HDPE – what it is, why you should care, and how to recycle it at home

My friend Joe is something of a renaissance man (if you ask me – he makes no such claims himself). Among a bunch of other cool things that he does, he recycles HDPE (high density polyethylene plastic) at home to turn it into beautiful food-safe bowls, and he has a tutorial on how to do it. Now, he prettifies his bowls on a lathe (because in addition to being an actual scientist – like with a doctorate and everything – he’s also a woodworker. Because he’s Joe.) But even if you aren’t trying to pick up a lathe and some new chisels this weekend to make kitchen implements from your recycling bin, this blog post of his is still worth a look because it explains what HDPE is, why you should care, and how to identify it.

I haven’t yet been able to move away from plastic in my product packaging, but I’m definitely always looking for the more sustainable option when I make a choice about purchasing new packaging or packing materials. And Joe’s post made it really easy for me to get the bottom line about HDPE versus PET when it comes to ordering my next batch of bottles for my soaps, waters, and washes. A good blog to follow for easy-to-understand info about sustainability.

“Are You Down With HDPE?” at Old School Joes

When Angels Are Saints and Saints Are Angels

I very frequently see folks online say things like this: “Though technically speaking Archangel Michael is not a Saint [sic], sometimes this entity is venerated as one.”

I’m not linking to the source for that because my goal is not to single anyone out for being wrong. Thing is, this is not an uncommon misperception. It’s pretty easy to find multiple websites and blogs that say something to this effect – even those of folks who are otherwise pretty well-versed in folk religion and/or folk magic. If this were just a couple of blogs and not a pretty widespread point of confusion and error, I wouldn’t be going to the trouble to write about it.

I get that not everybody comes from a Catholic background. But if you’re going to write about saints in the context of hoodoo and folk religion, you should do your research before you make assertions. And if you do your research, you’ll see that in a hoodoo context, when you’re talking about saints, you’re nearly always talking about the definition of saint as used by the Catholic Church.

Some Protestant branches define a saint as basically anyone who is a Christian, a member of the body of Christ by virtue of being a member of the church. Others use the term to designate someone who is “born again” and/or someone who has been baptized (at least into their particular branch of Christianity). Some reserve the term mostly to refer to widely recognized holy figures, such as the biblical patriarchs or those who were martyred for their adherence to the Christian faith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints considers its members to be saints (but not the members of other churches).

But those are obviously not the operant definitions in traditional hoodoo. While the overwhelming majority of hoodoo practitioners historically have been Protestant Christians, there were always little geographical and cultural pockets of Catholicism (including folk Catholicism), and when rootworkers talk about working with saints, a quick survey of those saints and an understanding of the context in which they are petitioned make it clear that we’re talking about an understanding of sainthood from a Catholic perspective. We aren’t just talking about the biblical patriarchs and your very pious great aunt Emma, who is obviously a vibrant and committed member of the Body of Christ and brings the best potato salad in three states to the church picnic but is obviously not who you light a candle for on a few consecutive Tuesdays when you’re asking for her help.

Non-Catholic folks tend to think of saints as formerly living humans, maybe ones who led especially holy or exemplary lives, maybe performed a few miracles and now hang out in heaven doing various odd jobs for God and letting us bend their ears occasionally when we petition them. But that’s not how it works in Catholic ontology. According to the Roman Catholic Church, to put it as simply as possible, a saint is basically someone who’s in heaven, or to put it another way, if you’re in heaven, you’re a saint. But the actual fabric underlying all of this stuff is just a little more complicated. You can read more about it at the Catholic Encyclopedia, but it’s a concept called the communion of saints:

The communion of saints is the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption

So you’re part of the communion of saints, the mystical body of Christ, even while you’re still living and even if you’re not quite living perfectly. This isn’t exactly the same thing as being an actual confirmed saint, but you have the potential, and as long as you can stay out of hell, you’ll keep that potential. After you undergo “purification” (or “remedial training” or “detention” or however you want to see Purgatory), then you’ll head to heaven to join the actual community of saints. In other words, as long as you don’t do something that goes down on the Big Permanent Record and lands you in hell, all roads lead to heaven eventually. So you are part of this spiritual economy and you can pray, receive blessings, ask forgiveness, ask a saint to intercede for you, say prayers for the souls of your ancestors, etc. More on this spiritual economy in a moment, but the key point now is that all of these spiritual actions have spiritual results, so things can always change. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

To paraphrase from later on that same linked webpage, then, saints are basically those who are in fellowship with God the Father and Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Scholastic philosopher and foremost theologian of the Catholic Church, known as the Angelic Doctor and the Angel of the Schools [1], writes in Summa Theologiae III:8:4:

