Read Our
Join Our
Lucky W
Hoodoo &
The Blues

by catherine yronwode
by catherine yronwode

Be a Fan:
View Your
Readers &
We Pray
For You

introduction | 19th century hoodoo | 20th century hoodoo | 21st century hoodoo



In this installment of "Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog," we take a sneak-peek look at an upcoming page that will eventually be on display to the public. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to the page one full year before the public does.

• Patreon Release Date: November 21st, 2021
• Public Release Date: November 21st, 2022.

Please tell your friends that they can subscribe to my Patreon stream for $2.00 per week:
"It's All Ephemera with Cat Yronwode"

To discuss this and other Your Wate and Fate pages with me, join my private Patreon Forum here:
Private Patreon Forum for Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog

Support Your Wate and Fate

All of the material you have access to here — the fabulous tea cups, the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic matchbook covers, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen — can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world. So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. Your financial support underwrites this cost.

Each new web page or sample pdf is circulated to Patrons as an unpublished galley proof or advance copy. After one year access for Patrons, each web page will be released to the public, while book pages will be available to the public as printed books, and copies will be sent to Patrons who subscribe at the upper two tiers.

Patrons have access to a Private Patreon sub-forum within the Lucky Mojo Forum, and will be accorded special Red Star Avatar badges at the Forum.



From the Southern Workman and Hampton School Record

Vol. 28 August 1899

The "Southern Workman" and "Hampton School Record" were two periodicals established after Emancipation for a readership of literate African-American students at the Hampton Normal School. An introductory note on this school helps to place this article in historical perspective: Explanatory material appears [in brackets].

Folk-Lore and Ethnology
        'Crazy' Spell, Chills Cured, Palsy Cured;
        Latter two both mention 'Walking Boy'
        Form of Divination and Pendulum

[The "Southern Workman" and "Hampton School Record" were two periodicals established after Emancipation for a readership of literate African-American subscribers. The former was aimed at those employed in the private sector; the latter was the journal of the Hampton School. A short note on this school helps to place this article in historical perspective ] [May 1861, while the Civil War was ongoing, the Union Major General Benjamin Butler, who was strongly opposed to slavery, declared that all escaping slaves who made it to the Union lines would be considered "contraband of war" and would not be returned to their enslavers. As a result, wave after wave of escaping slaves sought refuge at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay, which was controlled by the Union Army. Fort Monroe soon ran out of room to house the refugees, so a village was built for them, a few miles from the fort, called "The Grand Contraband Camp," and this became the first self-contained African-American settlement.]

In September 1861, Mary Peake, a free Negro, undertook the teaching of literacy to the newly freed people. There were twenty students [in her first class, which was held beneath an Oak tree. The Oak became known as the Emancipation Oak in 1863, when the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation was held beneath its bough. By 1863, General Butler also had secured funds to expand upon Mary Peake's program, and he founded the Butler School for Negro children, which provides a basic grade-school curriculum, along with domestic sciences.]

[In 1866, after the war had been won and slavery was abolished nationwide, Brigadier General Samuel Armstrong was appointed Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau of the Ninth District of Virginia. Brigadier General Samuel Armstrong was appointed in 1866 to Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau of the Ninth District of Virginia. (For an example of literate black people teaching formerly enslaved people, see also the article by Paschal Beverly Randolph on Love Charms at this site; Randolph, a Free Person of Color, was a Spiritualist and sex magician who taught emancipated slaves through the Freedmen's Bureau in New Orleans, Louisiana.) The work of the government-mandated Freedmen's Bureau system.]

[When the government cut the funding for the Freedman's Bureaus, Armstrong, who had been associated with religious missionary schools in Hawaii, called upon the American Missionary Association to build a new school adjacent to the Butler School — the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. Those too young to understand the word "Normal" in this context should know that it refers to institutions where teachers are trained according to a normative curriculum, so that all graduates employ the same basic approved course materials, use the same grading protocols, and so forth. For a Normal School or Normal Institute to operate, it must have an adjacent school where young students are taught by the teacher-trainees. In this case, the Butler School provided the classrooms in which the Hampton Normal Institute student-teachers received their training.]

[In the 1870s, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was so well-known that it attracted students from all around the country, including the great Booker T. Washington, who went on to found Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881.] In 1878, a group of Native American refugees who had been imprisoned at Fort Sill at the close of the Red River War came to Hampton, and their presence was a part of this historically black institution until 1923.]

