Magic: Initial Considerations

After yesterday’s post, a Facebook friend said he saw a similarity between my comments about magic and religious faith. That’s a correct observation.

Many people who study magic or what might be called esoteric principles are, in fact, strong and committed believers in either spirituality or an organized religion. They see their studies as an extension of their religious faith instead of a replacement for it.

The reason many of us use the phrase “the god of your heart” is because we know that before you come to the study of esoteric ideas and techniques, that you may well be a strong believer of an organized religion. Magic is not intended to change that or supplant that.

When using magical/psychic techniques, many people also include the phrase “if it’s the best for all concerned.” This is one way of admitting that none of us can know what “the cosmic” (God, the Creator) has in mind for a particular situation. It’s best to work in harmony with that rather than in opposition to that.

One thing that becomes clear when using the powers of one’s mind is that meditation does not counteract what you are doing and thinking the rest of the day. Let’s say that you spend 15 to 20 minutes every morning thinking positive thoughts about your attunement with the universe and a similar amount of time meditating every evening. This is a great start. However, if you spend large portions of the rest of the day in combative, worry-filled, negative, and overtly cynical states of mind, you are undoing everything you put in motion with your meditations. You have to live the positive, non-doubting confidence of your meditation 24/7.

Hoodoo practitioners often then say that when you cast a spell, don’t look back. Why? Because looking back suggests you don’t have full confidence in the spell and have to check on it. The same can be said for multiple forms of magic as well as prayer. If you pray for something and then pray for the same thing again, what are you doing? You’re saying you don’t believe your first prayer was effective, so you’re going to try a second prayer. The universe heard you the first time. There is no need to doubt it.

One of the greatest negatives when attempting magic is logic. Most of us are trained (or brainwashed) to use logic to understand the world. However, logic and magic do not necessarily bring you the same kinds of information. People who are learning to use their innate psychic abilities can be derailed by logic.

Let’s suppose somebody tells you their husband is late arriving home from work and wonders if you can use your evolving senses to discover where he is. The best way to go here is to immediately relax, slow your brainwaves via biofeedback or self-hypnosis techniques, and “look” for the person. This process will be much more difficult if you allow yourself to think about all the logical reasons the man is late: his boss kept him late, his car wouldn’t start, he had a early evening work-related event to attend and forgot to tell you about it, he was in a wreck on the freeway or his car broke down. Once you ponder all of those scenarios, it is difficult to keep your mind open to clues about what actually happened.

The world operates on logic. It’s difficult to set that aside and try an approach that’s not based on logic. This doesn’t mean logic doesn’t work. It does mean that logic can easily derail the novice practitioner of magic.

Quite often, the magical “answer” to a question you might have will seem like it’s “simply” your imagination. I urge you to explore that and see if your are coming to know things you have no logical reason to know. I have found, for example, that when I embark on a shamanic journey, that what begins with my imagination usually morphs into something that is actually true. You may need to experiment with this for a while to develop your confidence in the reality of the moment–that is, to see the difference between that you are pretending to see and what you are actually seeing.

Magic is so different than the beliefs we have been given since childhood and from the mainstream “truths” about how the world works, that it requires a strongly alternative mindset to accomplish. The first step is learning that the truths you’ve been taught from childhood are not the whole story.

Malcolm

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.”

Briefly Noted: ‘Spiritual Merchants’ by Carolyn Morrow Long

Spiritual Merchants: Religion Magic & Commerce Paperback – May 31, 2001

This is a very thorough, readable and well-illustrated reference to the traditionally large and widespread practice of selling hoodoo, Voodoo and other spiritual supplies via mail order, web sites, and retail stores. The book begins with a compact description about the origins of hoodoo and charms–one of the best descriptions I’ve seen–and then goes on to discuss the nature of selling charms, herbal mixtures and other supplies by mail. The book includes a list of current (as of the publication date) merchants that were in business along with their histories.

