rootworker

Cultural Appropriation of Lucumí Religion by Non-Initiates

By Ekundayo (iba’ye)

"A popular phenomenon we’ve witnessed with the incredible amount of information available on the internet about Lucumí religion, is the cultural appropriation of Lucumí and Yoruban ritual elements by online merchants, Neo-Pagans and Eclectic Magical Workers claiming to be practicing hoodoo, voodoo, rootwork or obeah all at once. This phenomenon seems to be very prominent amongst professional workers who are peddling their services online, or more commonly with individuals selling “magical products” like oils, baths, incense, soaps, mojos, pakets, or even statues and sculptures made to look like orishas. This is not only completely out of alignment with traditional Santería Lucumí practice but it is very dangerous for spiritual reasons outlined below. [….]”

This article by the late Ekundayo (iba’ye layen t’onu) is a must-read.

And, for the last time, there is no such thing as “solitary” Santeria, Vodou, Candomble, etc. Even Hoodoo was never done “solitary,” it took growing up in (mostly) the South among black and multiracial communities to learn. Solitary practice is an idea from 1980s Neo-Paganism that has absolutely nothing to do with African-Diasporic Religions or African Traditional Religions.

Herbs For Magical Empowerment & Protection - B

Basil:

  • Steady the mind, brings happiness, love, peace, and money and protects against insanity. Use basil in spells to attract love and in preparation for astral projection or to bring luck in physical journeys.
  • Carry a leaf in your pocket or wallet to attract money. Place one in your cash register to attract money there too.
  • Soak basil in water for three days and then sprinkle the water over the threshold of your place of business to bring in customers and keep away thieves. (Haiti)To protect you when leaving the house, rub some basil on your forehead. (Hindu)

Bayberry:

  • Add to fortune satchets or mojo bags to empower them.

Bay laurel: 

  • Add to any spell or potion to enhance psychic ability.
  • Great addition to dream pillows.
  • Use the leaves as a smudge during banising and exorcism rites, especially those involving poltergeists. Mixed with sandlewood, it is useful for breaking curses. 
  • If you want to see your lover again, go together to a bay laurel tree and pluck a leaf, break it in half and each keep one half.
  • Write a wish on a dried bay leaf and then burn it and your wish will come true.

Betony: 

  •  Stuff into a pillow or placed underneath to prevent nightmares and night terrors.

Birch:

  • Protection
  • Love
  • Exorcism
  • Purification

Bistort: 

  • Burn with frankincence to enhance psychic powers.
  • To be carried if you want to conceive.
  • mix with holy water for exorcism.
  • Bistort root remedy potion helps chase away earthbound spirits.

Blackberry: 

Healing Spell

Dip nine leaves in a natural water source and lay them on a burn or a red inflamed area. Say to each leaf as you lay them on the wound:

"Three ladies came from the East,

One with fire and two with frost,

Out with fire, in with frost!”

Bloodroot: 

  • Protective hex-breaker in Voodoo and rootwork magic
  • Marriage protector - place bloodroot over your door to encourage all those who enter to respect your marriage.
  • Combined in a single sachet of red flannel, these are used to encourage a healthy marital sex life by placing the sachet under the couple’s mattress. 

Burdock:

  • General protection
  • Warding off spirits.

"The Abracadabra Triangle contains this old magic word of the Kabbalah in a diminishing series - from below upwards each line of the triangle contains a letter less of the word which symbolizes the slow disappearing and dissolution of evil by the power of the amulet. The word Abracadabra is built from the Hebrew words b’racha (blessing) and dabar (word) and ha-bracha dab’ra therefore means "Say the blessing". In modern times especially Aleister Crowley, an English occultist and magician of the 19th century, emphasized the power oft the word Abracadabra. Crowley was a member of the magic community Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and later on founded the magic doctrine Thelema. A central point of this doctrine is the word Abrahadabra, which he deduced from Abracadabra using the Kabbalah which is taught in the Golden Dawn. According to him Abrahadabra ist the most important magic word in the 20th century rooted in the ancient word Abracadabra. The Abracadabra Triangle therefore is one of the best known amulets in history and according to old belief is said to ward off negative energies and bestow magic powers and unexpected luck to its wearer.
Among other things medieval knights of the 16th century carried this magic amulet as a fortune charm on their belts - they therefore used this pendant not only as jewelry but also as an aid to achieve changes in their lives.” #Magic #Magick #Witch #Occult #Ritual #Hedgewitch #RootWorker #Hoodoo

Seals in the “Magic Books”

So this week I wanted to talk about seals in Hoodoo (Photo of my copy of Anna Riva’s Secrets of Magical Seals)

What I have read and been told history wise is that seals came into play in Hoodoo when Black Americans (and other POC in the South) began moving towards more urban areas, such as the suburbs and cities in larger groups and currents. 

