Showing posts with label voodoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label voodoo. Show all posts

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Open Letter to Cat Yronwode and Lucky Mojo Regarding the Accusation of New Orleans Voodoo as a Faux Religion Perpetuated by Fakers


This blog will address a very serious matter. It will likely offend some people, enrage others, and amuse those with no vested interest in the issue. Frankly, I don't care what people think. This is something I need to say for me and for my ancestors whose voices are the ones to whom we should be paying attention.

As some of you know, over the past 2 years I have been the subject of much gossip. You would think people had better things to do than talk about me and my life, but some folks thrive on making themselves look better by deliberately attempting to discredit others.

I was informed this morning about an article on the Lucky Mojo website that has made stunningly inaccurate statements about New Orleans Voodoo as a religion. It is called "Hoodoo is not New Orleans Voodoo." Here is a portion of the article, followed by my response.

In recent years, contact between Americans and Haitians, an influx of Haitian immigrants to the USA, and the popularity of Voodoo among interested white practitioners with backgrounds in Paganism and/or Hermetic magic have led to the creation of a form of the ritualized practice hat goes under the name New Orleans Voodoo.

New Orleans Voodoo is a newly constructed faux-religion which has no cultural, family, liturgical, or social roots in traditional African, African-American, or Haitian religions, but traces back to literary sources instead. Since the mid 20th century it has evolved under the hands of four major promoters, none of whom had direct lineage transmission from the previous ones and each of whom accreted a small following which took no part in the major social life of New Orleans.

Each of these promoters was or is an author and/or the owner of a tourist venue or a store. Each of these promoters and their followers drew or draw upon a handful of 20th century anthropological and popular works describing Haitian Voodoo, which they use as source-books for their performances. These source-books include the works of authors such as Zora Neale Hurston (1938), Maya Deren (1953), Alfred Metraux (1958), Milo Rigaud (1969), and Wade Davis (1985). At best the fabrications of these promoters can be said to be historical fantasy recreations in the style of the Renaissance Faire venues in the USA, and at worst they have been a means to part sincere seekers from their money under the guise of offering exotic initiations or ecstatic worship services that are spurious at their root.

The four major promoters of the faux-religion of New Orleans Voodoo have been Robert Tallant (1940s), Charles Gandolfo (1960s-1990s), Sallie Ann Glassmann (1990s), and Denise Alvarado (2000s). Other, less well-known, promoters have included the author and publisher Raymond J. Martinez (1950s), the dancer Ava Kay Jones (1980s-1990s), the author and store owner Sharon Caulder (1990s), the store owner Miriam Chemani (1990s - present), the author John Shrieve, and the paranormal / haunted tour organizer "Bloody Mary."

New Orleans Voodoo has historically had no community membership base, in Louisiana other than as a source of employment for shop employees, dancers, authors, and publishers. These faux-religionists write books, compose music, sell Voodoo-themed goods in their shops, hold Voodoo-themed festivals and workshops, and put on Voodoo-themed dance and drumming performances for tourists. The latter events were especially popular under the direction of Charles Gandolfo and Ava Kay Jones.

New Orleans Voodoo has been promoted to the outside world by small independent coteries of less than ten or twenty core participants who charge money for their literature, workshops, museums, tours, and/or performances. Its wider range of participants are tourists and spiritual seekers; there is a notable and significant lack of community participation from the environs of New Orleans. None of its leaders or followers can demonstrate that its practices spring from a local community base.

Having been repeatedly accused of fakery, some of the promoters of New Orleans Voodoo have belatedly sought initiations in Africa or Haiti to add gravitas to their literary mining expeditions through well-known works describing Haitian Voodoo. Others have gone out of their way to acquire actual African artifacts to display in their museums, or to purchase Brazilian Quimbanda statuary to resell as spurious Voodoo goods. At least one made a point of importing Haitian art for sale -- some of which, it turned ut, was manufactured for her by a movie-prop maker in Hollywood California. And always among the expensive and exotic faux-Voodoo religious goods are salted a dizzying variety of small, cheap faux-Voodoo trinkets made in China, often decorated in Mardi Gras style, as if Mardi Gras were an alternative form of Voodoo. And, of course, when they wish to promote "magick" or "spell-casting", they turn to traditional African American hoodoo, which they re-brand as Voodoo.

