Cruel Man of the Woods

Cruel Man of the Woods (Strobilomyces strobilaceus), also known as Old Man of the Woods, is a relatively rare mushroom found in deciduous woods and conifer forests in both the U.S. and U.K. It can be hard to spot since its color changes over time from white to black and can be obscured by dead leaves and underbrush. It appears between August and October. Purportedly, the younger mushrooms are edible, but some suggest that since they are rare and have little cooking value, they should be left alone. However, Morel Mushroom Hunting Club suggests they are best when dried for use in soups, sauces, and gravy.

As always in folk medicine and conjure, the names of plants often vary: some say that Cruel Man of the Woods is Poltandra alba.

Medically, extracts may inhibit tumor and sarcoma growth. Many other mushrooms are also cited in anti-cancer literature for similar purposes.

Wikipedia Photo

In hoodoo, the mushroom, which can be included whole in mojo bags or ground up into powders, is generally used to cause bad luck to others, control others, and to protect one’s property. Harm can come, it is believed when an enemy touches the mushroom–especially if they have harmed you.

ConjureDoctors.com says that if you “Take a piece of Cruel Man of the Woods, some Master Root, Licorice root and Devil’s Shoestring and wrap in red flannel and your influence over anyone will be unsurpassed.”

Some burn this for happiness and protection for themselves, but I find this problematic inasmuch as you could inhale it unless you isolated it on your property.

Alan Dundes, in Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrell includes the mushroom when he chastizes the uninformed by saying they “may be inclined so scoff at the red flanne; hoodoo-bag, containing such waifs and estrays as lodestone, steel filings, graveyard dirt, red pepper, gunpowder, anvil-dust, bluestone, nail trimmings and the thousand and one roots individualized as ‘Red Shanks,’ ‘Devil’s Shoe String,’ ‘Angels Turnip,’ ‘Purpose of the World,’ ‘Cruel Man of the Woods,’ and such like, but noe careful observer in the field can deny the fact that these various conjures in many cases actually work.”

For sale on eBay

I write about conjure in my fiction, but I’m superstitious enough not to doubt it when push comes to shove.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and “Lena.” You can find all three of these novels combined in one e-book called “Florida Folk Magic Stories.”

 

 

 

 

 

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How to tell if you’re an empath

“Being an Empath or having sensitivity to people, places, animals can be a good thing and a bad thing if you do not know how to control this ability.    Sometimes it leads to people having too many animals, having a relationship with a bully or abusive person because you “feel” you can change them, you can’t say ‘no’ because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.   Places and things bother you while to others they think you’re just nuts—-well, you’re not.   You are an Empath.”

Source: SPIRITUAL INFORMATION: how to tell if you’re an empath

This post is two years old, but it continues to apply today as more and more people develop their psychic skills and find that they are becoming more sensitive to the emotions of other people. It can be good, but it’s not easy to control. This is an interesting discussion of the subject.

–Malcolm

Amazon Kindle cover.

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three “conjure and crime” novels that have been collected into one volume.

Harry Middleton Hyatt – folklore and hoodoo

Hyatt – Open Library photo

“Harry Middleton Hyatt was an Anglican minister who collected folklore as a hobby. Raised in Quincy, Illinois, Hyatt received his M.A. and D.D. at Kenyon College and Oxford University. He served as assistant rector at the Church of the Holy Spirit in New York City from 1951 to 1965. After his retirement in 1965, he returned to his home-town of Quincy, Illinois.

“As a folklorist, Hyatt began this work in his own home-town, and then proceeded onward to collect magical spells throughout the South. His two major works in this field were “Folklore From Adams County Illinois” (1935) and “Hoodoo – Conjuration – Witchcraft – Rootwork” (1970). ”

Source: Harry Middleton Hyatt

I’ve noticed that many people arrive on this blog by searching for Harry Middleton Hyatt. Rather than trying to write my own overview of his work, it’s more efficient to refer you to the information about him on the Lucky Mojo site.  In many ways, he helped bring information about conjure to the attention of many people who were unaware of it.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Florida Folk Magic Stories,” three novels about conjure and crime set in 1950s Florida combined in one e-book.

JINKS ALERT: Do you recognize this cat toy?

When we sold our previous house on the other side of the state, our realtor gave us a “Thank You” basket filled with candy, and knickknacks. Hidden at the bottom of the basket was this cat toy. You jostle it or pick it up, and a bell rings inside.

The only time we’ve heard the bell was when we stepped on the toy in the dark or kicked it out of the traffic flow in the kitchen or hallway. This suggests that our two cats don’t care about it.

Yet, it moves around the house. We have never seen either of our cats pick it up, much less carry it around. One day it’s in the kitchen. Then it shows up in the dining room, living room or entry hall. Our conclusion: THE TOY HAS A HEX ON IT.

It may even have a camera and mic inside sending a 24/7 feed to the FBI or CIA. We wonder what TSA would do with it if they spotted it in our carry-on luggage.

Yes, we should throw it away. But what if throwing it away or destroying it releases a hell-load of malevolent demons?