As a result, root workers who followed these currents did not have as much access to the wide variety of herbs that were available to them when they were living in more rural areas.

Capitalizing on this opportunity as the population of Urban Blacks and other POC (and thus urban Hoodoo practitioners and practices) gradually increased, POC business owners, and even more often white business owners began catalogues tailored towards African American communities that sold herbs, spiritual curios, and more importantly in relation to this article, copies of European Grimoires or “Magic Books”.

Books of magic already had a place within Hoodoo practice before then with the presence of the Bible. These Grimoires, with there similar components with the Bible of Christian symbolism and allegory alongside magical or in the case of the Bible, seemingly magical, practices seemed to fit well with many Hoodoo practitioners. 

During Harry Middleton Hyatt’s acquisition of Hoodoo lore from living practitioners, multiple people detailed alongside floor washes and sprinkling powders the use of Grimoiric seals and traditions. 

For instance, one practitioner gave the information that in order to to regain a lost love, one should “[…] talk Hebrew-like. Yo’ realize de Hebrew language — some of dat’s in de ‘Six’ and Seven’ Books of Moses’ and den de balance is [in] de 91 Psalms of David.” (No. 1534, Hyatt, Harry M. - taken from Lucky Mojo’s article on The Secret of the Psalms)

These seals however, were not used part and parcel as detailed in the books themselves, at least not in the way they are instructed to be made. The way I was described to in Anna Riva’s book on seals, and also by a practitioner on Dr Kioni’s My Hoodoo Space (before I got banned because my posts advertising to start a group of like minded occultists in Toronto got misconstrued as spam by the Admin and the system), is a method that I now use personally.

You take a clean piece of paper (from the brown grocery bags if possible) that you have ripped all four edges from (this is to severe the paper of all ties save for what you put into it).

Then you get an ink, if possible in the colour matching your intent, and if possible from an ink source such as dragon’s blood or dove’s blood (herb inks, don’t go trying to kill dragons or doves now). I have also read in Tayannah Lee McQuillar’s Book, Rootwork, to use pencil as the lead is suppose to ground the working into reality. That makes sense to me, so that’s what I use most of the time. 

So I take the paper, rip the four edges into new jaggedy ones, and then begin copying the seal onto the paper.

Before I begin, I close my eyes and take a minute to focus on my being. Here you can say the Lord’s Prayer, take a few breaths to clear your mind and “meditate” for a bit, and then call up your power and focus on your intent.

Now start drawing the seal onto the paper. I mostly use seals from either The Black Pullet, The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, or The Key of Solomon (NOT the Goetia).

Once you have finished copying the seal. Flip it around and write behind it a detailed petition of what you want. Write above the petition your full name, birthday, and sun sign (and other star signs if you know them). Then sign the petition at the bottom with your full name and whatever other symbols you deem fit. I write my petitions in positive present tense form, so if I wanted a car, I would write: “I now have a car to drive and use as I desire, safely and securely” rather than ”I will have a car soon” or “I don’t want to not have a car anymore”. 

Now place the paper between your hands and hold your hands in prayer position as if you were praying. Press your thumbs to your heart or solar plexus area, and close your eyes and focus on your intent.

Say three times:

"Oh eternal and infinite Spirit, with humility I ask, with love I invite, and with Faith I beseech in thee, please infuse this token with the virtues of power and the forces of Universal Strength".

Hold the seal up to you and take a deep breath while focusing on your intent, then blow that breath onto the seal and dot it with a drop of your saliva to link it to you and your desires.

Now turn the seal around and read the petition you wrote on the back three times out loud. Then take another deep breath while focusing on your intent, and blow that onto your paper. Anoint the centre with another drop of your saliva. 

