In Erik Davis's latest Pop Arcana column, he looks into American hoodoo and the The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Occult Shop Catalogue, your one-stop-shop for sachet powders, bottle spells, Cast Off Evil Oil, Money Stay With Me Bath Crystals, and the like. From Erik's essay:
Digging into these pages, one discovers that Lucky Mojo is not New Age nor Neopagan after all, nor does it represent the current of Caribbean religious syncretism that gives us the urban botanicas that in some ways the site recalls. No, Lucky Mojo’s magical current is closer to home than any of these, and yet almost invisible."Hoodoo You Know"
That current is hoodoo, although according to Catherine Yronwode, the brilliant and indefatigable woman behind Lucky Mojo, the tradition has many regional names – rootwork, conjure, witchcraft – and for many people remains nameless, as in “that stuff my great aunt did.” Though essentially African-American, hoodoo should not be confused with voodoo or other Caribbean transformations of African spirit possession cults. (If anything, it most resembles Jamaican traditions of obeah, or “science.”) Though hoodoo encompasses a variety of oracular and healing practices, its core moves rely on botanical materials and ordinary household products like soaps and toilet waters, and largely aims for this-worldly results: lottery numbers, love, protection from (or vengeance against) the boss. This pragmatism is also echoed in the tradition’s intensely polyglot syncretism, which fuses African magical styles with streams of, among other things, Cherokee earth ways, Santeria, German folklore, Jewish sorcery, and the popular magic of Scots-Irish immigrants.
In his necessary history Occult America, Mitch Horowitz declares hoodoo “America’s first boundary-free faith.”
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.