A collection of ConjureMan Ali's thoughts about magic, the occult, and spirituality.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Raisin' the Dead!

What better way to commemorate Halloween then by talking about some good old-fashioned gouls and goblins!

Necromantic arts, or those arts dealing with the dead--be it for the purposes of divination, or for the purposes of magick--have been fringe and shadowy aspects of the Western magical traditions in more modern times. While there is mention of a graveyard working here or there, and perhaps a rite dealing the shades of the dead, generally the approach to the denizens of the underworld has been one that has been a tad neglected these days. Not so in the Afro-diasporic religions and not so for hoodoo!

While modern magicians partaking in the Western magical tradition may have forgotten the goet ancestors, or the magi of the Graeco-Egyptian world who absolutely loved Necromancy, hoodoo considers working with the dead one of the staples of its magical tradition. You have such professionals such Dr. E and myself who work with spirits, especially those of the dead, extensively. In conjure you can quite literally call upon the aid of the dead for nearly anything. Have a court date? Go to the graveyard. Need a love spell with some coercion thrown in? Go to the graveyard. Want to take out an enemy? Go to the graveyard.

The lovely Devi Spring wrote up a beautiful article on praying for the dead so in this post we'll take it in the opposite direction. I'm going to show you how to get a spirit to haunt a house. This particular working is great because it can effectively hot foot a nasty individual right of the area, or it can be used to exact revenge and/or justice against an individual. Before I go on a word of caution, graveyard work is not for the faint of heart, nor for people who don't know what they are doing with the work. If you don't know what you are doing then stay away from such things lest you end messing yourself up. My recommendation for anyone interested in this type of work who doesn't come from a tradition that includes some type of interaction with graveyard spirits is to find a teacher to guide you.

So that said, here's what you need:
9 pennies
3 dimes (I love using Mercury Dimes personally)
Small trowel or a strong spoon.
Little baggie
Couch Grass or Twitch Grass
Red Pepper
Black Pepper

Now take your coins and head over to your local graveyard. Some people prefer to time when they go to the graveyard according to spiritually significant times. Midnight for darker work, sunset for works of decrease, and noon or the rising sun if you are looking to enlist the aid of the spirits for lighter and protective work. Park just outside of the cemetery and as you approach the gate address the Keeper of the Graveyard. You can use your own words or the following prayer.

"I offer up this prayer to the Keeper of the Graveyard,
You who guards and keep the spirits of those who have passed.
I ask you for permission to enter your domain and ask that
you lead me to a spirt that would be willing to work with me.
I give you these coins as a humble offering for your aid
and blessing."

At this point place the 9 pennies by the gate of the cemetery and listen for the answer of Keeper. Once you've receieved the spirit's blessing you may enter and begin your search for a willing helper.

Start by calmly walking through the cemetery. Keep your mind clear and silently pray. Call out in your mind and ask if there is a spirit there that is willing to work with you. Tell them what your purpose and intent is. In this case, let them know you are interested in setting them against a rival in order to haunt them. Make sure you also let them know you are willing to pay for their work.

You'll soon be led to the grave of a spirit that is willing to work with you. Depending on how you interact with the psychic and spiritual worlds you'll arrive there differently. Those with the ability to see spirits will see the spirit leading them there, those who can hear them will hear the answer to them calling out, while others may be led by gut feeling and intution. Whatever the case, you will soon find yourself before a spirit that can aid you.

Once you get to the garve, knock on the headstone three times. This is to wake the spirit up. Kneel down and softly begin to pray and speak to the spirit. Tell them what you want, tell them your desire, and ask if they are willing to aid you. Again let them know that you are able to pay them. When you receive the spirits agreement, then take out your spoon or trowel and start digging where the right hand of that person in the grave would be. You don't have to dig too deep, just enough for you to scrape up a handful of dirt. Place this dirt in your baggie and leave the coins in the hole you've made. Some also leave offerings of whiskey for the spirit, but it's up to you if you wish to do that. Cover up the hole and get up and walk out of the cemetery. As you walk out make sure to keep praying, or speaking to spirit as if it were with you because at this point you are carrying it away with the dirt.

