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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 


Anonymous said...

Hello. I just found your blog and am reading through the hoodoo stuff.

I would like to clarify a few things.

I also took Cat's course. I've since been introduced to a good half-dozen old-school workers and they don't like Cat much.

Also, keep in mind that Cat only teaches basic stuff. You will still need to take other courses from people who know more about hoodoo. Yes, I said it. Cat doesn't know nearly as much about hoodoo as people think she does. She only knows the basics.

Carolina Dean said...

If you feel so strongly about Cat, why don't you take it up with her instead of leaving anonymous comments on my blog.

BTW, I did take cat's course but my knowledge of Hoodoo does not begin and end with it.

ConjureMan Ali said...

Cat's course is designed to be an introduction. There is a follow up on hands apprenticeship that takes the conjure work to the next level.

Bear in mind that the are various streams of conjure, what cat teaches was developed and learned in the stream that I would call "urban" hoodoo. This comes straight out of Chicago, Oakland and similar metropolitan areas where blacks migrated to.

It is but one of the various streams of conjure. People who try to decry what she teaches apparently don't know their basic history. You take two conjure doctors from two different regions and you'll find two different ways of working. Conjure is a living tradition that evolved and has regional variations; to limit it to some foolish notion of "my way is better" kills what is an otherwise living system

Yet the mark of a true worker doesn't rest on disparaging the teachings of others, but aiming to continue on this endless path.

Also to assume that Carolina Dean's knowledge is limited to one course is idiotic. Just looking at this blog it becomes apparent that he is intimiately knowledgable in this way of working.

Carolina Dean said...

Thank you Conjureman Ali and I'd just like to point out that Denise Alvarado made a similar point in the other blog entry in which this cowardly individual posted disparaging comments about cat yronwode. The entry is entitled "Spirits of Conjure"