not-BS spotted on tumblr: lab-grown gems with a side rant on so-called “closed practices”

I have an entire category on this blog for “BS spotted on Pinterest,” under which I also post BS spotted on tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Tumblr has lots of BS. I’m especially (not) fond of the posts about hoodoo that copy/paste or screenshot or quote a portion of a book and then close with stuff like, “remember, kids, if you weren’t born into this culture/aren’t the right race or ethnicity/are trying to be a convert/whatever, it’s appropriation: Do Not Touch because it’s a closed practice” and similar such BS bits of racist, essentialist, historically ignorant, anthropologically blind, genealogically clueless posturing, gatekeeping, and virtue signaling.

(Clue brick: an entire culture can’t be a closed practice. That doesn’t even make sense. Unfuck your muddy thinking and imprecise language, or you are just part of the problem. Full disclosure: If I never see that bullshit neologism “closed practice” again it will be too soon. I especially don’t want to hear it about hoodoo from non-Southerners, ’cause those folks tend to get the South wrong all the damned time.[1])

But tumblr has some not-BS occasionally, and it’s only fair that I point that out every once in a while, too. So here I bring you some not-BS from tumblr.

I posted the whole thing so you’d have the context, but the spiritual folks and magicians and such reading along should have a pause and think about this last bit I’m emphasizing here. I’m not telling you what to do – I’m just suggesting we all give the underlying principles at work here some genuine thought. Resist sloppy thinking and false dichotomies and think about your theoretical underpinnings as a practitioner.

(And, you know, your ethics.)


[1] Yes, cultural and religious appropriation is a thing, and it’s a thing we should care about. I’ve written about it here and especially on Big Lucky Hoodoo. But this BS, ignorant, imprecise bumper-sticker preachy virtue signaling crap I see on tumblr constantly is just ridiculous, and it’s so incredibly off-base sometimes as to actually contribute to the freakin’ problem. More on this in the near future.

News & Reminders re. Shipping/Handling and Policies

Here’s my latest attempt to make this as clear as possible and stave off reading comprehension problems.

International Shipping

*Due to importation laws that place an undue administrative and financial burden on very small e-commerce businesses, I can no longer ship to Poland, Slovakia, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, or Lithuania.*

Handling Times

If your order contains:Handling time is:
0 custom items14 days
1 custom item25 days
2 custom items40 days
3 custom items55 days
etc.

Please note:

  • I do custom work. This is not Amazon.
  • I handle every aspect of your order myself. I do not have employees.
  • These handling times are estimates, not guarantees.
  • Plants, insects, wildlife, and the weather don’t work for me, don’t do things to spec, and don’t follow orders.
  • I’m a rootworker – literally. That means most of my day is spent outdoors tending to and harvesting plants or in my altar and work rooms doing work for clients and making things for customers. I am not on the computer or at a desk all day.
  • You will be notified when your order is ready to ship and sent a tracking number.
  • If you haven’t gotten a tracking number, your order is still processing.
  • Labels can be printed in batches several days in advance of the actual ship date.
  • Tracking is not real time.
  • There are probably orders ahead of yours in the queue.
  • There are probably emails ahead of yours in the queue.
  • COVID, war, and other global events have disrupted supply lines and availability of inventory and packaging materials all over the planet. Everything takes longer and costs more. This is not the same world we were living in three years ago. Please don’t take it personally or be a jerk about it.
  • Sonia does not live here. In order for us to stay on the same page, share the same inbox, keep all these systems and platforms and apps playing nice with each other, and make sure nothing falls between the cracks, we need you to follow directions for orders and communication.
  • All sales are final.

Custom Work

Prices on customized items like mojo bags, pakets, and custom oils are about to go up. People who don’t read item details and policies and don’t follow directions are creating too much extra work and giving me too many headaches.

But established clients and customers and generally reasonable people will be provided with ways to offset many of these increases, for instance through the loyalty/rewards program and subscriber-only discounts. I want you to know how much I value your business and your understanding of how all of this works and what this job entails. Y’all are who I’m working for and I appreciate you so much.