Now roll the paper up either towards you or away from you, with the petition facing the inside. 

Dress it with an appropriate condition oil or other fluid, and place it in a mojo bag to carry with you. 

You can also place in the mojo other corresponding herbs, roots, and curios etc. 

If you are putting other stuff in the bag, thus creating a full blown mojo bag, blow onto the bag and repeat your petition three times while focusing on your intent as you tie the bag shut to seal the work.

If you are just using the seal and simply need the bag to carry it around safely, omit the step above. 

Now stroke the seal or bag and repeat your intent whenever you feel the need (some recommend every day at least), and feed it 3 drops of oil once a week until your desires comes to fruit. Keep the bag hidden on you or amoung your undergarment drawers the rest of the time. 

Then bury the seal or bag underneath a healthy tree with water and honey and three pennies pressed into the dirt as offering once your desire comes to pass.

I NEVER use the goetic seals in this manner, perhaps because of my bias towards working with the Goetia in a more ceremonial manner, and knowing the nature of some the spirits amoung that class that can get quiet rowdy if left without restraints. 

Happy Conjurings :)

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

In addition to this post, I just wanted to add that if you want to really empower the seal for long term use, open the bible or a ancestral prayer book of yours that ties all or many of your ancestral spirits, spirit guides, and your spiritual lineage together in spiritual connection.

Open the book to a corresponding page, place the petition paper with seal dressed with oil on the prayer section, close the book, and do a nine day prayer session or Novena over the book for your intent and calling to the aid of your spirits and your inner power.

Do this with the light of a dressed candle for the purpose placed over the closed book, accompanied with a fresh cool glass of water, and incense of a corresponding nature for your intent, your spirits, and the spirits associated with the seal. Speak your intent each night at the same time, and include the corresponding prayer into your chanting as well. 

After the nine days, give thanks in prayer and simple offerings, and then take the seal and carry it with you, in a protective bag, or laminated. 

Or you can burn it and add it to powders or oils or waters, use it in mojo hands etc.

This really gives your seal an extra oomph and is super good for long term work. 

- Added Nov. 22nd, 2014.

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Today, much of the information that comes up on Google searches for the terms hoodoo, conjure, rootwork, conjure doctor, conjure doctors, spiritual doctors and more land on commercial hoodoo enterprises with the focus on commodity as opposed to cultural preservation. This site focuses on the latter. Find information here about the people who made it possible for others to profit from the traditions, while remembering most of these original conjure doctors and spiritual mothers lived in poverty. In the very least, my hope is that those who profit off of southern conjure traditions will begin paying a daily homage to these forgotten ancestors by pouring a daily libation of water and thanking them for their contributions; albeit, unknown to them today.  Please share this website with others to make the voices of our ancestors heard. Theirs is the most important one to include in the current narrative.

Conjuredoctors.com provides free information about conjure doctor cures, remedies, core practicesharms and cureshousehold receipts, articles, resources and an alternate perspective on the history of hoodoo.

It’s a work in progress but lots of good info here!

Don't you love it ...

When inexperienced witches feel entitled that their insecurities and lack of control over their spell work is somehow the laws and workings of magic that applies to everyone. 

Look, if you keep on saying that everyone must be-careful with magic because you never know what consequences and sources of power you are calling upon … that’s not how magic works, that’s your own lack of control. 

And I highly doubt the solution is to do less magic … but maybe … oh I don’t know … figure out where you are drawing your power from and remedy any set backs? 

And be clearer in your spell work, and how you are going to map out things in cause and effect. 

Since when did the solution to inexperience and unpredictability become just not do the thing rather than working on refining it? And even more so tooting that as some high moral law that applies to all magical traditions. A proposition that is in reality a direct conflict with historical records seeing as most cultures with folk magical and religious practices used their arts frequently and when desired and needed. Needs and desires which are not regulated by some twenty step self assessment questionnaire found on the back of a Llewellyn book. A questionnaire filled with over generalizations, contradictions, erasures of other paradigms, and victim blaming.

It’s possible and quiet practical really from my experience to be precise and accurate with your magic … well at least more precise than those 101 books give you credit for … don’t believe the new age books that toot all about “oooo awesome power that can’t be controlled and regulated and balanced” as the only mode to how magic will work.