Where there is one body we must allow that there is one head. Now a multitude ordained to one end, with distinct acts and duties, may be metaphorically called one body. But it is manifest that both men and angels are ordained to one end, which is the glory of the Divine fruition. Hence the mystical body of the Church consists not only of men but of angels. Now of all this multitude Christ is the Head, since He is nearer God, and shares His gifts more fully, not only than man, but even than angels; and of His influence not only men but even angels partake, since it is written (Ephesians 1:20-22): that God the Father set “Him,” namely Christ, “on His right hand in the heavenly places, above all Principality and Power and Virtue and Dominion and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And He hath subjected all things under His feet.” Therefore Christ is not only the Head of men, but of angels. Hence we read (Matthew 4:11) that “angels came and ministered to Him.”

So the angels, at least the ones who didn’t rebel, are members of the communion of saints, which the Catholic church characterizes in that linked article as “that reciprocal action of the saints, that corporate circulation of spiritual blessings through the members of the same family, that domesticity and saintly citizenship.” They are under Christ’s power and thus receive his grace, so they’re part of this same spiritual economy that the living and the dead are active participants in. (Yes, the dead, which is another big difference between Catholicism and Protestantism and is probably another blog post… but yes, your prayers can help your dead reprobate uncle Joe who’s doing time in Purgatory. And your saintly Grandmother Bosworth, who worked her fingers to the bone and never deserved any of the grief that Joe brought her and who is hanging out in heaven with the other saintly grandmothers, well, she can help you, too, with *her* prayers.)

And angels, some of whom Grandmother Bosworth is doubtless rubbing shoulders with at the right hand of God — or at least in a pastoral courtyard just cattycorner to the right arm of God’s comfy chair, but don’t nitpick Grandmother Bosworth! — can hear us and help us. They are part of this same system of reciprocity that extends beyond the borders of life and corporeality, the same spiritual economy in which we might petition a saint and promise a certain “payment” or offering in return, in which working with graveyard dirt or spirits of the dead is not seen as “disturbing their rest” at all. That idea is totally alien to a Catholic worldview. The dead aren’t gone and beyond our ability to interact with. They’re right here. Grandmother Bosworth still wants to help you.

And so with angels. They are our guardians on this earthly plane and they even serve as psychopomps when we’re leaving it. [2]

That’s not to say they’re all sweetness and light or they have the same tolerance for your bullshit that Grandmother Bosworth does. Don’t waste an angel’s time whining and don’t make the mistake of thinking they are all hanging around looking like Precious Moments figurines worrying about your love life or your chakras. There’s a reason angels who show up in the Bible often start off with “Don’t be afraid.” But in the Catholic conception of the communion of saints, angels are 100% active participants and on the same team. And they are absolutely saints.

So yes, St. Michael IS a saint. And an angel. At the same time. The angels who did not rebel are all members of the mystical body of the Church and the communion of saints. People who say otherwise have obviously not come up in this tradition – which is fine! Again, Catholic rootworkers have always been a minority. But they also just haven’t done their research before they opened their mouths, which is really not fine. But the bottom line is that St. Michael can be both a saint and an angel because the Roman Catholic definition of a saint is not the same as the kinda vague concept of sainthood that is floating around in culture more broadly.

And so this in turn should help you see how folk saints fit into all of this – figures who have *not* been formally recognized or canonized by the Catholic church but who are nonetheless venerated by the faithful and seen to have an ability and willingness to respond to the petitions or prayers of the faithful. That’s how there can be so many darned saints and the Catholic Church doesn’t even pretend that there’s a list anywhere of all of them — because the Church does not *make* saints or grant that status to people or entities. In beatification and canonization, the Church merely formally recognizes the status of sainthood that that person has already attained whether we knew about it or not, and outlines the proper observance of their veneration by the faithful. So there are tons of saints that aren’t formally recognized by the Church with their own feast day or series of statues or whatever. And among the forgotten virgin martyrs and the soldiers of Christ whose names we never knew, we also have figures of folkloric status, both human and not, who are also very active participants in their devotees’ lives: Santa Muerte, Jesus Malverde, Yevgeny Rodionov, Marie Laveau.

Maybe even your pious great aunt Emma one day. Patron saint of the perfect picnic potato salad.