Shipping Rates

  • 95% of domestic orders will ship for a flat rate of $5.
  • 4% will ship for $10 max.
  • Expedited shipping options are available (but they do not account for or change handling times – just shipping method/carrier/speed).
  • Free shipping on domestic orders of $100 or more.
  • International shipping rates are quite competitive; more details here.

How to Get Banned/Suspended

  • Nagging, harassing, shouting, getting rude or hysterical
  • Repeatedly failing to read or follow instructions, item listing details, and/or policies
  • Filing a dispute or chargeback without talking to us first
  • Filing an “item not received” claim on a custom item, especially when that item
    • is completely custom-made from scratch for you based on your petition and situation
    • requires and takes into account the casting of your natal chart and calculation of ongoing/upcoming astrological transits
    • includes herbs, oils, essences, minerals, and curios which are rare, expensive, and/or not always frequently used in conjure
    • may involve further divination/spirit work and/or the creation of talismans/sigils
    • was ordered two weeks ago, for the love of freakin’ God

If you are blocked and you feel there’s been some error or misunderstanding, or if you have since located and read our Terms of Service and now understand the issue and our policies, we are open to discussing the reestablishment of your customer account.

Mailing List/Newsletter

I have begun the process of revalidating the subscriber list, and newsletter emails should resume in July. You will probably get an email asking you to confirm your interest in receiving the newsletters by resubscribing to the list. These should go out over the next week or so.

Newsletter subscriptions are now double opt-in, so new subscribers will get an email asking them to confirm that they do indeed want to subscribe. I’m really sorry for the extra step, but it’s just too crazy with the spambots and people forgetting they signed up or whatever.

If you don’t often open my newsletters or make purchases at my website, you may have gotten scrubbed, particularly if your name did not seem to match your email address in any way, if you signed up with an email address only and no name, or if you have an extremely unusual/unlikely name. Please don’t take it personally, but these are often features of fraudulent and spambot signups, and they’ve been a big problem lately. If you don’t get an email asking you to confirm your interest in the next week or so but you do still want to get mailings, you are more than welcome to resubscribe.

Time For Another “No Jackasses” Sale!

Well, folks, it’s that time again – time for me to deny jackasses any more of my mental real estate. And my strategy for this these days is to instead celebrate and thank the customers and clients I have who aren’t jackasses and who understand that I’m a human being and not a spiritual vending machine. (Also, shout out to y’all who are smart enough to not piss off your rootworker ffs…)

So I was nearly caught up with the shipping backlog from the epic trainwreck that my business relationship with the USPS has become, when right on cue somebody decided to take a page out of Glenn the Frizzled Bantam’s handbook and get their tetchy asses disinvited from the party… but only after making me drop everything else when they basically decided to force-jump the queue and make me jump through hoops they created due to their inability to read shop policies, follow directions, and calm the everloving hell down.

On the one hand, that’s whatever, ’cause some asshat is always doing that. On the other hand, this time somebody decided it was ok to talk to my assistant Sonia like she was a freakin’ 15-year-old Burger King employee scoffing at them when they asked for extra mustard or something.

So let me take this opportunity to make some things super clear.

For one, Sonia is not my employee. Technically, she’s an independent contractor. But really, she’s my colleague and my friend who for some mysterious reason puts up with my unending and vast technical ineptitude, my raging attention span problems, and my complete inability to keep to a normal schedule what with the whole running a business from my homestead/farm where I also raise crops and chickens and am constantly having to drop everything and run out the door to chase off a hawk or some crap.

I’m glad she does, and you should be too, because she is dedicated, patient, intelligent, trustworthy, discreet, reliable, efficient, and kind. And we go way back – I didn’t just put out a job ad and hire somebody off the street. She was around back in my *ebay* days. She was born into this work and it was in the dirt she walked on and the air she breathed and the food she ate growing up; she didn’t learn it from some book. So she doesn’t just know a couple of things about a couple of things — she is a rootworker in her own right.