Most of those authors likely can’t charm themselves off of a pedastool and are depending on you to buy their books and look to them for a sense of security so they can fill their pockets. 

Not saying that their or our possible poverty as authors and writers are somehow automatically our fault alone rather than the societal situations that we live which do not value our work unless it fits a quota.

But really, their way of remedying their poverty by pushing for this paradigm of “unpredictable, uncontrollable magic” where they are set up as the authority to look to for control is not a ethical manner of empowering young witches. 

It just builds the cycles of fear and dis-empowerment. 

You are better off joining a fear mongering, fundamentalist religion. 

You’re a witch. If you aren’t good with your witchcraft and only “do it ever so often because you can’t control it” as the reasoning for your use or lack of their of for your art … 

Then why the hell are you a witch?

Project: Crossroad Keys

A new lunar cycle has started, and for this cycle I have decided to charge a set of Crossroad Keys! I got everything together a few nights ago, and put it all together yesterday, and had planned to write up something about it but completely forgot.

Then, just a few moments ago, thepaganstudygrouppage answered someone’s question on this very topic, and I went, “oh yeah! I wanted to post my pictures!” :)

It takes a full lunar cycle to create your link to the keys, but it’s worth it - once the link is established, you bury one of the keys at the center of your crossroads, and keep the other key for yourself. Because of the link you’ve established between the two keys and yourself, you’re able to use the key you’ve kept as a talisman to access the power of the crossroads where the other key is buried. This lets you perform magick as though you were standing at your crossroads.

In the picture above, you can see the two keys I’m using, along with the red thread, and two of my hairs. I took a length of the red thread (the distance from my heart, down my left arm, to my fingers), then tied that around the keys, and wrapped it up with the two strands of hair.

In the picture bellow, you can see the two wrapped keys, along with the small black pouch I will be keeping them in while I carry them around with me throughout this lunar cycle.

As you carry the keys with you for the cycle, take a minute at some point through each day, and rub a little of your spit into them. I also keep a small jar of dirt I’ve taken from the crossroads I’ll be keying to, and let the keys rest in that jar as I sleep.

Good times ahead, I’m sure :) 

Creating Space for the Spirits

In my personal practice and experience, creating space for the spirits generally comes in five general steps. 

And all of these steps can be embodied in the essence of prayer. 

BUT, it can be greatly enhanced by various ritual actions, and also the set traditions associated with a lineage connected to a spirit, and at times may even be necessary depending on who you ask. 

These steps can be roughly categorized in my personal practice into:

1. Cleansing and purification and fortifying (protection) of self and space

2. Calling to and opening the gates

3. Building the Spirit Roads so they can more easily walk to you

4. Creating a balanced environment for them in this world so they can gain a more solid foothold and stick around more easily for you to do the work.

5. And then of course, interaction, doing the work, give offerings etc. And then clean up afterwards, thanking the spirits for coming and sending them off, cleaning up the set up, dimming the roads, and then returning the veil to a more closed state. And performing more spiritual cleansings, fortifying space etc depending on who the spirit was etc.

To begin, it is always important to perform regular cleansings of your self and your space (ie. the place where you live and do the work), and also to ensure that you have consistent protection on you (it could be a gris gris bag or mojo hand, it could be guardian spirits such as St. Michael at your doors, witch bottles, talismans, sigils etc. I have several hanging around my space and person at all times). 

Working with spirits, it is extremely beneficial to set up a periodic schedule of cleansings of you self and space, I do small ones everyday and once a month big ones if I feel the need. This helps with clearer communication and aids in weeding out imposer spirits. You do this by stating that you are cleansing away the debris and hubris blocks between you and your personal power and good spirits, and you are sending away any imposers that seek to hinder your development, cloud your judgement, and block you from achieving success, your desires, and your personal power. 

State this as you cleanse and also as you protect your self and space, rewording the incantations as necessary. Remember, cleansing moves away things, but it’s good to specify what you want it to move away. To do this, you figure out your destination first. Needless to say, if some of those blockages are in you, then it could result in temporary discomfort as they are removed. But that should never last long. If your life is constantly going down the drain as you do spirit work, then something is wrong and you should find help whether mundane or spiritual from the more experienced.

