Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture

Conjure and Christianity in the Nineteenth Century: Religious Elements in African American Magic Author(s): Yvonne Chireau Source: Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Summer, 1997), pp. 225-246 Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture Stable URL: . Accessed: 29/10/2013 10:44
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in theNineteenth Conjure and Christianity Century: in African Elements American Religious Magic
YvonneChireau beforethe turnof the nineteenth an amateur Shortly century, collectorof Negro spirituals and folklorerecounted a conversation thatshe had had with an unidentified AfricanAmericanclergyman. the clergyman, "one of the most scholarly Accordingto the collector, and noted ministers ofthecolored race," admittedthat, even as a professed Christian, he found himself "under the influences of voodooism" and otherAfricanoccultpractices.He explained that,as a young pastor,he had grown "completelydiscouraged" afternumerous unsuccessfulattempts to attract new worshipersinto his congregationuntilone day an unexpectedvisitorhappened his way: I was in mystudy whenthedooropenedand a little praying mancameinand said softly: "Youdon'tunderstand de Conjure as a friend todraw'em.Efyou people.Youmust getyoua hand willletmefix youa luckcharm, you'llgit'em." The ministeraccepted the "hand" fromthe Conjurer,which was a small,homemade talisman,and found to his surprisethathis church was fullthe verynextweek. "For fouryears,"he recalled,"the aisles were crowded every Sunday." Disgusted, the ministereventually destroyed the charm, unable to reconcile his increasingpopularity with the apparentpotencyof theoccult object."I knew it was not the gospel's power, but that wretched 'luck ball.' " Perplexed,he concluded, "I . . . have neverbeen able to draw an audience since."' In thehistory ofAmericanreligion, thisanecdote servesas an of reminder the diverse currents thathave long contended intriguing with Christianityfor the spiritual allegiance of both clergy and laypersons.The minister'stacitacceptance and eventual rejectionof the Conjurer's charmillustrates how even religiously observantindividuals can adopt unorthodox,idiosyncraticbeliefs and behavior under circumstances where unbridgeablegaps in knowledge or loss of controlmay exist.As I will argue, this storyis not an exceptional

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magic has persisted in black culture. and clientsof the magical artshave moved freely across practitioners ecclesial boundaries. rather.5 none of these viewpoints does Although each has some legitimacy. traditionallyregarded between theimmutability of divine will and theclaims of individuals to be able to manipulate spiritualpower.albeit covertly. This content downloaded from 130. Scholars of religionhave been divided on the meaning of Conjure practicesin AfricanAmerican life.Its widespread appeal is attested to by numerous accounts describing conjuring relics. Conjure is AfricanAmericanoccultism. and other experimentalspiritualities with established compete religions and popular interpretations of magic abound withinAmericansubcultures.226 andAmerican Culture Religion it is an example of the kind of convergenceof beliefsthat case. after flourishing in the wake of eighteenthgenerations.64.58. Some interpreters have viewed occult beliefs as residual the consequence of an incompleteChristianization of superstitions. was inherited forseveral by European colonistsand. United States. and occult traditions heterodox. New Age traditions. between magic thus.and occult specialists among AfricanAmerican churchgoers. occultbeliefsare seen to have provided the spiritual fodder by which bondspersons challenged slaveowner hegemony and retained a powerful ancestralheritage.71 on Tue.Black American Conjure is but one facetin a spectrumof in the supernaturalbeliefs that continues to thrive. gradually was reconfigured entrenchment. generations. occurred between AfricanAmericanmagic and Christiancommonly For ity.From slavery days to the present. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Recent studies of early American religion have shown thata tangleof esoteric. guage of Christianity.3 The relationship betwen Conjure and Christianity has been as to due the assumed conflict inimical.2Spiritualvarietyis no less prevacenturyProtestant lent today. and supernaturalobjects.4 Othershave portrayedmagical practices as enduring survivals of native African traditions: detached from theirreligiousmoorings. practices.Conjure belongs to a broader realm of beliefsthathave historically occupied the spiritualimaginationof both blacks and whites. black Americansthatbegan in slavery.As religioustraditions. often obscured but deemed compatible with other spiritualtraditions.The termapplies to an extensivearea of magic.when neopaganism. witchcraft.and lore thatincludes healing. drawing copiously fromthe symbols and lanThe pictureof black religionthat emerges is. spells. supernatural rituals.more complex than formulations distinguishing and religionas separate empiricalcategorieswould indicate. complete justice to describing the relationshipsof accommodation and assimilationthatallowed practitioners of Conjure and Christianboth Conjure and ityto reconciletheirbeliefs.