[1] Yeah, did you catch that? Among his several venerable titles, St. Thomas Aquinas is referred to as an angel. Here’s a quick tidbit excerpted from an old children’s schoolbook and here’s a student’s prayer to St. Thomas as the Angel of the Schools. This epithet would need a whole separate blog post to properly unpack, and we’d have to start with etymology, and I can feel some of your eyes glazing over already lol, but please let all this serve for now to demonstrate the extent to which God’s creation, and by extension the various available modes and categories of being, are much more complex and dynamic and perhaps even unruly from a Catholic perspective than a non-Catholic might be prepared to appreciate without dropping some highly problematic assumptions and doing some serious digging. So don’t listen to ignorant people talking about the saints, not even if they’re quite well-informed on other aspects of magic or mysticism or religion. There are a lot of folks out there holding forth about saints and angels and who’ve set themselves up as experts who don’t actually know what the hell they’re talking about, not to put too fine a point on it.

[2] This has always been one of St. Michael’s preeminent roles, in fact. Here’s an 11th century prayer to St. Michael that is fairly typical of its ilk:

Therefore I beseech and entreat you, St Michael the Archangel, who knows those of the accepted souls to be received, find my soul worthy when it leaves my body and free it from the power of the enemy, so that it avoids the gates of hell and the ways of shadows and the lion and dragon who usually receive souls in hell and lead them to eternal torment. [Te ergo supplico et deprecer sancte michael archangele qui ad animas accepiendas accepisti postestatem ut animam meam suscipere digneris quando de corpere meo erit egressa et libera eam de potestate inimici ut pertransive possit portas infernorum et vias tenebrarum ut non se deponat leo vel draco qui conseutus est animas in inferno recipere et ad aeterna tormenta perducere.]

From Oxford Bodleian Library MS Douce 296, fol. 122v. Cited in Kathleen Openshaw, “The Battle between Christ and Satan in the Tiberius Psalter,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 52:14-33.

Pay What You Can Community Honey Jar for February

I’m offering community honey jar altar work monthly, beginning after the new moon each month. One service is for matters relating to prosperity/career/income and one is for matters relating to love/relationships (they don’t have to be romantic relationships). February’s community altar work services start the night of Friday, February 12th. There is some wiggle room, however, and you *can* join up late.

Since the costs of the time and materials involved in this altar service are split between multiple participants, this is a way to get some altar work done at a fraction of the cost of booking separate, individual private work.

Because COVID sucks and is messing with people’s incomes and careers, I am offering the prosperity/career service as a Pay What You Can service. If you can afford to pay full price, great! But if you can’t, that’s ok, too – I’m doing this so people who could use some help on the prosperity/career front can get some without having to book private, individual services while finances are tight. So it’s absolutely fine to choose one of the reduced rate options (and there’s more than one).

And while the love/relationships honey jar service is not Pay What You Can, it’s still just a fraction of the usual cost — and feedback I’ve been getting confirms my suspicions that even those couples and families who are strong and close-knit can sometimes use a little peaceful home or affection help after a year of living with the stressors of quarantine, close quarters, working from home (or *not* working, as the case may be), homeschooling, etc. (This shit is hard, y’all. No shame in saying so.)

How It Works:

After you have checked out and received your order confirmation email, go to the Community Sweet Jar Intake page to fill out and submit the intake form. (Note: if you participated in the previous month’s community work and absolutely nothing has changed about your situation or petition, you don’t have to fill out the intake form again.)

I will begin preparing for the altar work on the night of Thursday, February 11th after 1:05 p.m. Central time when we have a new moon in Aquarius. I set the first light on the jar the following night, Friday, February 12th, so it’s ideal to get your petition in before then. However, there is a little wiggle room and you *can* join up after the work starts.

Once I’ve got everything set up, you’ll get access to my client calendar where you can see specifics of the working along with any pertinent days/dates/times/events that might have a spiritual influence, and you’ll get an invitation to the private forum (Discord server) for the group. The calendar can help you time things if you want to do work on your own over the course of the month, or even just help you understand some of what’s going on in your spiritual environment.

At the conclusion of the altar work, I ritually dispose of the contents of the jar in an appropriate manner to encourage continued movement in a positive direction and ongoing gain for participants. Community work does not come with individual altar work reports, though I will post at least one photo to the Discord chat (with any potentially identifying info obscured for client privacy).

Read more or book now to join up for February.

Erzulie Freda as equilibrist

While I will probably never stop making a little face when anybody refers to the lwa of Vodou as “gods” and “goddesses,” this is nonetheless a pretty decent little bite-sized article touching on some aspects of Freda’s expressions of femininity.

