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Thursday, March 31, 2011

HCQ: A New Quarterly Journal

After a labor intensive process the premiere issue of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is finally here! Conceived by Denise Alvarado (The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual, The Voodoo Doll Spellbook)  and her business partner Sharon Marino and brought to you by Planet Voodoo, Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is described as

“a Journal of the Magickal Arts with a Special Focus on New Orleans Voodoo, Hoodoo, Folk Magic and Folklore. It explores historical and contemporary information about the conjure arts, including magico-religious practices, spiritual traditions, indigenous healing and herbalism, and religions with their roots in the African Diaspora.”

Comprised of 100 pages, Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly 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. Some of the articles featured in the premiere issue of Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly include:

  • The Origin of the Root, Denis Alvarado.
  • Secrets of Sex Magick, Sharon Marino
  • What is Real Hoodoo?, Matthew Venus
  • Buying Cemetery Dirt, Madrina Angelique
  • The Devil Baby of New Orleans, Alyne Pustanio
  • Planetary Magick and the Venus Love Tub Lamp, Chad Balthazar
  • A Short Look at Witchcraft and Self-Defense in the Diaspora, Papa Curtis
  • Shoe and Foot-Track Magick, Carolina Dean
  • The Real Dirt on Visiting the Dead, Dorothy Morrison
  • The Return of Psalm Magick and the Mixed Qabalah, Aaron Leitch
  • H. Byron Ballard, Cove-Witches and Curanderas

Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly is a full-color journal published four times as year and is bound in the same manner as a paper-back book. As the first of its kind, it will definitely become a collector’s item.
To order your subscription, click here.

Carolina Dean

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hoodoo Crossroads

The Hoodoo Crossroads is a collaborative blog written by some of today's most talented and in-demand writers and spiritual practitioners.

Conceived by Dr. E a two-headed conjure doctor with a powerful gift for working with roots, spirits and prayer to make real change happen in this world, the Hoodoo Crossroads is your place to learn more about the beliefs and practices centered around the African Diaspora from a variety of perspectives. 

Some of the contributors in addition to Dr. E and myself include:
  • Auntie Sindy
  • Brother Christopher 
  • Dara Anzlowar
  • Chiron Armand

Here you will find a myriad of articles detailing how to burn candles for any number of purposes, information on working with Saints, Prayers, petitions, Psalms-Magick, news, announcements and more! For more information about these practitioners, read their articles, and to visit their sites come visit us down at the Hoodoo Crossroads 

Carolina Dean

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Potion to Vanquish a Foul Presence

To make a potion that brings, 
and end to a foul presence;
gather these things, 
and combine their essence. 

To a bad man's plaything, 
add a handful of bitter grass;
contribute blood root, a bat's wing, 
and the foot of an ass. 

From the devil's apple extract an oil,
and add the bride of the sun;
bring this all to a boil, 
and then your task is done. 

A fictional potion I created written in the form of a poem using the old herbal-code of the witches. If you dare to break the code and build the brew, be careful with the results because I have no idea what it will do.......

----Carolina Dean

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ethics of Conjure

PictureBe Just and Fear Not
Unlike religions, such as Wicca, that accepts the practice of magick as part of its belief system and which advises its adherents to harm none”; Hoodoo-not being a religion-generally does not ascribe to any notion of karma. In fact, since Hoodoo is essentially the separation of magickal practices from religious dogma, the ethics of conjure is left entirely up to the practitioner and his or her sense of moral values.

Some conjure workers are said to be Lady Hearted which means that they are morally opposed to bringing harm to another individual or animal through the use of spells and magick; while other workers will gladly curse your enemy under certain conditions. Again, some workers are opposed to breaking up marriages so long as abuse isn't a factor. In some cases, it may not be that the worker doesn't want to perform a certain type of spell or working, but that they may have no talent for it.

This, however, does not mean that practitioners are completely free to do whatever they want with no consequences. While Hoodoo allows for an individual to not only protect themselves by magickal means but also to retaliate against those who have wronged them, they also hold to the belief that a spell must be justified in order for it to work.

Justified is a term that one will often hear about in the practice of Hoodoo, especially when the subject of curses arises. Curses are a malevolent type of spell the effects of which can range from bad luck to death.  Curses can be placed on people (Longinus), places (King Tut's Tomb), and things (The Hope Diamond). The motivation for cursing can include Envy (Snow White), Revenge (Tecumseh), Punishment (Angel, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), to Teach a Lesson (Brother Bear), or to protect an object--mostly from theft (Religious Idols and other Holy Objects) or places (Shakespeare's Grave).