She is also potentially your biggest cheerleader and advocate – she’s right here with me as I’m running through what I’m gonna need to work your case and how I’m gonna schedule and arrange everything, and she lets me know if you’ve sent a new message so I don’t miss it in all the traffic from all the channels/inboxes. She remembers where you’re from and what you’re worried about and what *I’m* worried about for you in terms of your case. She is just as happy as I am when I show her a photo of your candle wax and am smiling when I know I can give you some good news. She’s just as affected as I am when people’s children are in danger, or a client is being threatened, or someone loses their job, or a war or disease or death rips their reality from them and sends everything they had scattered to the winds. You’d be an absolute idiot to get on Sonia’s bad side, because unless she has a reason not to be, she’s your ally and is in your corner.

Even if she were “just my employee,” we’d still have a problem if you decided to be rude to her. This is not Burger King, you cannot have it your way, you cannot have it in 30 minutes or less or your next one’s free, and you cannot take your frustration or impatience or lack of critical reading ability out on somebody who is doing the job I hired them to do. Sonia never copped an attitude with anybody. She is every bit the professional. In fact, she’s generally way more tactful than I am, and whether they know it or not, there are plenty of people who should be glad she replied to their message instead of me 🙂

But Sonia keeps this place and me from freakin’ sinking under the waves. Any correspondence you’ve gotten in anything resembling a timely manner, considering that I have blown up my email inbox and/or my customer database no fewer than four times now, you probably have her to thank for it. Any paragraph you’ve read on my blog or site recently about folk Catholicism or Catholic conjure or regional herblore has probably been enriched by Sonia’s own extensive knowledge and experience that she brings to the table. There’s lots of overlap with our backgrounds, but there’s enough difference that I learn things from her all the damned time. And we talk about databases and apps, but we also talk about sourcing and growing herbs and about theory and practice in rootwork. She is my *colleague.* So anybody who dismisses her as just some “errand lackey” is making a huge mistake.

So I have on my site a little bit about how to get fired as a client and/or banned as a customer. And later on tonight, I’m going to add “being rude to my assistant” right up there at the beginning of the list. Anybody who thinks I care more about a customer’s potential credit line and what they might spend at my shop than I do about how Sonia’s doing and how she feels about all this work she does for me just doesn’t know me at all.

So now that we’ve cleared that up lol, all y’all who treat Sonia like you ought to and who behave like reasonable people, I just appreciate y’all so much. I know orders have not gone out super quickly lately and the backlog for reports and readings is absolutely ridiculous. I’m slowly but steadily working on improvements around all of that, but I know some of y’all have been patient to the point of sainthood at this juncture 🙂 and I am grateful. So if I’m not getting your stuff out to you as fast as either of us would hope, I do at least try to show my appreciation with a little lagniappe or a little coupon or a little limited edition something or other every once in a while.

Or, like now, a little sale. So please enjoy 15% off pretty much anything except services for the next 48 hours. If you’re not already a customer but you were thinking about trying out some of my stuff, well, you’re absolutely welcome to as well, just as long as you’re not a jackass 🙂 That means treat Sonia right, read the item listings and terms of service, and get familiar with my shipping and handling processes before you place an order 🙂 I post them all over the place so nobody will be unpleasantly surprised, because I want you to love what you get from my shop. And if you value personal attention to your work and the creation and shipping of your stuff, I think you will, and I’ll love having had the chance to provide you with some cool and useful stuff I made and packaged up with my own two hands 🙂

The rampant BS in essential oil marketing

…because I always come away from a Pinterest trip with something I have to write a PSA about! I’m sure this will piss off at least some of my readership, but this stuff has been ridiculous for a while now.

Y’all, there is no such thing as “therapeutic grade” essential oil. There is no governing body that grades essential oils and there is no standard definition of “therapeutic grade” or any other grade. Any company can decide to put “therapeutic grade” on their bottles. It’s totally freakin’ meaningless, and in fact, just speaking for myself, when I see a bottle of essential oil labeled “therapeutic grade,” my trust of the company goes down several notches, because it’s bullshit and they either know it, or they don’t know enough about what they’re selling to take their word on anything.

