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Posts tagged ‘hoodoo’

‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ and ‘Lena’ now available in hardcover

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has just released the hardcover editions of Eulalie and Washerwoman and Lena. The first book in the Florida Folk Magic Series, Conjure Woman’s Cat, was released in hardcover last month. The books are also available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook editions.  All e-book editions are also available together in one e-book volume.

Bookstand and hoodoo supplies not included!

Enjoy the stories.

Malcolm

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1950s Florida – The Klan

Following up on yesterday’s post about authors posting material relating to their books, here’s a picture from Florida Memory of a KKK flyer that was similar to many I saw as a child. The Klan was always recruiting, holding rallies, and marching in parades.

1950s Klan Flyer

 

Officially, the Klan purported to be a friendly organization. I doubt that anyone in Tallahassee and other Florida Panhandle towns was duped by this farce. We read the stories in the newspapers about fire bombings, black churches burnt, black men lynched, and crosses burnt in the yards of white people who spoke out against the Klan. I wonder if we will ever know what percentage of Florida law enforcement officers were members of the Klan. I suspected many of my neighbors were members, including some who went to my church. To paraphase the old Texas song:

“The Klan’s eyes are upon you,
All the livelong day.
The Klan’s eyes are upon you,
You cannot get away.

One never knew who one was talking to. I hope the recent emergence of white supremacist groups isn’t returning the country to those times. Those times extended into the 1970s and 1980s. Here’s a photo of a 1970s march in Tallahassee:

Florida Memory photo

 

KKK rally from the 1950s:

Florida Memory photo

 

Here we have a crowd watching the KKK burn a cross:

Florida Memory photo

The Klan was very strong in Florida in spite of the state’s pristine, playground image disseminated in magazines and vacation brochures.

The KKK as an enemy organization is a major focus of my Florida Folk Magic Stories novels. In all three novels, a conjure woman is fighting the Klan. That’s why I often call the books crime and conjure stories.

–Malcolm

Doubt is the magic killer

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

I agreed with a lot of the sentiments in Dune. I also extrapolated upon them.

I tend to think we create wherever it is we’re going. If fear is a mind-killer, then I step forward from that thought and think that doubt is also a mind-killer. I’m not against being prepared–as we were taught in the Boy Scouts. Yet, I can’t help but think time spent with negative negative concerns such as fear and doubt is not an example of being prepared. Instead, those repeated concerns not only demonstrate to the universe we have no confidence in what we’re doing (praying, casting a spell, intuiting a situation far away, transmitting healing energies), they also create the very conditions our fear and the doubt are focused upon.

Experts in the I Ching, the book of changes that many use for divination, point out that doing the same reading twice because you doubt the first answer you received will often bring a chiding response from the oracle. I’ve seen that happen. I’ve also seen it happen with Tarot cards.

If I send (serve as a channel for) healing energy multiple times to help a sick friend, what does the second time say about the first and what does the third time say about the first two times? I believe it suggests that we doubt our ability to allow a flow of energy or that we wonder if the first energy we sent knew what it was doing.

Prayer is like that, too, I think. If we ask God on Monday for a certain thing, what’s the result of asking God for the same thing on Tuesday? Does it mean we think She/He didn’t hear us on Monday? Perhaps we are suggesting She/He was too stupid on Monday to know what we were talking about, so we have to offer a wordy explanation on Tuesday? Or, maybe we think God screwed up so we need to give Him/Her another chance to get it right.  Out worst doubt is negating our best efforts.

In conjure, we say that when you cast a spell, don’t look back. Why would one look back anyway? There’s no reason to look back unless one thinks s/he crewed up the spell the first time. The double whammy here is that thinking one screwed up the spell only serves to screw up the spell. As in, say, foot track magic, the magic isn’t just the powder one places in the path of the intended target, it’s his/her intentions for that powder. Looking back weakens your intentions.

