Dusting off the online accounts/social media presence after a several-year hiatus and my original domains getting bought up so I can't use them now. Currently blogging on Wordpress at Big Lucky Hoodoo, with spiritual art and jewelry available at a new shop called Seraphin Station, which has its own blog as well. Former customers and clients with questions/concerns from 2015 pre-hiatus should contact me using the contact form at SeraphinStation.com for best results. Working on getting caught up!
So far I have put together one of these quiz guide things, on money/success formulas. Feel free to play around with it and give me any feedback you have. I’ll be making one of these for every general area or “condition” eventually. Well, if y’all don’t think they suck lol
Tradition has it that St. Expedite loves his Sara Lee pound cake. Some devotees will even say he prefers it to homemade pound cake. I don’t know about all that. But I do know a few things.
One, you should try to be as specific as possible when working with St. Expedite.
Two, you should give him your agreed-upon offerings when you see specific movement congruent with your petition. You can’t always get *everything* you want all the time in a hurry – recognize that he did work for you and acknowledge what he was able to do. He’s not a surly teenager whose allowance needs withholding until he gets a work ethic and moves out of your basement. Give him his damn flowers.
Three, he is not gonna get mad if you give him a homemade pound cake instead of that tasteless, pale yellow brick of stuff you can…
Saint of the month for April 2022 is St. Expedite, invoked for fast results, breaking blockages, luck in a hurry, and against procrastination, feast day April 19th.
Looking to spruce up your altars, add to your chaplet or holy card collection, or just learn more about saints and spirits in folk Catholicism? The Saint of the Month box gets you a hand-picked and handmade bundle of saints’ goodies selected for you and shipped to you.
Whether you’re just starting to learn about saints and spirits in the hoodoo rootwork tradition or you’ve been working with them for years, I strive to delight you with something new and covetable to add to your collection with every box. (I have some pretty neat stuff squirreled away.)
This gives you a chance to get something new for an altar or to be introduced to a saint you haven’t worked with before, and it gives me an excuse to do things I’m always wanting to do but end up putting off, like taking an afternoon to design a new chaplet I’ve been wanting to make for a while.
The standard box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history and recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a charm, medal, or curio. The deluxe box adds a fixed, dressed, and decorated glass-encased vigil candle and a handmade chaplet, rosary, or necklace. Very unlikely that any two will ever be identical or that all of this stuff would ever be available to purchase individually.
Saints and spirits may be chosen from the traditional Catholic “roster” or may come from various folk traditions. If you have suggestions or requests for particular saints or spirits to feature, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line from the contact form or just leave a comment somewhere.
In How to Attract Good Luck: Four Secrets Backed by Research, Eric Barker covers the findings of psychologist Richard Wiseman on bad luck, good luck, and whether we have any control over any of it. Some of the findings may surprise you, no matter where you are along the spectrum between the cold, hard, and empirical and the warm, fuzzy, and woo-woo.
A few takeaway bits:
Some people do tend to be luckier than others, but we *can* change our luck. And believing that is a critical component of “being lucky.” Other components include these:
Taking chances and trying new things.
Acting on our intuition (at least in areas where we have some experience).
Accepting that optimism does sometimes involve a bit of illusion and being ok with that.
What does that mean?
Well, among other things, it means there’s power in what Wiseman calls “positive superstitions” even if you don’t believe there’s anything magical or supernatural about good luck charms. They can enhance performance and increase happiness in quantifiable and statistically significant ways.
Basically, the science shows that good luck charms work. The psychologists and the rootworkers might not agree entirely on *how* they work, but that they work is indisputable: they improve performance on both physical and mental tasks in studies involving everything from memory and information retention to playing golf. According to Wiseman, they do this at least in part by increasing your sense that you have any control over the vagaries of life and the apparent randomness of chance, and that sense of control vs. powerlessness is a *huge* factor in how successfully we navigate life (as both psychologists and spiritual workers can tell you).
