C is for Conjure

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Part of my magical education is in conjure/rootwork/hoodoo/witchcraft (a combination of terms that I take from a series with that title compiled of internviews collected by Harry S Hyatt). I can honestly say I originally came to it back in the early 90’s, mostly in the forms of dollar books about magic, like Marie Laveau’s Black and White Magic and other similar texts. It was also about that time that I first discovered Lucky Mojo and their archives of spells and information, things which amazed me and enchanted me, and also pointed out things like working with Psalms and the bible for magic. Being raised in a thoroughly unusual sect of Christianity that is quite mystical in my opinion, the idea was right on, and I full embraced it.
Later on, much later on, I would find Lucky Mojo again, and memories of it’s first discovery came rushing back to me, and I went to friends that I shared the interest in magic with and I told them “I am going to sign up for Catherine Yronwode’s Correspondence Course” and they said “Oh awesome, we just did, how cool we can work on it together” and I said “WHAT??? You knew about this and you didn’t tell me?!?!?!” and the next day I signed up and everything was awesome. And we would talk about what we read, and what were doing, and where to finds baths, and herbs and everything. It really became the new drink I couldn’t put down, and really still haven’t to this day. It really opened my eyes to a much greater world of magic, of folklore, of herbs then other books, and study had done before.

It also opened my eyes to African American people and culture, and it really made me re-evaluate some of my actions and inner behaviors, that are really just taught across the melting pot of culture in the United States. It set the spark to my flame that wants to know things, to understand things, and see how and where people are coming from, because I just really like to know. I have this thing where I value knowledge for it’s own sake and nothing else. With that in mind, I read other books. I sought out folktales of Southern African Americans, and more of their poetry, both older and perhaps famous, but also contemporary. I read academic publications of people who have researched the interesting and unique combination of folk magic practitioners of African Americans. I set foot in botanicas that are scattered about the Greater Los Angeles area, and became familiar with parts of the African diaspora, so I could learn to identify the difference between a conjure man, and member of an Afro-Caribbean religion, and Mexican folk magic practitioner. I went looking for older pamphlets about spiritual work that are still in print today, because they are regularly popular. During it all I sat down, and I burned candles, and worked with oils, and made incenses and powders and baths from minerals and herbs, and I went to crossroads and gathered graveyard dirt with a dime and bottle of whiskey and I learned to listen to spirits and Spirit.

With all that in mind, I then looked to what seemed to be missing from European stuff (being of European descent) and I found bits and pieces. Reading about hexerei and braucherie, and picking up the Long Lost Friend, and I got into grimories from Europe and made myself read a full translation of the Three Books of Occult Philosophy from cover to cover, reading the footnotes, and looking up terms, and noticing patterns and elements that appeared in the USA among folk magic practitioners, and where they got it, well, they seemed to get it from early merchants of the 20th century whose African American and southern customers who wanted secret symbols, magic squares, blessed salt and john the conqueror roots. I noticed that a lot of herbal folklore was living in Conjure. But yet, it was handled in a unique way. I noticed that in contemporary American alternative spirituality the tools of conjure play and important role, a role that was quickly adopted in the 60’s and 70’s with magic oils, incenses, bathes, washes and colognes with names like “Bend Over” and “Kiss me” but with the neo pagans making their own like “Saturn” and “Goddess” because those neo pagans were hungry for magic and sorcery and witchcraft, and the unique, and the curious, and occult. I think this is a hunger that continues today, which is why people are always finding new ways of doing old things, but also the old ways of doing things, and making all their distinctions, and separate groupings, and traditional crafts, and conure this and hoodoo that because they are curious and hungry for magic. For conjure.

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