I’ve seen people fail when trying to use the law of attraction, first because they say they are trying to use it rather than using it, and second, because after their positive affirmations, they go through the rest of the day filled with doubts and other negative thoughts. If one works to attract money and then worries about getting evicted from his/her apartment for non-payment of the rent, the negative thought becomes a stronger affirmation than the positive thought.

The worst that can come of all this doubt is that one ends up believing prayers and magic and positive thinking don’t work. Oh, they always work. It’s just that one’s lack of belief has become the strongest spell they are using.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell writes novels about magic.

 

 

 

 

 

Hoodoo herbs: Acacia

Wikipedia photo

This herb is also called “Cassie Flower” and “Gum Arabic” among other names. In her wonderful Hoodoo and Root Magic book, catherine yronwode warns against confusing Acacia with Cassia Sienna, Cassia Bark, or Quassia (bitter root). They are not the same. Acacia’s classification is Leguminosae (Mimosacaceae).

In her book, yronwode mentions the fact that today’s conjure workers tend to be less aware of the herbs they’re using because they aren’t growing them or finding them in the forest. This opens them up to fraud, especially from merchants who substitute herb XYZ and call it ABC. If you don’t know what the plant looks like in the wild, this is a danger.

Medical Uses

According to Web MD, As a medicine, acacia is taken by mouth for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and weight loss. It is also used to remove toxins from the body and as a prebiotic to promote “good” bacteria in the intestine.

Acacia is applied to the skin inside the mouth for plaque and gum inflammation (gingivitis). It is also applied to the skin to decrease skin inflammation (redness).

Conjure

This plant symbolizes immortality and, as such, can be used to communicate with the dead. It can be mixed with holy water or burnt as an incense. You can also use it as an aid to psychic dreams and visions.. According to Occult1.com, Acacia can be “used as a Holy Oil for candles and your Altar. You will find this oil mentioned in the bible Exodus chapter 25. This is a very holy oil, used to anoint items that are used on the altar, used in the bath for Jinx Removing.rituals or at a time of prayer. You may also anoint your body at times of worship. • Due to the holy influences, Acacia is also known to be a protection oil, and one used for blessings, it should be worn on your wrists, palms and heart.”

Can you use it to summon the dead? Perhaps. Suppliers that mention this sell the plant as a curio only to avoid legal trouble. As a writer rather than a rootworker, I can’t really say what works and what doesn’t. I simply enjoy the research in support of the characters in my novels.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the north Florida conjure novels “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and “Lena.”

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

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.

What Macbeth’s Witches Were Really Mixing Up

Wikipedia graphic

Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the cauldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, 
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 

Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1

When you read Macbeth and hear the witches chanting about the eye of newt and tongue of dog, don’t worry. Most of those ingredients are the folk names of herbs, not critters’ body parts. Here are those added by the second witch.

  • Fenny Snake – Fenny refers to fens (swamps).
  • Eye of Newt – Seeds of Black or Brown Mustard (Brassica juncea), which–in hoodoo- are used to confuse enemies. They are often mixed with sulfur powder.
  • Buttercup: Steve Matson photo from Califlora

    Toe of Frog – Yellow Buttercup, including within the United States, the Western Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis Nutt), the seeds of which were ground up by Indians with other seeds for making a flour-like staple called pinole. The flowers themselves are considered poisonous.

  • Wool of Bat – Holly (Ilex aquifollium), meaning “holy,” used by Druids and other ancient Europeans. Holly symbolized male and female and Yule and is still considered in conjure as not only a blessing to the household and as protection for the home.
  • Tongue of Dog – Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale), also called dog’s tongue and gypsy flower. It was once considered a cure for madness and has been used by herbalists for a variety of ailments, including venereal disease and inflammations.
  • Dog-tooth Violet – Wikipedia photo.

    Adder’s Fork – Dog-Tooth Violet (Erythronium americanum) and related species. It’s also referred to as rattlesnake violet and serpent’s tongue. It’s not related to the violet. In conjure, it’s used to stop slander and gossip and those who are using it against you. It is placed on the doorsteps of enemies or when meddling inlaws are the problem, mixed with slippery elm into a body wash.