If anyone tries to give you a toy that looks like this, run. Or, if you live in a right-to-shoot-at-anything state, blast the toy with nothing smaller than a .50 caliber weapon.

Malcolm

Dear Flora

Watching down on creation from the great sanctified church in the sky, I’m sure you are spry enough again to sing and dance in a ring shout circle, and re-conjure your memories of a life well lived.

Partial view of the cover art work for “Lena.”

As you watch us muddle through our days, perhaps you notice this old writer whom you once knew as that white boy around the corner who stopped by daily to see his best friend in the house where you worked as a maid in Tallahassee. Because my friend’s parents were frequently absent due to work, volunteer, and church schedules, you were the stern ruler of that household from dawn to dark.

In those days, I saw you as the heart and soul of that home even though our flawed traditions wouldn’t allow you to walk in through the front door. I loved and respected (and sometimes) feared you then, but I was not allowed to tell you so. After my mother and my grandmother, you were the best cook on the planet, but Southern booking wasn’t the best of what I learned from you.

I learned about faith and forbearance and streetwise savviness in a dangerous world along with the value of humor and tall tales as antidotes to the slights and terrors of the day. In those days, perhaps you saw me as part of the fair number of kids who hung out around that house and the woods behind it and had no way of knowing whether I’d end up in reform school or the priesthood. Well, I guess you knew I wasn’t destined to become a priest!

Like the children who lived in that house, Flora, I went off to college and then into the Navy and then into a life a thousand miles away. I’m sorry I lost track of you then. I wish I had hugged you goodbye before I went off into the world.

Now, as Lena, the third novel in my Florida Folk Magic series is nearing its release date, I want you to know that the book’s acknowledgements tell my readers you are my inspiration for Eulalie, the conjure woman who is the heart and soul of the series. Thank you for everything you taught me and my apologies for everything I have forgotten.

with love,

Malcolm

Get your 99¢ Kindle copy of ‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ before the promotion ends

My Florida Folk Magic series novel Eulalie and Washerwoman has been available on Kindle this spring for only 99¢. However, we’re wrapping up this Kindle promotion soon, so this is a great time to get your copy before we return to the regular price.

Description: Torreya, a small 1950s Florida Panhandle town, is losing its men. They disappear on nights with no moon and no witnesses. Foreclosure signs appear in their yards the following day while thugs associated with the Klan take everything of value from inside treasured homes that will soon be torn down.

The police won’t investigate, and the church keeps its distance from all social and political discord. Conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins, her shamanistic cat, Lena, and neighbor Willie Tate discover that the new “whites only” policy at the once friendly mercantile and the creation of a plantation-style subdivision are linked to corrupt city fathers, the disappearing men, rigged numbers gambling, and a powerful hoodoo man named Washerwoman. After he refuses to carry Eulalie’s herbs and eggs and Willie’s corn, mercantile owner Lane Walker is drawn into the web of lies before he, too, disappears.

Washerwoman knows how to cover his tracks with the magic he learned from Florida’s most famous root doctor, Uncle Monday, so he is more elusive than hen’s teeth, more dangerous that the Klan, and threatens to brutally remove any obstacle in the way of his profits. In this follow up to Conjure Woman’s Cat, Eulalie and Lena face their greatest challenge with scarce support from townspeople who are scared of their own shadows. Even though Eulalie is older than dirt, her faith in the good Lord and her endless supply of spells guarantee she will give Washerwoman a run for his ill-gotten money in this swamps and piney woods story.

Editorial Review: Told through the narrative voice of Lena, Eulalie’s shamanistic cat, the fast-paced story comes alive. The approach is fresh and clever; Malcolm R. Campbell manages Lena’s viewpoint seamlessly, adding interest and a unique perspective. Beyond the obvious abilities of this author to weave an enjoyable and engaging tale, I found the book rich with descriptive elements. So many passages caused me to pause and savor. ‘The air…heavy with wood smoke, turpentine, and melancholy.’ ‘ …the Apalachicola National Forest, world of wiregrass and pine, wildflower prairies, and savannahs of grass and small ponds… a maze of unpaved roads, flowing water drawing thirsty men…’ ‘…of the prayers of silk grass and blazing star and butterfly pea, of a brightly colored bottle tree trapping spirits searching for Washerwoman…of the holy woman who opened up the books of Moses and brought down pillars of fire and cloud so that those who were lost could find their way.'” – Rhett DeVane, Tallahassee Democrat

 

Enjoy the story!

–Malcolm

Briefly Noted: ‘Old Style Conjure’ by Starr Casas

Those who know Mama Starr Casas from her Old Style Conjure website, need no introduction to this practical guidebook published in September. Like her website commentaries, it’s blunt, practical, based on the culture she grew up in, and overviews works (spells) and approaches in an easy to understand manner. The book reminds us that conjure (hoodoo, rootwork) is directly linked to African American ancestors, the Christian Bible, and common sense approaches to magic based on the materials at hand in a typical Southern household.