First, before my response, I have a couple comments. Where is your source of information coming from? Have you not read any of the historical records or literature that clearly indicate Voodoo arrived in the 1700s when the first Bambarans set foot in New Orleans? Who happened to have also brought the gris gris tradition with them which remains, since the 1700s, an integral part of New Orleans Voodoo?

More importantly, how many New Orleans Voodoo or Hoodoo practitioners have you spoken to? Anyone over the age of 30? Have you ever heard of the term oral tradition, the hallmark of the transmission of knowledge for virtually all indigenous traditions? How about institutionalized colonization? Cultural appropriation? Cultural hegemony?

How is it that a white Jewish woman from California, who has never spent a significant amount of time in New Orleans, if any at all,  has claimed the narrative of  New Orleans Voodoo and Southern Hoodoo?

Let me just speak from an academic standpoint, since everyone seems to thinks of Ms. Yronwode as a scholarly writer. If indeed it is Catherine Yronwode who authored the article, and since it is on the website I assume it is and if not, then it is approved by her to be there, the very premise for the argument is flawed. First, you are using French Quarter Voodoo as the context of comparison. French Quarter Voodoo is geared towards tourists. It does not define the tradition, which is very idiosyncratic given the social and historical conditions that have influenced its evolution. Secondly, your facts are just wrong, period. Show me some scholarly sources that back up your statements. Third, this kind of article is a prime example of the insidious nature of colonization and its wonderful counterpart hegemony, which in essence means that you have used one cultural platform of comparison as the legitimate one (your opinion), to judge another, usually indigenous one, in this case  New Orleans Voodoo. Cultural hegemony occurs when a dominant culture (European American) manipulates and dominates another, typically minority, typically indigenous, culture. In laymen's terms, you have presented your opinion as the legitimate one, "my way is the right way," without any kind of productive discourse with anyone intimately involved. This is just wrong. It is something indigenous (African and Native American) people of the Americas have endure for over 500 years and frankly, I'm sick of it.

Here is my response to Ms. Yronwode. Knowing how she operates, it will be posted by her somewhere anyway, so I want people to see it from me first.


Greetings Catherine,

As you and I have never had a real conversation other than one concerning mutual plagiarism, and with the unfortunate exception of our initial "introduction" to each other where I was falsely accused of being the editor for a document that someone on my forum had written, I had hope we remained on at least cordial grounds as I continued to look out for your work being lifted, etc. and shared with you instances of the misuse of your online presence by unscrupulous others, simply out of common professional courtesy and an effort to demonstrate good will and character.
It is evident we don't see eye to eye on things in terms of our mutual experiences and knowledge about Southern hoodoo and especially New Orleans Voodoo. Yet, I have never publicly named you as a major hoodoo marketeer or accused you of anything other than offering an alternate point of view from my own. Any personal thoughts or feelings remain my own.
Imagine my surprise to find this in my inbox. "The four major promoters of the faux-religion of New Orleans Voodoo have been Robert Tallant (1940s), Charles Gandolfo (1960s-1990s), Sallie Ann Glassmann (1990s), and Denise Alvarado (2000s). Other, less well-known, promoters have included the author and publisher Raymond J. Martinez (1950s), the dancer Ava Kay Jones (1980s-1990s), the author and store owner Sharon Caulder (1990s), the store owner Miriam Chemani (1990s - present), the author John Shrieve, and the paranormal / haunted tour organizer "Bloody Mary."
And of course, I was provided a link where i got to read the whole sordid story.
Now this could get really ugly, as I feel as though the respect I have shown for you has not been reciprocated, given past experiences and this current article on your website.  And nothing gets in my craw worse than someone who shows me one face and behind my back shows their true character. With the numerous times in which we have emailed back and forth and the many times Nagasiva has written and asked questions about things he said he wanted to know my opinion about, it would seem to me we could have had some very constructive conversations about your thoughts and opinions about New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo, or your concerns about me as a person or my qualifications. But no, you had to make it personal by jumping on the discredit Denise bandwagon. Okay, let's go there.
You have a right to your opinion, as do I. But let me ask you this, could it be possible that you are wrong? Could it be possible that what you know about New Orleans Voodoo and the role of Hoodoo in the tradition is not what you think it is? Could it be that you don't know me at all except for what others who don't know me have stated, and our limited email conversations? 
Let me be clear about a few things. One, I was born and raised in New Orleans, and my experience with Hoodoo and Voodoo never did and never has come from the French Quarter Voodoo variety. Nor has it come from literary sources about Haitian Vodou. And this is why everything you have stated and all of the haters fail; the platform of comparison is not qualified as such. That is tourist Voodoo, that is not the Voodoo that has survived along the bayous in its many variations and handed down through families and by virtue of being in the culture. You also have not recognized the small group of people in the French Quarter who are actually doing great things with regards to the preservation of the religion and who have worked hard in the community to preserve things like the sacred cultural geography intimately related to Voodoo in New Orleans. Voodoo in New Orleans began as a bunch of different African religions forced together, where slaves and Natives found common themes, and it is through those common themes where New Orleans Voodoo comes from. It has come to embrace the influences of many cultures as you are aware. While there was a period of time when there were community ceremonies and celebrations, these were not the actual rituals taking place, only parts and representations of it. The real stuff was and always has been until recently behind the scenes, in secret. Unless you grew up as a person of color in the South, which you are not,  and experienced the necessity of remaining underground, which you have not, then it would be hard to understand.

