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Goofer Dust – Spreading a Curse with a Handful of Dirt

Hoodoo has some very unique practices and one of these is the use of goofer dust in order to place curses or hexes on other people. Goofer originates from the Kikongo word kufwa meaning ‘to die.’ This provides insight into the way in which the dust was originally used. The term is now taken to refer to any dirt used in spell casting which is meant to cause harm to another. Even though its use normally indicates malicious intent there are exceptions where goofer dust is an ingredient of love spells (to dominate) or occasionally gambling spells. The underlying purpose of the dust is to attract the assistance of the spirits in helping to fulfil the caster’s wishes. 

The main ingredients in goofer dust are normally graveyard dirt and snakeskin. Other things that may be used are:

  • Powdered snake head (especially of a rattlesnake)
  • Dried manure
  • Powdered insect chitin (exoskeleton)
  • Anvil dust – The black iron filings that are found around a blacksmith’s anvil. The modern substitute for anvil dust is magnetic sand.
  • Powdered bone
  • Table Salt
  • Herbs

shutterstock_318923363A concentrated amount of the dust ranges in colour from a mustard yellow to a deep black, depending on the exact combination of ingredients used in its preparation. This is then mixed with regular dirt to conceal its true origin. Protective goofer dust can be made by using the graveyard dirt of a deceased loved one mixed with salt and pepper.

Using goofer dust in a curse can cause a variety of results such as the victim losing their job, becoming sexually impotent, developing mental problems or physical ailments (the most common is diabetes). Many of the spells that contain the dust have their origin in African foot-track magic, which is a way to hurt or poison a victim through their soles. The first sign of being goofered is normally a sharp pain in one or both feet, which progresses into a swelling of the legs. This condition worsens until the victim is unable to continue walking, and the final and most drastic stage (before death) is when they end up crawling on both hands and knees and howling like a dog.

The most common ways to jinx an enemy are to sprinkle some dust around their home or ‘pick up’ their footprint, mix it with goofer dust and enclose it in a sealable bottle placed securely in between two branches in a tree. The desired result of these actions is to stop them in their tracks.

Even though many of the symptoms may be unexplainable and cannot be cured by a medical doctor, a root doctor may be able to give victims some assistance in recuperating (depending on how strong the curse is). In addition to their healing spells they may recommend that those hexed sprinkle salt in the corners of their house, take a ritual bath or thoroughly wash their floors with a special healing mixture.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – A Traditional Celebration

Mardi Gras is a massive family holiday which occurs annually in New Orleans, and includes music, floats and parades. Normally celebrated on Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the period of Lent (a time of sacrifice), the tradition began on February 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus. A krewe is a company that organises a parade or ball for a carnival event. The first Mardi Gras was started with a parade, and a feast taking place after, for the guests.

shutterstock_125928935Mardi Gras celebrations are shrouded in purple, green and gold. These colours were chosen by Rex, the king of Mardi Gras, in 1872 in honour of the Russian Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanoff who was visiting New Orleans at the time. Each colour has been assigned a meaning, purple – justice, green – faith and gold – power. In addition to adorning themselves in the royal colours, revellers also wear costumes and masks to increase the party’s intrigue.

Krewe members on the floats are legally required to don masks during the parades. This adornment traditionally began because many of the attendees wanted to remain anonymous, during their revelling, in order to escape class restrictions which would limit their fun and freedom. Social etiquette was very important at the time and masked party goers would be able to mix and mingle without the fear of subsequent social judgement.  

Leading the floats in the parade are torch bearers, who wave and twirl their fire sticks, while they dance their way through the streets. The torch bearers were originally slaves or free men of colour, who were tipped generously by the crowd because of their extravagance with the flambeaux (flaming torches). Even though the sight of the torches is amazing to behold, their original inclusion was more practical than flamboyant, as they were needed to provide light for folk to see the beautiful floats as well as warmth for those in the streets on cold nights.

shutterstock_167793959While the flames are guiding the way, most onlookers are anticipating the pleasures that follow them on the floats. Members of each krewe throw gifts to the crowd as they go past. This tradition was started in the 1870s and is still one of the most highly anticipated parts of the parade. Gifts include beads, cups, stuffed animals and doubloons, which are medallions with the krewe’s emblem on one side and the Mardi Gras theme on the other. To receive a doubloon is very rare and collectors are thrilled at the retrieval of one of these.

