1. How do you personally define “mojo?”
To keep it all in English and not break into various African languages that I believe truly define the source of the word, I would say the closest words we have are “magic” and “universal energy” or “collective energy”. Mojo is a concept reflected in numerous African spiritual practices that was condensed and made suitable to the New World lifestyle from enslavement to the present day.
2. You write of your rustic upbringing in your book, Four Seasons of Mojo . How did growing up in the country influence your spiritual path?
Growing up in a farming community on a lake in the forest may be the most influential aspects of my spiritual path apart from my family. Within a farming community as fecund as that in South Jersey, you become acutely aware of the seasons, of the interplay of plants, animals, and humans as they intersect in a desire to survive. As a child, you grow to revere the land and its fertile nature; you listen and hear its magical language. Growing up literally on the water surrounded by forest is probably one of the most magical places you could call home. Water and forest are abode to numerous spirits, angelic beings, deity, animals, spirit animals, deva , elementals , and ancestors. Staying open to these collective entities means your life is rich beyond compare, it is a gift that far exceeds living someplace like Orange County, for example. The only missing element personally would be a mountain. I love mountains and now visit the Smokies as often as possible.
3. How do your spells work?
As long as my intent is directly focused they work very well personally, and I’ve been told by many others that the ones presented in my books work well for them, too. Typically they involve plants, minerals, deity, animal spirits, and, depending on the work, ancestors to gain greatest efficacy.
4. How much does believing in a spell affect its outcome?
Belief and faith are important; also (and this is a warning to the un-spiritually grounded), many spells call on age-old magical herbals, powerful stones, and other power objects with a venerable history and high success rate. Those are the types of elements I incorporate in spells shared in Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs . I also employ or invoke powerful ancient Orisha , gods, and goddesses. The person who uses the spells needs to be prepared to meet with success, and sometimes that is not what is truly desired on a soul level. I have had people hurt by the “not knowing what I really want” syndrome. One of my favorite quotes applicable to this question is “Be careful what you wish for.”
5. Why is it important to make the home a magical environment? How can the use of herbs help accomplish this?
The home is spiritual base and center for holistic health—if it is sick, you and everyone else in it will be as well, including visitors.
There are several ways that herbs can be used to charge the air inviting good spirits—this is something missed with all the smudging and banishing work in the age of the “smudge stick.” Smudge sticks definitely have their purpose. I like them; I’ve taught workshops on smudging; and also give project instructions on how to create them in Four Seasons of Mojo and Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones , but smudging is no cure-all. There are many herbs that have different purposes, something called “draw” in hoodoo (meaning to “attract” or “invite,” as in love draw or luck draw); this is important, too, and requires specific herbs.
Foot Track Magic sees magical intent at foot level using the shoes, footprints (animal or spirit), the earth, and certain herbs (like deer’s tongue and other natural substances) to effect change. Footprints are tracked in from outside the home and Foot Track Magic, a distinctive Hoodoo practice, is attentive specifically to prints and tracks.
Frankincense and myrrh are two herbs with a very high spiritual frequency. They should be used pure, purchased whole and ground using a 3 to 1 ratio of Frankincense to Myrrh, since myrrh can be overpowering. These herbs enhance the spiritual vibration of living space, inviting high order angels, specific gods and goddesses, and other positive orders of deity to bless the living environment. There are also numerous medicinal herbs to take care of illnesses that manifest in the body or mind as disease. These, of course, are most commonly dispensed as poultice, infusion, balm, pomade, incense, decoction, or tincture.
6. Can people use hoodoo magic for negative purposes?
Of course; they can and they do. People take common over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and transform them into something as evil as crystal methamphetamine—why wouldn’t they take an African form of spiritual medicine and pervert it, too? Unfortunately, just as we can be good, perversion is also a part of human nature; like street drugs that minority part of human nature gets the majority of attention. Evil magic, like drug culture, makes for entertaining movies and lucrative TV series, but in real life it destroys the user and her environment very slowly. Just as I don’t use crystal meth, I don’t use something as potent and effective as hoodoo or green witchery for destructive purposes, nor do I condone their use in that manner. My work is about building and maintaining holistic health, identity, self-determination, and community, not destroying those precious gifts.
7. Is hoodoo a religion?
No. It is a collection of unique folk practices that combines beliefs of the Old World, the Motherland, and the New World.
8. What are some common misconceptions about hoodoo magic?
- That it is an inherently an evil group of practices and it cannot be used for good.
- You have to be a specific color to practice hoodoo.
- Hoodoo is strictly African American.
- It is an American practice and not derived from ADRs (African-derived religions).
- No Judeo-Christians, Buddhists, Witches or those of other religious paths practice Hoodoo.
- That something called, “traditional hoodoo,” exists.
- Hoodoo stays the same and does not evolve and change with the times.
- You need manufactured or packaged products to carry out hoodoo.
- Hoodoo and Voodoo are synonymous.
9. How do you define “seasonal magic?”
I define “seasonal magic” as the employment of the mojo, energy, collective force, ashe, and nyama of the four seasons to heal, change, and affect mundane and spiritual life. The changes brought about through seasonal magic are forged in the personal, professional, spiritual, communal, environmental, and universal aspects of life.
10. What is your favorite season? What do you do to honor it?
I would once have said summer, because I love swimming outdoors and warm weather—I like sunbathing, believe it or not, even though I’m brown. Then my inner child shouts winter, because she loves snow, snowmen, Christmas and Yule and Kwanza. More recently I had been saying fall because as an artist I love the colors and wind and spiritually it is a very strong season…you get the picture, I imagine? I love all the seasons, or at least appreciate them for better or worse; they are each strong aspects of my mundane, metaphysical, and spiritual lives. What I do not enjoy is living some place without four distinct seasons. Currently where I live in the Midwest we are having snow dumped upon us and sub-zero temps to match. Even in this chill-zone, I appreciate the song of winter birds, the skeletal appearance of trees coated with snow, icicles, and the inward reflection and quietude winter instills. Winter is a time that I am still enough to pray a lot and to meditate. It is the time I utilize candle magic and incense for specific spiritual purposes. During winter I am fully present, yet I anticipate the wonders of spring. I’m hoping that Four Seasons of Mojo encourages readers to love each and every part of the Wheel of the Year . Conceptually, the journey of that book takes readers on visits to the hottest, driest, windiest, most humid, and ridiculously frigid parts of the year with suggestions on how to find magic, good health, and contemplation in each. With all the current talk about Global Warming and the media hype around “going green,” the general populace is reminded of what those practicing earth-based spiritual people have always known—that the seasons as we know them are of vital importance to life on earth and beyond.