The Conjure Woman

The Conjure Woman
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vodun, Root of Voodoo an Introduction

Ancestor Spirit Sculpture, Dominican Republic
Voodoo, a religion found in some parts of the American South as well as other parts of the world, has it's origins in the West African religion, Vodun. It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, living religions in the world, (6,000 years). Many negative myths swirl around Voodoo but these are largely the product of racist stereotypes and/or fear of the mysterious power that does, indeed seem to permeate the practice.

At the center of Vodun are spirits and elemental forces which are believed to rule the earth. It is, however, a monotheistic religion. The creator God, Mawu or Nana Buluku is dualistic, with a male aspect, Mawu, (the Moon), and female aspect, Lisa, (the Sun). These are often depicted as the primary diety's twin children.

There are also Vodun, deities who rule the forces of nature, society and who are the forces behind nature, (streams, trees, rocks). The creator God is not viewed as a being who involves itself with human beings. The Vodun, however, are extremely involved with us. This is somewhat similar to the role played by Saints and Angels in Catholicism.

Vodun has a large pantheon, encompasing a number of traditions. In one of these, primary deities are the seven children of Mawu, who are associated with several tribes, occurrences in nature and historical and mythical people. There are also Vodun associated with different tribes, clans and countries.

In Vodun, everything in the natural world is believed to be part of God. It is a pantheistic religion, believing that all things in nature therefore contain divine power. Mundane objects, as well as powerful plants and herbs, are therefore often considered to be of great significance and play a large part in religious ritual.

The main emphasis of Vodun is on ancestors. Spirits are grouped into families, each with their own priestesshood. The role of priestess is often a hereditary one. Both priestesses/priests and practitioners are believed to become possessed by the spirits routinely during ceremonies. Dancing, drumming and animal sacrifice are central practices.

Essentially, the idea is that the spirits/ancestors/elemental forces are constantly with us, not distant and apart as many religions view their pantheons. They can join us in conversation, dancing, even eating, drinking and smoking and, in Vodun and it's various off-shoots often do. It is important, however, not to anger them. So sacrifices and offerings are made to them and their advice or direction is considered best heeded.

It is believed that the will of the spirits can be seen in everyday occurrences and events. When good things happen, it can be assumed that their will is being followed and/or what they have been asked for has been given and they have been appropriately thanked. When bad things happen, the opposite can be inferred.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Folk Remedies

Hex Sign, 'Rain That Refreshes'


1. Wear rattlesnake rattles in the band of your hat.
2. If you walk in the rain in the dog days of Summer, you're sure to get headaches! The way to cure this specific type is to wrap a halter or rope someone was hung with around your head. One used in a suicide has the most power.
 3. Repeatedly dip your hand in cold water, rub it all around your head, shaking the water off your hand each time you put it back in. Never let the water stay on your hand after its' gone over your head or the headache will remain, the object is to put it back into the water. 
4. Wet your finger and run it across the threshold of your house in the form of a cross then put the dust in small dots on your temples.
5. Put a lock of your hair under a stone and be sure not to mention either for one week.
6. Wear a match in your hair.
7. Sleep with your head towards the East.
8. It was believed by some that headaches were caused when birds made nests with the person's hair, burning hair after it's cut was believed to be the way to cure this. 
9. Kill a snake and wrap it around your head.
10. To cure a headache that's a byproduct of the evil eye, put a needle in the hem of your clothes. 
11. Take a live frog and tie it to your head, keeping it there till it dies.

 1. Put a hawk skin on your stomach.
2. Hang a pair of your pants upside down.
3. Crawl around the legs of a ten legged table three times.
4. Drink water 3 flies have been boiled in.
5. Wear a cotton bag around your big toe, then burn it.
6. Burn out an owl’s nest on a mountain, then eat fruit out of it, the smoke from the burning owls will enter the fruit and cure the stomachache.
7. Fumigate your house with sulpher.
8. Rub an old bone on a stone.
9. Apply the contents of wolf’s stomach or the flesh, bones and hide of a goat to your stomach; or, drink the blood of a freshly killed goat.
10. Put a frog on your stomach.
11. Roll over a barrel until you feel better.
12. Eat dried bear stomach.
13. Think of the one you love best, your stomachache go away and she will ache for you.
14. Dig a hole in the ground. If you can spit in it from 3 feet away your stomach won't hurt anymore.


1. Spit under a rock, put the rock back and stand there for a few seconds, as still as you can.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Beautiful Navajo Healing Prayer I Came Across - Night Chant

Images From Navajo Sand Paintings/Healing Ritual
This is part of the Navajo Night Chant Ceremony, to restore those who have broken the rules of their ancestors to the correct ancestral path, among other things. More about the ceremony coming soon. For detailed info about the Navajo Night Chant the best link I've found is here.

From a Navajo Chief's Blanket


House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of dark mist.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.

Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.

Male deity!
Your offering I make.

I have prepared a smoke for you.

Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.

This very day take out your spell for me.
Your spell remove for me.
You have taken it away for me.
Far off it has gone.

Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.

Navajo Blanket With Storm Symbols

My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lively feeling may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.

Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.

Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.

May it be beautiful before me
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.

With it be beautiful all around me.

In beauty it is finished