New Orleans Voodoo practitioners do not deny that the religion lacks the formalized rites of Haitian Vodou. That doesn't mean it is not a religion. It doesn't mean that it is not a religion because much of the tradition for many, looks a whole lot like Hoodoo. That's not something I, or Mambo Sallie Ann, or Charles Gandolfo, or Zora Neale Hurston, for that matter, made up. That is the way it is and has been. Tallant, on the other hand, definitely fabricated quite a bit, much of which I have attempted to clarify over the years. I can understand the confusion, however, if you were never immersed in New Orleans culture or the traditions of the Louisiana swamps. Trust me, there's a whole lot more to the story than you will ever have the privilege of knowing or seeing.

Those who have accused me of "fakery" as whoever authored the article wrote, and I assume it is you, are at least half my age, not from New Orleans, never spent any significant time there or in Louisiana, and have never provided any sources for their accusations. They wouldn't know "real" New Orleans Voodoo if it stared them in the face. That is because the platform from which they are judging the religion is not the religion; it is French Quarter tourism. Of course it doesn't match up. But instead of taking me up on offers for productive discourse, they, as have you, have made assumptions about me and some very well respected individuals in New Orleans that is simply founded on ignorance. Instead they, as have you, have taken it to the public. This will not sit will with many of those whom you accuse to be fakers of a "faux" religion. 
In everything I have written, I have never claimed to be the last word on New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo, only to say that it is my experience. The reason for that disclaimer is because anyone from my generation, and anyone who has done their research (not just reading books, but actually talking to people who are actually from Louisiana and actual practitioners) will know that the manner in which it has been passed down was through individual families and thus there is variation. There is as much variation in the manner in which Christians may express their devotion to God,  some may actually do unto others while others could care less and still other fall somewhere in between. The variations do not disqualify it as a religion. There are still unifying beliefs and practices that make it what it is. New Orleans Voodoo is a living, breathing, fluid tradition and this is part of its beauty and its appeal to believers. 
It is true that some New Orleans Voodooists have sought initiations in related traditions. Some have clung to vestiges of the religion by continuing in the practice of New Orleans style Hoodoo and rootwork and no longer claim the religious aspects of it. Some are Christian, quite a few are not. Many have developed unique yet recognizable rites of their own. Some folks belong to temples and houses, most do not. New Orleans Voodoo has long been known to be an individual religion, having been made so due to sociohistorical circumstances like the Louisiana Black Code, and as I mentioned earlier, the rampant and pervasive racism that has characterized the South for so long. 
You may not wish to know the truth behind your accusations or have any interest in exploring preconceived notions based on outsider and fledgling opinions or blues songs. You may not have any interest in actually speaking with some of the people you have accused of fakery or perpetuating a "faux" religion. That is your choice. However, I find it deeply offensive what you have written, and a deliberate attempt at claiming a cultural narrative that is not yours to claim. Indeed you have a right to your opinion, but unless you have walked in my shoes, Priestess Miriam's shoes, Mambo Ava Kay Jones, and the many others whom you did not acknowledge in your misguided article, you will never know the truth. Instead, it appears this is more of the case of wanting to be "right," instead of really wanting to be right, and that is just unfortunate. 
You have not been, nor will you be the only narrative on the indigenous traditions of the South. More folks, and more folks of color, and more scholars of color, are speaking up. I strongly encourage you to do as our Cherokee elders say, "listen or your tongue will make you deaf."
Blessings,
Denise Alvarado


As I have always said, my door is open to discussion. We can use this as a learning opportunity for everyone concerned. I want to be clear I am not engaging in a drama warfare; however, because I am publicly implicated and deeply offended by the utter disrespect shown in the article, I felt compelled to go public with a statement.