One thing you notice before reading too far into the mechanizing section is the sad truth that many merchants faked what they were selling.  The ingredients were either not as advertised or were not prepared in the proper manner. Carolyn Long conducted extensive interviews with catherine yronwode (pronounced “Ironwood”) who founded the Lucky Mojo Curio Company. Long notes that yronwode not only has a great deal of hoodoo information (history, spells, practices) on her site but guarantees that the powders, oils, herbs, candles and other supplies she sells are genuine.

All savvy merchants, current and historical, were likely to run afoul of the USPS if they claimed their merchandise would actually produce working magical spells and/or cure ailments. For that reason, merchants sold–and continue to sell–their products “as curios only.”

Long includes a chapter about one of the more famous products, High John the Conqueror (and related “John” products) which are generally used for protection. The irony is, nobody’s sure what it is. Many plants have been considered that are native and non-native to the United States. The problem goes back to the fact that early conjurers were not, of course, using the scientific name of the root, so now we’re stuck having to guess. Until shown otherwise, I would tend to believe yronwode’s description here.

From the Publisher

They can be found along the side streets of many American cities: herb or candle shops catering to practitioners of Voodoo, hoodoo, Santería, and similar beliefs. Here one can purchase ritual items and raw materials for the fabrication of traditional charms, plus a variety of soaps, powders, and aromatic goods known in the trade as “spiritual products.” For those seeking health or success, love or protection, these potions offer the power of the saints and the authority of the African gods.

In Spiritual Merchants, Carolyn Morrow Long provides an inside look at the followers of African-based belief systems and the retailers and manufacturers who supply them. Traveling from New Orleans to New York, from Charleston to Los Angeles, she takes readers on a tour of these shops, examines the origins of the products, and profiles the merchants who sell them.

If you are researching hoodoo and/or writing a hoodoo-based folk magic novel, this book will serve as a handy reference.

–Malcolm

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

Hoodoo Nuances: Rising and Falling Clock Hands

“When both clock hands are rising, cast spells of a positive or uplifting nature; when both clock hands are falling, cast spells that are meant to cast off evil and keep enemies down. But you must not perform magic when one clock hand is rising and another is falling. For Example: if the time is 10:40 the hands are rising, if the time is 2:15 the hands are falling, if it’s 5:45 do not do any magic because the hands are doing both.”

– Moon Phases in Hoodoo Magic from the “Spiritual Illumination” blog.

Years ago when more people were conscious of moon phases, rising and falling tides, solstices and equinoxes, and the flow of the seasons, farmers, fishermen and others who depended on nature for their livelihood, referred to their almanacs to that they were planting, harvesting, and fishing by the signs. For example, as the Natural Events Almanac mentions by way of introduction, “Planting by the signs is a fairly straight forward operation. You plant aboveground crops (lettuce, peas, tomatoes, etc.) when the moon is waxing (growing) from New to Full Moon. Underground crops (beets, radishes carrots, potatoes, etc.) are planted when the moon is waning from Full to New Moon. However, true gardening by the signs is a bit more complicated.”

While the I Ching (book of changes) seems fairly remote from hoodoo, it emphasizes aligning ones life and choices with the natural flow of change, the direction the universe is heading at the moment you ask the oracle a question.   The idea here, which is deeply understood by conjurers, works (for spells, gathering/planing herbs, collecting rain water) and by old farmers and fishermen is that success is more likely when you go with the flow rather than against it.

Taking note of the hands of a traditional clock–which I suspect some day soon people will no longer know how to read–fine-tunes one’s work with the flow of time hour by hour. Like planting and fishing, some work is best done under waxing (growing) moments and some is best done under waning moments.

Conjurers base their practices on what works for them. To some extent this is intuitive inasmuch as you can, with practice, feel the moon’s changes without looking out the window, sense high tides and low tides without referring to a tidal clock, and understand the hours without looking at the positions of the sun and moon–or the hands on your clock.

