Four years ago I came across Miller’s Rexall while looking for botánicas in the Atlanta area. This small drug store founded in 1965 is dead smack in the middle of downtown. The place is packed with history. It has a claim to fame thanks to a Paul McCartney song “Run Devil Run,” and an eclectic and colorful selection of Hoodoo, Voodoo and Santeria supplies. However, for me the true jewel of this store was not a product marketed as ‘good for whatever ails you’, it came behind a pair of heavy rimmed glasses and smiley brown eyes; her name was Mrs. Beverly Jackson. This is how I remember my first look at this talented spiritual reader.
Mrs. Beverly was kind and generous with her spiritual gift. It did not take her but a minute to figure out that there was a good amount of spirits walking by myside protecting and me and sharing information with hers.
Over the course of four years I visited the drug store to buy supplies, and it was always a pleasure to have a few minutes of her time to chat.
In one of those visits, she invited me to visit her reading room. The place was full wall-to-wall with lit 7-day prayer candles, there were statues representing some of her spiritual guides and a very peaceful feeling filled her small quarters. I was in her inner sanctum and felt at home there.
There is something to be said about a person who likes to do good for others. Her temple resonated with that energy and made me feel hopeful and purposeful.
Then again, this is who she was, open, warm, friendly and dedicated to help others.
I never really got a formal reading from Mrs. Bev. She would always exchange a piece of advice with me. She did not waste time. Her words were precise and to the point.
But now, there are no more words to have from her. This month I found out that her time on this earth had been cut short. She passed away from a heart attack at the store on September 3, 2015. I was saddened beyond words. I started looking on line for testimonials about her work, I wanted to hold on to her memories through the eyes of other people who also admired her and appreciated her talents. I found very little of the sort.
Thus, this is my way of paying respects to a person I would have liked to know better, and who with her few words touched my life. I wished I could have shared with her how much it meant to me to hear that I am on the right track and that I should continue doing what I do spiritually and in my private life. I knew and felt that much, but validation is always nice to have, particularly from a kind soul.
2015 is upon us and there are many ways to start anew and here is how I like to receive the New Year: Clean, at peace and surrounded by love.
I am going to share with you three bath recipes that I have tested and work like a charm. They are for cleansing, to bring sweetness and love to your life and, if peace is what you need, do try the other baths outlined below.
Remember to pray as you prepare the bath and to stay focus on your intention, be it cleansing, love or simply to obtain some peace.
Days of Wine and Roses Bath
If romance is what you are needing, here is just the thing to start a good spark. Now, bear in mind that the best way to find love is to love thyself and a bath like this gives you ample reason to pamper yourself and to give love to the person who deserves it the most: You.
For this bath I like to use red wine, however, rum can be a perfectly good substitute. I like to set this bath on my bóveda overnight or at least for a couple of hours, but you can simply prepare it and use it right away. I find it that it is more effective to set a candle and pray on it and let it be for a few hours before using it.
The process to make a bath is simple. Place all ingredients in a bowl, pour some of the water and macerate the rose and leaves with your hands until they are a pulp. Set the bath on your bóveda or if you do not have one set up, place a candle and glass of water by the bath atop a table. Call upon your protector spirits to bless your endeavor and ask for love and happiness to come to your life.
2 sprigs of fresh mint or spearmint
8 to 10 large sweet Basil leaves (Queen of Siam is also very good)
1 stem of Basil flowers
1 large red rose
8 to 10 Sage leaves (I had regular Sage and also Pineapple Sage, so I used both)
2 large sprigs of Tarragon
½ cup of Bledo Blanco or white Crape Myrtle flowers
Cinnamon powder (if possible, grate your own)
¼ cup Red Wine
1 teaspoon honey
Remember to strain this bath and to wrap the solids in a piece of brown paper. I like to use them to cleanse myself by passing them over my body and discarding them in the trash before showering. Once you are done with the shower, wash your face with this bath and the back of your neck and pour it from the neck down. Air dry as long as you can and then pat dry.
Shiny Penny Cleansing Bath
This bath makes you feel like a shiny new penny once you take it. Yes, it is very simple but it is quite efficient in its simplicity. The difference between this bath and the other ones that I am recommending is that this one requires soaking in your tub, while the other ones are simply poured over you.
You will find variations of this bath recommended by Spiritist and Hoodooists alike. I have seen it done with both ½ of alum as well as 1 teaspoon of ammonia. However, I prefer just to use the alum powder as it is an ingredient geared for protection. Ammonia in general is a powerful cleanser and some old fashion folks like to substitute it with an equal portion of their own urine. However, I don’t quite fancy taking a soak on pee, not for New Year’s Eve.
