it is in less than pristine condition given the burn mark (which faintly resembles a cigarette burn) on the back of the book. In addition the book comes with a Lucky Mojo Doll which can be seen here. There is no doubt in my mind that the name of the doll was either a slap in the face to the work of Cat Yronwode and an effort to capitalize on the success of the Lucky Mojo Curio Company.

Scattered throughout the book are various illustrations that lends the material given a sense of quaintness. However, I felt that they neither add nor detract from the text but merely increased the book's total number of pages.

Despite the book's misleading title, the subject of Doktor Snake's Voodoo Spellbook is not Voodoo but rather Hoodoo. The author purports to have been taught much of his knowledge by Earl Marlowe a Blues Musician from Trinidad with whom Doktor Snake played guitar in a band. According to Doktor Snake, Earle looked to be in his 60's but claimed to have been 127 years old. Earl had learned about Hoodoo in the Carribbean and the Southern United States where he had lived before coming to live in England. In addition, Doktor Snake goes on to quote other authors on the subject of Hoodoo such as Zora Neal Hurston and Roger Pinckney.

Whereas the author has been accused of outright plagiarism I myself cannot cite any specific passage that I have seen in another work in its entirety. In once instance, the author recalls a rather famous story concerning the High Sheriff J.E. McTeer (which can also be found in Pinckney's Blue Roots) going out to the home of a bedridden woman who believes herself to be cursed. The High Sheriff buries a root in her yard under cover of darkness only to return the following day and 'psychically' finds the root and destroys it thus curing the woman of her curse.

In Docktor Snake's version, the Sheriff is aided by Dr. Crow (another rootwoker). I am from South Carolina. I have lived in the city of Beaufort. I have heard many stories concerning the High Sheriff and I can say that I have never heard of the High Sheriff working with other root doctors. In fact, he often worked against them as a law enforcement officer and as a rootworker himself. While I admit that I can be wrong, I can find no source that states otherwise (other than a mention of a Dr. Crow in Blue Roots) and Doktor Snake does not cite his source for the story.

That being said I found Doktor Snake's book to be a decent general overview of the subject of Hoodoo intermixed with his personal anecdotes. I myself did not learn anything that I didn't already know from this book, however it may be useful to someone interested in following the Hoodoo Tradition. Nonetheless, I would caution anyone new to Hoodoo to avoid this book until they have read at least three books by more reputable authors.

Carolina Dean


Preview the Book
Doktor Snake's Blog
Cat Yronwode on Doktor Snake

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