Each krewe has a king and a queen who organise the Mardi Gras balls, which still close the celebrations. Their identities are withheld until the night of the balls, which are mostly private events where attendance is normally by invitation only. After these elaborate affairs the crowds disperse home contentedly exhausted, in order to prepare for the period of sacrifice that begins the next day.

Crossroads – OUT TODAY

Crossroads7The doorway to the Otherworld has been closed but at a terrible cost. Theo has been trapped on the other side while the Demon Nathaniel searches for one of the lost crossroads of the Underworld. With the help of the God Hades, who she doesn’t trust, Olivia crosses over and with nothing but a flashlight, a broken Demon collar, a Grimoire and a compass that doesn’t work she must risk everything to find him. As she searches she keeps catching glimpses of the real world. It’s only then Olivia realises when they closed the doorway something dark and ancient was left behind, trapped in Mercy. She watches helplessly from other side as the residents of Mercy begin falling into mysterious comas and it becomes clear that whatever is stalking the streets of her town is stealing human souls.

Olivia is torn, faced with an impossible situation and the clock is ticking. Even if she manages to find Theo she knows she must make a choice, stop the soul collector or go after Nathaniel, knowing that if he reaches the crossroad before her, she will have to make a deal with the Keeper of the crossroad and the price may be her own soul.

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Hoodoo – Conjuring in the Americas

Also known as rootwork or conjuring, Hoodoo was developed in the Americas during slavery. It originated as a cross between Fon and Ewe spiritual folkways, in honour of the West Africans beliefs that the slaves had to leave behind. As a result of the restrictions that were imposed upon them, Hoodoo was mainly practiced secretly or disguised as a part of their forced Christianity. The word Hoodoo has a double meaning and is either the religion itself or the spells that are cast by those that practice it.

Hoodoo involves the use of magickal and supernatural forces, to influence lives in areas such as love, power, wealth and revenge. Herbs, minerals, animal parts, human body fluids (including menstrual blood, urine and semen) and possessions are used in these spells. The souls of practitioners’ ancestors, and other spirits, are the contacts between themselves and God. They are given offerings in the forms of animal sacrifices, oils, powders and incense to make them happy and willing to give a favourable outcome. In the religion there are practitioners who conduct rootwork for others and these are referred to as Hoodoo doctors.

Psalms are read during spellwork to increase their power, but Christianity is not the only religion that was majorly influential in the way Hoodoo matured. On their arrival in the Americas, the slaves discovered that many of the roots and herbs that they had at their disposal were unfamiliar. The Native Americans, who worked alongside them on the plantations, introduced them to the properties of these new plants and their spirituality became a strong influence on the way in which Hoodoo developed.

In the 1990s many descendants of slaves began moving back to the south because of more racial tolerance, and returned to their roots. They were also able to self-educate about the way their ancestors practiced Hoodoo, because of the widespread use of the internet. There are many subtle differences in the way that followers practice, mainly based on where they are located. However, there are some beliefs that always stay the same:

  1. shutterstock_177804386A Higher Power Exists

The practitioners of Hoodoo worship a variety of gods, some of which have even been adopted from other major religions. All branches agree that there is one or more higher power that created humans and guides their daily lives. 

  1. Life after Death

Ancestors play an important part in worship and they are called upon to assist the deities and spirits during conjuring. They also guide and protect those that they leave behind after ascending to this higher state of being.

  1. Divination

The ability to foretell the future, with the assistance of the spirits, means that it is possible to change it based on what has been revealed.

  1. Everything has a Purpose

All plants, animals, humans and spirits are believed to be created by God and sent to earth, in order to fulfill a divine purpose.

  1. Justice

Hoodoo practitioners believe in justice and the Bible concept of ‘an eye for an eye.’ The punishment must fit the crime, and curses are performed as a way to ensure that justice is served. 

Hecate – Greek’s Goddess of the Crossroads

The subject of Greek mythology is one that still holds our interest, and the stories continue to captivate us regardless of how many times we have heard them. Some of the most interesting Greek legends are the ones about the gods, and goddesses, that the civilization worshipped. Among these was the beautiful, powerful goddess of the crossroads, Hecate. Normally pictured holding either a key or two torches, she was the only Titan that Zeus allowed to retain a position of influence and authority after he conquered them. She was also the only one, among the gods, that he shared the secret of granting humans their every desire with. This shows the level of respect and appreciation that he had for her.

