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Hello again!

Unread post by badgermama1977 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:31 am

I'm BadgerMama. I was previously a member of this forum, and after a hiatus, I've returned. I'd like to take this opportunity to say a few words about how I looked at hoodoo previously, and how I'm looking at it now.

Previously, I looked at it as an addendum to the magical and Pagan practices I was already involved with. I am an eclectic Pagan, plain and simple, and at that point, having come in just from hearing Miss cat on her first appearance on Hex Education, I came into this as an excited inquirer, wanting to try to somehow "blend" my eclectic practice with hoodoo, to try to make my own work more effective.

Now, some people may have no problems mixing the two, and I'm not speaking against you. I'm simply stating my own experiences. And in my own experiences, it didn't work out so well. And I did take it seriously, but I was trying to mix oil and water, as it were, and the two just don't mix very well for me.

I've come to the conclusion that I must take this work in a different vein than I did. I must practice it, if I am to practice it, as it IS and not what I want to make it. In that vein, I am much more respectful of the practice of hoodoo and conjure "as-is," as it were. Instead of calling on my Pagan patrons, I am praying the Psalms. I am studying the forum diligently, every spare moment, and I ordered my copies of "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic" and "The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic" and another very highly recommended candle magic book by Henri Gamache on Friday. I have bookmarked HITAP (Hoodoo In Theory and Practice) and I am going through it with a fine tooth comb. I am trying to read the older sociological works regarding hoodoo that are available in the public domain or for a low price on Nook and Kindle, but it's hard for me, because the subjects of the studies are written in dialect, and it seems disrespectful...but I do understand that that may have been the dialect, or they may have been playing it up for the researchers, as well. If Miss cat will have me, I will be applying to take the course as soon as I have finished buying the prerequisite items from the shop.

In short, I am taking this much more seriously this time around. And I thank and honor the Elders who taught the traditions to Miss cat, who is teaching so much of them to us, and so much of her teaching is free. Thank you, truly, thank you to Miss cat and all the moderators and helpers here on the forum for everything you do for us. Thank you for your patience, and thank you for your endless striving to get us to honor and work the tradition the way it's been handed down for hundreds of years.

Miss cat, the words of King Lemuel come to mind when I think of you -- Proverbs 31:10 through 31.

10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.


11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.


12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.


13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.


14She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.


15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.


16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.


17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.


18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.


19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.


20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.


21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.


22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.


23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.


24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.


25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.


26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.


27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.


28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.


29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.


30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.


31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Much love and all the blessings, pressed down, folded together, and running over, to everyone here.


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Re: Hello again!

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:53 am

Welcome back, BadgerMama!

Thanks for that lovely portion of scripture. It has always meant a lot in my family, for our women were industrious and often entrepreneurial as well as tenders of the hearth.

I appreciate what you wrote about coming back to hoodoo as it is and for what it is -- not a "system of spell-work" but a treasure of African American culture.

Regarding old collections of folk tales, spell-craft, and sociology written in dialect-spelling: This was the norm at the time and there were several reasons for it.

It was commonplace in fiction at the time. In the case of an African American fiction writer like Charles Chesnutt, he was giving his primarily White audience a taste of the rural pre-Civil-War South, thirty years later. Being Black himself, he meant no disrespect, but rather sought to present, through dialect-spelling, a way in which readers could internalize the dialect-speech he was recreating.

Similar dialect stories could be found in fiction of that era describing Yiddish-accented Jews, "Old Sod" Irish immigrants, "Chermans," and so forth. This was the norm for the 1890s. It just so happens that Chesnutt, being African American, did give us some good descriptions of hoodoo, and they should not be overlooked merely because they were presented as dialect. Think of them as "scripts" for story-telling or film-making and the stigma of disrespect will fade. Read them OUT LOUD if you want to internalize the dialect.

In the case of non-fiction folklore studies, there are other reasons to write phonetic dialect out as it sounds. In older collections, since the material would ONLY be available in print, accurate word presentation accompanied by phonetic spelling allows future historians to reconstruct the phonemes of the various regional dialects.

Your guess that the interviewees "may have been playing it up for the researchers" is a modern misconception, pure and simple. In fact, i will go so far as to call it bullshit.

There are a couple of interpretive authors now (both White and Black authors, i might add) proposing this idea -- saying that

(A) the use of dialect among informants during past times was "shucking and jiving" or "playing it up for the Man" and / or that

(B) Black people would never have told their real or secret cultural information to a folklorist.