It also means that a little irrational overconfidence can increase your productivity and make you a better team player. It can reduce your stress and increase your tolerance for discomfort and pain. Optimism fueled by the willingness to be ok with a little illusion can certainly improve your love life: your partner and their various human foibles look better through rose-colored glasses.
It is objectively true that there are some horrible things about this world, that life isn’t fair, that resources and privileges are not handed out according to merit (at least not in any way that we can grok from our limited temporal human perspectives). Some might argue that viewing the world and your life with optimism in light of some of these unrelenting horrors is unrealistic self-delusion. Perhaps so, but as Wiseman’s work discusses, the science shows that a little self-delusion about the possibility for things to get better and for your actions to make a difference is far preferable to what Wiseman calls “paralysis by analysis.”
So don’t be ashamed of that lucky underwear or lucky coin, and don’t scoff too much at your aunt’s black-eyed peas for the new year or your coworker’s rabbit foot keychain. People are complex. The world and our lives in it are influenced by far more complicated and intricate networks or webs than we can possibly truly comprehend or accurately measure. And while we may, perhaps, one day be able to explain absolutely everything with plain old science and measurable data, we are far, far away from that day. In the meanwhile, it helps to have a little irrational faith.
I wrote parts of this well over a week ago, but Things keep happening and I keep not managing to finish anything. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a death in the family, and then a sick chicken who ultimately didn’t make it, and that got me chasing all the other chickens around trying to get a good look at them… and then I decided they must have mites even though I couldn’t see them because it explains a lot of things. So we had to treat for mites (and you have to get nuclear ’cause they can kill your chickens), and the bulk of that took two people two full days.
In the midst of all that, there’s this poor little baby chick who just isn’t quite right – he isn’t developing right and his legs very often don’t work. His feathers aren’t in. It’s been cold. His mama is trying to get him all the way to the top of the coop to roost and he can’t even walk a straight line for two feet.
I told myself not to get attached – give him vitamins and check on him periodically but nature’s gonna have to do what nature does here because we aren’t equipped to have a paraplegic house chicken who needs daily physical therapy and to be hand-fed. (And I know, because *we’ve done that before.* And we shouldn’t have, at least not as long as we did, not once we could see she wasn’t really getting any better.)
Incredibly, this miniature turkey of a rooster is not only still alive, *he’s actually walking better* these past few days. He could possibly even get away in case of predators… slower ones. He’s still wonky and mama’s about done mama-ing, but he might have a fighting chance, and wow, is he a fighter. And against my better judgment, I’ve gotten attached
I’ve been referring to him as the Littlest Rooster, but I guess since he’s determined to stick around, we’re gonna have to name him. (He fell into a posthole today. It was a very snug fit and quite a challenge getting him out. It is *always something* lol… but I’m taking suggestions for names!)
Then my car blew a head gasket because of course it did – you know, the one I just had to replace the engine in earlier this year. And then there was a dog fight when our tenant’s dog *jumped the damned fence* to come after Roo. Roo’s hips have been bothering her pretty badly for a couple of months now, but she managed to defend herself pretty well, I guess. But to that general ailment we added some nicks and gouges and a missing dewclaw. And of course Mike, who works with his hands, was at ground zero for the fight and tried to break it up… with his hands. Because of course he did.
Then there was *another* dog fight a couple of days ago because they don’t make enough spiritual baths to navigate all this shit around here unscathed. (The tenant had put up plastic sheeting so his dog couldn’t see our dog and would stop playing Houdini. The plastic sheeting got between the latch mechanism and she just nudged the door with her face and came straight at Roo.) This time Roo’s missing several patches of fur and a lot of the skin that used to be under that fur AND the tip of her ear. My anxiety is not great and I’m doing the hypervigilance thing every time I hear a peep out of that dog. But at least we avoided having to go to the emergency vet or anything, ’cause they pretty much charge you $300 just to walk in the door
And then of course fall gardening and winter prep and deciding which bit of property line to fence next based on what seems like the biggest current threat… you know, everyday stuff.