Hecate_Chiaramonti_Inv1922Hecate was the goddess of crossroads, magic, entranceways, the moon and light, as well as being associated with the earth, the sky and the sea. As one of the protectors of shepherds and sailors, she had the power to calm or create storms.

Whenever the goddess was seen at night, in some of the legends she appeared as shining and luminous and in others she was barely visible. This luminescence was the basis of her strong association with the moon. She became known as ‘The Queen of the Night’ because she possessed the ability to see into the Underworld. Ghosts and other spiritual beings chose to travel with her and her closeness to these creatures meant she was greatly feared, yet highly respected.

Hecate loved her freedom and chose to retain her independence by not getting married. Her constant companions were her sacred dogs, and both the goddess and her canines were believed to have three heads. This gave them the ability to see in every direction at once as well as to look into the past, present and future. Offerings were left at Y-intersections to honour her and travellers hung three masks here, so that she would guide them in choosing the correct path.

Believed to be the goddess that protected Athenian households, she would also grant the family prosperity and daily blessings. As a deity of both life and death she was the protector of women in labour and helped eased their pain, as well as comforting the elderly on their death beds helping them to feel as little fear and pain as possible when making the transition from the land of the living to the land of the dead.

Hecate was also fiercely committed to her protection of the poor and less fortunate, but still insisted on dispensing justice fairly and equally when it was necessary. Leftovers from the evening meal were put outside as offerings to her, and the homeless would be the direct recipient of these. In this way she took care of all her worshippers and, even though she was known as ‘The Distant One,’ was quick to reward those that were loyal to her using the special abilities that Zeus had granted.

Angels and Demons – Spiritual Beings that Walk among Men

The word angel is derived from the Greek word angelos, meaning messenger. They are spiritual beings created by God to act as a connection between heaven and earth, and surpass us in both strength and intelligence. God’s angels are immortal and since their creation their numbers have neither increased nor decreased. As spiritual beings angels do not have a physical form, but when delivering messages to humans they have been known to appear as men do or as a dazzling while light.

Angels have their own hierarchy, which is divided into three spheres of three classes each. Their classification is based on the job that they are required to do:

First Sphere – These angels serve directly under God and his son. This sphere is divided into:

  • Seraphim – Always located directly in God’s presence, these angels continuously sing Him praises. They receive God’s messages before any of the other groups of angels and pass them down for Him.
  • Cherubim – These angels are frequently dispatched by God to earth to take care of his most important tasks. They are also the source of knowledge for the lesser orders of angels.
  • Thrones – The main function of the Thrones is to carry out God’s authority and justice.

Second Sphere – Responsible for guiding and ruling other spiritual beings, the groups in this sphere are:

  • Dominions – This group regulates the duties that the lower angels are required to complete.
  • Virtues – This group is in charge of ensuring that the physical part of the universe remains in order at all times.
  • Powers – This group consists of God’s divine warriors and record keepers.

shutterstock_370733861Third Sphere – The angels in this group are the direct connection with God and humanity. Their existence is dedicated to guiding, protecting and delivering messages to mankind.

  • Principalities – Designated to transport God’s messages to earth, these angels also guide and protect groups of people.
  • Archangels – There are seven archangels in God’s kingdom including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. These angels are the most well-known among humanity as their presence normally signifies great change. They are the guardians of nations and countries.
  • Angels – These are the official messengers to humanity, and the ones that we are most able to relate to. The Angel group also includes each individual’s personal guardian angel.

Even though God created angels to be a representation of good in the world, there are still some that rebel against his teachings and are subsequently cast out of heaven. The leader of these outcasts is Lucifer, who was one of the first angels to be banished from His glorious presence. When he was cast out it is believed that Lucifer brought at least 1/3 of the other angels with him, and they now serve him as the force that opposes God’s superiority on earth.

The followers of Lucifer are now known as demons, and they specialize in creating havoc for humanity including taking possession of humans in order to carry out their evil intentions. Regardless of the fact that Lucifer and his demonic army oppose the teachings of God, it is still believed that it is all a part of His overall plan for the human race.