64. inhabitedby spirits.compartmentalized but a way of lifewithinwhich all social structures. magic and occult beliefswere profoundly shaped by thereligiousworlds in which Africans had lived priorto the diaspora.thevast funimmigrants of into the Westernhemineling persons fromthe Africancontinent countered the white colonial sphere swiftly presence. and mystical philosophies. Althoughthegenealogyfortheconveyance of Old World occult practices is more explicit for European than forAfricans(a legacy of printculture).the explanation of the unknown. organized around belief in a sacred which was manifested both by the material wholly reality.religion was not a distinct. the rise of occultismamong white settlers in America resultedfromthe diffusion of folksupernaturalism. multitude of talentspossessed by religiouspractitioners on Cape Coast (West included and diverse forms of Africa) "soothsaying.and the dead. Magic and embedded in WestAfricanreligiousbeliefs.and events. immersedin a spiritualuniverse. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and torturous to the New where were assimilated World.One claims toprophesy in a basinfull [priest] bylooking continually ofwater andpretending toperceive most wonderful something This content downloaded from 130." divination. Withthearrivalof European occultismand magical beliefsin seventeenthand eighteenth-century of America. In the cultures fromwhich the slaves were drawn in West and Central Africa. persons. miraclelore.and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 227 Christianity provided unique resources that addressed diverse culturalneeds and interests withinAfrican Americanlife.8 Africanpriestsand practitioners were specially trainedand to access the empowered supernatural by engagingin ritualdiscourse with divinitiesand ancestorsand by receivingrevelations.and by the realmof the unseen. clairvoyance: suchsorcery orsoothsaying They practise invarious ways. realm of the senses. made thelong occultism. ancestors.6In contrastto African Americanmagic.7For blacks. The Africanperson was institutions. Described one Danish in observer the late seventeenth the by century.58.71 on Tue.includingtheprediction of the future. spirituality provided the basis for African societies were knowledge. and the controlof nature. a process that began in Europe and reached far back to medieval times. inhabitedby human beings. sphere of activity and relationshipswere rooted. Traditional African were oriented toward theinvocationofthesepowerreligions fulotherworldly forcesforvarious purposes.theparallel transfer of an traditions of spiritual equally significant group migrants-those of Africans-had also begun. journey they in the spiritualconsciousness of black slaves.

magical practiceswere systematizedin obeah.supernaturalism took multirituals ple configurations among theslaves."it's impossible to hurt a man that has one of these bags about him. Created objectswere customarily employed as vessels of the and West Central Africa.a European merchant. anotherheal fevers.visions.or spells and charms" he found to be ubiquitous among Gold Coast blacks.poyson or otheraxcedentsof life.." which were believed to preserve individuals from "shot. charms were and prosperity greatlyvalued by Africansforthe health.." he wrote. and divinationthatwas widespread among plantation blacks in the eighteenthand nineteenth centuries. observed the myriad propertiesof "grigri.14Practitioners ofobeah were recognizedas spiritualauthorities in Caribbean slave societies."12 Objects of spiritual efficacy. This content downloaded from 130.13 These two significant featuresof Africanreligions-the utilof skillsembodied by religious ityof sacred charmsand the diversity specialists-were imported to the American colonies during the Atlanticslave trade. war.""In thieropinions.58. religions.In theBritish practicesthatwere grafted colony of Jamaica. Barbotcommentedthatit was commonlybelieved by those possessing them that "one grigriwill save them fromdrowning at sea.which occations themto appear more resolutein the face of thierenemys . was of an that that linked the spiritworld and authority intermediary thecommunity.. The things proposes to foretell who boastoftheir thefuture travel all ability priests overthecountry. Long noted that jurers. rangingfrom fragmented that recalled traditionalAfricanreligious observances to composite onto Christian beliefs. in eighteenth-century Shebro. "11 Nicholas Owen. Priestly powers also extendedto theinterpretation and In African ofthereligious most the role signs.Sierra Leone. described the powers of "gregorybags.called "fetishes" "grigri"by foreign In the late 1600's.."The most sensibleamong themfear the supernatural obeah-men. anotheragain will give a woman a safe childbirth." black "priests or obeah-men" functionedas powerful "oracles" for whetherof peace.These included supernatural throughout or witnesses.9 of dreams. oftheindividual and thecommunity. .228 andAmerican Culture Religion init.71 on Tue.Another totellfuture from thefire.resistance. In the New World. astrology. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . an Africanderived religionof curing..or pretendedconpowers of the African wroteBritish historian Edward Long in 1774. Jean Barbot.. and anotherfrombeing killed in anotherwill war.knives.64. whose social well-beingwas dependenton themaintenanceof orderin thecosmic realm. . an Irishsailor preventfires...or the Jamaicanslaves "in all weightyaffairs.. .