[Hampton Normal School grew in enrollment during the 1880s and 1890s, and the curriculum expanded beyond teaching to include trades such as blacksmithing, carpentry, printing, farming, and tailoring. In 1889, the Butler School became the Whittier School, but the relationship between the school and Hampton remained the same. It was in this era that we come to The Hampton School Record. The subject of "folklore" had become a topic of academic interest, first in Britain and then in America, and so the editors of the Hampton Record thought it appropriate to create a semi-regular column called "Folk-Lore and Ethnology" and to devote quite a few articles to the subject of root doctoring and conjure practice, as this web page demonstrates.]

[I realize that this has been a lengthy introduction, but it serves two purposes: First it demonstrates that the collection of hoodoo folklore was and is not the provenance of white scholars and folklorists alone; black people of the 19th century were compiling documentation on the practices themselves. Second, i know from experience that the very first sentence in this account — "The following incidents of 'conjure doctoring' were contributed by a teacher attending the Summer Normal" — has puzzled many of my students, so now you will know what it means!]

The following incidents of "conjure doctoring" were contributed by a teacher attending the Summer Normal.

[The 1899 contributor was an African-American person, probably a woman, who was taking summer courses to become a school teacher. If she was in her young twenties when she came to Hampton, as most student-teachers were, she was born in the 1870s. Her stories reach back to when she was eight years old and sixteen years old — probably between 1885 and 1895.]

A 'Crazy' Spell
Divination by Ironing Paper
Treatment by Herb Extract in Water

When I was sixteen years old I entered a terrible state of mind which caused my life to be nothing but misery. Some said that I was crazy and kept an eye on me all the while that I might not do them harm. I never lost my senses so that I did not know myself, but I was filled with all kinds of evil notions, something like this. While I would go to the well I would either contemplate jumping in, or run from the image in the water. I feared a sharp knife. If I took one in my hand, I would hasten to put it down and run. I disliked to go to church to hear the preacher because I did not think that he knew what he was talking about. I felt angry with every cause which resulted in my being in this world. I know I was not lazy, but my employment was unpleasant.

[The informant was suffering from suicidal ideation, a form of mental illness. She carefully avoids directly stating that church bothered her because "every cause which resulted in my being in this world" — namely, God's plan, as expounded in church — seemed wrong to her. In the next episode of her story we will learn that she had been struggling with psychosomatic symptoms of distress since the age of eight, when she was attacked by another girl.]

My mother was anxious about me all the while, and was advised to consult a "root doctor" in the matter, which she did, and found that the crafty "hand" had been at work for me. Here is how he found out who tricked me. He took a clean sheet of paper and rubbed a warm iron over it which caused the outline of one or more persons to appear. He read from the drawing that I was "hurt" and that a young man did it, because he wanted to marry me, and he saw no chance for it, and he was afraid that some one else would get me. This story made my mother feel hopeful of my recovery.

[The root doctor's divination seems like a bit of charlatanry, employing some form of invisible ink, such as Lemon juice, to create an image which is revealed when heat is applied. Nevertheless, the result was a useful diagnosis, with treatment to follow.]

The "root doctor" put in a bottle a little water and a few drops of something simple (for there was not much taste to it) and advised me to take five drops three times a day.

I got well in a few days.

[The treatment seems to have been an herbal extract or tonic. It is unfortunate that we do not know what it was, but a few guesses can be made, given the time period. Traditional herbalists often prescribed a mild laxative herb like Senna combined with mood elevating herbs, such as Ephedra (Mormon Tea), Ginseng (Sang Root), Licorice, Basil, Rosemary, Mint, and/or Guarana, if they felt the patient suffered from "lassitude" (depression). On the other hand, if the patient was over-excitable, they would prescribe a mild laxative herb like Senna coupled with calming anti-anxiety herbs, such as Cannabis (which was legal at the time), Vandal Root (Valerian), Chamomile, Skullcap, Lavender, and/or Passionflower. These could be administered as teas, tablets, or tinctures; the root doctor in this case employing a curative tincture diluted in water.]