Comments welcome, haters, don't waste your time.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Working with St. Anthony of Padua



St. Anthony of Padua is one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints, as well as one of New Orleans’ most popular saints. He was a powerful Franciscan preacher and teacher and is widely recognized as a miracle worker.  He is usually depicted holding a lily, a book and/or the baby Jesus in his arms.  Nearly everywhere, St. Anthony is asked to intercede with God for the return of things lost or stolen. Those who feel very familiar with him may pray, "Tony, Tony, turn around. Something's lost and must be found."

Saint Anthony of Padua lived from 1195 until 1231 AD. His feast day is June 13, which is the anniversary of his death. His color is brown and because he was buried on a Tuesday and many miracles occurred at that time, Tuesday is his celebrated day. It is customary to pray a Novena to him on thirteen consecutive Tuesdays.

In New Orleans, it is said that Marie Laveaux always kept a statue of St. Anthony in her front yard and when she was “doing a work” she would turn the statue upside down. The upside down position of the statue of St. Anthony let people know she should not be disturbed at that point in time. When she was done with her work, she would turn him right side up again and availed herself to visitors.

St. Anthony is well known for his numerous miracles. His most famous miracle could well be his sermon to the fishes. When a crowd refused to listen to him, he apparently turned his back on them and standing on the shore, began preaching to the fish in the lake. It is said that the fish responded by lifting up their heads from the water so they could hear him better. This event no doubt caught people’s attention.


Patronage


Saint Anthony of Padua is the Patron Saint of lost things, as well as against shipwrecks, poor and oppressed people, barren women, starvation, American Indians, boatmen, elderly people, expectant mothers, fishermen, harvests, horses, mail, mariners, pregnant women, sailors, swineherds, travel hostesses, travelers and watermen.

In some countries, Saint Anthony is prayed to by travelers and vacationers for a safe journey, particularly over the seas. Thus, he is the patron saint of sailors and fisherman in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. According to some stories, sailors keep a statue of Saint Anthony on the mast of the ship, and appeal to him for safety while at sea.

St. Anthony is traditionally invoked for help with finding lost things because of an incident that occurred in his own life. According to legend, Anthony had a book of psalms (Psalter) that was very important to him. The Psalter had the notes and comments he had made to use in teaching students in his Franciscan Order. A novice who had grown tired of living a religious life decided to leave the community. In addition to going AWOL, he took Anthony's Psalter! When Anthony realized his Psalter was missing, he prayed for its safe return. Soon after Anthony's prayer, the thief felt compelled to return the Psalter to Anthony, as well as return to the Order which accepted him back.

Oral tradition has a much more colorful version of this story. In this version, the novice was stopped in his tracks by a ghastly devil wielding an ax and threatening to crush him if he did not return the book immediately. According to AmericanCatholic.org, “in Christian tradition a devil would hardly command anyone to do something good. But the core of the story would seem to be true. And the stolen book is said to be preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna.”

St Anthony is best known among conjurers as the patron of lost things, as well. He is invoked when a person is lost. Many people call upon him to help them reconcile with a lost lover and to help find a mate. Because Saint Anthony finds lost people, his aid can also be requested when praying for someone who is severely struggling, and who seems to be a lost soul. Call his name, visualize your lost item and explain to him how important it is for you to find it, and sincerely ask for his aid. You will find your missing object, especially when reciting the following prayer.


Prayer to Find What Is Lost


St. Anthony, when you prayed, your stolen book of prayers was given back to you. Pray now for all of us who have lost things precious and dear. Pray for all who have lost faith, hope or the friendship of God. Pray for us who have lost friends or relatives by death. Pray for all who have lost peace of mind or spirit. Pray that we may be given new hope, new faith, new love. Pray that lost things, needful and helpful to us, may be returned to our keeping. Or, if we must continue in our loss, pray that we may be given Christ’s comfort and peace. Amen.