religious original starkmoral dichotomyof good and evil." Like so many elementsof Africanreligionin the Westin the diaspora. Forbiddenand unable to maintaincollectiveAfrican religious black slaves in Americastood between the erodingcosmolpractices. and disembodied spirits-the stuff of folktradition.and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 229 pursuitof revenge. The immediacy of ritual access to divinities.58.occultismwas kept alive in New World slave communitiesin ancestralremembrances. deities were apotheosized in the trickster-like figureof Satan. or were reconceivedas netherforces-otherworldly entities.The numerous divinireinterpreted many of theirtraditional tiesof African forexample.and antiwitchcraft and nativeAfrican Christianity spirituality.were recast.The lessergods and religions.64. African occulttechniquesand knowledgesmergedwiththeChristian beliefs that some slaves adopted. some blacks Americanoccultismacquired largelyprivate. Nevertheless. AfricanAmericanmagic can best be seen as fitting into a continuum of religionand supernatural beliefsthatextendedfrom the Old to the New World. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . although the assimilation that occurredwas to a lesser degree thanthatof otherNew Worldfusions of magic and religion. noncollective. In theAmerernhemisphere.16 For blacks in Britain'smainland colonies in NorthAmerica.Most significant. and This content downloaded from 130.71 on Tue. Black Christian preachers and prophets assumed a varietyof public religiousroles.the efficacious orientation of traditional religionwas displaced. tianity. Chrisogies of theold orderand thenewer conceptionsderived from Western ideas such as the of doctrine the sin. while others were absorbed into African Americanfolkbeliefs. To harmonize their views of the African universewith the monotheistic claims of Protestantism.invisiblebeings. magic was transformed ican South."' Beyond obeahrituals.while Conjurersfulfilled privatespiritualcommissions. and the centrality of a textbased religiousculturewere foreign to thoseslaves who had notbeen influencedby Islam or Christianity prior to European contact.In contrastto its public ceremonialmanifestationsin theCaribbean.ghostly presences. and noninstitutionalizedforms. The sacred functions of Africanreligiousleaders and priestswere also reformulated in the AfricanAmericancontext. as animated. when African beliefswere transformed in the New World.which reconciledmissionary oaths.gods. sources indicate that a kinship emerged between As Protestantism became supernaturalismand slave Christianity. more widely embraced and indigenized among American-born blacks.Convertsbridgedtheinterstices thatlay betweenthetwo worlds by creating accommodations. remainingelementsof Africanmagic were incorporatedinto organized religious life. blood sectslike Myal.

The roots. keep [their] time.and a god-man who wore a charm.In the 1840's. and his own gifts lous cures" of animals and humans thathe performedin the South Carolina countryside. Mary Livermoredescribed a black preachershe had met on a farmin Virginia.folklorist Mary A." Accordingto Livermore."19 Anotherslave known only as Elihu was recognized as "an old and creditablemember of the church. witches. Owen wroteof a sextonshe had met in an AfricanMethodistchurchwhose authority extended to his role This content downloaded from 130. two compatible perspectives that relied on each other.and could become invisibleat any moment. popular as "a conjurerwho could raise evil spirits." representeda transitional figurewho combined the practicesof occult specialist and religious functionary. AfricanAmerican Conjurersviewed theirworld througha different lens. was simultaneously exhorter.magic and religionwere symbiotic.64.unauthorized claims to supernaturalempowermentpresenteda challenge to one of the primaryassumptionsof the Christianworldview: the sinof God's power and will.In Missouri.230 andAmerican Culture Religion ancestorswas underminedby the Christiandoctrineof providence.prophecy. "I told them those roots were able to make them faithful when they were on the and to mind at workall the calling SupremeBeing."a man of many "Uncle" Aaron.As divine motiveswere considered itybetweenhumanity to be unfathomableand beyond human comprehension. the of Conjurersand the authority of Christianministers often authority tobe complemenoverlapped. forthe "miracucharms.Elihu also placed greatfaithin accordingto one writer.20 Similarpatternscontinued long afteremancipation.When asked other slaves about the of function the he by bags.William Webb was one such individual who embodied both roles. For example.58. which posited beliefin a supremebeing as the sole mediatingauthorand nature.and "sleight of hand.spells.magic and occultismoccupied therealmofheresyand heathenism.he were to be in used with 1887.71 on Tue.thislocal minister and gifts. who also believed in the mystical significanceof dreams. explained." Webb.18 William Webb was not unique. For them.and manyblacks foundtheirfunctions tary."who was as "punctilious as a Pharisee" in his religious observances. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . conjunction prayer. Accordingto gular.uncontested sovereignty official Protestant thoughtand doctrine. A bondsman in Kentucky. Nonetheless. Webb recalled thathe had prepared of for roots other slaves to carryin order to keep peace special bags betweenmastersand bondspersonson local plantations. A varietyof persons moved between Christianityand the spiritual prospects that magic both promised and fulfilled.Conjuring.