Chills Cured:
Divination by Walking Boy
Treatment by Herb Tea and Ointment

When I was about eight years old a little girl threw a brick at my head which cut it very badly, and when I showed the wounds to my mother she became very angry, and took the broom, ran out to the girl, and gave her several raps over the head. In about three months I began to have chills and they lasted me eight years. The strange part of my story is how they were cured.

[Now we learn that the young school teacher-in-training had suffered from "chills" for eight years before her fall into suicidal ideation, and it seems that the cure for the chills occurred at around the same time as the cure for her suicidal thoughts, when she was sixteen.]

My mother was instructed that the chills were put on me by the hand of the wicked, and she being anxious about my welfare, employed a conjuror to take them off me. When he came he demanded part pay before entering in business, and that part being settled, he went to work.

The first thing he did was to take out of his pocket the "walking boy" which was to assist in finding the direction of the enemies or friends in this case the one who put the chills on me. The "walking boy" is a bottle with a string tied to its neck, deeply colored that you may not see what the doctor puts in it something alive you may know, which enables it to move or even flutter briskly, and this makes you certain of whatever fact the doctor is trying to impress.


[The Walking Boy is a form of pendulum, and its use is a form of dowsing. Modern folks tend to think of pendulums as divination tools employed indoors at a table, over maps, photos, or charts, but their use out of doors to locate hidden treasure, water courses, oil, and minerals dates back to the Middle Ages. In form, the Walking Boy is very like the Swedish Spiritus or Spertus bottle or box, used by healers in the trolldom tradition. In both cases, a small animal typically a large insect with strong legs — is kept captive in a container, and its movements provide diagnostic guidance to the conjurer. For more on the Swedish Spiritus, see the book "Trolldom: Spells and Methods of the Norse Folk Magic Tradition" by Johannes Bjorn Gardback or the condensed account in "Bottle Up and Go!: The Magic of Hoodoo Container Spells in Boxes, Bags, Bowls, Buckets, and Jars" by Catherine Yronwode and Lara Rivera. These references are not intended to imply that African-American root doctors got the idea for the Walking Boy from Scandinavian folk healers, just that this is a very old form of divination. A similar use of captive arthropods for divination is the Spider oracle of Cameroon.]

The treatment for my chills was a tea, and an ointment of his own preparation. The tea was made out of herbs fried in hog's lard.

After being thus treated, as I had good faith in the "doctor," the chills vanished.

[Again the names of the herbs used in the tea and ointment are not named, but traditional herbs employed for chills include Basil, Rosemary, Horehound, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Hyssop, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Spearmint, Peppermint, and Sage (all twelve of them in the Mint family), as well as Elderberry, Sampson Snake Root (Echinacea), Lemon Grass (Fever Grass), Licorice, Eucalyptus, Yarrow, and the warming spices Black Pepper, Ginger, and Cinnamon.]

Palsy Cured:
Divination by Walking Boy
Treatment by Destroying Buried Trick Bag

An old man once was ill with palsy as they thought, and after spending much money employing medical doctors and getting no relief, he was advised to change treatment. He employed a conjuror who came with his "walking boy." The doctor with "boy" in hand ordered a man to bring a hoe and dig where he would order him to, that he might earth up the thing that caused the man's illness.

After he had walked over and around the yard several times with the "boy" suspended, it was thought by many that he would not be able to find the buried poison, but as they were about to give up their pursuit, the "boy" fluttered and kicked as though he would come out of the bottle. Then the doctor ordered the man to dig quickly, for the "trick bag" was there. On the order being obeyed, the poison was found. It was rusty nails, finger and toe nails, hair and pins sewed up in a piece of red flannel.

[We don't know where our informant was raised, because Hampton students came from almost anywhere in the country, but her use of the word "trick bag" for a mojo is suggestive. Tricking is a widespread synonym for hurting, poisoning, cunjering, root working, witchcrafting, or hoodooing, but to call a mojo hand a trick bag is uncommon. In 1893 Mary Alicia Owen recorded the contents of a "tricker bag" he had been taught to make by a family slave named Aunt Mymee during her childhood in Missouri in the late 1850s or early 1860s. The term is also found in Louisiana, where Earl King wrote and recorded the song "Trick Bag" for release in 1962. So our informant was probably from the deep South, and likely from a state located west of Virginia..]

[It is safe to assume that the fingernails, toenails, and hair found in the trick bag were those of the victim, who was being tormented by the rusty nails and pins. Such rusty nails, whether or not they come from a cemetery, are often called "coffin nails" in hoodoo, and are used to create painful or even deadly physical conditions.]