Gradual improvement in your life, your overall happiness, and closeness with your desired destinations is a sure sign that things are good. 

But first figure out where you want to go with all of this (it could be something as general as having a happy prosperous life, good health, love, success in your ambitions). 

Good (personal spirits especially) spirits should be willing to help you achieve your desires in your life, just as you help them with theirs through prayer, offerings, and any help they need. 

If they aren’t, then why are you working with them (kinda why I don’t understand some of the people on tumblr here who talk about how their spirits are essentially tormenting them, and I’m like >.> you know you don’t have to let them take everything you own right? Like you don’t have to work with them. If a spirit isn’t doing me any good and all they do is weigh me down and hurt me, they don’t need to be here and I’d rather go at it alone. Hey this isn’t a give give give kinda world I strive to live by, it’s a practical give and take one. If you aren’t doing anything but harm in my life, then you don’t need to be in my life). 

Before praying to spirits, I like to perform cleansings on my self and space first, to just do a double check to make sure things are as clear and empowered as possible for me. I also do protections, laying wards with the intent that they filter out imposters and spirits seeking to bring me harm.

Then comes opening the gates. 

This could as simple as being aware of the spirits and other worlds and powers that are not just purely our physical world. Ie. getting yourself into trance. Trance expands your awareness, brings you to your spirit, your subconscious, and thus makes you aware and “wake up” (not that it was ever really asleep for many people, just how aware you are of it) that inner fire of yours. It helps your body become aware of the spirits, and thus in turn them aware of you. It helps you really feel the threshold places around and within you, those door ways the other worlds.

These are literally the threshold and crossroads places around and within us. The door to your altar room. Your altar. Your mouth. The Crossroads. The Cemetery etc. 

As you call to the spirits, they will come and together with your will to reach them and they to you (if that is what they desire), the doors will naturally open and roads be created. Hence why it is important the space is cleansed and fortified. To lessen the chance of just anything rushing through. 

Ritual actions wise, I like to send power in parting the veil. I would call on the old Master of Roads, that Old Devil at the Crossroads, to help open the roads and draw the good spirits I pray for and to near, praying from my heart, and I will then either perform the rendering of the veil rite from Jason Miller’s Sorcerer’s Secrets book, or get my bells and ring them and then cross and part (open) my arms before me. I may also begin the process of laying the compass as per traditional witchery.

This ritual action coupled with the will and focus and my prayer to my guides further helps in opening the way. 

Then comes the building of the spirit roads. 

This is the roads for the spirits to walk upon. In many Vodou traditions in Haiti, Gran Chemin, Lwa of the Roads is one of the Lwa first saluted to build the roads to the spirits. 

In Traditional Witchcraft, there is a part of laying the compass performed by some, including how I do it, where we lay the Spirit Tracks. This is done by taking blessed water and sprinkling it to the four directions, above, below, and centre. As we asperge, we speak “As I lay this water, I lay through it the spirit tracks for my good spirits to walk upon to me, empowered is this water as an agent of betwixt by silver and breath, I invite the spirits to walk upon these marked tracks I lay upon this space to me”. Water is life, where there is water life draws near. Water represents the substance that flows between and through all worlds. Waters above and below. The spirits can travel through them.

For general prayer, I may simply take some water and sprinkle it before the altar and then place the glass of water and a lit candle in front of the space, inviting the spirits to walk near. 

The candle is another thing. In traditional witchcraft, a fire is stoked as offering for the spirits. The light and heat provides illumination, guiding them near, given them strength and heat and warmth to be at ease and to do work if needed.

I may then draw spiritual insignia upon the floor around my altar, to help the spirits draw near, which then bleeds into the fourth step, preparing a balanced space for the spirits. 

In my personal practice, it never made sense to me to isolate the elements, or to hang spirits and powers like tomagotchi pets onto them. La Sirene may be the siren of the seas, but she is also the mother of the fish and of all her other children. She has the beauty of shells and pearls flowing through her body. She plays music on her trumpet and emits melodic songs from her lips. 

Like many other spirits, especially primordial. so many elements go into their identities, it’s impossible and ludicrous to me to try to separate them as one or the other. 

