By Jeffery Pritchett, host of the Church of Mabus radio show and writer for the Florida Paranormal Examiner.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
1. What was your prime motivation and inspiration to create your new book, “The Voodoo Doll Spellbook A Compendium Of Ancient and Contemporary Spells and Rituals”?
I wanted to do a follow up of my first book, Voodoo Dolls in Magick and Ritual that focused solely on how people have used image magic and fetichism to deal with life’s conditions. I also wanted to explore the use of doll magick across cultures and throughout time. There is a popular notion that voodoo dolls come from Europe, and while there is a strong element of poppet magic in European folk magic traditions, there is a strong element of image magic and fetichism in many cultures around the world. The Voodoo doll as we know it in New Orleans Voodoo has a strong link to the fetichism of Africa, particularly of the boccio found all along the western coast.
There are records of slaves being observed with crude wooden fetishes carved in human shapes. We suspect these were used as protection and maybe defense.
2. Could you go into the history of the voodoo doll with us and some knowledge regarding them from other cultures?
Doll magic is found in many cultures historically. The ancient Greeks are known for their curse tablets which were often paired with dolls. Many times these dolls were bound with their hands behind their backs. Studies of the curse tablets inscriptions reveal a focus on eliminating business competitors in particular. They were also commonly used in love spells.
In ancient Egypt, there were dolls used as dream oracles.
In Native cultures, dolls were frequently used as fertility objects. Interestingly, they are also found to be used in a similar fashion as hoodoo, where they were buried in the path of a person who is considered an enemy with the intent to destroy that enemy.
In Africa, wooden fetishes are used as fertility objects and in initiation rituals. I have a wooden fetish in my collection that was used in a male puberty initiation ritual, for example. There are also the boccio, which are the wooden sculptural figures with all of the nails stuck into them and rope, fabric, feathers and a variety of objects attached to them. This tradition is where I personally believe the use of pins in the modern day voodoo doll comes from. If we look at how the nails are employed we can find parallels. Nails are stuck into the fetish as a means of activating its power.
3. When I first learned about voodoo I was amazed at how much Christianity and the Catholic Saints are intertwined within its confines. How did this happen exactly?
The presence of Christian and Catholic elements in New Orleans Voudou is the result of colonization and the enforcement of the Black Codes. Europeans have attempted to “tame the savage” (African and Native American) for years through conversion to Christianity, forced and otherwise. The implementation of the Louisiana Black Code (Code Noir) put social and legal structures in place that mandated the practice of Catholicism above any other religion, causing the expulsion of the Jews from the Louisiana colonies and the imposition of harsh penalties for any slave –free or otherwise – to worship anything other than a Christian God.
Catholicism is unique from other Western religions in that there are the saints and angels that act as intermediaries between God and human beings. Catholics pray with saints asking them to carry prayers for us to God in the belief that they have more influence than we do with God. Many people believe Catholics pray to the saints themselves, but this is not the case, even though from an outside perspective it may look that way. Well, this religious hierarchy inherent in Catholicism closely parallels on a surface level the type of pantheon of spirits in Voudou. In Voudou, there is the category of spirit called loas. These spirits act as intermediaries between God and humans, just like the saints. It didn’t take long for slaves to see the commonalities between some of the saints and their own African deities, and so they used Catholic saint stand-ins, as it were, for the African gods. For example, St. Peter holds the keys to the gates of heaven so he became associated with, and the stand-in for, Papa Legba, who holds the keys to the spirits world. This process of association is called syncretism. After time, the saints no longer served the same function, but they were nonetheless a part of Voudou all the same. Instead of pushing them to the wayside, they have been embraced as part of the Voudou pantheon of spirits.
4. Would you share with us how you got into voodoo originally and your background?
I was born in New Orleans and had a connection with the ancestral knowledge at birth. I was born with a “knowing” of many things on a supernatural level. I had an aunt who recognized this and she gave me my first formal lesson in communicating with the spirits when I was very young, around five or six. She washed my head with an herbal wash and she taught me how to access the world of spirit with a single candle flame, in what she called a séance. She said all the spirits could be contacted this way, and so that was how I stay connected to the spirits. But it didn’t stop at that, the spirits were always making themselves known in dreams and visions, sometimes very frightening ones. I was often battling demons and lower level spirits even as a young child. There was comfort in knowing I had ‘spirit helpers” who helped me fight those battles, as well as many others throughout my lifetime.
5. I have some enemies in radio who are vicious liars and would make up things just to tarnish your name. When it comes to voodoo what can I do to make these enemies cease their foolish antics?
Ah, the realm of the hater. I find there are two effective ways of dealing with enemies: Shut the Hell Up spells and binding spells. Here’s one that’s easy to do and quite effective.
Tie an Enemy Up
This is a classic binding spell. Binding spells are done to literally stop the individual from doing any further harm. Get a purple candle. Attach a photo of your enemy or a piece of parchment paper with their name written on it with Dragon’s Blood ink onto the Voodoo doll. Anoint the doll’s feet with Hot Foot Oil to drive your enemy away. Take a rope and tie it around the doll and stick it in a dark corner facing the wall. Light the purple candle and say Psalm 94.
Of course there are many other ways of dealing with enemies, some much darker such as torture spells, destruction spells and even death spells.
6. What are you up to next book wise or projects wise? Any links you’d like to share? I really enjoyed getting to ask these questions and look forward to our interview in October as part of our Halloween line up. I cherish that month and glad to have you as part of that at The Church Of Mabus. Thank you.
The next issue of Hoodoo and Conjure New Orleans is in the works and will be out by the end of the year. Listeners can check out the blog to stay informed about that:http://www.hoodooandconjure.com
Crossroads University has received a facelift and is on a new platform and I invite everyone to check it out. We offer courses on various aspects of Southern Conjure and Rootwork including one called Doll Baby Conjure where I teach students how to make and use several different types of dolls such as a Swamp Witch and a New Orleans style Voodoo Rope Doll. You can find a complete list of courses and some great information here: http://www.crossroadsuniversity.com
And of course, stay in the loop with doll conjure by following my bloghttp://voodoodollspellbook.blogspot.com and facebook page http://www.facebook.com/voodoodollspellbook
Keep up with me on social media:
Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeniseAlvarado
Doll Baby Conjure