Coureurs des Bois: Network

under construction

The coureurs des bois were French-Canadian traders in the 17th and 18th centuries in the wilds of North America. They were either independent entrepreneurs or poachers and black market dealers, depending on your perspective. Many preferred living in the woods and making friends with the First Nations people to dealing with civilization and its towns, and coureurs des bois accordingly means “woods-runner” or “runner of the woods.”

So in adopting that name for my informal network, I’m introducing people who might spend a real amount of time outdoors doing things and trying to grow things and make things in conscious, meaningful ways – not necessarily 1,000% ultra-crunchy organic or certified cage-free hippie or anything, but just being thoughtful about our particular dirt that we live on, whether by choice or because COVID has kind of made it newly necessary for some folks in some cases.

But there’s a more figurative aspect here, too, a more general association with wildness and exploration, with making your own path and figuring out what your terms are and what’s possible, with sallying forth wearing more mosquito bites than mascara and not giving a great green goddamn anymore – so people working on new options and paths where there’s room in their life for art, or exploration, or more creativity, or whatever uncharted territory seems intriguing to them, even if it’s just deciding no underpaying cubicle gig is gonna cut it for them anymore.

And then of course not everybody is lucky enough to be able to run to the woods, but they might still be spiritually engaged at that level, perhaps immersed in a particular herblore, or studying folk magic or folk religion, or making folk art with what’s available to them, what counts as “wild” where they are. Or maybe they’re Gulf Coast expats, but they have carried a piece of it with them wherever they’ve landed and it informs what they’re doing and what they’re all about.

So ideally, I’d like to eventually “map the region” such that I can tell someone where to get herbs between Jacksonville and Dallas, or where to find a like-minded independent artisan near St. George Island, or someone doing backyard charcuterie near Foley or tattooing near Padre Island, or whatever. So if you’re a coureur des bois, reach out and introduce yourself! I’d love to know what you’re up to in your neck of the woods in our region!

Les Coureurs

CoyoteWater – J.F. Guidry is the conjure artist behind CoyoteWater, where you can get yourself a Lenormand Fou Pas Mal (what we might get from the classic cartomancy deck if Marie Anne Lenormand came from 21st century New Iberia rather than 18th century Alençon and had basically had enough of your shit); a Louisiana folk Catholic homage to Mexican folk saint Jesus Malverde (because the drug war’s happening in Lake Charles, too); or a modern-day collage retablo featuring sharks leaping over a gulf pier, a serene OL of Guadalupe presiding (and a caption urging, “Prends courage, mes amies.”)

This is folk art with a keen sense of place and time, of genius locorum, spiritual geography and microclimate, and if you never imagined Santa Muerte and Jesus Malverde at home in Cajun country, well, CoyoteWater might have a thing or two to teach you about Louisiana and about a life of faith lived on the cultural margins. I’m a big fan.

Dancing Bee Farms

Spiritualist Temple of Big Lucky Hoodoo – New Orleans, LA. “The Spiritualist Temple of Lucky Hoodoo in the ECC has a three fold purpose – to explore the traditions of the Lucky Hoodoo Grimoire in Voudon Gnostic Workbook as a tool to develop the skills of spirit contact and mediumship, to explore the various methodologies of traditional Hoodoo and Spiritualism, and to explore the concept of Luck in various world religions and folk traditions.”