Nwokocha, Eziaku Atuama. “An Equilibrist Vodou Goddess.” Harvard Divinity Bulletin v. 31:3-4 (Summer/Autumn 2013). Harvard Divinity School. Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

mole feet and laurel leaves

“The Book of Secrets records that if the foot of a mole is wrapped in a laurel leaf and this is put into the mouth of a horse, the horse will flee in fear.” – Peter Dendle [1]


I don’t imagine there’s much this *wouldn’t* work on. I would flee too if somebody shoved a bloody, furry lump of mole-stuffed laurel leaf into my mouth.

[1] Dendle, Peter. “Plants in the Early Medieval Cosmos.” Health and Healing from the Medieval Garden. Peter Dendle and Alain Touwaide, eds. Rochester: Boydell, 2008. 47-59.

recent reading roundup: poison, atchafalaya ethnology, faith healing in Louisiana

photo credit jclk8888, Pixabay

I don’t have time to summarize anything right now, but I’m hoping if I leave this here, it’ll spur me to do so later.


James H. Diaz. Atlas of Human Poisoning and Envenoming, 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2014.


Hilda Roberts. “Louisiana Superstitions.” Journal of American Folklore 40: 156 (1927), 144-208.

  • We’re gonna have to talk about this one when I have some time. This sure does have some… stuff in it. I mean, totally aside from its being “a product of its age” and all that. The blanket conflation of hoodoo doctors and Cajun traiteurs is a pretty humongous one. This would never get published today, and it’s not because of the language. It’s because of shoddy scholarship / painting with too broad a brush.

F.A. de Caro. “A History of Folklife Research in Louisiana.” Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State. Nicholas R. Spitzer, ed. Office of Cultural Development, 1985.


John L. Gibson. Archaeology and Ethnology on the Edges of the Atchafalaya Basin: A Cultural Resources Survey of the Atchafalaya Protection Levees. Center for Archaeology Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana. Final report to the Department of the Army, New Orleans District, Corps of Engineers, Jun. 1979 – Jan. 1982.


Maida Owens. “Louisiana’s Traditional Cultures: An Overview.” Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana. Carl Lindahl, Maida Owens, and C. Renée Harvison, eds. University Press of Mississippi and the Louisiana Division of the Arts, 1997.


Alec Sonnier. Cajun Traiteurs: Faith Healing on the Bayou / The Cajun Traiteur and Transmission of Cajun Folk Healing Knowledge. Master’s Thesis, Dept. of Anthropology. California State University Northridge, May 2020.

  • A quick note that Alec Sonnier’s preface reprints two prayers that a Louisiana traiteuse shared on her Facebook page in early 2020 as the coronavirus epidemic was spreading across the country. You really, really gotta love at least a couple of things about the 21st century – at least a traiteuse sharing healing prayers from her personal practice on social media.
  • I don’t know if that was her private Facebook page or what, so I haven’t posted those prayers here. I don’t know if everybody’s the same way about this, but a lot of times those prayers are not for public consumption. I’m not gonna be the one to assume they are. But in his conclusion, Sonnier prints a prayer shared by another traiteur, Mr. George, who received it in a dream. Mr. George said it “can be used by anyone who wishes to be healed of an ailment” and he encouraged people to use it “to help themselves in the healing process” (131). It goes like this:

“Heavenly Father, I call on You right now in a special way. It is through Your power that I was created. Every breath I take, every morning I wake and every moment of every hour, I live under Your power. Father, I ask you now to touch me with that same power, for if You created me from nothing, You can certainly recreate me. Fill me with the healing power of Your spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in me. Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells, open any blocked arteries or veins, and rebuild any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection. Let the warmth of Your healing love pass through my body to make new any unhealthy areas, so that my body will function the way You created it to function. And Father, restore me to full health in mind, body and spirit so that I might serve You the rest of my life. I ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

(Mr. George qtd. in Sonnier 131)

He cites a 2008 article on traiteurs by one Julia Swett, too, which is a name one or two of y’all might know :). But careful, y’all, look – this Sonnier’s father is kin to those Heberts, and you know you gotta watch out for those Heberts!

(Just teasing an Hebert – I’m only playing 🙂 )

Evil Eye, Scottish style

photo credit: Taryn Elliott, Pexels

How did you know you’d been afflicted with the evil eye in Scotland back in the day?

Yawning and vomiting were signs. So were a “general disturbance of the system” and a “grim, gruesome, and repulsive” appearance (42), according to the gorgeous treasury of lore gathered in Carmina Gadelica by folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912).

How did you cure it?

Collect water from a stream with a wooden ladle in the name of the Trinity. To this water add a gold ring gotten from some wife and something or other made of gold, of silver, and of copper. Make the sign of the cross over it and chant the following formula:

Who shall thwart the evil eye ?
I shall thwart it, methinks,
In name of the King of life.
Three seven commands so potent,
Spake Christ in the door of the city ;
Pater Mary one,
Pater King two,
Pater Mary three.
Pater King four.
Pater Mary five.
Pater King six.
Pater Mary seven;
Seven pater Maries will thwart
The evil eye.
Whether it be on man or on beast.
On horse or on cow ;
Be thou in thy full health this night,
[The name]
In name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

(43)

If the victim’s a sheep, you’ll tie a thread around his tail, give him a drink of the water, and sprinkle some on his head and spine. If a cow, the sprinkling or anointing is on his horns and in the space between the horns.

If that one doesn’t work, there are about 12 more where it came from, and they are all delightful, each with something different to recommend it.

Source

Carmichael, Alexander, ed. and trans. “Cronachduinn Suil” [Thwarting the Evil Eye]. Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations, vol. 2. Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1900. pp. 42-43.

quick update: photos, ads, hawks, packaging

After two days of trying, I only just now have been able to get my new phone to talk to my computer so I can do anything with photos. (Next I have to manage taking some photos that aren’t blurry.)

But I *have* managed to get random ads turned off on this blog. So now both Big Lucky Hoodoo and the Seraphin Station blog are slightly less annoying than they once were 🙂

Been fighting with hawks for the better part of two weeks now, rushing outside hollering at the top of my lungs at every sign of any disturbance and festooning the yard with all manner of things that glint, gleam, flap in the breeze, provide some swoop-proof cover for chickens, etc. Roo’s been a big help, and she flushed a hawk out of the overgrown firebreak just to the north of our house last week. I hadn’t even seen him. But we lost Gretel, one of our home-hatched girls who’s been with us for years now, earlier this week. Really tired of dead chickens these last few months 😦

I have finally been able to buy some of my raw materials for spiritual oils in sufficient bulk to reduce the cost-per-bottle just a tad, which I’ve been working towards for quite a while now. Rather than lowering the retail price of the oils or throwing a party or anything just yet, though, I’m going to use the savings to invest in improved labeling that should still be attached to the bottle and legible even if you spill some oil down the side. So I’ll be gradually phasing that in on condition oil packaging over the next few weeks as I hunt for The Perfect Labels from The Perfect Supplier.

(It’s exciting, this rootworker-on-the-internet life, I tell ya! I have no idea what folks picture when they think of doing this for a living, but I’m willing to bet reality is a lot more boring and involves a lot more paperwork and comparison shopping 🙂 )

Slobbery kisses after hawk chasing

Chaplet of St. Michael – Angelic Crown Rosary – SOLD

Call on the blessings and protection of St. Michael and the nine choirs of angels with this one-of-a-kind Angelic Crown chaplet, aka Chaplet of St. Michael.

  • Czech glass Pater beads in iridescent blues
  • crystal clear pressed glass Ave beads
  • cast bronze reproduction of an antique Latin American rosary center
  • cast bronze reproduction of an antique St. Michael holy medal

Chicken foot charms are back – and this batch is special

Good old chicken feet curios, a probably-New-World invention – at least in the painted, decorated iterations…

… that people nevertheless like to claim have been used in all kinds of magical traditions all over the globe for *centuries,* for everything from love to money to hexing the crap out of your roommate for leaving the toilet seat up.

(They’re used for protection, for the most part, though some pro workers use them in cleansing and healing rites as well. Not love or money, though, not that I’ve seen any evidence of – sorry.)

I’ve been making chicken foot charms for over 20 years now, but this batch is special.

I usually make them with commercially available chicken feet that come from the same source as the chicken you buy at the grocery store wrapped in plastic.

These are different. These come from a source I know firsthand to be cruelty-free and devoted to humane practices. I know for a fact these chickens had as good a life as it is possible to have as a chicken bred for meat. They were not cooped up their entire lives. They got to feel grass under their feet and sunshine on their feathers. And I know they were slaughtered cleanly and quickly with great skill and compassion. They did not spend their final moments in terror with the sound of machinery filling their ears.

Matter of fact, they were *individually prayed over* during the process and individually thanked for the gift of their life that in turn sustains other life. This is no assembly line anything. These birds’ lives were not taken for granted. No joke, I kind of had to do an interview about what I use them for and what kind of spiritual economy they’d be circulating within before this all got finalized. You can’t lie to the chickens, you know, and tell them they’ll be honored and appreciated if they’re just going to end up on the trash heap.

I don’t know how much she wants me to say about her in a public place, but they were provided by a family member who works at a very small organic, farm-to-table operation in Louisiana. In addition to knowing her way around farm animals, she also happens to be one of the most deeply spiritual people I know, and I mean the type that gets into the messy bits of life and deals with the real stuff instead of just isolating herself in an ivory tower where she doesn’t have to see and think about dirt and pain and poverty and death in the world (though she does have the ivory tower education – in theology, no less).

In short, I couldn’t dream up a more competent person to have made this a truly spiritual practice with genuine gratitude and deep connection, messy bits and all.

And while I totally get that not everybody is comfortable with materia magica like this, for those who do participate in the carnivorous economies and want to use these quite traditional curios, this is the most ethical way I can even imagine to obtain these things. And I am really grateful to be able to source them from a place like this – from someone I know to be a person of real compassion who is powerful in prayer and deeply connected to the life around her and the land under her feet.

Obviously I can legally make no claims guaranteeing you any particular results from your use of this charm, but I gotta say at the very least, if I were a thief scouting for my next target and I saw a chicken foot charm on a house, vehicle, or person, I would probably pick a different house, vehicle, or person to target instead of that one.

Get your own one-of-a-kind chicken foot charm now, a bit of spiritual folk art custom-made just for you according to your situation/petition.

And yes, Louisiana folks, I can do the hot pink ones. I don’t imagine most folks are gonna get to Courir de Mardi Gras in 2021 with all this COVID craziness, but you can have your own little brightly-painted piece of Mardi Gras, complete with beads, trinkets, even a doubloon if you request a Mardi-Gras themed chicken foot, [*] to keep your spirits up until the day comes when we can all go back out there, swill beer, dress like very cheerful killer clowns, fling things at each other’s heads — sometimes on horseback — and have a grand old time scarfing boudin or funnel cake, depending on where you’re from, hanging out in the streets getting dirty and loud.

God willing.

[*] And before anybody asks, no, it does not come with a Moon Pie.

Red Eyes (and Black Dogs and Water Spirits)

red eyes pic from national cryptid society

[This was originally posted in 2019 on my personal blog that’s mostly about family history projects. I’m reposting it here because it references a few things that might be of interest to some of y’all.]

Red Eyes was one of my great-grandmother Mae’s stories to scare the crap out of children with, along with Sackabilly, the Apple Lady, and the Seacanamarampus. Red Eyes lived under Mae’s house in Pensacola, Florida. So obviously, the children didn’t go under the house.

I’m pretty sure Red Eyes was a Mae-specific creation, like many of her creatures. While there are beings with similar names in folk tales all over the world, Mae’s house, which she lived in for almost 100 years and which served as the gathering site for sprawling generations of her descendants, was the center of something strong and dynamic enough to function as its own culture with its own lore for a remarkably long time. And Mae’s lore reflected the concerns and enforced the mores of that familial culture. Some of it was Pensacola-specific, like the Axe Man from Axe Alley, which really happened. Some of it fit pretty common patterns – X would get you if you misbehaved – but for the overwhelming majority of her lore, I haven’t had much luck finding it outside of the family. I really think she put her stamp on this stuff (and in some cases simply conjured it as  needed).

Reading about a mid-20th century Mississippi tale of Sackabilly in which he was associated with Rawhead and Bloody Bones [1] got me thinking that maybe Mae’s Red Eyes is more of a suburban version of Bloody Bones, a monster under the stairs/cupboard sitting on a pile of bones of children who said bad words or lied. I don’t really remember it being that specific in our family, though. In fact, most of Mae’s stories weren’t all that specific, weren’t actually really *stories.* She’d just *mention* this stuff and leave the rest to your imagination. And if she were still here for me to ask, and I asked her where she first heard the tale of Red Eyes, I guarantee you she wouldn’t give me a straight answer anyway. Mae was kind of a smart-ass, and she knew better than to take the juice out of something with a bunch of boring facts.

But here are a few tidbits to gnaw on.

Red Eyes in Lore and Literature

There are other stories of creatures or ghosts called Red Eyes or Old Red Eyes that I’ve been digging into, but as folk tale types go, they so far have pretty much nothing in common with our family’s Red Eyes, and I doubt there’s a connection aside from a name similarity.

But really, various bogeymen and ghosts and creatures with red eyes aren’t uncommon at all. After all, what color would be more effective to scare the hell out of you in the dark, more evocative of hellfire and the devil and blood? How do you know if you have a friendly ghost or a malevolent bogeyman? Well, does it have red eyes? That’s a pretty sure sign of the latter!

Old Red Eyes – Kingsley Plantation, Jacksonville, Florida

I got really excited when I saw that S.E. Schlosser had a chapter about Old Red Eyes in her Spooky Florida: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, because Red Eyes is another one I’ve never heard of outside of my family. I finally got hold of the book, and alas, it’s not much to do with our Red Eyes, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. Schlosser’s is a Jacksonville story concerning a slave overseer who was a murderer and a rapist. In her version, the plantation master hanged him after he raped and murdered three women in one go and left their bodies lying around in a blood-filled house in the slave village, but then people started seeing his ghost around on the road at night by the oak tree where he was hanged, and the ghost had glowing red eyes. It would assault women and whisper threats at them and pull on their clothes, trying to pull them off the road.

It’s told from the point of view of a young enslaved woman on a plantation who’s studying with her auntie to become the village’s next conjure woman. She uses conjure to basically seal the ghost off behind a wall of light protecting the road so it can’t attack anybody else and all anybody ever sees of it after that is those glowing red eyes in the darkness. It’s quite imaginative and it’s entertaining and well-told. Don’t expect scholarly work or take anything about the spiritual practices of the characters as representative of actual conjure practices – this is fiction and it doesn’t pretend not to be, and I wouldn’t hit a hog in the behind with the portrayal of some of the “conjure” in here, but as a short story, it’s pretty good.

She doesn’t cite any sources – again, it’s not trying to be scholarly work – and while she doesn’t indicate what resources, written or oral, she used in writing these short stories, she does have a bibliography at the end. But as it stands, I have no idea where she heard the story of Old Red Eyes and how much of her tale is part of the larger oral tradition versus detail she added for narrative purposes to make a short story work, so it didn’t really get me anywhere in my search for Mae’s Red Eyes. But as a collection of spooky stories from Florida, it’s worth reading for sure. She’s pretty good at finding a way into these old legends without just repeating/rehashing, and she fleshes them out into actual stories with believable characterization and period details. If you like ghost lore, you should like her books – and she has a slew of them based on lore of different regions.

Continue reading “Red Eyes (and Black Dogs and Water Spirits)”

Community Altar Work for January

I’m offering community honey jar altar work monthly, beginning after the new moon each month. One service is for matters relating to prosperity/career/income and one is for matters relating to love/relationships (they don’t have to be romantic relationships). January’s community altar work services start on Wednesday, January 13th.

Here are the details for the prosperity/career/income service:

This service, focusing on goals related to prosperity, work, income, and career success, has your name/petition added to a sweet jar with the names/petitions of other community members having similar goals. I work these community jars on my altars for a month, from new moon to new moon, with special attention to pertinent moon phases, astrological transits, holy days, etc. as applicable. Participants receive a link to my client calendar detailing the work over the course of the month and are invited to a private Discord chat for participants for that month.

The calendar will show you key dates and times that you might choose to take advantage of on your own, as well. For instance, you might want to time a spiritual bath to coincide with a planetary day/hour or astrological event. I will occasionally make suggestions for things like this, too.

If you have questions about any of this work, you can ask them and I’ll answer them in our private forum, where you can also trade ideas and perspectives with other participants if you want to. It really can be a community if we want it to be.

So it’s altar work, but it can also be a sort of magical education with the opportunity for some coaching and consultation over the course of the month and a chance to talk everything over with like-minded folks who share the same vocabulary. You don’t get my personal cell phone number, but this is just about the next best thing.

Because COVID sucks and is screwing up people’s lives and careers, I am currently offering this as a Pay What You Can service.

  • If you can afford to pay full price, great!
  • If you can’t, that’s ok, too – I’m doing this so people who need help but can’t afford to book private, custom spiritual work can get some help, so it’s absolutely fine to choose a reduced rate option.
  • If you can afford to pay more than full price as a charitable contribution to help offset the costs for those who can’t, you can do that too, in which case please let me know how you would like to be publicly acknowledged and thanked (nickname, anonymous, initials, real name, whatever). Or if you’re doing this an offering to thank a saint or fulfill a vow or something like that, and you’d like me to publish your thanks or prayer publicly on a “virtual altar” space on my blog, I’m happy to do that – just mention it in the intake form.
  • If you want to book on behalf of a friend or loved one, that’s fine for this type of work, even if they don’t know about it.
  • If you want to participate but want to pay a different amount than what is shown here, there are more options available here. You don’t have to go through the SeraphinStation.com listing to participate.
  • If you can’t afford to pay even the token amount for participating but are in dire need, please visit this post for info on how you can possibly still get some help.

How It Works:

After you have checked out and received your order confirmation email, go to the Community Sweet Jar Intake page to fill out and submit the intake form. (Note: if you participated in the previous month’s community work and absolutely nothing has changed about your situation or petition, you don’t have to fill out the intake form again.)

I will begin preparing for the altar work on the night of Tuesday, January 12th after 11 p.m. Central time when we have a new moon in Capricorn. I set the first light on the jar the following night, Wednesday, January 13th, so it’s ideal to get your petition in before then. However, there is a little wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts.

Once I’ve got everything set up, you’ll get a link to my client calendar where you can see specifics of the working along with any pertinent days/dates/times/events that might have a spiritual influence, and you’ll get an invitation to the private forum (Discord server) for the group. The calendar can help you time things if you want to do work on your own over the course of the month, or even just help you understand some of what’s going on in your spiritual environment.

At the conclusion of the altar work, I ritually dispose of the contents of the jar in an appropriate manner to encourage continued movement in a positive direction and ongoing gain for participants. Community work does not come with individual altar work reports, though I will post at least one photo to the Discord chat (with any potentially identifying info obscured for client privacy).

Since the costs of the time and materials involved in doing this altar service are split between multiple participants, this is a way to get some altar work done at a fraction of the cost of booking separate, individual private work. And while you are not required to participate in the Discord chat, a bonus is that everyone who has been has so far been really nice and really cool, sharing ideas and asking and answering questions and helping each other out, too. It’s been pretty awesome so far.

And who knows – I may be struck by inspiration partway through the month and decide to make a talisman or a specialty formula or some printable digital art for everyone participating in the group work that month, just depending on what’s going on with everybody and how much time I have available if/when inspiration strikes. It happens!

Book your spot in the community altar work for January if you’d like to join up!

Magical Packages

Check *this* shit out. The USPS has Santa on the crew or something doing some kinda crazy North Pole time-and-space bending magic:

The tracking says refused. Customer didn’t refuse it. It was returned to *me.* In Alabama.

They’re just freakin’ making shit up at this point. I don’t even know how it’s possible that the scan for delivery shows what it does – I don’t know enough about their computers. But obviously it’s not a seamless, foolproof tracking system :/

I’m really lucky that the overwhelming majority of my customers are being really super cool about this insanity and aren’t taking it out on me. I’m really grateful, y’all, and I’m hating this real hard. I can’t wait to see the end of this BS. It has been taking up an inordinate amount of resources: my time, my money, my attention, the hair on my head that wasn’t yet gray…

Since I don’t know what caused all of this or if it could still happen, I am currently handling shipping this way:

I make sure I generate shipping labels for dates when one of us can either go stand in line and physically hand packages to an employee inside the post office, or when we can get a confirmed appointment for pickup by our carrier as part of her regular route.

Sometimes this means I cannot ship every day. While this has the potential to increase your handling time by a few days, I’m hoping it also drastically increases the chances of your actually getting your package (and ideally before an entire calendar month has passed).

If you’re shopping at SeraphinStation.com, I’ve made a UPS option available for domestic shipping, as well, if you’d rather go that route. If you’re on Etsy and want a different option, just let me know and I’ll be happy to set something up.

If you’ve been waiting longer than usual for a package but it is slowly making its way in the right direction and hasn’t turned completely around or had some truly weird tracking status info attached, then I’d urge you to just please keep on being patient. The mail just plain takes longer these days, and tracking is not really a granular, real-time thing like with a tracking chip keyed into a GPS and shit, you know? They can obviously get a computer to say a box has been delivered in Ohio when it’s actually in Alabama, as I discovered for myself this week :/

And keep in mind that your sellers don’t have any secret knowledge about your package status – they have exactly the same info you have, that tracking number and that info on the tracking website. Pestering or blaming your sellers about this whole mess is sort of pointless – it just creates more work and stress for your sellers without creating more clarity or speed around your item delivery. I can just about guarantee you that if this stresses you out, it has stressed your seller out exponentially worse, ’cause they’re worrying over your package but also the packages of all their *other* customers.

If your package is returned to me, I’ll email you and let you know. Otherwise, I don’t know anything more than you know. Yes, the USPS will still search for missing items and answer messages, but this wasn’t done at lightning speed before COVID, so I’m sure you can imagine how this is not a magic fix now :/

And if you know something that the package status isn’t showing/explaining, by all means do let me know. I will absolutely work with you on the best solution to getting your package in your hands as quickly and efficiently as possible, but this whole mess definitely requires both ends of the transaction to do a lot of “hurrying up and waiting” lately.