When you approach the gate thank the Keeper of the Graveyard then head home. I recommend taking a different route home then the one used to get the cemetery.

Once you are at home. Take out the dirt you've collected and lay this on your altar. Take your Couch Grass and burn it to ashes. Pray over these ashes that they effect the nerves and mind of your rival, making him/her fearful, nervous, and susceptible to the workings of your spirit. Mix these ashes into the dirt while you continue to pray your intent. As you mix it together add in your Red Pepper, and Black Pepper (make sure you've crushed these). Keep mixing this up while you get the spiritual juices going while praying. You can pray from the heart or use something that goes a little like this:

"(Rival's Name), you are a sore to me and those around you,
you are villan and it is time for you to go.
I set the Hounds of Hell on your heels to chase you right out of my life,
I set the spirits of the dead on your heels to chase you right out town,
I set the spirits of Fire on your ass to burn you right out!
(Rival's Name) so long as you are a thorn in my side,
So long as you live at your current house,
you shall be haunted and tormented and driven to fear and terror
until you leave me be and leave this town.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Amen."

Once you've got that power built and you feel the spirit of the dirt jumping, ready for action. Head over to your enemy's home and sprinkle the dirt right on their lawn and front door while instructing to spirit you've contracted to get to work.

The spirit will get to work on that person literally scaring them right out of your life. Once the person leaves, it is best to go back and do a quick cleansing of the property. Even though your curse should be precise on when the conditions stop, it is best to not leave a haunt for the people who might move in next ;-).

Happy Haunting!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What's New In Hoodoo?

A lot going on this week in the world of hoodoo. Here's a quick recap for everyone in case you missed anything:

My AIRR page is up so check it out here: ConjureMan AliWhile you are there don't forget to check out my fellow colleague Momma Hen who has also recently joined AIRR. She's Miss Bri's mom and a gifted healer. You can find her page under Momma Hen.

Dr. Johannes, one of the most talented conjure doctors out there as well as the preserver of the trolldom tradition has started a blog. You gotta check it out! I have learned a great deal from Dr. Johannes who I had the honor of having him coach me through various conjure work. He's a talented rootworker and if you interested in trolldom he's your man.

Momma Starr, my favorite conjure women and my teacher has a blogtalk radio going on. Momma Starr is old school and one sassy woman. If you want to learn *real* conjure the way it was taught by the elders then you have to listen to this blogtalk. She's straightfoward and no nonsense and filled with wisdom. She's also released her newest book which covers work with the great BlackHawk. A must read for those interested in learning from an authentic conjure woman.

My friend and colleague Balthazar, of Balthazar's Conjure wrote a great article on divination and its role in spiritual work, a must read for all!

And the wonderful Devi Spring the Proprietess of Queen of Pentacles Conjure wrote an amazing article on ancestor veneration and praying for the dead. Its both profound and beautiful and I highly recommend reading it.

Finally, Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour is back on! Check out Miss cat and Dr. K as they do live readings, diagnose problems, and prescribe some good old-fashioned conjure remedies.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An End to Hate and New Beginnings for Love and Healing

Dr. E, a talented rootworker and my colleague on AIRR has just posted a great bit on his blog that speaks directly to a current issue that teens are facing due to their sexual identity. He's gone above and beyond standing in solidarity against hate and has posted a simple, but powerful rite to help restore the love.

Whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, transgender etc this is an issue that effects all of us. Each of us has colleagues, friends, or family members that are part of the LGBT community. If you are willing take out your candles then let's get to work. If you are unable, then don on purple and let's put an end to hate and fear.

You can read what he wrote here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Keeping the Bill Collectors Away

Conjure is a highly practical tradition. It comes from a people who had needs and who used magick to help fulfill those needs. That isn't to say that conjure isn't "spiritual," in fact in hoodoo we don't have a dichotomy between the spiritual and the physical. Does God want you to be a good person? Sure, but he also wants you to be prosperous and happy ;-).