The “old-time” conjurer woman who posts at Spiritual Illumination believes that “the three most important timing considerations in hoodoo are the day of the week, the time of day, and the time of the moon. Of less importance (generally) are the positions of the planets and the day of the year.” This is a personal preference and differs from person to person.

As a writer, I like conjuring nuances because they add depth to my series of folk magic novels. Personal experience has shown me that notions about time, moon and tides are not superstition because–let us say–that if one works with oracles like the I Ching, the Kabbalist’s Tree of Life, Tarot Cards, and meditation, the flow of time and space and energy become very evident when it comes to their impact on what we are doing. So, it’s not surprising that hoodoo practitioners are very conscious of the benefits of going with the flow.

In some ways, our attitudes about life are a form of conjure in that consciously or subconsciously, our minds are creating the future. What works for the hoodoo practitioner works for all of us.

–Malcolm

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

 

 

Thyme for cooking, conjure and health

“Thyme (/ˈtaɪm/) is an evergreen herb with culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses. The most common variety is Thymus vulgaris. Thyme is of the genus Thymus of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and a relative of the oregano genus Origanum.” – Wikipedia

If you’re a Simon & Garfunkel fan, you probably remember their third album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.”

If you have an herb garden, you know that thyme is easy to grow, looks nice and smells good.

thymeIf you have a spice rack in the kitchen, no doubt there’s some thyme there. I add thyme to my spaghetti sauce. A lot of recipes call for its use in roasts, scrambled eggs, chowder, biscuits and with potatoes and other vegetables. Sunset says that “Thyme is a kitchen workhorse, infinitely useful with a wide range of meats and vegetables, and also with both savory and sweet fruit dishes. With cooked dishes, try adding thyme at the beginning and then a little more at the end, just before serving to make its flavor pop.”

Medicine

The leaves and oil of thyme have a lot of claims behind their efficacy in treating diarrhea, stomach ache, whooping cough, colic, soar throat, flatulence, and as a diuretic. The Natural Society website states that “The volatile essential oils in thyme are packed with anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-rheumatic, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties, which explains why thyme-based formulas are used as an expectorant, diuretic, fungicide and antibiotic.”

Spirituality

When used as incense, it’s been said to stimulate courage and purify homes and temples. According to Wichipedia, “It was mixed in drinks to enhance intoxicating effects and induce bravery and warriors were massaged with thyme oil to ensure their courage. Women wore thyme in their hair to enhance their attractiveness. The phrase ‘to smell of thyme’ meant that one was stylish, well groomed, poised, and otherwise attractive. Thyme is a Mediterranean native spread throughout Europe by the Romans. Their soldiers added it to their bathwater to increase bravery, strength and vigor. It enjoyed a long association with bravery. In Medieval England, ladies embroidered sprigs of thyme into their knights’ scarves to increase their bravery. In Scotland, highlanders brewed tea to increase courage and keep away nightmares.”

Conjure

You can buy this curio online in several places
You can buy this curio online in several places

My interest in thyme, other than using it a lot in my cooking, is for its folk magic applications. Hoodoo practitioners use it to help their clients sleep, usually as an incense placed on charcoal or leaves placed inside or beneath a pillow for a so-called “magic dreaming pillow,” and for attracting money. Growing thyme in a garden, grows your wealth. It protects you and helps your income if you tie the leaves up in paper money and bury it where two paths cross beneath a full moon. It can also be added to bath crystals and sachets–or even as a perfume.

Add it to a mojo bag with bayberry, cinnamon, and alfalfa to attract money. Some practitioners mix it with galangal, vetiver, patchouli and cardamon when making Three Jacks and a King oil for gambling. (Massage the oil into your hands when you pick up the deck of cards and “feed” your mojo bag with it.) Traditionalists recite the 23rd Psalm when they use the oil. Some folks dress (coat) candles with it or even sprinkle it on poker chips.