Meanwhile, the quest continues to get everything of Seraphin Station’s transferred over to a new system and then to get all the systems talking to each other properly. There are still a few feathers sticking out here and there, but we’re nearing the home stretch – I can *see* the bottom of the inboxes now and I’ve manually cleaned up a lot of the stuff where the systems aren’t talking to each other. We’re getting things labeled and attached to/associated with the proper other things, and our new system might kind of be starting to make sense now. Mostly.
I’m still working on finding all notes and photos to catch up on reports and consults I owe folks, and I found a few more last night, so there should be more progress on that end today. I might even manage to actually update the services queue finally (wince). Well, we’ll see what I manage.
If you’re thinking, “Didn’t you just say all this a couple of months ago?” Why yes, yes, I did. That platform we were using didn’t work out because it was randomly eating some things, duplicating others, and generally making more work for us. But in transferring things over, you guessed it, a lot of stuff didn’t transfer, so now we have lists full of project cards that have titles like “new unassigned email” and the body text where all of the info should be contains nothing but an email address – *our* email address. So there’s lots and lots of stuff we have to investigate and dig for and do manually and it sucks. (And the learning curve on some of this stuff…)
But we’re getting there 🙂
A few quick notes about contact:
You are still welcome to PM me on Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, and/or Discord if you’re a client who’s been invited there, but please only do this for things that have nothing to do with an order or booking for goods or services and for things that are not urgent. If it’s about your order or booking, or your account, or your ongoing case – if I need to look something up in your file or write something down – then we need to have that convo via email so the details don’t end up spread out among three or more different sites that don’t talk to each other. You can email directly or use the contact form at the website, either way is fine.
Also, my internet still blows and I get stuck with none at all quite often. But Sonia can catch me up on situations and pass on a message to you, and she can make sure I follow up on something when I do get back online, so it really is in your best interest to use email or the contact form to ensure your message doesn’t slip between the cracks. (Obviously with Etsy stuff we have to deal with Etsy’s platform, but other than that, yeah.)
And (God willing) I’ll be caught up soon and can get back to these half-a-dozen draft posts with some actually useful info/content in them and finally get them published. I mean, I know everybody loves looking at my chicken pictures (lol), but I imagine that’s not what most folks are here for 🙂
Folks who ordered a St. Bartholomew’s cross talisman to be created during the course of their booked St. Bartholomew altar service:
If you recall, these come in drawstring bags that hold the handmade cedar cross along with some other required herbal ingredients.
Well, the crosses turned out fine. The handsewn bags made of delicate and slippery material? Not so much. These just do not lend themselves to hand sewing easily. They looked like crap 🙂
My amazing mother, God bless her, is bailing me out on these. She picked up the fabric and is going to machine-sew them. They’re gonna go out later than I expected, but they’re gonna look *way* better! So I appreciate your patience with these, and I think you’ll find it pays off.
Lesser Celandine is non-native to the U.S. and is now classified as a nasty invasive. Urban Ecology Center takes it as its case study in this blog post to illustrate why we should care about growing native plants and why we need to be so careful about growing non-native ones.
I’ll just quote a bit of a summary paragraph, but you should read the whole post.
So, we’ve got an aggressive plant with no natural predators to keep its population in check. This plant emerges sooner than native spring ephemerals, and therefore has the advantage of size when competing for space and resources with native plants. It crowds out native plants, leaving them with no room or resources. The native plants (that support our wildlife populations) begin to die off because they have nowhere to grow. The native wildlife that only eat the native plants are now suddenly left with very little food on the table. Fewer native plants to eat translates into fewer native animals who can survive. The diversity and size of wildlife populations quickly declines. The situation starts to look pretty grim, doesn’t it? And (in Cleveland, at least) it all started with a pretty garden plot in two homes.