Hoodoo views the world in a set of conditions. These conditions are either favorable or they are not. If they are favorable then you want to keep the good times going, if they are not favorable then you want to change them and change them quick. That means if you don't have money then your condition isn't favorable. Why not do some conjure to fix that? Need some love? We got a potion for that too.

The basic premise of this comes from a pragmatic and deeply practical way of thinking. Life is both spiritual and material and BOTH come from God. Once you understand that, you'll understand why a conjurer and hoodoo doesn't see any conflict in calling upon God to help bring some lovin' his or her way. ;-)

In light of the pragmatic spirit, here is a spell to keep the bill collectors away. Sometimes we get behind, sometimes we need a bit of extra time, whatever the case here's an old-timey trick.

What you'll need:
White cloth
Indian Head penny
Law Keep Away OilProtection Oil
Money Stay With Me OilOregano
Alfalfa leaves
Alkanet root
Pen or marker.

In the center of the white cloth write the bill collector's name or the name of the agency three times. Turn this counter clockwise 1/4th of a turn and write a command along the lines of "leave us alone," or "don't bother us anymore." Write this three times to cover and cross the name of the bill collecting agency.

In the center of this set up place the Indian head cent. Dress this with a bit of Law Keep Away, Protection, and Money Stay With Me oils. Sprinkle some Oregano, Alfalfa, and Alkanet on this penny. As you do this make sure to pray fervently over each herb and root as they are sprinkled.

Take the edge of the cloth closest to you and tightly roll it away to make a long tube-like form with the cloth. As you do this call out, "(Name) go away you are unable to bother us anymore."

Take the two ends that are created from this rolling action in each hand and tie a knot as you call out that person's name. Repeat this two more times--saying their name while making a knot so you have a total of three knots.

What should result is a small sachet, or bundle of knots. Hold this in your hand and pray fervently that as the cloth is knotted that the bill collector's attempts to collect the debt be hampered and tied down. Dress this with your three oils.

Take this little packet and nail it up by one of it's tails by your front door. As it's nailed up so will that person be unable to collect the debt and will be left twisting in the wind, or left hanging. If the packet should fall from its place then know that it took a hit for you and that bill collector may be coming your way soon!

Good luck and Happy Conjurin'!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Newest Member of AIRR

On the advice and encouragement of collegues I have applied to the prestigious Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers and have been accepted. I am honored to join the ranks of these talented and ethical rootworkers, readers, and conjure-doctors. My thanks goes out to all those who encouraged me in this endeavor and especially to my teachers Miss cat and one who has passed to a better place. A special thanks goes out to Miss Bri, Johannes, and Momma Starr for their guidance. For those who do not know what AIRR is: "The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers (AIRR) is a gathering of professional practitioners of African American folk magic, hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork who provide psychic readings and spiritual root doctoring services to the public. AIRR promotes quality service and ethical conduct by means of accreditation and evaluation of our members. Unlike commercial online psychic reader services, AIRR is a membership-supported organization that receives no fees or kickbacks for referrals."
You can look for my AIRR page to be up in the next few weeks! It will be under ConjureMan Ali

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hoodoo at the Crossroads: The Third Stream of Conjure and The Future

I have been a conjure doctor for many years; it is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart, but I am many things. I am an astrologer, a hermetic magician, a goetic conjurer, a Bardonian hermetic, a djinn conjurer, but at heart I shall always remain a conjure doctor. Given that, I have a vested interest in what I view the future of conjure and hoodoo. My "public" work is in academia where I am a university historian and so by nature I examine things slightly differently from the average person. Tonight, I feel like musing about conjure: a little about how it has been past down, but more importantly where it is headed.

Historically conjure has coalesced and been passed down in two ways. The first way was via family traditions and the second method was through instruction. Family traditions represent the passing down of conjure lore from generation to generation within the line of families. Here is where grandparents taught their grand-kids not to lend out Salt, how to drink Life-everlasting to live a long life, or even how to feed your man some of your stuff to get him to stay with you. This tied conjure directly into the people who practiced it--who lived it. Conjure was not only a way of working magick, but a spiritual outlook and way of life. But as the elders passed, the younger generations forgot what it was they were told to do about white powders found on their doorstep, or simply ignored the advice and let it be buried with those who lived this path.