A full tub of warm water (make it as hot as is comfortable to you)
½ a teaspoon bluing or a small ball of bluing
2 tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon of alum powder
5 tea light candles (white or blue, your pick)
Omimelli’s Little Helper: Make yourself a delicious libation, in my case I made a cup of warm chocolate milk to sip while I soaked in the tub.
Sit on the tub of water and simply relax and enjoy time to think, have a nice warm or cold drink and pray for protection and to have negative thoughts stripped away from you. Time is a wonderful thing to have and to use wisely and meditate on those things that are negative and that need to be left behind or set aside in order to leave a better and more peaceful existence.
Cleopatra’s Milk Bath
Cleopatra, the last Egyptian pharaoh, used to bathe in Donkey’s milk to keep her skin soft and beautiful. However, donkey’s milk is not a runoff the mill item at most Walmart’s. Seriously, it is pretty hard to get, so in my book, this bath received a makeover. As you will see, Cleopatra is not really the center figure here, because she was not a particularly pacific historic figure. However, she is a fascinating one and I could not resist the story telling on the use of donkey milk for baths. The bath described below is mostly for peace, but is also does wonders for your skin. The elements are associated with Obatalá, King of the White Cloth and ruler over all white things in the body, amongst them the brain and bones. Obatalá blesses us with knowledge, patience and intelligence. Hopefully if you have some or all of those, you will also have peace of mind.
2 cups of warm whole milk
2 cups of coconut milk
2 cups of goat milk (if you can find donkey milk all the better)
1 cascarilla grated
2 tablespoons of cocoa butter grated
Combine all ingredients on a large bowl and wash your face, the back of your neck and pour the rest over your body once you have showered as usual. Let this bath dry over your skin as long as you can and then towel dry.
I like to pray to Obatalá before pouring it on me and I do like to dress in white after I take it and go to sleep if possible. You can offer a glass of water and a candle to the orisha as a thank you for his protection.
I sincerely hope that the New Year blesses you with love, joy, stability, health and that time is always kind to you and those you love.
It must have been nearly three decades ago when I had to gather dirt from a cemetery for the first time; it was nerve wrecking to do so because I am not really fond of cemeteries. Besides, I felt like the whole planet was watching every single step I took on that morning. Little I knew back then that I would have to repeat this operation many times in my life. Well, it does get easier when you know what you are doing and why and not just following someone else’s brief instructions and getting it done, because it has to get done.
Let us begin with the ethics of cemetery-dirt gathering. Do it with a purpose, do it respectfully and without enslaving spirits. Let me address point by point these two guiding principles.
There are some practitioners of magic that simply go about from cemetery to cemetery collecting dirt from famous graves just to have them in their arsenal in case the needs arises to use them.
Here is what I think of that practice. Would you fill up your pantry with food that will expire and ingest it no matter what a decade later? I happen to think that when you operate with a purpose, an immediate purpose, the dirt you gather has more power and it will yield more effective results. If you do not believe me, then test it out yourself. Gather dirt, let it sit on a shelf and then, when the need arises, say 5 years later, use that dirt and see if you can solve the situation at hand just as effectively. There is a process of conscious gathering of strength and momentum as you prepare a magical working which should not be interrupted; it is like putting together a cake. Would you mix the batter and let it sit on a shelf a day or two before putting it in the oven? It could very well be that being a dirt collector is just your thing, ok then so be it, but the purpose and energy behind each collection must then be carefully catalogued and noted so when you finally decide to use that dirt you can recall that particular state of mind and get again into that groove to impart the working with the appropriate energy. Continue reading “Legal Employment for the Dead: Gathering Cemetery Dirt for Magical Purposes from the Hoodoo and Santeria Perspectives” »
Sometimes life brings to us the most unexpected and delightful challenges. This time I got one of those knocking at my door thanks to http://blog.themysticcup.com where Ronnie Kantorik found me while doing a search on line on Afro-Caribbean spirituality. I do meet a lot of people through the blog, but something about his emails got my attention. There was an inherent sensibility and honest curiosity about Hoodoo, Santeria and Spiritism that I found quite refreshing and endearing, particularly coming from someone with very little background on any other of my chosen spiritual and magical paths.
So it is that Ronnie and I started to exchange emails and soon he shared that he was starting his career in acting. Acting is a difficult and demanding professional path, one that I do not profess to fully understand but that I am somewhat familiar from my times as news anchor. Well, TV and Hollywood are not the same thing, but they are at least good cousins. In any case, Ronnie had come to an opportunity recently that landed him some very good recommendations due to his earnest work on set as a stand-in actor for the movie Lawless (just about to be released this month). Professionalism, punctuality and an intense hunger to learn and better himself as a professional fuels this gentleman of strong vivacious character, bright hazel eyes and mischievous sweet grin.
