The Conjure Woman

The Conjure Woman
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What is a Mojo?


Perhaps the best known item in Hoodoo or Southern folk magic, is a mojo. It's a magic charm carried to bring luck, money, love, protection... just about anything you'd like! The origin of the practice is definitely African but the origin of the term is disputed. Possible sources include the Gulluh word 'moco', ('witchcraft'), the Fluca 'moc'o', ('medicine man') or West African 'mojuba', ('I salute you'). Put together by a root doctor or conjurer, the charm is also known as a 'mojo hand', 'conjure bag' or 'gris-gris' bag.

What makes a mojo so powerful that it has become the stuff of legend? What differentiates it from other talismans? A mojo is 'alive' with spirit. The spirit of the contents, of the maker and of the carrier all combine in it and the bag is representative of an ongoing, reciprocal relationship between the three. It is animated when created, (for example, when including a John the Conqueror root the spirit of John, a historically based figure in African American folklore, is 'awakened' by holding the root and calling 'High John, John the Conqueror', three times). After it's s made, it 's periodically re-animated by the possessor with oils or other substances.

What a mojo consists of depends on the desired result but there are some common denominators. Traditionally it contains an odd number of items, (at least three, usually one animal, one mineral, one herbal). Roots, herbs, stones, flowers, bones, feathers, talismans and prayers are all common ingredients. Petitions and prayers are spoken over it and often added to it, (pieces of paper with words, names, psalms etc). The recipient adds his or her personal items to it as well.

The mojo is then 'fixed' by passing it through incense smoke, over flame or sprinkled with salt water. Next, the intent of the charm is petitioned for by reciting psalms, scripture and by breathing onto it. It is then 'dressed', usually with conjure oil but sometimes with whiskey or other alcohol or even perfume. This 'feeds' the roots and is the final step in bringing the mojo to life. This action, along with petitions and prayers, is repeated periodically throughout the time the owner possesses the it.

Mojos are most often worn on the person or in a purse, though house mojos are sometimes made, however. In either case, it is traditionally kept out of sight. This is because it is believed that if someone sees or definitely if someone touches your mojo it loses all or some of it's power.

Examples of basic mojo ingredients:

Marie Laveau's Money Charm: Pyrite, Rabbits Foot, Magnet

Love: Rose, Lavender, Magnets, 2 Sea Shells, Name Paper

Luck: Southern John Root, Five Finger Grass, Rabbit's Foot


Protection: John the Conqueror Root, Hyssop, Hematite, Feathers, Psalm Paper

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