was himselfa favored Conjurer all. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In an interviewat the Adams attributed his supernaturalexpertiseto the age of ninety-one. came several famous local "Voodoo doctors" anthropologist upon who were also well-known"Reverends" whose ministries were supported by members of the community:"[T]hose who are devoutly folksuperstitions. WhentheLord personunderstands itjustcomesto'em. Such appeals to esotericknowledgebased upon personal exegesiswere not uncommonforpractitioners of Conjure.some things just the chosenfew to know. was said thatBuzzard financedand built patron two of the largestchurcheson St. accordingto a local historian.such as Jimmy Brisbane." she religiousare also devout believersin current and voodoo as conflicting noted. He and othersin his circleof "Voodoos" saw no contradiction between his two positions. in theearlytwentieth century. South Carolina. WilliamAdams believed that"special persons" were chosen to "show de powah" of God.He was sought afterforhis healing and magical knowledge. Helena Island.hosted weekly where clientsof black occultprayermeetingsand churchgatherings ism and AfricanAmerican Christianswere broughttogetherin his home on John'sIsland.that sayswe-uns in superstition..just'cause you don'tknow things 'boutsomeoftheLord'slaws.71 on Tue. The Biblesaysso..21 In rural after the turn of the nineteenth a white Mississippi shortly century. Well.25 Conjurerswere oftendevout individuals. a former slave from Texas..cultivateda distinguished reputation among his peers forhis esotericinterpretations ofbiblicallore. forhis occultbeliefsin thedocpower of God and foundjustification of Christianity: trines There am lotsoffolks. William Adams.. "and do not look upon Christianity in any way.Brisbane."22 Otherearly-twentieth-century supernatural practitionwere activeparticipants in local religious ers. a Conjurer clan in NorthCarolina.a successfulroot doctor and Conjurer.and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 231 as a powerfulsupernaturalspecialist. and educated onestoo.and some no one shouldknow."conducted "of greatrepute"fromtheJordan prayer meetings and sat on the mourner's bench" in the Baptist And perhaps themostfamous church. life.26 This content downloaded from 130.64.'tain't ifsomeother superstition and believesin such. of Christian It causes. as was writtenin the Gospel of Mark. insomeofHis ways. believes 'tis cause don'tunderstand.canbe mysterious. There am somethings theLordwantsall folks to know. givessuchpowertoa person.Now.23 Allan Vaughan.24 of Gullah the "Doctor" Buzzard.58. South Carolina. they 'Member theLord.

29 Evidence indicatesthatthe enchantedworld of Conjure and the sacred realm of African American Christianity in intertwined black folkthought.' saithde Lord. who of infiltrated the ranks black in therural Hoodoo workers ologist South duringthe early twentieth on commented the conscicentury.64. thespirit. Far fromprojecting an irreverent style of conduct. Zora Neale Hurstonrecountedsuch an eventfrom theexperienceof Father Abraham.I has a feelin' God's donecalledhischilefor EversenceI beena higher t'ings."Throwing downhis plow Abraham left thefield. a devout Baptist and former in the 1930's interviewers slave.232 andAmerican Culture Religion Supernatural specialists relied on their experience of the divine for guidance. I in thename o' the Lord. explaining that forrevengein the days when he Conjure had been used extensively was a slave in Virginia. I done had dis feelin' I but didn' not 'Quench boy yere jes obey.the"Hoodoo Doctor" of Lawtey."28 tricks a whitesociNewbell Niles Puckett. "Uncle" John Spencer.58. This content downloaded from 130." or casting a in woman Alabama named Seven Sisters spells."as do all the Conjure doctorsI have ever heard of. A student fromVirginia's Hampton Institute wrote a letterin 1878 to the school concerninga well-knownpractitionerwho was also a deeply religiouswoman: "[S]he had a special revelationfromGod. Conjure replied.he sudhis facebathed in perspiration. told WorksProgressAdministration thathe stillbelieved in "tricking. proudly described himselfas a "member of the church" with "a seat in Conference. never toreturn toitagainas a laborer. entiousness and piety that was demonstratedby almost all of the occult specialiststhathe came across. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .71 on Tue.." Robinson's claim to occult power was thathe had been born with a "caul"-that amnioticveil one that"prowled coveringa newborn's face-and could see spirits. "Honey.Florida..Some Conjurerswere summoned to theircareers in ways that were evocative of the Christiancall to ministry. Braziel Robinson." or malign magic. "It's a spiritin me thattells-a spiritfromthe Lord JesusChrist. Puckett noted."27 When asked by a white professorwhere she had learned her knowledge of divinationand "tricking.who "converted" to being a rootworker and healer after a sudden revelation: One day as he was plowingundertheparching sun.31 A nineteenth-century Georgia freedman..30 It was not unusual forblack Conjure practitioners to profess a commitment to Christianity while acknowledgingthepowers of the occult world. Calling he said. I jes can't do dis yerework." he remarked. hiswife denlystopped. many Conjurersbelieved that theirvocations should reflect proper dispositions of religious devotionand service.