The belief in curses can be found in virtually every culture and they are mentioned in the sacred texts of many religions. Most religions forbid the practice of cursing, while others, citing the use of curses in their holy books, utilize them to protect their selves from their enemies and other forms of evil. Every religion has a form of blessings intended to protect people, places and things from curses. Non-religious individuals believe that curses are a product of the mind and are psychological in nature. In a sense, people "curse" themselves because they believe that they are cursed.

In the Christian Bible, curses are seen as a wish, which can only be fulfilled by God and only when the curse is deserved. For example, if you lay down a powder to curse one individual it will only have an effect on that individual an no one else who happens to walk over the powder. Furthermore, it is believed that curses which are not justified or deserved have no effect (Proverbs 26:2).  In other instances, curses are used to prevent individuals from breaking certain laws. In the Bible, curses can be used with success by those who have been wronged and/or oppressed. In addition a curse which is both deserved and uttered by a person in authority is said to never fail.
The Role of Divination 
Divination is the process of gaining information about the past, present, or future using  either one's on innate psychic abilities such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, or clairsentience; or certain tools which may include but are not limited to Tarot Cards, Runes, Astrology, and Playing Cards to name a few.

The practice of divination has existed throughout history and permeates every culture. It has been used to foretell the future, find hidden treasure, discover the guilty, and lead one to love. The responsibility for divination has often fell upon the Priest, Shaman, Oracle, Witch, or Psychic---however, with practice, anyone can learn to use divination.

The ancient Hebrews believed in only three forms of communication with God. They are through:

  1. dreams
  2. prophets
  3. Urim and Thummim.

Urim and Thummim is a phrase commonly associated with the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest. They are known to be objects which are held in the breastplate and which are associated with a system of casting lots mentioned in the bible (1 Samuel Chapter 14).

While there is no description as to the Urim and Thummim's form, it has been theorized that they are two dissimilar stones which can be distinguished from one another by their color, type of stone, or words which have been engraved upon them (1 Samuel 28:6). Again, while the precise manner in which to operate the Urim and Thummim is largely unknown it has been theorized that the Urim (a white stone) represents 'no'; while Thummim (a black stone) represent yes. To use the stones, they are placed in a bag, a objective question is asked and a stone is drawn unseen from the bag.

The information gained through divination is believed to come directly from God or the worker's spiritual ally or allies; and it is through divination that a spiritual worker determines whether a spell or working is justified or not. In addition, divination can and in many cases will reveal the best course of magical remediation for an individual's situation. 
Carolina Dean 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spirits of Conjure

While it has often been pointed out that Hoodoo is not a religion, but rather a system of magick, most practitioners adhere to some form of Christianity and approach it from within that context. Spiritual Practitioners that operate from within a Christian context generally fall into two categories. They are:

1. Catholic
2. Protestant

The roots of Catholicism can be found in Judaism. In fact Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all claim Abraham as a common ancestor; and Judaism and Christianity count the Old Testament among their holy writings. Christianity began as a sect of Judaism, lead by Jesus, that were considered radical, liberal Jews. Later, this sect broke away from Judaism becoming a separate religion with its own beliefs and practices that we know as Christianity today. Some of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • God as a Trinity
  • Original Sin
  • Jesus as the Messiah
  • Concepts of Heaven and Hell
  • The Papacy

Practitioners of Hoodoo who are Catholic may direct their prayers and petitions to God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Angels, or even Saints. In those areas, such as New Orleans, where Catholicism was absorbed into the beliefs and practices of Voodoo a Catholic practitioner of Hoodoo may also petition those deities associated with the religion of Voodoo.

The Protestant Church broke away from the Catholic Church during the Reformation initiated by Martin Luthor, to protest the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Catholic Church. Luthor and other reformers disagreed with the Churches stance on free will, purgatory, and the practice of indulgences. Also, in very general terms, Catholics believe that an intermediary (such as a priest) is needed between God and man, whereas Protestants believe that direct communication with God is possible without an intermediary.