  • Blind Worm’s Sting – This is a lizard that looks like a worm. It’s sting is it’s bite. Perhaps they used the poison or tossed in the worm.
  • Lizard’s Leg – Ivy, genus (Hedera) and other creeping plants. Potentially, might include poison ivy and poison oak. Ivy is for binding things together as well as for ensnarring unwelcome desires (including drinking too much.) One can spend days trying to unravel the folklore and symbolism of ivy throughout the ages, including the use of the plant as a crown. Holly and ivy are among the evergreens used to decorate houses for Christmas and Yule as symbols of rebirth.
  • Howlet – That is to say, an owl.

–Malcolm

The Kindle edition of my hoodoo novel “Lena” is on sale this weekend at Amazon for only 99₵. P.S. I have no idea why WordPress changed the font of the Toe of Frog paragraph

Magic: the ‘Catch-22’ of using it

Most magic is fairly easy if all you’re looking at is a set of directions. It can become more complex if it’s so-called high magic and requires a complex ritual. It can become challenging if multiple preparations are required, including herbs, candles, purifying oneself or one’s house, and other activities or ingredients that one may wish to hide from friends and family.

Regardless of the approach one takes, the one aspect that cannot be overlooked no matter how perfectly one follows the directions and prescriptions for an intended result is belief. Magic requires belief in order to function, or, as some might say, your beliefs create your reality. One point I emphasized in my three hoodoo novels is that when a conjure woman does a spell, she doesn’t look back–if she throws it into a stream or lake, for example–because looking back to check on the spell signifies doubt.

Those who don’t believe in magic think that the necessity of belief is “convenient” for those trying to convince you magic is real. That is, if you don’t believe, it won’t work. But how can you believe, if you’ve never seen it working?

I believe I’ve written here before that a lot of those who hoped The Secret and other books related to the “law of attraction” would change their lives for the better were disappointed with the results. Why? They didn’t seriously believe the process would work. Perhaps some of them wished for changes that seemed so logically impossible that even the enthusiasm they felt after reading a book like The Secret wasn’t strong enough to extinguish their doubt.

Most of us are “programmed” by society or our ever-hopeful (or partially cynical) belief systems that small changes are more likely to happen in our lives than huge changes. We believe it’s more likely that we’ll find a dollar bill on the street than win a Powerball lottery jackpot. This suggests how we should proceed with magic. Since small changes seem more logical to us, we can focus our magic on small changes. That is, rather than trying to use magic to become suddenly rich, we can use it to do better financially this month than last month. Instead of trying to heal ourselves or a loved one from a dread disease overnight, we can focus our intentions on feeling better than the day before.

We can accept this, so we’re less likely to doubt our first experimentations with magic. That’s what we build on. When those seem to work, we can focus on a result that’s slightly more challenging.

Of course, our overall belief system helps or hinders our magic. If we think that Murphy’s laws rule the universe, we will be less successful than if we are generally positive and tend to see the best in other people until proven wrong. Or, if we spend ten or fifteen minutes working on a spell intended to help a loved one feel better, but then spend the rest of the day worrying about them getting worse, we’re undoing our magic because our energy is more focused on something negative than something good.

When it comes down to it, magic is part of an individual’s approach to life. One has to be open to new experiences and systems of thought that are outside the everyday realm of logic to make magic work. If you want to make magic a part of your life, you need to make your life a part of magic; that is, begin with meditations and interpreting dreams and reading about those who’ve had transcendent experiences. No surgeon goes into an operating room thinking, “This procedure isn’t going to work.” S/he has many years of education and practice before stepping into that OR. Likewise, magic requires (usually) an equally time-consuming and diligent study of how the world works and how the self works before you can do what looks so easy in the Harry Potter books and movies.

