Seven Sorrows Rosary

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, or Chaplet of the Seven Dolours, is a devotion to Mary as the Sorrowful Mother that dates to the 13th century. It became quite popular in Europe during the ravages of the Black Plague.

There are several methods for praying this chaplet. This particular piece reflects my preferred approach to the devotion (and my aesthetic sense). It consists of seven segments of seven cobalt-blue glass beads, each separated by a faceted Czech glass pater bead and a Mexican sacred/immaculate heart milagro. The septets are connected with a repurposed chandelier crystal, and the pendant terminates with a detailed milagro-style focal heart charm (no antiphon beads).

More info available at Seraphin Station.

Tonight: Community honey jar services, Ss. Cosmas and Damian service for physical, spiritual, mental healing

Ss. Cosmas and Damian service for petitions related to health and healing (both physical and spiritual), casting off evil, removal of crossed conditions, and protection from plague and other illness.

Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were practicing physicians in the 3rd century and treated their patients at no charge, hence their title of “unmercenary” or “silverless.” They have different feast days within different churches and denominations, and in the Orthodox church, in fact, there are considered to be three distinct sets of saints named Cosmas and Damian.  Of course they all have different bios and feast days, as well. As with most saints from the early centuries of the church, there’s very little or nothing in any historical or archaeological record about their lives — we have rather to deal with legend (and subsequent mystical revelation, in some cases).

But these brothers who were doctors, twins, and ultimately martyrs, have for centuries had the reputation for interceding for the faithful who called on them for healing, and numerous miracles have been attributed to them. They are also the patrons of twins, surgeons, and pharmacists, are widely venerated in Brazil as patrons of children in general, and in some houses and temples, are associated with the lwa the Marassa.

The July community honey jars for Relationships/Love and Prosperity/Success also start tonight. As usual, there are Pay What You Can options for the prosperity jar.

The Keys and Crossroads service for St. Peter is still underway as well.

Double rewards points are in effect until midnight.

Learn more or book now at Seraphin Station.

June Saint of the Month: Sacred Heart of Jesus

Last Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart. I wrote this post on Friday but didn’t manage to actually, er, post it 🙂 Anyway, that feast is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so familiar a symbol that even non-Catholics tend to recognize it.

Usually pictured as a flaming heart crowned with thorns, and often featuring a cross and a wound and/or droplets of blood, the Sacred Heart is a symbol of Jesus’ patient and eternal love and compassion for humanity. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is often practiced to obtain grace, mercy, a peaceful home, consolation in grief, blessings, compassion, and greater depth of faith.

It is related to, but not identical with, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, usually pictured as a heart surmounted with flowers and pierced by a sword.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph. Public domain.

There’s also a whole “genre” of workings in the hoodoo rootwork tradition that operate under the aegis of the Sacred Heart, often to do with reconciliation or peace between cohabitating or married couples. But practitioners in the folk Catholic tradition have petitioned the Sacred Heart over the years for any number of things: to soften the heart of someone they want to influence, like a landlord or boss; to bless children; to return a lover; even for gambling luck.

The Sacred Heart Saint of the Month box for June will come with a short booklet containing history, prayers, spells, and recommendations for working with the Sacred Heart in the folk Catholic and Catholic conjure traditions. I do not believe there’s anything like it currently available in print.

Read more or order yours now at Seraphin Station.

The Saint of the Month Box

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.

Since I’ve been working with saints and spirits my entire life, and since I later went on to spend the better part of a decade in grad school studying medieval and early modern traditions around, and portrayals of, saints, I usually do manage to come up with something you haven’t seen before to add to your devotional practices. I have got some pretty neat stuff squirreled away (some pretty weird stuff too).

  • Standard box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history/recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a charm, medal, or curio.
  • Deluxe box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a fixed, blessed, dressed, and decorated vigil candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history and recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a handmade chaplet, rosary, or necklace.

Praise for Saint of the Month Boxes

I wanted to say how much I loved the St. Expedite Saint of the Month box! I was completely wowed when I opened it and saw everything inside, especially the beautifully decorated vigil light and the lovely bag with the chaplet inside. It’s a lovely piece and clearly well-made. The booklet on St. Expedite was very helpful, especially considering I am new to working with saints now much confusing and conflicting information there is online about St. Expedite. The only thing I can’t figure out is, am I really supposed to burn this candle? It’s so pretty!

– E.S. 2022

You are supposed to burn the candle, yes! But you can use it as a vase for flower offerings or to hold other materials on your altar once the candle has burned out, if you like!

Please note that items in deluxe kits, such as jewelry, rosaries, and decorated candles, are one of a kind and hand-made upon order, so don’t expect them to ship in a day or two.

Read more or order yours now at Seraphin Station.

New: St. Expedite Altar Kits

St. Expedite altar in a box – contains almost everything you need to get set up to work with this popular saint, patron of procrastinators, techies, hackers, couriers, travelers, those burdened by red tape and obstacles, and those needing fast luck or money.

Standard and deluxe versions available. Both come with a 24-page booklet of instructions and prayers.