And if you see a blog telling you there are four grades of essential oils, I will bet you cash money that they are shilling for one of the big multilevel marketing setups that typically price their oils at least four times higher than typical quality retail brands. They use language like “therapeutic grade” to try to justify the markup, but I promise you, this is just marketing crap. Those oils are not some kind of ultra-elite anything, and they aren’t worth what they want you to pay for them. And the claim that “grade A” is organic and therapeutic grade, and “grade B” is food grade and could contain synthetics and contaminants… just click out when you see that bullshit. That’s garbage. People are just making shit up.

Now I believe those bloggers probably believe what they’re saying. There’s a lot of psychology going on here. I’m not saying it’s the bloggers necessarily who are lying to you – at least not on purpose. They have faith in this company or else they wouldn’t go to all the trouble. But that doesn’t mean they have the slightest idea what they’re talking about. The rhetoric that floats around, too often with bad advice, is dangerous. And if you believe these companies are angelic entities with humanity’s best interest, and not their corporate bottom line, at the heart of what they do, well, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid, and I suggest you put it down.

I also took a tour through the first 25 Amazon reviews of an essential oil set from a reputable and recognizable essential oil retailer. Absolutely zero percent of those 25 reviews were written by someone who knew enough to justly evaluate an essential oil. The criteria by which they judged the oil were nearly universally stupid and all over the map. Reviews like this are worse than useless as real data or any kind of yardstick of quality.

Also, don’t consume essential oils because some random website told you to. (Or at all.) No, that is not how your ancestors overcame illness. Your ancestors used the *whole plant* – not necessarily the whole thing from root to flower in every case for every blend, but the point is they did not use isolated compounds or massively concentrated distillations of only part of the plant’s constituent profile. They used the actual plants with their actual phytochemicals to make teas and salves and liniments and baths and such so that the infusion, decoction, etc. contained numerous active components that *worked together synergistically* in ways we still only barely understand. That is so far away from taking an aromatherapy essential oil internally that my head just about explodes when I see people recommending you ingest essential oils. That can kill you.

(I’m going to save for later the rant about how the trendiness of essential oils has contributed to some massive sustainability problems and ecological crises and exploitation, because that rant needs to come along with specific and practical discussion of alternatives as well as some historical, agricultural, and *chemical* context, and that’s gonna require significant time and research. But for now I’ll just say that the essential oil craze has actually been devastating to the environment, and I think everybody interested in rootwork needs to spend some time thinking about things like ethical sourcing as well as whole-plant infusion as an alternative to all-essential-oils-all-the-time, and choosing native/regionally available herbs and roots. Your great-great grandparents most certainly were not using essential oils to make up their medicines or condition oils or baths, and it’s unlikely that were they importing expensive, rare resins and spices from other countries. They were using what they could go out and gather. We’ve really developed a kind of perverse concept of essential oils as some “pure essence” of a plant, and this related idea that one plant is the Ideal for a certain thing and there’s nothing better anywhere, so we should get it by any means necessary and totally ignore what’s growing right under our noses in our regions. Nothing could be further from the truth.)

Bottom line: there’s a lot of freakin’ garbage out there. Some of it is just common obfuscation for the sake of marketing, but some of it is straight up dangerous. Some of the BS being circulated comes from well-meaning but gullible people who have believed a bunch of hype and overestimated the ethical character of the companies they shill for. You shouldn’t take their advice and you probably shouldn’t follow their recipes without doing some of your own research with reputable sources, either (esp. if they talk about “toxins” and “chemicals” a lot in really vague, sweeping terms, think you should put essential oil in your kid’s pancakes, and don’t think body products need preservatives).

And don’t just take my word for it, either. After all, I’m not a an aromatherapist or herbalist or a botanist or a scientist of any stripe at all. Go see what credentialed experts have to say about this stuff – not “momwithablog74” who wants you to buy a certain brand of incredibly expensive essential oil. Go see what trained aromatherapists think and how naturopaths feel about all this and what medicinal plant conservationists recommend, and while you’re at it, what the FDA and the Better Business Bureau have had to say.