Catherine Tronwode, author, practitioner and owner of the Lucky Mojo Curio Company, says that old time recipes like Three Jacks and a Kind, are “slightly different — some placing emphasis on catching lucky numbers through dreams, others on being hit with lucky “coincidences” or hunches, and still others on obtaining uncanny runs of finger dexterity at cards or dice — or all of these combined with luck at love and games of chance — but they have in common the underlying aim of enhancing the magician’s internally generated forces, enabling action upon the external world.”

For information about the use of thyme and other plants in conjure, consult Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure by catherine yronwode. For plant usage in pagan, Wicca and traditional witchcraft, see Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of two folk magic novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.” Both books are available in e-book, audiobook and paperback editions.

 

“Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, spammers?”

As many of you know, I take a dim view of spammers because they show up and do their business here without taking part in the conversation or sharing my posts on Twitter or Facebook. Just imagine yourself having a dinner table conversation with your family about the best books you’ve ever read when somebody you don’t know walks into your house, sits down at the table, eats a plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy, and says, “So, y’all want a way to get some cheap condoms?”

That’s a spammer for you.

Spin the wheel of fortune when you leave spam on my posts
Spin the wheel of fortune when you leave spam on my posts – Wikipedia Photo

I appreciate the fact that WordPress weeds out most of the people who try to stop by our blogs to steal all the gravy. But, there’s more work to be done.

With that in mind, I’ve installed my Anti-Spammer Hex App that tracks down those who show up on this blog and on my “Sun Singer’s Travels” blog and try to sell us stuff that has nothing to do with my posts–and worse yet–don’t pay for advertising on my site.

While working on Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman, I took a lot of notes about spells, magic, candles, plants and especially protection hexes. If you ever hired a hoodoo practitioner, you might have been handed a mojo bag filled with the ingredients of the “law keep away” spell. (It does just what you think it does.)

Well, I’ve modified the “law keep away” spell with extra graveyard dirt obtained from cemeteries that cater to sociopaths and have merged that into the traditional mix while burning a black candle during the new moon as a squinch owl shouted curses from a longleaf pine tree. The resulting formula has undergone rigorous testing at a town near you or maybe even in your neighborhood. If there have been any recent outbreaks of green apple quick step, lice, or mysteriously appearing vulgar tattoos, a spammer or two just wasn’t lucky.

The luck comes into the mix through a random number generator subroutine I added to my assembly language code. This gives spammers a 1 in 100 chance of getting away with leaving a free message here on my blog without being hexed. See, I can be a good sport about this even though the odds favor the house.

So, if you’ve stopped by with a spam message, just ask yourself. . .well, you know what.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s two hoodoo novels can be found at Amazon in paperback and e-book editions. The audio edition of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” received an Earphones Award Winner at AudioFile Magazine.

Local author experiments with hoodoo and discovers that’s a bad idea

Rome, Georgia, July 16, 2016, Star-Gazer News Service–Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the hoodoo novel Conjure Woman’s Cat, was doing hex research on a dark and stormy night when he went to a nearby graveyard to try out a haint calling spell to see what would happen.

Campbell being bugged by a haint while he tries to write the next chapter of his book.
Campbell being bugged by a haint while he tries to write the next chapter of his book.

Haints happened, more than he could shake a stick at (like that would do any good), and while they were generally friendly, they wanted haint tasks: people to scare, places where ghost lights would improve the ambiance, bad neighbors who needed to experience a plague of rabid bull frogs, people walking on lonely roads in search of spooky entertainment.

“I didn’t realize the spell worked until I got home,” said Campbell. “My three cats are always chasing invisible things around the house, so everything seemed normal when I got home from the graveyard. When the cats wouldn’t settle down, I turned off all the lights and was surprised to see a living room full of haints, Most of them threatened to turn on Fox “News” 24/7 unless I kept them busy with exciting haint chores.”

Campbell, who has always believed 100% accuracy makes for better fiction, told reporters during a “fluke rain storm” of flying fish, that trying out the haint spell was bad idea because it didn’t come with any directions for sending the haints back to the graveyard.”