Offerings

  • Cigar  
  • Whiskey and white rum
  • White candles
  • Brown candles
  • Red Candles
  • Lilies

Yo git St. Anthony, yeah a brown candle…
Yo git a cigar – see lak dat you got  [I was smoking a cigar]
Yo git ‘bout a little whiskey glass of whiskey see ‘cause St. Anthony
He’s a saint he laks cigahs and he was a good-time man…
An yo wake up de nex mawnin’ an yo’ see de glass dry an’ de cigah half smoked.

 (Algiers, Louisiana) Hyatt, Hoodoo-Conjure-Witchcraft-Rootwork, Vol 2.

Work 1

If there is someone who is angry with you or who does not trust you and you wish to heal that relationship, you can appeal to St. Anthony to help.  Hang an image of St. Anthony on the wall and directly underneath it, set a brown candle in a white saucer. Write a petition on a piece of plain brown that has your name and the target’s name written three times underneath yours. As you write the names, say “I desire you (state the person’s name) to come to me in peace.” Place the petition under the saucer and light the candle. Knock three times before his image and tell St Anthony to find that person and bring them to you in peaceful, reconciliatory state of mind. When he answers your petition, be sure to thank him publicly for his help.

Work 2


St. Anthony can also be invoked for cases of justice. Use a red candle for this work and offer him some red flowers, a cigar and a glass of white rum. Write your petition to St. Anthony and set it before an image of him. Knock three times and call out his name, and tell him what you want. Then take the petition and wrap one of the red flowers and a piece of camphor in it and tie it closed with a red string. Take the paket along with some white rum and bury it in your front yard. Pour some rum on the ground over the burial spot. When he answers your petition, be sure to thank him publicly for his help.


Article Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Make and Use a Business Success Gris Gris

It's the beginning of the year and a time for reevaluation of things. Many folks continue to struggle and look to all sorts of ways to increase their chances of business success. One of the ways this can be done in the realm of New Orleans Hoodoo is by making a gris gris bag for your business or job. Before you do this you should perform a house, shop and office cleansing for the New Year. You can find an example in my blog post How to Perform a House Cleansing. In addition, you can try Marie Laveau's Floor Wash for Business Success shown in the image below from the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook that appeared in Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly #2.




Making Your Business Success Gris Gris

Gris gris is a system of magic brought over form Africa by the traditional Bambaran Africans as well as the Muslim marabouts.  Jean Montenet, aka Dr. John, himself a Bambaran, utilized gris gris in his healing practice and was considered a master at his craft. Some speculate Marie Laveau was an apprentice of sorts to Dr. John for awhile and learned the art of gris gris from him. It has also been suggested that her mother was from the Congo, and so she likely learned the art from her mother, as well. Wherever she learned it, and however it ended up in New Orleans is secondary to the  influence it continues to have on New Orleans Voodoo today, thanks to Marie Laveau's business savvy. And all of us professional rootworkers owe a debt to the Mother and Father of New Orleans Voodoo - Dr. John Montenet and Mamz'elle Laveau -  for making a business out of Hoodoo in New Orleans and all along the Southern Bayous.

If you haven't seen my other blog Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, you should take a look at the excerpt on gris gris there for a more in depth background of the practice. You should also refer to the article How to Make a Gris Gris Bag for details on the process that I won't repeat here because I have already written about it in the other article.

So let's make a business gris gris in the Marie Laveau tradition for the New Year. You will need yellow or green flannel or a piece of leather and the following items:

  • Solomon's Seal
  • High John the Conqueror Root
  • Devil's Shoestring
  • Silver mercury dime
  • Black eyed pea
  • Palm ashes
  • Dragon's Blood
  • Personal effect of your own such as fingernail clippings or hair
  • Material effect from your business like a business card or receipt
  • Lodestone
  • Dried toadstool
  • Small piece of pound cake offered to St. Expedite

Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado
Light a green, yellow or gold candle and hold your bag while focusing on the need or desire you have. Say Psalm 8 twenty-seven times while imagining yourself accomplishing your goal. Once you can say the prayer and have a clear vision of your goal in mind (this does take practice), your gris gris will begin to attract the changes you seek. Do this exercise daily, first thing in the morning or right before bedtime. Feed your gris gris every Friday evening by placing it on a dish of sugar and pouring a few drops of Crown of Success conjure oil onto the ingredients inside the bag. Leave it to sit overnight. It’s okay for the oil to leech into the sugar. In the morning, put the sugar in a bucket of soapy water and wash down the entrance of your business. Keep your gris gris with you if at all possible; women keep it on the left side while men keep them on the right. Anytime you need extra blessings, hold the gris gris in your hands and breathe into it while reciting the prayer.