The second stream of conjure involved the learning and passing along of knowledge from teacher to student. Those interested in learning this powerful craft would apprentice themselves to teachers and like sponges soak up all the elders had to offer them. The student was the spiritual heir and when the teacher passed on the student then carried on their practice and their tradition--it was now their turn to be the bastion of conjure knowledge. This form of learning was how I was taught. I was adopted into the tradition, taught hands-on by a conjure woman who passed her knowledge on to me and whose practice I took over when she passed.

During the 20th century with the rise of urban hoodoo and the mail-order supply shops the instruction of conjure often took place not in the home of the conjure doctor, but through correspondence, or even at the shop itself. You would go into the store looking to buy a money candle and an old man may be sitting by the counter who would instruct you on how to properly work the trick. These shop owners and elders would act as both proprietor and spiritual counselor. Often times they wouldn't let you buy certain products because they felt they had a responsibility to their art. So if you had a problem you went into their store told them what was going on and these folk would direct you to the right product and tell you how to use it. This method of transmission was how such monumental figures like catherine yronwode learned. She was taught this tradition by actual folk, she sought them out, she studied with them, she collected lore, and in turn became the shop owner who now passes on the knowledge to others just as it was done to her.

But catherine yronwode represents more than a bastion of tradition, she represents the third and new stream of conjure: the internet. Miss cat took what she learned and began to compose thousands of articles that were put online for all to read and learn about in this tradition. This act did something immensly transformative: it preserved conjure's tradition. It saved it from dying out.

With the previous two streams of transmission the key figure was the "elder." However, though the elders passed down their knowledge their students didn't always take up where their teacher left off. Sometimes these elders didn't pass on their information because there was no one to sit at their feet and listen to the old stories. So as these old folk were passing so too was conjure. While there was always going to be the abused woman seeking the powder she could put in her husbands foot powder to make him treat her better and they'd always be the man looking for his John the Conqueror to give him that swagger, the actual art was in danger. When Miss cat put her knowledge online she addressed this immediate concern. She ensured that as the elders passed their knowledge would remain, that it would reach a wider audience, and that the tradition I love would carry on strong.

But this new stream of transmission and learning comes with its own pitfalls. The internet generation is a generation of instant gratification; it is a generation with little love of history, the roots of something, or tradition. This is a generation that feels entitled to take what they want from where ever they choose and make it their own. This is the danger conjure faces. A woman desperate to have her lover back will jump online click her manicured nails away on the keys find a beautiful spell involving the magnetic power of Lodestones that symbolize all things she seeks: union, love, passion, and committment. She orders her products and within a week she's set up an altar with red candles, fragrant sachet powders, and has her incense putting up puffs of sweet-smelling smoke. But she doesn't like this whole magnetic sand bit, why doesn't she have to "feed" a bunch of rocks? Song of Solomon from the Bible? Yuck! Instead she grabs her athame and traces a Circle while invoking the Goddess to bring back her man.

Where did the conjure go? Lost, in this person's arrogance. Of course this same person will then wonder why her spell produced such medicore results, Missing the beauty and elegance of working with a spirit of magnetism that builds through a symbiotic relationship. As you feed the spirit, it fights and works for you.

A few states over from our caster of love spells we have a man who wonders why on earth he needs to actually lay powders where his target is going to walk. Can't he just visualize that he's laying those powders out and instead put it on a candle? Where did that immensly pragmatic way of conjuring go where contact was emphasized?

Conjure's third stream has ensured its future, but now it is up to us to make sure that the tradition is not taken apart by zealous individuals who merely want to have their spiritual buffet. Whether we are professional conjure doctors, whether we are born into this tradition or adopted, or whether we found it online it is our job to ensure the tradition remains true and that we take in the beauty of the tradition that is presented to us. Don't just pick and choose spells, learn the traditions, the stories that are told and related by figures like catherine yronwode, take her class, sit at the feet of elders like Starr Casas and learn what it means to conjure.