I am not sure if you are aware that Georgia is becoming the darling of Hollywood as many movies and television series are being shot here, partly because of the huge incentives being offered to studios and producers such as huge tax breaks and availability of talented actors and ready to shoot crews. One of them, a favorite of mine, is AMC’s series The Walking Dead. Other recent movies that come to mind and were shot in Georgia are What to Expect when you are Expecting, Joyful Noise, and Flight starring Denzel Washington (to be released in November). In any case, Ronnie shared with me a bit of good news; he was going to a casting call for a film to be shot literally in his own hometown, Rome, GA. Excitement, passion and conviction were on his side. However, I suggested an additional step in preparing for this audition: Building a Mojo Bag.
Overall, I try to walk a pretty straight line when it comes to doing workings. I try to use momentum to aid my workings, to research carefully the ingredients and to outline a clean and organized path of action before I put the work in motion. Within all of these preparation steps I balance out the negative and positive impacts that my actions will unravel. In general, I try to do the least negative workings possible and to use the grace I have been given for good.
However, sometimes there are folks that cross me not once or twice but repeatedly. In those cases, far and few in between, I have no issues setting the balance back to zero…just because I can.
So here is a little something from the arsenal of simple and nasty little workings that I am willing to share, for the greater good of course. I hope you have a cool head to carefully evaluate if you really need to use it…or not. It is all in your hands.
This is a rather simple working to do. All you need is to place all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle and grind them to fine powder. As you add each of the ingredients, visualize discordia emerging like a fog and filling out the space where you will lay this powder on. If it is a house, then imagine the area filled with disgust, discomfort and in general, visualize lack of peace and a strong desire to argue.
If you intend to use this say in an office environment, visualize people grumpy, short tempered and unfriendly finding reasons to argue for just any little thing.
Please do be careful NOT to drop any of this powder in your own home. If you are going to use it in your place of work, know that you will not be exempt from its impact, thus, use your logic. Do you really want to lay this trick on your own place of work? I think not.
Good luck on creating havoc. Remember, just because you can, it not always mean you should, but I leave to each of you the ethics of creating discord.
I am a fanatic of Frank Herbert’s Dune and it is through the words of his character Rev. Mother Ramallo that I have summarized an issue facing us as religious community, the tendency to prostitute religious practices for material gain and the inherent lack of judgment it unchains in many.
The original quote reads “When religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows,” however, in our case, there is yet another volatile element added to the mix, it is called MONEY.
Everything we do in our religious practices is under a magnifying glass. This is a reality that we cannot escape. Our struggle to defend religious freedom and the right to animal sacrifice have seen its day in court not once but two times. The first time was in the Supreme Court case of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah and recently, in the Merced v. City of Euless. Both cases meant blood, sweat and tears for those who championed them, Oba Ernesto Pichardo and my godfather Jose R. Merced. It is thanks to their efforts that we can seek shelter in the law to practice animal sacrifice, but this must be done within the boundaries of the same law that protects us.
Here are more realities we have to live with, African Traditional Religions (ATR) are misunderstood, stereotyped and perceived by the greater majority of people in the world as superstitios practices and not real religions. Therefore, when practitioners of Palo, Santeria and Voodoo or any other ATR step out of boundary and commit acts that shine a negative light over our communities, it is imperative to take action and to analyze the situation as a community. Only those who are initiates and who belong to our communities have the right to determine the course of action that will steer us. Outsiders are free to their opinions but to me that is where the buck stops as I do not rule myself by their criticism, motivations or ideas.
Furthermore, money is not a motivating factor in my religious convictions, practices or blog opinions. I do not use my religion as money-making machine, nor I have clients or read for clients. Fine if others do, but know that when they peddle religion as a good or service they run the risk of missteps and colossal lack of judgments like the one I am about to discuss.
The very first time that I opened a package from my Hoodoo product supplier, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found. A world of different possibilities opened up in front of my eyes as I examined the herb infused oils and the various mineral curios and incenses in front of me. It was then that I realized how much my magical supply cabinet was missing and, how much I could still learn. I felt blessed because I was inspired and resolved to dedicate time to learn the Hoodoo craft.