Like any other discipline, magic and medication seem to work better when people learning about them are content with taking baby steps first. Nobody takes one piano lesson and then expects to play at Carnegie Hall the following week. Yes, if you truly believe, you can change your life in an instant. But we’re brought up in a science and technology world where logic is the prime mover of the universe, so large-scale belief on the first day one encounters magic is a hard row to hoe. Over time, and with patience and practice, we can prove to ourselves that magic works. We may never convince our friends, but then that’s not really important because seeing the universe in an alternative way is our path, lonely as it may be.

We can all conquer that “catch-22” about magic and belief if we devote time and effort and faith to our studies. It’s not an easy path, yet I think it’s a wonderful path.

–Malcolm

My hoodoo novel “Lena” is currently on sale on Amazon for 99₵.

 

Friday Book Sale

99₵ today, 9/14/18.

 

 

Florida Folk Magic Series: a journey into the past

In 1954, the year in which most of my Florida Folk Magic Series is set, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, Richard M. Nixon was Vice President, Earl Warren was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and  Elvis Presley issued his first single, “That’s All Right”, on Sun Records. It was the era of an unconstitutional Communist witch hunt conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy. It was the era of Jim Crow and the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine.

It seemed natural to me then, even in grade school, that people were still talking about World War II and that when kids played army in their backyards, they were fighting the Japanese and the Germans. What seemed unnatural to me then was that people were still, one way or another, fighting and re-fighting the U. S. Civil War.

The words “terrorism” and “terrorist organization” weren’t part of national security debates in those days, but if they had been, the KKK should have born that label; permitting the group to march in parades was, as saw it then, as ludicrous as allowing the Mafia to march in parades and, as I see it now, made as much sense as allowing ISIS to march in a U. S. parade today.

My own childhood years were good ones, but Klan violence–which was heavy in Florida–and the mistreatment of African Americans as a group were, to me, an intolerable smear on our nation’s intentions and mission as written down in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The vestiges of that smear are still part of a polarized national debate today. We still have more problems to solve and attitudes to change in 2018 than we should. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, bigots, and misogynists, as I still see it, are people with an Attila the Hun mentality and, frankly, we’d be better off if we put them on a giant ice-flow and set them adrift during hurricane season.

Yes, I have strong feelings about these issues.

But in spite of those feelings, the three books in this series are not intended as a political statement. They are history. They are the culture of another era. And they are the everyday magic of another era, one that still has many devotees today. It has been said that in the South, Whites didn’t like Blacks as a race but liked many of them personally as individuals. From what I saw, there was at least some truth in this, for our moderate and liberal White friends did have Black friends and colleagues. Even so, the KKK prescribed how far we could go.

If a White went “too far,” s/he would run into trouble that could be fatal. If we broke one of the rules–such as allowing a Black to sit in the front seat of our car or walk through the front door of our house–the Blacks would say, “this isn’t done” because they were even more at risk should anyone see the infraction than we were.

Oddly enough, Scouting brought conjure to my attention. That is, we learned to respect the out of doors and how to live safely in forests and swamps. This led to discussions with Black friends who had additional ideas about what was out there and how to safely approach it. Needless to say, I didn’t take any hoodoo practices back to the Scout troop or overtly use them on our monthly camping trips. But those practices taught me a lot about humankind’s potential relationships with the environment, one that in later years ecopsychology would explore without deriding these relationships as superstition.

The bottom line for a novelist is telling stories set in specific time periods with characters with points of view that aren’t always mainstream. Yes, as a writer I also needed to make sense of what I saw as a child, but not in a political treatise. I’m drawn, as I was then, to the people themselves and how they fought against the dangers that came into their lives. Have I put tall my demons to rest? Probably not.

Nonetheless, writing these stories has brought me a sense of closure to the time when First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the Nautilus, our first nuclear-powered submarine, Vice President Richard Nixon said we might send troops Indochina (as we called it then) even if the allies didn’t like it, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, and Blacks weren’t allowed at lunch counters where I had the blue plate special or in the front of the city bus I rode into town.

–Malcolm