All I have to do is look out my window to see uncountable stands of extremely invasive and aggressive Chinese privet, which is taking over my land and crowding out beneficial natives and which doesn’t respond to *anything* except *digging the damned roots up,* to be reminded of how bad it can suck when someone unthinkingly or unknowingly introduces a non-native species to a region and that species escapes their backyard and starts running unchecked.
The consequences can be *disastrous* and *hideously expensive.* Please, folks, do your research.
ETA: Interesting discussion in the comments of the Facebook snippet of this post.
From World Religions and Spirituality Project, here’s an interview with Manon Hedenborg White, author of The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism (Oxford University Press, 2020) and co-author with Fredrik Gregorius of “The Scythe and the Pentagram: Santa Muerte from Folk Catholicism to Occultism” (Religions 8:1, 2017). I think a few different segments of folks who wander by here might find this worth a look.
I had originally inteded to stop this blog post at the above.
But the Santa Muerte article in the journal Religions is open-source, available in PDF format from MDPI under a Creative Commons Attribution (CCBY) license. I read it, and I have some problems with it. Fair warning: the rest of what I say here is going to presume you’ve read it. I don’t have time to summarize it right now.
I have read Conjureman Ali’s book on Santa Muerte and have recommended it to clients, remarking to a client recently that he and I appear to have been taught quite similarly and during roughly the same time period (which was 20 years ago now). And I’ve begun to address this issue of “the trappings of Catholicism” in Santa Muerte’s devotion elsewhere (though I still haven’t finished part 2 of that article). I don’t have time right now to fully engage all of Hedenborg White’s and Gregorius’s analysis, and I do get that this is an academic work and sets out to do a certain job within a certain framework and for a certain audience, so of course it’s not going to be as fully nuanced in every area as every reader in every potential audience would like – I’m not trying to review something according to criteria it never set out to meet in the first place.
But I do want to return to this – and I will when I finish part 2 of the article – to more fully contextualize the milieu here and why writers/workers like Conjureman Ali emphasize not throwing out the traditional. And this is going to involve complicating what I as a folk-Catholic hoodoo rootworker and educator perceive to be the authors’ oversimplistic operative categories, viz. “Anglo-American occultists.” This is far, far too broad a brush, and addressing it is going to involve addressing not just Christianity in Anglo-American occulture but specifically Catholicism in Anglo-American occulture — among other things, about which more below — which is something that most writers on these things have tended to get wrong at least some of the time (when they haven’t just tossed the whole thing out the window to begin with).
So there are *multiple* audiences, so to speak, within what they are calling Anglo-American occultists. There is not a single “mainstream culture” in the way that she’s framing it on p. 12, one that Conjureman Ali occupies alongside Sophia diGrigorio and Tomas Prower. And Conjureman Ali’s work (quite deftly, I think) manages to speak to a segment of it that hasn’t historically been spoken to directly all that often when we’re talking about the world of mass-market occult publishing, i.e. stuff that your average American can easily get their hands on.
Hadean Press is good about this, in fact, speaking more broadly beyond just this booklet, and I’m sorry I was late to the party finding out about them due to living under a rock for a few years. But the article’s authors collapse Ali’s motivations and subject positions as a hoodoo rootworker (an Afro-American tradition) and practitioner of Quimbanda (an Afro-Brazilian tradition) into a simple manifestation of the larger statement of intent by Hadean Press on their Guides to the Underworld series of pamphlets, which is honestly just a little sloppy in terms of scholarship. Part of what they’re missing is that people who have historically not had a voice in these arenas and who have had their religions and folkways misrepresented, even demonized, when they aren’t being yanked wholesale out of context and appropriated for a different kind of misrepresentation (one that pads Llewellyn’s pockets while infants in Haiti die of freakin’ dysentery, which nobody in the 21st century should have to die of) – some of these people are now finding platforms in some cases. Sometimes these platforms are even the same ones that have tended to contribute to the very misrepresentation that is so significant here, like mainstream publishers of occult works (though we are still a very long way away from perfection on that front – but any change in the right direction is noteworthy, even if it’s still very little and oh so late in coming). So we really need to complicate any underlying assumptions that everybody being published by a given publisher is toeing the same line.