Psalm 8(KJV)

God's Glory and Man's Honor

To the chief Musician upon Git'tith, A Psalm of David.


O LORD our Lord,
how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength
because of thine enemies,
that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

what is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honor.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet:

all sheep and oxen,
yea, and the beasts of the field;

the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O LORD our Lord,
how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Find a complete selection of authentic New Orleans Gris Gris at Planet Voodoo.
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All text, images and graphics Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide. Do not copy without my express permission.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly! A New Magazine for Hoodoo and Conjure Enthusiasts!

If you haven't heard by now, there is a brand new magazine on the horizon for folks whose souls lie deep in the heart of the conjure arts. I am so excited about this project and the response we have received from the endeavor...it just validates the need for such a magazine.

You may be wondering how this all came about. Well, I cannot take credit for the original idea...it came from Papa Legba who advises me on business opportunities on a regular basis. It was after petitioning him that it became clear this was a project worth attacking, so I pitched the idea to someone I thought to be my friend, who immediately said she was in, albeit mostly for friendly support.

Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly it is a project that I believe should reflect the community of rootworkers, conjurers, folk magicians, authors, and artists inspired by Spirit and the conjure arts. This is proving to be a realistic goal as I have been approached by several folks who are eager to contribute in a variety of ways. I have wonderful interviews featuring notable folks in the magickal arts, as well as the every day rootworker. I am featuring professionals and those who practice privately or within their circle of family and friends. I am featuring a column on international hoodoo as it is evident this tradition has spread to all corners of the world. And, as an artist myself, I am featuring artists who are inspired by Spirit and conjure.

For example, the first featured artist is Deacon Gary, th' Georgia Mojo Man and his Allegedly Genuine Souvenir Mojos. Deacon Gary really was a deacon in a local church in his community, so he dons the title honestly; it is not just a clever title. The first time I set eyes on his art I knew he was ridden by Spirit to create signatures of love and luck to share with the world. Take a look at what he has to say about his conjuring process:

"Brethren, it is a true saying that "Mojos are curious horsemen", mounting steeds of diverse forms and sizes. And I, Deacon Gary, the Mojoman of Georgia, by the inspiration of the Creative Fire from the Great Creator Spirit, am appointed to the selection and acquisition of horses, worthy and acceptable, for Mojos to mount.

Once a horse, worthy and acceptable to be mounted by a Mojo, is chosen, then is the Mojo conjured to ride forth into the world."

Oh, there is so much more to this story but I have to save it for the magazine.

Another regular column you will find in Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly is based on my new book the New Orleans Voodoo Hoodoo Formulary. I will share with our readers recipes for New Orleans oils, portions, gris gris, powders, floor washes, spiritual baths and animal and mineral curios. Few people outside of New Orleans Voodoo realize the influence of the French perfumeries on some of the formulas. And, some of the regional differences in the various botanical and zoological materials incorporated in ritual formulas within this tradition have been hotly and incorrectly contested in some of the forums. I think that sometimes people like to argue for the sake of arguing, and as a result miss the opportunity to learn a little something  that could quite possibly enrich their lives and practice.

These are just a few of the topics you will find in Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly. To read more, please visit the official website Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly.

Copyright 2010-2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide. Please ask if you would like to repost this article.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Ten Most Common Reasons Love Spells Don’t Work


Aside from requests for wealth, prosperity, and debt relief, the most common spells people request are love spells. Every day I received questions from clients and potential customers about how to win back a lover, how to keep a partner faithful, and how to put the passion back into a relationship.

As human beings, it is normal to want to be loved. In fact, next to food and shelter, the need for love and companionship is essential for healthy human psychological and emotional development. It is not surprising that people are willing to do anything and pay anything to gain the love of someone special.

But do love spells work? Well, yes and no. It depends on a number of factors. A reputable spellcaster should explain to you how their particular magick system works and give you instructions for what you should and shouldn’t do in order to manipulate energy in your favor. However, if you ask someone to cast a love spell for you and they guarantee it will work, run the other way. There is no such thing as 100% effective magick, and I am about to tell you why.

Many people do not understand that magick is a cocreative process which necessitates that you work in partnership with the Universe in order to ensure success. This is why I never guarantee any Voodoo love spells I perform. I cannot control what you do or don’t do. The only control I have is over me and the authentic ritual I perform. How you think, feel, believe, and behave is up to you; yet, these dynamics have everything to do with the success or failure of any Voodoo love spell.