If you’re going to use essential oils, you should know what the deal is, both in terms of the quality and ethics of the company whose product you use and in terms of the global status of the plant the oil comes from. Don’t contribute to ecological crises (or cultural theft) and don’t give your money to dishonest companies who use misleading marketing techniques. They are trying to swindle you.

Response to an email asking me to “prove I’m for real”

Big Lucky Hoodoo

…Or why legit workers aren’t even slightly interested in doing Psychic Pet Tricks for free to convince you to be their client, and what you should do instead of playing Test the Psychic.

Q: I was wondering if there was a way you could help me to prove you are genuine by maybe stating something about me that i have not told you. I want help, but I am tired of encountering all these fake psychics when i search.

A: [Name], what you need to do is not search but *research.*

There is a lot of good advice out there to help you avoid getting scammed. There is also a lot of bad advice, given by scammers themselves on their scam websites and ads. Then there’s a lot of well-meaning advice that is inaccurate, biased, or just plain ignorant. So it’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff when…

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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.

questions you’ve asked: bunch of folks should just stop using the word “karma,” period

Aaaand here we go again, folks. Some of this is part retread, but since the two-blogs thing is confusing AF and I probably need to edit and consolidate comments on the Big Lucky Hoodoo blogs (plural) and then just post the edited updates here as new posts…, I guess I might as well just answer some of these again lol

But the first ones are new.

Q: Are you going to have _______ for sale soon?

A: I am still just going one thing at a time as I locate, clean or dispose of, and set up or replace one batch of ingredients at a time. Turns out I do have a few candle-making supplies still. The issue there is not even knowing where to start. Should I pick a formula out of a hat or should I wait until somebody asks for something in particular? (I’m pretty much waiting until somebody asks for something in particular lol)

It turns out I have *way* more materials to make bath/floorwash crystals than I even imagined, though, as I discovered today, so some of those will be going up at the seraphinstation.com shop soon. Which ones I post first, though, could be up to you if you have a preference.

I do have a few chicken feet. Later this summer,  I’ll have some more that I am *very* excited about, because they will be coming from a source I know firsthand to be cruelty-free and devoted to humane practices. I know for a fact these chickens have as good a life as it is possible to have as a chicken bred for meat. And I know they are slaughtered cleanly and quickly with skill and compassion. They do not spend their final moments in terror. Matter of fact, they are *individually prayed over,* I shit you not, and individually thanked for the gift of their life that in turn sustains other life. This is no assembly line anything. These birds’ lives are not taken for granted.

And while I totally get that not everybody is comfortable with materia magica like that, 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, 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, deeply connected to the life around her and the land under her feet. (I actually want to interview her for this blog one of these days when some of the dust has settled around here. She’s really, really freakin’ cool and she has taught me *a lot* about living life “out here.”)

Q: Are you taking clients for spiritual work?

A: Apparently I am. I hadn’t planned on hanging the shingle out just yet, but someone wrote and asked, and it was the kind of case you help with if you can. So I kind of took that as a sign. It may well be one client at a time for a while, though. Not all services require that formal situation, though. Light settings, e.g., you can just book. More info’s available on the Services page of the shop.

Q: Can I burn frankincense and myrrh together?

A: Yes. What are you thinking here that makes you question whether you can do this? I worry I’m not understanding the real question.

Q: I read that Black Arts oil is used for karma. Can it cleanse my karma?

A: OMFG. No. The short answer is no. If you do traditional Southern spiritual rootwork, you just take you a big old marker (mentally) and mark out the words “karma” (mentally) and anything that suggests karma can be “cleansed”- esp. with something you buy. Cross ’em out real good, okay? There. Now try to forget you ever heard ’em. And think about who you want to be giving your hard-earned money to when you’re reading crap like that on the internet. You deserve better.

Continue reading “questions you’ve asked: bunch of folks should just stop using the word “karma,” period”