This is not a shameless plug to promote Ms. Cat´s products, as I don´t even mention her website for three reasons. One, I am still her student and I am in no way or form trying to gain ´brownie points´ towards my graduation—that is only earned through earnest work and turning in assignments. The second reason is because I am not seeking self-promotion by association with her or her products and the third reason is because when a reader of this blog wants more information about a subject or reference they are always welcome to send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write to me I will furnish the data gladly as we really try to make this blog about information and never about pushing products or services that is not our purpose. Our purpose is to share spiritual experiences and discoveries along our various journeys.
As I uncapped one of the oils called “Psychic Vision” my first reaction was one of peace and elation, then then extreme curiosity took over me. I wanted to know more about what went into making the magic I had uncapped. The genie was out of the bottle and I wanted to get to know it.
I instantly started to wonder what it would be like to actually visit her shop and to be able to peruse through the shelves at leisure just like I do when I visit the many botánicas we have here in Puerto Rico.
Certainly, we have not shortage of suppliers of magical or ritual wares, mostly catering to the Santería Spiritist and Palo communities, not to mention other systems such as 21 Divisions which lately has been on a growth spurt in Puerto Rico.
However, when I started to compare in my mind the ¨oils¨ and ´fragrances´ found at local shops, they paled by comparison to the treasures I had just received via US post. So, I went to my well organized magical supply closet and started to pull open drawer after drawer filled with tiny square bottles of oils and fragrances…suddenly my eyes were opened. These were but pale reflections of dreams sold under the names of ¨7 Powers¨, ¨Madama, ¨Lluvia de Oro¨ or ¨El Indio¨ labels, but none of them really had any ´life´ to them, not that I really believe they had from the moment I got them at the various shops I visit. The inferred powers supposedly contained on those bottles were inexistent. They were produced in mass market conditions, labeled and shipped from New York, California and Miami to cater to people who may, or not, know any better but still buy these stuff because they are part of ´spiritual recipes´ for this or that trabajo (working) and for this or that spiritual bath. Bologne!
This was a turning point for me. It was then when I decided that I would learn to make my own blends of oils and fragrances and prepare for myself materials that would indeed be filled with good ingredients that could lend energy and power to help further my workings. No more red or yellow dye with alcohol and generic fragrances for me!
Hoodoo, Conjure, Rootwork… the very own mention of those three similar terms brings up all sort of images to one’s mind. I promise you, there is not much of Hollywood into it, but there is indeed a lot of fascinating history behind it.
I promised you that I would give you my definition of Hoodoo. So here it is, for me Hoodoo is the African magic of the people, or folk magic, but it is more than that. Hoodoo incorporates the knowledge of Native Americans as well as European folklore. Now, the origins of the term ‘Hoodoo’ itself are debatable, but its etymology is really not the center of this article. If you want to read more about how other people define Hoodoo, you can certainly do a bit of digging on line or in books. The same way that Hoodoo incorporates the knowledge of cultures found in the South of the United States, it carries a particular meaning for each of its practitioners. For my purposes, Hoodoo is a rich system of magic where the use of herbs for magical and medicinal purposes is greatly highlighted. This system has a particular allure for me as it does not require adherence to a system of religious devotion or to theology like Voodoo, Santería, Candomble, Palo Mayombe or other African derived practices in the Americas. Also, its knowledge does not conflict but rather coexist peacefully with my Santeria and Palo practices without interfering or having to mix them.
In order to be considered a Hoodoo practitioner, a Conjure men or woman, or simply a Root doctor what you need is to study under someone with considerable experience and to practice, practice, and practice. Of course, it helps to be gifted in the arts of divination. Most divination systems will be compatible with Hoodoo as there is no hard and fast rule as to which is best to use. The most popular are card reading, casting bones, reading tea leaves, using a glass ball, palmistry, etc. There is one more thing that can make a Hoodoo practitioner excel over others, that is to be able to work with spirits, as in spirit guides and as in learning how to obtain the help of willing spirits to empower certain workings.
Time management is a fine art. I often times amaze myself on how I can pack a million things into my day-to-day routine. I am a professional and as such have long hours at work. My husband and I raise two kids, and if being a parent does not taking enough of my time, add to that being an Olosha (yes, I do have godchildren to attend as well) and a Yaya Nkisi. Religious obligations take time, the blog takes time and keeping up with my intense curiosity for all things spiritual takes time as well.
For over three years I had been promising myself that I would carve a bit of said precious time to satisfy an intellectual and spiritual desire to learn about Hoodoo and its practices. Having lived in the South of the United States for over two decades and married a man from Louisiana made it natural for me to feel inclined to learn the traditions of the Deep South. But I needed not to marry a descendant from French Cajun folks to fall in love with the mystique of the South. You see, I have always loved Louisiana.