Who gets to talk about this stuff, who gets to be read, who has a platform – this has been changing dramatically and rapidly. And if you’re talking about folk Catholicism, you have to engage the ways in which Catholics have been crowded out of that conversation in occult circles and how fundamental the misunderstandings are that that can produce. And then of course there’s hardly a single Catholic identity either, and folk Catholicism will certainly have different “flavors” or “textures” in different cultures, even Catholic cultures.
It’s true that Ali didn’t fully elucidate the ontology of modern Mexican Catholicism for an audience of non-Mexican non-Catholics – that would be a pretty tall order for what set out to be a slender pamphlet. But one thing to consider is that Santa Muerte isn’t a passive non-agent here. She might not be able to make a dent in the likes of the very dyed-in-the-wool “all gods are really one god” types who don’t see any problem with their entire spiritual life being a mix-and-match buffet, but that’s hardly every “consumer” of works like this, and she can and will effect changes in her devotees over time. And the *numerous* devotees and practitioners who are thrilled to see more available works on folk belief and religion written by actual practitioners from other-than-mainstream-pagan perspectives, who have been frustrated with what mainstream publishing has tended to make available — they often ultimately find that there’s more to the Catholicism as operative in her cult than just “trappings” or “window dressing.”
While it’s true that some people do rip her out of a Mexican and Catholic worldview, it’s also true that Santa Muerte invites many people *into* a Mexican and Catholic worldview – or at least opens those doors in productive ways that aren’t always about a thin veneer of political correctness or whatever. I mean, first-generation Mexican-Americans already have a different relationship to “Mexican Catholic culture” than their parents who were born in Mexico. None of this is monolithic or inflexible – it’s a lived religion, and it’s way more complex than just what’s officially on the website of the local archdiocese, or the Vatican, or whatever replaced the Baltimore Catechism. What’s out there, what’s published, doesn’t give you a well-rounded view of *who practitioners and devotees actually are.*
It also doesn’t elucidate the extent to which rootwork is so different to some strains of modern neopaganism insofar as *it really matters what dirt something grew in,* so it really matters that you come to understand that dirt when you work with the roots that grew in it, or how the spirits of the roots are also active agents in this whole energetic system, not just dead objects we move around that have power only insofar as we attribute it to them.
And it doesn’t account for the possibility that one can start out with a fairly nebulous vaguely witchy or vaguely occult-curious perspective and ultimately develop quite a different practice or even devotion over time. And when it comes to budding Anglo Muertistas, all roads do NOT lead to Llewellyn and paganism and armchair Goetic philosophy. Sometimes, some roads lead straight to the Catholic church. And of course there are all kinds of stops in between.
Basically, if we’re going to talk about Anglo-American occultism, we have to talk about Anglo-American occult publishing, which means we have to talk about representation and access to platforms and race and ethnicity and class and language and religion — ’cause for fuck’s sake, not everybody in the “Anglo-American occultist audience” is a pagan or flatly unreligious, and not every consumer of occultist works in North America is Anglo-American.
But this article fails to even imagine the complexity and diversity and thus motivations of some of the operative audiences, plural, here, and how some of them are part of a larger “speaking back” to what “mainstream culture” has tended to produce, both in terms of academic scholarship on magic and religion and in terms of mass-market works on “the occult” (yes, those are scarequotes). And such an understanding would provide a much more accurate and nuanced view of where Conjureman Ali is coming from and what he’s doing than the article exhibits.
Again, I know this article set out to address a fairly specific question and that what I’m raising would require a different article altogether to address, but given that it claims to examine “what these books reveal about the contemporary occult milieu” (4), I do think mine is a valid critique, or will be once I actually make the argument, because the article’s analysis really just fails to understand the contemporary occult milieu.