I do however, feel the idea of the elements represents the wholeness of our world, it represents a balance, and even if I wanted to emphasis a specific nature of one of them, I place all four in a crossroads (again, another symbol of our world and the intersection of that with others) before my altar. 

The division of wind, earth, water, and fire, however, is at the end of the day, an arbitrary humanistic one. 

The world is complex. Many things can represent wholeness. The wholeness of offerings draw spirits near. The insignia of their identities drawn physically in our world can also give them good foot holds. You are essentially linking the worlds, by emphasizing our world’s existence (the wholeness and pleasing environment) with theirs (opening the gates) and linking the two together (creating the spirit tracks). Offerings remind the spirits of our existence and physicality, and the essences they take in from these offerings give them strength to better act within our world with our tools, also it is pleasing and strengthens them. Many Spirits like moving through our worlds just as much as we like moving through theirs. Probably cuz we got coffee and stuff :P

Experiment with your spirits and see what happens. If they want to draw near they will find a way :).

Now pray to your spirits even more and do the work if any you have set out to do, give offerings in thanks etc. 

Let things be genuine and come from your heart. The spirits will often respond in kind. 

After wards. Give them more sprinkles of water, thank them for their aid, and bid them return to their abodes and habitations as they desire. Unless it is an unruly spirit, which this type of set up really isn’t meant for, you shouldn’t send them away like dogs. If they desire, if they will, or they could hang around. 

Then comes the dimming of the roads, this simply means to make the roads between the worlds lighter and less visible, to return things to a calmer and more separated state as before, to make it a more natural state again if you aren’t doing this on a well established spiritual threshold. 

This way, things don’t get too bended out of wack between the worlds, but your spirits who know you well can still travel the way as needed. 

Do this through prayer, state your intent, breath it out into the world, send it to do it’s job. 

Next comes the closing of the ways. Cross your arms again, pray to the old master to help return the veil to it’s normal state as he sees fit and to depart now if he desires. See the doors closing and the veil returning to it’s normal state. Focus, and breath your power matched with your intent out into the world to do it’s job. 

With a routinely built relationship between you and your spirits, the road is never fully diminished and the doorways never fully closed. 

The spirits are not isolated unwalkable people. Their intent to reach you and your intent to reach them will naturally build roads and open doors and set up space. 

It’s your power, it knows what you want as long as you know what you want. 

That’s why it’s magic ;)

These rituals however help. 

But at the end of the day, if all you got is a glass of water and a lit candle, that will work too. 

Let the light and your desire open the ways, let the water spread the tracks.

Let the balance of fire and water create wholeness and your prayers create wholeness and a pleasing environment for your spirits.

And let farewells said and the distinguishing of candles and the pouring out of water back onto the earth return the worlds to a more closed space after you are done (you don’t want the worlds to be too immersed with one another, boundaries are important you know. Who wants their spirits peeking in on EVERYTHING they do and get it completely mixed. Wait until you are dead for that :P Plus the more open the space is, the more easy it is for something nasty to slip through. Opening it enough for your spirits and guides is good. Keeping it wide open 24/7 not so much in my honest opinion). 

Of course if things get weird after a simple closing, more advanced and focused techniques may need to be done.

May the Good Spirits guide and be with you :)

In the event that I had to pick up my life and run away, what would I save? What defines me as a conjurer? What objects around me contain real power? What objects would get left behind?

I began to feel a pain in my chest after a recent photo shoot of my altars and work spaces. Looking back at the photos I wasn’t happy about how the essence of my workroom wasn’t being caught. It somehow eluded the camera, but maybe that’s how it’s able to survive. It made me begin to think about those things that truly define my work.

I started picking out objects and setting them on the floor of my workroom. These things contain spirits and the Spirit, they’re priceless items, completely irreplaceable tools of my trade. What I found in the end is that I really don’t rely all that much on most of what can be found on my altars. Yes, the bits and pieces work together to create the sacred space, but in the end, one less candle is just one less candle. 

But these objects here are Spirit and Power. They contain my helpers and patrons, without whom my hands wouldn’t tingle-tingle, my prayers would fall flat down to the ground. They aren’t bits of bone, clay, metal, or fur, they breathe and have life. There’s a pulse in their hearts and blood running through their veins. 

In truth I can say that these things show me who I really am. If you ever wanted to know me, look here and see.