This is nutty, and what it essentially boils down to, when you parse it out, is a desire on the part of these authors to monopolize sales of "special secret" information.

"No one comes unto the Father but through Me" (John 14:6) is what i call this scam -- and it is done to discredit information that is freely available due to the work of folklorists. The ones who discredit or discount the folklorists or their informants then can become the arbiters of what is "true." The folklorists are condemned for foolishness or ignorance and the informants are cast aside as givers of only partial truth or as people who were clowning for the Man.

Think! Imagine that you are a folklorist and that due to the technology around you, that you are limited ONLY to the written page. You want to record a spell given to you by a person who speaks in a rural Mississippi dialect, and you also want to distinguish this speech from a spell given to you by someone else who speaks in a rural Georgia dialect. Your only option would be to WRITE THE SPELLS OUT PHONETICALLY!

If you also were interested in preserving regional variations in grammar and word-usage, you would be a very BAD folklorist if you "translated" every speech into the speech of your region.

For instance, if every time an informant said, "bluestone" or "copperas" you wrote "copper sulphate" you would have failed to do what folklorists do -- record what people are actually saying!

If one informant said, "I been knowing him a long time" and another said, " I 've knowed him since forever seems like," and another said, "I done knowed him long's I knowed myself," and another said "I bin knowin him long ways now," you would be a very BAD folklorist to "translate" all four statements as "I have known him for many years."

And if, among your interests, you were recording not only regional grammar and regional pronunciations, you also were recording regional African American folk-magic, and you then "translated" the folk-magic into "standard English," you would have ceased to be a folklorist at all. Why? Because you would be simply looking at the TECHNOLOGY of the spell-work, not at the CULTURE of African American society.

This is what you mentioned earlier -- and, believe me, you are not alone in this. The number of White Neo-Pagans who actually refer to hoodoo as a "technology" or a "system" is huge. And very, very few of them want to hear the voices of the Black men and women who transmitted this material to folklorists. They want a version of hoodoo that is devoid of BLACK AMERICAN CULTURE and free from regionality, rurality, racialism, personality, and politics.

If you are really interested in hoodoo -- and i think you are -- then your first step is to meet African American culture on its own terms. Here is a site of mine, Southern Spirits, with some free information on hoodoo, as described by participants and witnesses to the culture:


Here you will read the voices of REAL PEOPLE, like Julius Jones. This man was born in 1846 and he experienced hoodoo first hand. He can teach you about hoodoo, but he can also teach you about his life as a slave. Among other things, he says, "We didn't know nothing 'tall 'bout money cause we never seed none. The eating what they give us sure warn't nothing to brag on. Most of the time we didn't have nothing excusing meat and bread and the biggest part of the meat was possums, coons, and rabbits."

How can it be "disrespectful" to indicate Julius Jones''s actual dialect speech? Don't you want to KNOW him? If you do, you will have to listen in your mind to the way he actually talks.

There is a regionalality to his voice. He doesn't say "din't" -- he says "didn't" -- but he does say "warnt" instead of "wasn't." He says "excusing" instead of "except" and he calls food "the eating" instead of "victuals" or "vittles." He is a specific speaker with a specific regional dialect.

Any interviewer who effaced that dialect in favour of language standardization would have been a mere statistician:

"Informant did not see actual monetary currency until after emancipation. Informant and his fellow slaves subsisted on bread and meat, the latter mostly wild game of the smaller mammalian species."

That's not folklore -- that's demographic sociology.

If you are not a folklorist, then instead of wondering why folklorists record phonetic dialect, find out. Don't be embarrassed, don't be misled. Just ask a folklorist! Thank you.
catherine yronwode
teacher - author - LMCCo owner - HP and AIRR member - MISC pastor - forum admin

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Re: Hello again!

Unread post by badgermama1977 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:55 am

Miss cat,

I am glad the verses hold meaning for you. I will do as you suggest and try to look at the dialect in that fashion. I've worked and had relationships with many African-Americans, in fact, my son's godmother is African-American, so that's not an issue.


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Re: Hello again!

Unread post by Zee Rohour » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:34 pm

I know this is an old post, but, what a good one! I agree with what you said cat. Part of my interest in this is to preserve a small piece of my childhood, but, a bigger part of me has real fear that it will all disappear if somebody doesn't... I think about the people in my life, the people I once knew, who are dead and gone for the most part, and it becomes an homage to them. Thank You, both.

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