Medicine men, shamans, cops, witches and everyday people with shotguns visited Campbell’s house to try their hand at getting rid of the haints. Nothing worked.

“I have to admit it was fun for a while,” said Campbell, “because when they weren’t out causing mischief, they sat in my Naugahyde recliner and offered tips for the haint scenes in my work in progress. For example, the idea that haints mainly haunt people in cemeteries is pretty much of a myth: more hauntings happen in abandoned Walmart stores than anywhere else.”

Campbell has a hotline with local police to assure them that “his haints” aren’t responsible for every “weird” 911 in Rome and Floyd County.

Security paint at Campbell's house.
Security paint at Campbell’s house.

“There’s been so much publicity about the haint infestation,” said Officer Smith (not his real name), “that people just assume Campbell forgot to close the front door and the haints flew out trying to make every night like Halloween. We’ve advised Campbell to keep each haint on a leash so that innocent people won’t get scared and pee in their pants.”

According to one haint who told his story to a local television station, “We haven’t had this much fun since the spiritualism era of the late 1800s and early 1900s when seances were all the rage, Ouija Boards were selling faster than hotcakes, folks wanted to believe they could talk to dead aunts and uncles, and tables all around the country were rocking, rolling and tapping.”

Campbell told the Feds, who came to town to investigate, that the haints were starting to get bored and were planning to leave for Washington, D.C. during the next thunderstorm when energy fields are high and spiritual travel is easier than falling off a tombstone.

“As soon as they leave, I’m buying a fresh can of haint blue paint for the front of my house to make sure they don’t come back,” Campbell told Agents Houdini and Doyle. The agents subsequently confirmed “things are weirder than usual” whenever Congress  is in session.

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter.

 

Haints, Plate-Eyes and Demons, oh my

Frankly, I don’t like reading specific directions for summoning evil spirits because I’m afraid I’ll accidentally think them or recite them and suddenly a hideous monster will appear.

demonFrom hoodoo to witchcraft to high magic, the lore is filled with cautions about the dangers of summoning bad stuff because unless you know what you’re doing, the bad stuff will come after you. This would be kind of like purchasing a rabid dog to keep traveling salesmen away from your door. The odds seem high that the dog will attack you first.

Another reason I don’t like reading specific directions for summoning evil spirits is the feds. They probably track this stuff and the last thing I need is the NSA telling the FBI that I used the search terms “black arts conjure oil” or “hoodoo demon-calling spell” enough times for it “to be a problem” as opposed to looking for crossword clues.

Writers often talk about stuff like this. We worry about doing research about how to kill people, make bombs, mix deadly and untraceable poisons, and making pacts with the devil. The people who have that kind of history on their computers usually tern out to be serial killers or the kind of nut cases who join ISIS and saying “I’m just writing a book” probably won’t cut it when the cops arrive.

I didn’t worry about this when I was writing Conjure Woman’s Cat because for that book, I was looking up good spells, good charms, and how to reverse jinxes. But in the sequel, my good conjure woman is combating a black arts root doctor and so I have to know more about that side of the business for her to be able to speculate about what he’s doing and how.

Since I try to make the spells and uses of herbs as realistic as possible within the world of conjure, I don’t feel right just making it up. Suffice it to say, the curses I’ve found aren’t going into the sequel verbatim. For one thing, I have to find a spell or recipe in multiple places before I’ll trust that it’s more than the imaginings of one resource. For another, what if the thing works as advertised? I don’t need to see on CNN that people are using my book to summon demons to go after their spouses’ lovers or to disrupt law-abiding governments (if any). So, everything has to be blurred around the edges: exact enough to make a real conjure woman nod in agreement but inexact enough to your child, spouse or neighborhood crook can’t use it.