Conjure workers are usually Christian. I like Casas’ statement, “If you remove the Bible from Old Style Conjure work then what you are doing really isn’t Conjure work! It then becomes something else. If you can hold the greatest Conjure book ever written in your hands and learn the power from it; why in the world would you let anyone stop you?” She also doesn’t agree with people who mix hoodoo with other forms of magic in a roll-your-own approach.

Publisher’s Description:

Conjure, hoodoo, rootwork―these are all names for southern American folk magic. Conjure first emerged in the days of slavery and plantations and is widely considered among the most potent forms of magic. Its popularity continues to increase, both in the United States and worldwide. This book is a guide to using conjure to achieve love, success, safety, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment. Author Starr Casas, a hereditary master of the art, introduces readers to the history and philosophy of conjure and provides practical information for using it. Featuring Casas’s own rituals, spells, and home recipes, the book provides useful information suitable for novices and seasoned practitioners alike.

In its pages, you’ll learn about:

  • Bone reading
  • Candle burning
  • Conjure bags
  • Building your own conjure altar

Research or Practical Use

This book is readable and should be very helpful to those who are interested in folk magic as an avocation, want to try out spell work themselves, or are fascinated by the history and culture of hoodoo. Students of magic will also enjoy the inspirational forward by Orion Foxwood.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two hoodoo novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.”

Review: Alice Hoffman’s ‘The Rules of Magic’

The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Rules of Magic,” the prequel to Alice Hoffman’s 1995 bestseller “Practical Magic,” sparkles with the same wisdom and magical realism as the witching story of Sally and Gillian Owens did twenty two years ago. The characters, stories and writing style of this stunning prequel fit hand-in-glove with the characters, stories and writing style of “Practical Magic,” not an easy bit of conjuring for an author to face when going back to a story she told before she truly knew the magical rules when she first wrote about them.

This backstory about Sally and Gillian’s aunts Franny and Bridget (AKA “Jet”) focuses on a theme about life’s curses and blessings and what individuals wish to make of the fate and destiny they are given. Early on, Franny and Jet’s mother asks the sisters whether they’re opting for courage or caution in their unfolding lives. Their answers make for a cohesive story. Clearly, Alice Hoffman opted for courage when she traveled back to 1995 to continue the story of the Owens family.

The book contains wonderful surprises, making it much deeper than a family tree tacked on to the front of a famous novel many years later. The book offers its own multiple levels of depth and angst and joy while changing in positive ways the way many of us who read it will view the characters and themes of the original novel. (Emerging writers considering magical realism as a potential genre for their work will find both novels to be a demonstration of how an author can utilize magic and realism seamlessly in novels set in today’s world.”

While the ending of “The Rules of Magic” represents the best of all possible worlds for the two novels and their characters, turning the last page might be depressing for some readers. The reason is simply this: nobody wants the story to end because when it comes down to it, we need these characters, their joys and sorrows, and their magic in our lives.

View all my reviews

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the magical realism novels “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.

A smattering of writing news

  • I’m slowly working on a new novel called Lena as a sequel to Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. For reasons that might become apparent once it’s published, you’ll see why I’m moving so slowly on it. It begins like this: “So, Eulalie sang ‘Lady Luck Blues’ as she drove the 1949 clover green Studebaker pickup truck down that southbound road while creeks, wiregrass, longleaf pines, and sunny autumn afternoon savannahs slow-drag danced past the open windows and South Wind’s children teased her hair into sweet disorder. She was happy and heading for Willie Tate down in Carrabelle.” Unfortunately for Eulalie, the happiness isn’t going to last.
  • I rely on a lot of books and websites for source material about conjure. Unfortunately, Spiritual Information–featuring Voodoo Queen–will no longer have new posts. The author, who is older than I am, has become too ill  to continue, and wants to retire after she finishes healing. The good news is that her blog will remain online as a reference. There’s a handy index of topics on the left side of the screen. A quick glance at this list will show you how wonderful this blog has been for those who want to learn more about the oldest hoodoo traditions from days gone by.
  • My publisher Thomas-Jacob will be featuring Eulalie and Washerwoman, Redeeming Grace (Smoky Zeidel), A Shallow River of Mercy (Robert Hays) and The History of my Body (Sharon Heath) in Amazon promotions during December. Keep an eye on Amazon for some wonderful books and opportunities.  While Robert Hays’new book will be released on December first, it’s already available for pre-order.
  • I appreciate the support of those of you who also followed my other blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” In trying to simplify (whatever that means), I’ve closed that blog. It was my oldest, having started on Blogger many years ago, subsequently moving here to WordPress. I’ll try to keep you up to date on this blog as well as my website.
  • This has nothing to do with writing, but my friend and Thomas-Jacob colleague Smoky Zeidel, who lives in a southern California desert community, has been posting glorious pictures of her vegetable garden on Facebook. I’m jealous. My tomatoes, banana peppers and jalapenos finally bit the dust with our cooler temperatures. I still have some hardy oregano and parsley. If you’re taking notes, the oregano and parsley won’t be on the test.

–Malcolm