To be continued.
Postscript: As unlikely as it seems, it’s happened before, so in case the authors do stumble upon this blog post, let me say this is absolutely not personal, and I recognize at least some of the constraints you’re facing and the challenges of doing scholarship like this at all – and I’m glad you’re doing it despite the challenges and the fact that somebody is always going to want you to have written a different article than the one you wrote. I’m engaging here because I think it’s important work and an important conversation, and I believe that some of the most exciting stuff to happen in “the occult world” in ages is happening in large part because the gap between theory and praxis, between scholar and practitioner, is being bridged in new ways, and we’re seeing the results of that both in the academic efforts towards open source scholarship that exist and in occult publishing, which I seem to see in a drastically different light than y’all do 🙂
Modern trends in occult publishing may be packaging Mexican spirituality for the Anglo American occultist… but they might also be opening doors where the guy doing doctoral work on the Spanish grimoire tradition can have a Facebook conversation with a tech-savvy modern curandera, and holy cow, a native Spanish speaker not affiliated with a university can now publish an English-language work on Santa Muerte that is available in the mass market, and boy did we not have that 20 years ago! I love the gap-bridging and the conversations, and they don’t happen without goodwill – so please understand I have goodwill here.
Have a glass-encased vigil light fixed, dressed, blessed, set on my St. Expedite altar, and burned for you in a community altar work service for this famed and beloved patron saint of fast results.
Lights will be set the night of Monday, April 19th. There is some wiggle room and you can join up after the work starts as long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.” The service fee covers the cost of your vigil candle and appropriate food, beverage, and flower offerings.
St. Expedite’s feast day is April 19th, and while you can petition him any day of the year, you might be able to get a little extra bang for your buck on his feast day.
But beyond that, his feast day would be an excellent time to thank him for for previous services rendered if you already work with…
Stumbled across a set of instructions for making red brick dust the other day. It had 10 separate steps and required a mortar and pestle, some rum as an offering, hand/wrist strength, patience, and a whole lot of praying.
Y’all, I’m gonna give you my secret recipe for red brick dust. And this is authentic — my ancestry on my father’s side is Louisiana Creole through and through. My father was the first generation in our lineage *not* to be born in Louisiana since my 5th great grandfather in 1752. New Orleans cemeteries are positively jammed with ancestors, on both my father’s paternal side (French Creole) and my mother’s maternal side (Spanish Creole, many of whom settled in Florida after coming through the port…
I’m trying to get a service appointment with the ISP now. [*]
All of my systems are web or cloud based – customer database, bookkeeping, shipping, customer relationship management, communication platforms, payment processing, all of it. So I’m behind on all of that. But before you get all shirty about an order you expected to have in your hands by now, please keep in mind that 8 tornadoes have hit Alabama so far and at least five people are confirmed dead. We had a bout of insane weather last week, too. *People are dead* and services have been disrupted. So please try to keep a sense of perspective if you don’t have your Van Van oil yet, ok? Thank you!
[*] The DSL line is supposed to be buried. But they were doing road work out here for well over a year, including making the road wider and installing some drainage, so for ages, every time the wind blew wrong or a cow ambled by, the internet would stop working, ’cause the line was just sitting there out in the open, laid across 300 feet of no-longer-fenced-in pasture fronting the road.
They finished paving the road a few months ago. But the DSL line still isn’t buried. It rains, the internet stops working. Cow comes back by, internet stops working. Hold your mouth wrong, internet stops working. Ugh.
The storms have finally let up but we’re going on day three of no reliable internet. Since nearly every system I use is web- or cloud-based — postage/shipping, customer database, accounting, photo editing, social media management — everything is moving at the speed of molasses. But I’m doing what I can via phone. Hopefully the worst ISP in North America will come out and fix their Stone Age technology pretty soon and we’ll have the usual crappy DSL again… in the meantime, please don’t take it personally if I’m slow to answer or a bit taciturn 🙂