Read more or order now at Seraphin Station.

San Simon – Maximon Community Altar Service – Luck, Open Roads, Uncrossing, Prosperity, Success

October 28 is the feast day of Saints Simon and Jude, and in Guatemala, one of the feast days of the syncretic trickster folk saint who takes part of his name from St. Simon. The other part most likely derives from that of a Mayan underworld deity who essentially shape-shifted into Maximon rather than fading into extinction after the Spanish conquest.

Photo is public domain, courtesy of the photographer Sapfan (Jan Pesula), available at Wikimedia Commons.

As you might expect, then, with a name like this, San Simon or Maximon is a crossroads spirit with a foot in two worlds simultaneously. He is beloved in Guatemala and its diaspora, responding to devotees from any walk of life who petition him for luck, for business success and prosperity, to remove obstacles and open roads, to fight back against injustice, and to thwart attacks of black magic.

Read more or book your spot at Seraphin Station.

Saints Clare and Philomena Candle Services and Novenas Begin Tonight

Big Lucky Hoodoo

*While I normally ask that clients book one service per order and check out for separate services separately, in this case, since Saints Clare and Philomena are so closely associated in some traditions, I’m offering a bundled discount if you book both services together. To get the discount, you have to check out with both services at the same time.

Saint Clare Candle Service & Novena – Clarity, Wisdom, Insight, Clairvoyance

Have lights set and worked on my St.Clare altar in a nine-day community altar work servicebeginning the night of August 11th,the feast day of St. Clare of Assisi.There is some wiggle room andyou can join up after the work startsas long as you see that there are still spots left and it doesn’t say “sold out.”

I will begin a nine-day novena and chaplet recitation to St.Clare on this same day, focused on petitioning her…

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Immaculate Heart of Mary Nicho with Pearls

These little nicho ornaments are made with reclaimed post-consumer tinplate that’s hand-cut, hammered, and shaped to encase tiny print reproductions of antique and vintage holy cards. I embellish them from my stash of vintage, antique, and/or reclaimed fabrics, metals, beads, and trims. This particular shrine features an image from a French holy card of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and is embellished with resin rhinestones and pearls, reclaimed vintage brass rosary chain, silk ribbon, a silver-tone heart pendant, pearlized glass beads, and satin roses. 

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.

7.25″ long including chain and pendant.

Available at Seraphin Station. 

St. Michael Niner Chaplet Bracelet

This one of a kind chaplet bracelet is handmade with 5mm ruby red glass beads, an ornate crucifix with a bronze-toned antiqued patina imported from Italy, a chain extension and lobster clasp if you want to wear it or secure it around a statue or rearview mirror, and a holy medal of St. Michael handpainted in bright and durable enamels. 

The saintly protector par excellence, Michael is called on to defend against dangers both spiritual and physical and from enemies both known and unknown.

Unclasped, this chaplet’s length from end to end is 8.75″. Will fit a 7.5″ wrist, but I’m happy to customize it if you need it shorter or longer. (Just allow a few extra days handling, please!) Medal measures 1″.

This style of chaplet is called a “niner” and is a popular and very portable way of doing a novena for a saint, of keeping your prayer beads close to hand when you’re traveling or need to be more discreet than a full-size rosary might allow, or of having a set of prayer beads the perfect size for wearing as a bracelet or keeping on your car’s rearview mirror or the door knob of your room or home.

One way of praying with a niner chaplet is to call on the saint’s aid on the medal, pray the Our Father x3, the Hail Mary x3, and the Glory Be x3 on the beads, and then the Apostle’s Creed on the crucifix.

Read more about St. Michael (and other saints and angels) in the education section at Big Lucky Hoodoo. And if you’ve never been sure how St. Michael can be a saint and an angel at the same time – and he most certainly is – you can get a little crash course in Catholic ontology at Seraphin Station.

This St. Michael piece is available at Seraphin Station or Etsy.

St. Lucy Chaplet Bracelet

This one of a kind chaplet bracelet is handmade with 5mm sapphire-blue glass beads, an ornate crucifix with a bronze-toned antiqued patina imported from Italy, a silver milagro imported from Mexico, and a holy medal of St. Lucy handpainted in bright and durable enamels. 

St. Lucy is petitioned for all kinds of things related to vision and light. She’s the patron saint of the blind and also of electricians, and her devotees call on her when they need to see more clearly, whether literally or figuratively. 

By extension, she’s considered a protector against the evil eye, can be called on to help you or someone you care about avoid the pitfalls of envy, and can be invoked for safe travel (fishermen in the Mediterranean have long painted eyes on the prows of their boats to help them navigate safely, and while this practice predates Christianity, it became associated with St. Lucy in many regions after her cult became enormously popular and widespread).

St. Lucy is an ally whenever you need clear insight or clear vision, and many folks working on their divination or clairvoyance skills will call on her as a patron of psychic vision as well (she and St. Clare of Assisi make a nice team for this purpose).

Available at Seraphin Station.

From Thelema to Santa Muerte (and round one vs. the academic myth of the “Anglo-American occult audience”)


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.

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