[I wish we knew the name of the Normal School student who contributed these accounts of 19th century hoodoo. Alas, her name is lost to us. A debt of gratitude is also owed to the editors of the Workman and Hampton School Record for collecting the articles in the "Folklore and Ethnology" series.]

[By the way, the Hampton School evolved with the times. In 1930, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute's name was changed to Hampton Institute. There were budget cuts during the Great Depression of the 1930s and in 1940 the Library School was discontinued and the Nursing School was transferred to a local hospital for administration. That year the Institute also began to shake off the remnants of its founding by paternalistic whites, as black faculty members were for the first time promoted to the ranks of department heads and other administrative roles. World War Two saw an upswing in enrollment, due to federal funding for war training. After the war ended, the buildings that had been added during the war were purchased by Hampton and continued in use. In 1949 Hampton finally had its first black president.]

[Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, agricultural and trade programs were discontinued and higher-level courses were added, in subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, mass media, and computer technology. The first M.B.A. program was added in the 1970s. Enrollment rose, and in 1984, with its curriculum base greatly enhanced and the academic success of its students well regarded both nationally and internationally, Hampton College became Hampton University.]

[Oh, and the Emancipation Oak still stands.]

Search All Lucky Mojo and Affiliated Sites!

You can search our sites for a single word (like archaeoastronomy, hoodoo, conjure, or clitoris), an exact phrase contained within quote marks (like "love spells", "spiritual supplies", "occult shop", "gambling luck", "Lucky Mojo bag", or "guardian angel"), or a name within quote marks (like "Blind Willie McTell", "Black Hawk", "Hoyt's Cologne", or "Frank Stokes"):


Contact-the-Southern-Spirits-Website copyright © 1994-2021 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
Send your comments to: cat yronwode.
Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to catherine yronwode for the creation and maintenance of this site.




This website is part of a large domain that is organized into a number of
interlinked web sites, each with its own distinctive theme and look.
You are currently reading
SOUTHERN SPIRITS by cat yronwode

Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode:a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive:FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races

Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode
Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode
Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons in book form
Hoodoo Conjure Training Workshops: hands-on rootwork classes, lectures, and seminars
Apprentice with catherine yronwode: personal 3-week training for qualified HRCC graduates
Lucky Mojo Community Forum: an online message board for our occult spiritual shop customers
Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour Radio Show: learn free magic spells via podcast download
Lucky Mojo Videos: see video tours of the Lucky Mojo shop and get a glimpse of the spirit train
Lucky Mojo Publishing: practical spell books on world-wide folk magic and divination
Lucky Mojo Newsletter Archive: subscribe and receive discount coupons and free magick spells
LMC Radio Network: magical news, information, education, and entertainment for all!
Follow Us on Facebook: get company news and product updates as a Lucky Mojo Facebook Fan

The Lucky Mojo Curio Co.: spiritual supplies for hoodoo, magick, witchcraft, and conjure
Herb Magic: complete line of Lucky Mojo Herbs, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, with sample spells
Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop: antique, vintage, and contemporary fortune telling tea cups

catherine yronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages
nagasiva yronwode: nigris (333), nocTifer, lorax666, boboroshi, Troll Towelhead, !
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards
Jackie Payne: Shades of Blues: a San Francisco Bay Area blues singer

Lucky Mojo Site Map: the home page for the whole Lucky Mojo electron-pile
All the Pages: descriptive named links to about 1,000 top-level Lucky Mojo web pages
How to Contact Us: we welcome feedback and suggestions regarding maintenance of this site
Make a Donation: please send us a small Paypal donation to keep us in bandwidth and macs!

Arcane Archive: thousands of archived Usenet posts on religion, magic, spell-casting, mysticism, and spirituality
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: psychic reading, conjure, and hoodoo root doctor services
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Crystal Silence League: a non-denominational site; post your prayers; pray for others; let others pray for you
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Hoodoo Psychics: connect online or call 1-888-4-HOODOO for instant readings now from a member of AIRR
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; Smallest Church in the World
Mystic Tea Room: tea leaf reading, teacup divination, and a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Satan Service: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including ex-slave narratives & interviews
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective, plus shopping
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology