Power’s back on

Hallelujah, the power’s back on. Cell service is really spotty and Internet is not really happening, though. Lots of work needed outside to clean up and repair and chop up fallen limbs, but i plan to work all weekend alternating between indoors and out to get caught up on messages and orders (assuming the DSL ever decides to cooperate).

hurricane sally

Hurricane Sally is landing right on top of us – I live in Grand Bay, which is – you guessed it – on the bay. Internet has been horrible, will probably lose it entirely here in a bit. Power outages likely. Expect delays with mail in and out of the region. Be patient if I don’t get back to you right away, please!

questions you’ve asked: dressing vs. drowning candles, cinnamon, BS spotted on Pinterest

Q: Not a real question but a PSA on dressing candles.

Y’all got some real pretty dressed candles on Instagram and Pinterest, folks. Some of y’all got some real pretty big ole fire hazards up on Instagram and Pinterest. Look, those big old chunks of rose petal and various herbs look really nice for the camera, but that shit is a straight up fire hazard and it’s interfering with your candle work. The candle cannot do what it’s supposed to do when you choke it out with huge globs of herbs. Y’all don’t need to be playing like that, especially not with glass-encased vigil candles.

And are you interpreting every pop and shudder of the flame and bit of soot as information about your candle work? Well, that’s not the spirits telling you anything. That’s your candle flame sputtering and choking ’cause you crammed too much shit into your candle wax. You are interfering with the candle’s ability to report on the very work you’re asking it to do.

Q: Can I use cinnamon oil as a substitute for Come to Me oil?

A: Well, that’s kinda looking at it the wrong way, hoodoo-wise. See, Come to Me oil is not one single herb/essential oil. It does other things besides just put a fire under somebody’s ass to get them over there to see you. I mean, it’s a great ingredient for “heating something up” but in a positive, attracting way (versus, say, cayenne pepper, which also heats things up but without the sweetness that cinnamon has). But a straight-up substitute? I’d say no.

I mean, aside from the fact that one single herb/oil is pretty much never gonna be a real substitute for an entire compounded formula, there’s also the matter of how formulas are traditionally compounded in hoodoo, and that’s almost universally going to be a basis of at least three ingredients. The oldest and simplest “recipes” nearly always call for a three-ingredient basis. There’s a lot about hoodoo that doesn’t have to be “just so,” so you must do this on this day of the week when the moon’s doing this. Hoodoo doesn’t fool with a lot of that. But the odd-number ingredient thing is deeply, deeply traditional.

I’d look for at least two additional ingredients to include that told the cinnamon where to go and what to do. By itself, cinnamon doesn’t command “come to me.” It just suggests you get moving. The whole thing needs some sentence structure, not just cinnamon as a verb hanging out by itself, if that makes sense.

Q: stfu spell. lemon?

A: yes.

Q: alum?

A: yes!

Q: pins?

A: Sure!

Q: lavender.

A: say what? er… and you’re putting it with the alum, not a separate spell or something and you forgot to explain that?

With the alum, huh.

No, I wouldn’t hit a hog in the behind with that recipe.

Q: I saw it on Pinterest.

A: Of course you did. Bless your heart, darlin’.

Man, there sure is some kind of stuff on Pinterest.

flash bonus rewards extended

Since I screwed up and the news didn’t make it from WordPress land to Facebook land until the bonus period was almost over, I extended it through midnight tonight: you can get 2X reward program points for any purchases made at Seraphin Station.

You can read more about the rewards program here. It’s free to join, it’s not complicated, and I am always trying to think up new ways folks can earn points without having to spend money.

Reviews and testimonials are a big one. I will give you a ton of points for writing a review or testimonial I can use on the site. Left a Facebook comment a while back and it’s okay if i use it as a testimonial? Great, email me and give me the link or tell me how to find it and I’ll go in and manually award you the points now.

Left a product rating on the product’s actual website page instead of through the contact form? Or left a review on Etsy? Great, email me and let me know and I’ll manually award you the points.

Don’t mind reviewing but don’t want your real name associated with something your mother would have a heart attack about? No problem – just tell me what initials or whatever to put instead.

Want to write a second review a month later and the system won’t give you the points a second time? Email me – I will (within reason – if the whole site has nothing but one person’s reviews, that’s gonna defeat the purpose lol)

Social media is *everything* these days. Seriously – people have to know you exist and talk about you and link to you and visit you before Google will yawn, glance over, grudgingly acknowledge that you might be a shapeless blob over there in the corner, and deign to allow you to turn up in some search results eventually.

Etsy’s algorithms for how visible your items are in search results involve a lot of mysterious things, but one of them is “likes”/”hearts,” according to people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. It factors in whether people are clicking to leave social evidence that they like something you have.

You know what convinces people who don’t know you that you have something worth checking out? Their sense that other people are checking it out. Most people don’t want to be first.

And so if you take the time to help me get Seraphin Station’s name out there in this baffling and rapidly changing digital world where everything is evaluated by strings of code, I damn sure will take the time to reward you for it. If you don’t mind being first and leaving evidence that you were so somebody else doesn’t have to be, I’ll throw reward points around like confetti and come up with more cool things to redeem them for to the best of my ability.

(And I take suggestions. You want me to bake you cookies? It’s possible we could figure out a way to make that work as a reward. You want me to spend a few hours one Saturday troubleshooting your altar setup plans with you over videoconferencing? That’s not impossible. Do you want me to design you a custom vigil candle with a sigil on it that is indecipherable to the ignorant but that contains both legitimate medieval grimoire elements *and* a snarky Latin bit designed to take the piss out of your roommate? Not out of the realm of possibility. If you think of something, holler and suggest it.)

Flash Bonus Rewards Points + New Stuff

Earn 2X rewards on all purchases made through midnight. Read more.

Recently Added:

Chuparosa – Hummingbird Oil

Chuparosa formulas made their way into hoodoo from south of the border, and this delightful oil is named for the hummingbird as a symbol of serious, committed, faithful love. The hummingbird has long history in Mexican folk magic, one that once involved using actual hummingbirds. The hummingbirds didn’t come out the other side of this intact. Read more.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help tinwork altar ornament

This handmade ornament is intended to evoke the Blessed Mother’s elegance and grace but without removing all the rough edges and scuff marks that are part of this icon’s history and that characterize the fabric of her devotees’ genuine lived lives. Read more.

I hate the new block editor in WordPress. It took me a whole 24 hours to get this post finished. It keeps eating my captions when I adjust images, and i have no idea how to get things where I want them. The things i want are always grayed out or don’t work. Yes, I read the freakin’ instructions. Right now this caption is twice the width of the image, which I cannot move or adjust for some reason. Not a fan.

The Twelve Truths of the World in curing/healing

There is so much here that I feel like a bit of an ass for tagging you in this, Julia, but there are about eight different things in this post I wanted to ask you questions or get your thoughts about. And I don’t have time to isolate them or make my questions into English just yet. But I definitely want to be able to find it again sooner rather than later.

So for anyone interested in faith healing/vernacular religious traditions, here’s part one of a two-part post at Serpent Shod on The Twelve Truths of the World/Las Doce Verdades del Mundo as used in Mexican and Spanish healing/curing. (And in a comment I left over there, I wondered quickly if the author and I might have crossed paths on the 1curanderismo yahoo group back in the day. Only after I sent that did I find the “about” button or author profile or whatever and see that the author in question is Jesse Hathaway Diaz, so yeah, might have crossed paths once or twice lol, and I feel a bit silly for that comment.)

There is something tugging at the corners of my memory here on this prayer, having to do with I think a *Scottish* prayer, maybe late medieval? that I can’t quite summon into full consciousness yet. When I finally do remember, it may turn out to be unrelated/my misremembering, but making a note to self just in case.

Also of note, I have been feeling like a real ass for the glacial progress of my Spanish [glacial is being polite, really]. I felt like an ass about it even before I knew I had a direct-line and fairly close ancestor as well as an entire branch of the family presumably still there in Mexico. I learned five dead languages to read obscure poetry nobody can be sure of the meaning of any longer and I can’t be arsed to learn the living language of our closest geographical neighbors? How lamely American is that? And then to find the proof of that branch of the family a few years ago was like opening a door onto a whole new world… but one in which everything is in Spanish, which i don’t read lol…but I guess now at least I have an ancestor I can petition for assistance?

spiritual bath instructions, possums, farm dogs

Those wanting hardcopy instructions for spiritual baths can now get them by downloading a PDF version at the Spiritual Baths page listed in the Rootwork Topics Index at the Big Lucky Hoodoo blog.

In country living news, we’re currently down a bathroom because it’s housing a shell-shocked chicken. Said chicken was apparently traumatized by a possum in the chicken coop which we fortunately heard the chickens making a ruckus over at about 2 a.m. before it could eat any of those chickens. I don’t think she’s hurt but I want to look her over more closely here in a minute.

Miraculously, Mike was not bitten while getting the damned possum out of the coop.

Roo helped. Her version of helping mostly consists of her getting poised to pounce and us saying “leave it” and her sitting down again, repeat ad infinitum. But it was still quite exciting for her, I think.

I saw her catch a rat once. She didn’t know what to do with it after she made it squeak and she kept looking at me to tell her, I guess, but we don’t have a command for “for the love of God, kill it quickly and put it out of its misery” worked out yet.

So she was a little puzzled/confused about how much fun it apparently wasn’t after you bit it; the rodent was probably in agony; I concluded that Roo is many things but a ratter is not one of them; and I decided that I don’t want her scrapping with rodents and vermin unless it’s truly an emergency. She loves to chase them; she just generally doesn’t catch them. She’s a big, heavy dog. Her mama was definitely not a terrier.

Roo, all 70+ pounds of her, perched on the back of the sofa like she’s a kitten, which…she’s definitely not. Pictured here with Eevee-Bug, who now runs the woods in Louisiana with my cousin and friend Julia, whom I’m dying to interview for this blog one of these days soon.

Believe it or not, this was once a reasonably nice sofa :/

Algiers Luck Oil

Algiers is a regionally-specific old New Orleans style hoodoo formula designed to bring luck in both love and money. It was particularly favored by gamblers who planned to spend the night out getting lucky – in more ways than one.

It still has an element of “fast” in it, ingredients-wise, but if Red Fast Luck clocks in at about 90 mph, Algiers comes in at a perhaps more dignified 70 or so. But when we want fast results, we can’t always expect deep and long-lasting ones, and when we want luck that sticks around for a while, we can’t always expect fast. And that relationship holds true here, as well – if Algiers shows up to the party a few minutes later than Red Fast Luck, well, it sticks around a little longer, too.

It’s quite likely neither will still be there in the morning, of course. But where Red Fast Luck invariably pulls the Irish goodbye, you just might, if you’re attentive, see Algiers’ half-grin and tip of the hat on his way out the door.

(Honestly, I’m just having a bit of fun. There’s not a lot of difference between these two oils in terms of how they work. If you already have one, I can’t imagine why you’d need the other as well. But if you have neither and you’re trying to pick one, I guess the biggest difference is really probably scent, and still, it’s not a big difference. Algiers smells just ever so slightly less like candy than Red Fast Luck. Neither one is particularly dignified, but they know how to have a good time. Algiers might be the slightly older Creole cousin who’s got just a little more experience – maybe five months older, tops ­čÖé Oh, and Algiers is purple.)

Half-ounce bottle.

perfumes, colognes, waters, product testing

Ok, where all y’all at who *didn’t* come up mixing up the exotic essential oils and hand blended stuff but in your house, y’all use Kolonia 1800 and M & L Rue Cologne and if it was bright orange or the color of antifreeze, that meant it was legit? Who can tell the difference between Crusellas and Murray & Lanman smelling it blindfolded? ‘Cause I need some of y’all to volunteer to get some free shit in the mail from me and give me some feedback on it┬á

I’ve spent *weeks* now┬áreworking some of my formulas in light of half a dozen different things, and there’s a real question to be asked, I think, of whether it’s even worth making some of this stuff given how much more it’s always gonna cost for somebody like me to make it vs. some company that can wholesale and store 500 gallons of ingredients at a time. It needs to be worth making for some other reason. And it occurs to me that I don’t need to keep asking only the people who always go with the handmade option. I need to also be asking the people who often do *not* go with the handmade option, I’m thinking.

In any case, product testing is afoot, and if you’re willing to be a guinea pig, holler. But this batch of stuff has all been very expensive, so I’m gonna be salty if I send you free shit and I don’t get feedback – fair warning! Some of these decisions are going to have to do with laws and chemistry and plant profiles, too, so if you aren’t sure you’d have much to say besides “it smells good,” maybe sit this one out. There will definitely be more product testing later where “it smells good” will be quite valuable feedback, but this isn’t that batch of products lol

ETA: You can now sign up to be a product tester using this form. 

Elizabeth Cotten and “Freight Train”

If you’re a Southerner and/or a fan of American folk music, you’ve probably heard the song “Freight Train” before.

Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’m going

Yet you still might not know the name Elizabeth Cotten, and that would be a damn shame.

Elizabeth Nevill Cotten was born in 1893 in North Carolina into a musical family. She was playing her brother’s banjo by the age of 7. She had to drop out of school at age 9 to work, and by age 11, she had scraped up enough money to buy herself a guitar from Sears and Roebuck. She was a self-taught (and left-handed) guitarist, and she wrote “Freight Train” when she was a teenager, possibly as young as 12.

She was a nanny at one time to Peggy Seeger, the American folk singer, and during the American folk revival of the ’50s and ’60s, Peggy took the song with her to England, where American folk music was increasingly taking the country by storm. Two British songwriters named Paul James and Fred Williams then stole the song and copyrighted it as their own. While this is an especially egregious example, it’s not rare at all. Lots of well-known white urban musicians made their names (not to mention their money) during the American folk revival by mining the creativity and talent of relatively unknown rural folk musicians, a huge proportion of which were African American. These musicians often continued living in relative obscurity and poverty, sometimes completely unaware of their influence on the contemporary music world. Few ever made money from their music or were ever able to work as musicians.

“Freight Train” was a huge hit for British skiffle singer Chas McDevitt in 1957, and it’s been covered by the Quarrymen/Beatles; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Chet Atkins; and Odetta, just to name a few. The Seeger family and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary eventually helped get credit restored to Elizabeth Cotten, but your chances are really good of finding the song misattributed even today. (See, for instance, this biography of Chas McDevitt at allmusic.com.) That’s why everybody’s heard the song “Freight Train” but far fewer folks recognize the name of Elizabeth Cotten, even though she toured into her 80s and won a Grammy four years before her death in 1984.

She was a bloody genius and a national treasure, and we are lucky that she was able to perform her music and that it was recorded for us to hear today. If you don’t know her playing, you should fix that right now.

Here’s Elizabeth Cotten playing her composition “Freight Train.” If you’re not a musician, this fingerpicking style is absolutely unique due to her playing a right-handed guitar upside down. If you are a musician, she’s tuned down a whole step here. I will try to find the credit for this clip and update later – I haven’t tracked it down yet.

She was also hilarious and a hell of a storyteller. Here’s the story behind her song “Old Woman Keeps Telling Her Lies on Me.”

Here’s an interview with her by fiddler Aly Bain in 1985. Her singing voice may reflect her age at this point, but her picking is still just absolutely phenomenal.

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate her influence on American folk music. She was astonishing.

Sources

Ankeny, Jason. “Elizabeth Cotten.” Allmusic. Accessed 13 Aug 2020.

Bain, Aly. Down Home, BBC, 1985.

Demerle, L.L. “Remembering Elizabeth Cotten.” Eclectica Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1, October, 1996. Accessed 13 Aug 2020.

Lanker, Brian. I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America. Maya Angelou, foreword. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1999.

 

vetiver and nicotine

This unassuming bucket of sludge and grass? Takes some effort, but it’ll be perfumery gold down the road.

vetiver

Not sure I can say the same about midcentury factory dressers that lived in a smoker’s bedroom for 50 years. Lot of effort – not sure about the reward.

dressers

 

I know what I’ve said about Murphy’s Oil Soap before and how you shouldn’t use it on your wood furniture unless you don’t like wood and are trying to punish it for some reason. But I’ve tried about half of what I had in my initial arsenal of ideas on this wood to get the stench out and I just might try Murphy’s before it’s all said and done. This is not your typical “regular maintenance” type of situation, though. Matter of fact, it’s approaching a “kill it with fire” or at least a “use it for kindling” level of situation.