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Ballin' the Jack

News stories and historical documents relating to the practice of conjure. Brought to you by our sister-site, Southern-Spirits.com

Ballin' the Jack

Unread postby EcleckticMama » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:06 pm

I was reading this today:

Alternaive American names for the mojo bag include hand, mojo hand, conjure hand, lucky hand, conjure bag, trick bag, root bag, toby, jomo, and gris-gris bag. In the Memphis region, a special kind of mojo, worn only by women, is called a nation sack. A mojo used for divination, somehwat like a pendulum, is called a Jack, Jack bag, or Jack ball.

when the old song (1913), Balling the Jack, came to mind.

"First you put your two knees close up tight
Then you sway them to the left, then you sway them to the right
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
Then you twist around and twist around with all your might,
Stretch your loving arms straight out into space,
Then you do the Eagle Rock with style and grace.
Swing your foot way 'round then bring it back.
Now that's what I call Ballin' the Jack."

There is some discussion about meanings, but I cannot help but see description of a pendulum swinging about in a dance.

"Two knees close up tight" -- drawstrings?

The Eagle Rock dance movement has some discussion too. The stories about eagles swaying just add to the pendulum sway imagery for me.

Does anybody else see the metaphor? Or could this "dance song" actually have been describing jack bag divination and people created a dance out of it? Could that be why it drove people down in Georgia " 'bout insane"? Because it's describing a hoodoo divination pendulum bag dancing about?

Re: Ballin' the Jack

Unread postby catherineyronwode » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:08 pm

An interesting idea/ I always think of the Eagle Rock dance, and similarly named dances such as the Turkey Trot and the Buzzard Lope, which refer to American bird species, as being somehow a remnant of Native American dance influences in the African American community.
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Re: Ballin' the Jack

Unread postby cognitivedissonance » Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:24 am

I always thought it was a sexual reference until now, thanks LM... :-D

It didn't help that Dom Deluise and Gene Wilder sang it in an old movie, where it was definitely used as a sexual reference.

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