To help you understand why love spells and Voodoo love spells frequently fail, I have come up with a list of the top ten reasons love spells don't work. These reasons apply whether you cast the spell yourself or someone else does the work for you.

1. You have unrealistic expectations. If you live in Picayune, Mississippi and you are casting a spell to make Criss Angel love you, well, your chances of success are pretty slim…especially if you have never even met the guy! There needs to be a strong connection to the person to begin with, and a basis from which love can be nurtured and sparked. Furthermore, love spells do not work overnight. Magick is often a process that involves removing obstacles and clearing unwanted influences, and realigning and maneuvering energies to affect change for the best possible result.

2. Magick is not guaranteed. Just as prayers to the creator may go seemingly unanswered, there may be a reason that a spell does not work. It may be that the Universe has different plans for you. This reason is very hard for some people to accept.

3. You are taking shortcuts. To be a powerful and effective conjurer, you must have the right tools, focus, and mindset. Power results from the use of traditional ingredients such as roots, oils, and powders, from the use of traditional tools such candles and a knife, from performing powerful ritual techniques such as those passed down in the Voodoo tradition for thousands of years, and from having a traditional altar or work space.

4. You doubt the power of magick and you do not “believe” in your own personal power. Magick systems are based on faith. If you do not believe in the possibility of shifting energy and in your ability to attract certain energy your way, and if you do not believe in the power of the Spirits that you may be asking for a favor, you are wasting your time and money.

5. You are stalking and/or harassing your desired mate. Do not threaten or terrorize, attempt to coerce or intimidate, or start calling or emailing your desired lover. To do so will reverse any spell performed on your behalf. You need to create and allow space for the correct energies to align and work in your favor.

6. You are being scammed. Bar none, this is the most common reason love spells do not work. You have paid someone to perform a spell and they never do what they were paid to do, nor did they ever intend to do what they were paid to do. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who are just waiting to prey on your emotional grief and desperation. An authentic practitioner will have a conversation with you about your situation and assess your expectations and the likelihood of success. They will give you an honest appraisal of your request and will not take your money if there is little chance of the spell working.

7. You do not provide complete and accurate information to the spellcaster. An authentic practitioner will petition your requests in a formal ritual on your behalf based upon the information you provide. If you do not provide the correct information, or if you lie about the situation and expect the practitioner to “magically” make your ex fall back in love with you (even though you were abusive, for example), the spell will not work and may in fact, backfire. The Spirits are not stupid and do not take kindly to attempts to fraud or manipulate them. Voodoo Spirits are exceptionally powerful and keen to such shenanigans, and you will have no one to blame except yourself if you end up with the exact opposite of what you wanted.

8. You are obsessing over your love spell or Voodoo love spell. Obsession is fueled by desperation. These feelings attract negativity and will weaken any spell being performed.

9. You fail to address any underlying obstacles or issues. Many times there are unwanted influences creating an obstacle to the union or reunion of two people. These obstacles can be external, such as other people, or internal, such as a lack of confidence or self-worth. A cleansing of some sort should always be performed to clear the path for the Divine energies to do their work.

10. You talk about the spellwork to others. Under no circumstance should you discuss your spellwork with anyone under any conditions. To do so will weaken the power of the spell and will in essence, create an obstacle that wasn’t there to begin with.

Remember that Voodooists, rootworkers, and spellcasters of all kinds are not miracle workers – they are not deities. Practitioners vary in skill and expertise and even the most skilled and experienced spellcasters will not have a 100% success rate. Jimmy Page is considered to be one of the best guitar players to have ever lived; yet, even he hits wrong notes sometimes. In fact, he hits wrong notes a lot of the time. But that doesn’t make him any less skilled of a guitar player and song writer, nor has that been an obstacle to his extreme and legendary success.

So if you want your love spell to be successful, make sure you address the top ten reasons that they commonly fail and behave and believe accordingly. Have respect for the Spirits that are willing and able to help, and be patient and accept the space between you and your desired lover for now in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

The photo is an image of Mater Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrows) who is likened to Erzulie Freda in the Voodoo tradition. Get Our Lady of Sorrows as an altar poster from the Voodoo Butik.

Our Lady of Sorrows print
Our Lady of Sorrows

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