By the way, plate-eyes aren’t seen very much any more, but generally they’re unpleasant, what with their glowing eyes the size of plates. If one bothers you, you can get rid of it with anything that smells bad. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to use any plate-eyes in the sequel to Conjure Woman’s Cat because nobody seems to know how to contact one of them. Haints, well, they’re okay, but they usually have their own agendas.

Demons, though, they’re looking pretty good, figuratively speaking, because they’re easier to summon that most people think and fewer people are going to question whether the author has used the right technique or the wrong technique to call them.

When the book comes out, I promise it won’t contain the exact technique for calling a demon. It will be close enough to make the book slightly dangerous. But that’s what readers want.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and a batch of paranormal Kindle short stories.

Stop by my website.

 

‘Voodoo & Hoodoo’ by Jim Haskins

“As a child growing up in a small town in Alabama, I shared the experience of most southern-born black children as well as many northern black children whose families migrated from, or maintained close ties with, the South. We were aware at an early age that there were more forces to contend with than met the eye. A person’s very neighbors, thought outwardly friendly, might be plotting against him, ‘laying a trick’ on him. But they didn’t perform the actual trick themselves; they had neither the power nor the knowledge. Instead, they went to the local hoodoo doctor or root worker.”

– Jim Haskins, in the book’s introduction.

VoodooHoodooFirst published in 1978 and available as a used book on Amazon, Jim Haskins’ Voodoo & Hoodoo: The Traditional Craft as Revealed Traditional Practitioners is a worthwhile introduction to southern folk magic. One Amazon reviewer says that the author didn’t want the word “Voodoo” in the title, but that this was added by the publisher to ramp up sales. The term is misleading because the book is about herbs, root doctors and practices that have little to do with the Voodoo religion.

When I was writing my novella Conjure Woman’s Cat, I found this book to be a credible introduction, especially for those of us who grew up in the South around the edges of the practices and point of view Haskins describes. The quotation at the beginning of this post is typical of the kind of thing many of us (white and black) heard when we were young, but often had a hard time finding anyone who would tell us what it was all about.

While the book includes spells and recipes, they aren’t the strong point: the value here is the ambiance and sense of the craft one gets from the practitioners themselves.

You’ll find plenty of spells and recipes and herbal information on the Internet and in books such as Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic and The Black Folder both by cat yronwode. Or, you can look at hoodoo blogs such as Spiritual Information for more details about methods and practices. As an author, I needed a starting point and Haskins’ book was a good one for that. If you’re researching hoodoo, or simply interested in learning more about it as a component of southern culture, the book will also give you a starting point.

Frankly, I do not like authors who look up practices (spiritual, cultural, or ethnic) on, say, Wikipedia, grab a few basics, and then head straight for books with spells. Doing this is dishonest because it paints an inaccurate, Hollywood-style picture of something real and twists it into something made to look like fantasy. J. K. Rowling recently got into trouble with American Indian nations for taking bits and pieces of their beliefs and using them out of context in her new writing on the Pottermore site.  This practice is often called appropriation.

I prefer appreciation when it comes to another culture and its spiritual and folk magic practices. With appreciation, we’re telling something true–even in a novel–because we’re keeping our references to the art and craft of the people as correct and in context as we can make them. In order to do this, one has to immerse himself or herself into the world and world view of your fictional hoodoo (or other magical, cultural or spiritual) practitioners long before looking for, say, specific spells/charms/herbs that fit into the plot of one’s fiction.

The resulting book, whether it’s in the magical realism genre or labeled by Amazon as fantasy, is reality based in the same sense that a book with a protestant minister or Catholic priest is reality based because it starts with characters whose beliefs are part of a real system.

When it comes to hoodoo, Jim Haskins’ overview of the craft and the culture it came from was a good place for me to start.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Conjure Woman’s Cat, from Florida publisher Thomas-Jacob, is available in e-book and paperback editions–and coming soon as an audio book. It’s set in the world where I grew up, the places I explored when I sneaked away from the house, and focuses on the racism I didn’t understand then or now.