Spiritual workers who were raised in any of the Protestant denominations usually direct their prayers and petitions to “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” or simply “in Jesus’ name.” In some instances where the biblical figure of Satan merged with the trickster-deity of the crossroads, these practitioners may direct certain types of prayers or petitions to the devil. However it should be noted that, in these instances, the devil and Satan are thought to be two completely different entities. In other cases, they may direct their petitions and build altars to spirits of the dead or even to spirits and/or deities outside their religion.

The Dead

Many Root-Workers start out working with spirits of the dead in the form of the Ancestors, the spirits of the dead connected to them by blood. It is believed that the dead don’t die, but rather ascend to another level of being, from which they can look on and assist us. From this higher level, the Ancestors can guide us in our daily lives, intercede with the Godhead on our behalf and protect us in times of need.

The process of working with the Ancestors begins with the construction of an Ancestral Altar. Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that many root-workers are Christian and adhere to God’s commandment in Exodus 20:3 to “have not other gods before me.” Therefore, root-workers do NOT worship the Ancestors inasmuch as they venerate them. The Ancestral altar is the place where this veneration ritually occurs. (See also The Ancestors)

In other instances, a practitioner may visit the graveyard to ritually collect dirt from a particular grave or graves for use in spells and rituals. There are many variables to consider when collecting graveyard dirt for spells and rituals. Some of these variables include:

  • Location of the grave
  • How the person died
  • Obtaining permission
  • Where to collect the dirt

In addition, graveyard dirt is not simply taken but rather paid for after negotiating with a suitable spirit. Some practitioners regard working with Saints and Folk-Saints as a form of working with the dead since Saints were once living human beings who also happen to have lived exceptionally virtuous lives. 

Working with Non-Christian Entities

Whereas Hoodoo is based on the beliefs and magickal practices of various traditions (but devoid of their religious dogma) in many ways it is still heavily influenced by Christianity as well as various African religions. The practice of conjure includes the veneration of one's ancestors, engaging the dead to work for you, the devil at the crossroads, powerful Saints, and non-Christian entities.

Some of these entities include the deities associated with non-christian religions. You will often find spiritual practitioners who build altars and direct that petitions to deities from Non-Christian pantheons including, but not limited to:

  • Hinduism
  • Voodoo
  • Palo
  • Yoruba
  • Santeria

For example, Ganesha is a popular non-Christian Deity that is found in the practice of Hoodoo. He is often petitioned to remove obstacles, open-the-way, bring good-luck, and confer prosperity upon petitioners.

Before petitioning a spirit or deity outside one's culture or religion, it is important to learn how that culture worships and/or venerates that deity, what offerings are appropriate, and the sphere of influence that deity holds in the world. For example, you wouldn't want to petition a deity known for granting lovers if your intent is to overcome an enemy. Educating yourself about these spirits/deities will allow you to approach them with your petition in a semi-traditional manner while being respectful to the beliefs and practices native to the culture from which that deity originates.

In addition to the spiritual powers listed above there exists a number of spirits that do not necessarily fit into any of the categories already mentioned. They include:

  • Familiar Spirits
  • Plant and Animal Spirits
  • Anthropomorphic Spirits

Familiar Spirits

While most people associate the term 'familiar spirit' with the shape-shifting entities which were believed to have served Medieval Witches; the term can also refer to one's genius, or a type of tutelary spirit. Other terms synonymous with familiar-spirit include Patron Saint, Guardian Angel, Daimon, Higher-Self. They function as a person's guardian and teacher often communicating with humans through dreams and intuition.

Plant and Animal Spirits

The use of herbs, minerals and animal parts in the practice of magick is not exclusive to Hoodoo. In fact, their use is virtually a world-wide phenomenon and modern medicine owes a great deal of credit to the ancient magicians for their discoveries. Animism, a belief that spirits inhabit non-human entities, plays a large role in the practice of Hoodoo. When a rootworker utilizes an herb or zoological curio, such as a rabbit's foot, they recognize the spirit dwelling within it and which can be called up to favor their petition.

Anthropomorphic Spirits

Anthropomorphism, or more commonly personification, is the practice of ascribing human-qualities to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. A popular example of an anthropomorphic spirit in Hoodoo is the Anima Sola, or lonely soul, which commonly depicts a woman wearing broken chains amidst the fires of purgatory. She is often invoked for release from suffering or to bring suffering to others. Other examples of an anthropomorphic spirit include Santo Muerte, the personification of death as a holy spirit; and High John the Conqueror, a folk-hero representing the qualities ascribed to the root of the same name.

Carolina Dean