Accordingto an accountby an ex-slave in Lynchburg.Whitebusinessman Thaddeus Norriswroteof a young slave in antebellumNew Orleans who."32 In the late 1800's.she was immediatelyconvinced thatshe was a victim of a "fix" due to thejealousy of one of the choir members. who conjures in the name of his Africandevil on Saturday.71 on Tue."35 and preachersutiMinisters lized thenegativeside of Conjureand magic.38 Neither were churchofficials immune to theConjurer'spowers. a folklorist interviewedoccult specialists who met regularlyin a Missouri AfricanMethodist church where some were members.when the "most prominent member in the Baptistcolored church" in an unidentified northern town fellsick.64.were benign."scoffeda reporter.a former bondsman practicedConjure on unsuspectingvictimsout of "meanness" and belonged at the same time to a local Baptistcongregation. In post-CivilWar Arkansas." Terrified. "although a consistent professor of the Christian religion.and have power over evil spirits.who condescendingly described "the old-fashioned negro." he found. prays and exhorts.58. "the good hoodoo often being parthoodoo and partpreacher. more about theAfrican brand ofpiety." believed that he had been "bewitched" by "one of his co-worshiptheboy was takento a cityphysicianand laterrecovpers. ered from his malady after thedoctoracknowledgedhis complaintas the work of of malevobeing Conjurers."33 Not all churchgoing occultspecialists.sings. a pastorwho had graduated from believed that he had been somehow poisoned VirginiaSeminary This content downloaded from 130.the proximity of the spirit realm dramatized the unpredictable. He apparentlysaw no disparitybetween his mediumship abilitiesand his religiousbeliefs because.The potential conflict between Conjure and Christianitywas pointed out by the writer. and after'meetin" invites the ministerto a dinner of stolen poultry on Sunday. who is destined to have no son like him. can keep me fromharm.and goes to a Christianchurch.37So common was the threat lent occultism in religious circles that.dangerous presence of forces thatcould strikeat the most faithful of believers.and unless my mind is evil."36 For many who practicedConjure."34 Anotherlate-nineteenth-century Arkansas Conjurerwas "renowned in threecounties" forhis alleged role in the deaths of at least tenmen and women by occultmeans. as he put it. "My two spirits are good spirits. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .however. Newbell Puckett uncovered a strand in southern folklore that explained this seeming duplicity:thereare "good and bad hoodoos.and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 233 around" and anotherthatinhabitedhis body. "He is a pious man and a deacon in the "which used to surpriseme untilI knew church.It was said that he dabbled in Hoodoo because he knew he had "'suranceer salvationanyhow.

will enjoy certaingreatprotection enumerated in the letter.40And in an 1874 article. and blessing it in theirdwellings.58."The poor people have been deluded intothebeliefthattheLetter is genuine.42 These customs indicate that the arena thatwas governed by divine activityin folkreligious thoughtwas believed to be inclusive of the natural sphere of earthlyforces. bondsperson in nineteenth-century Georgia reportedthat a hardshellBaptist preacherdied fromConjure afterbelieving thatsnakes had invaded his body. preacherhad been "hoodooed" and. Old Divinity. Especiallynotorious was the"Letterfrom whichcirculated JesusChrist. was able to produce rain by crossingtwo matches with salt.which were frequently adopted foruse as and to the in freedmen charms. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .46In Georgia. D. supernatural were able to control the practitioners very elements. theNew York Times statedthatithad confirmed in that a black Tennessee. and wonders."that itwas written for thatthosepossessing itand exhibitespecially them. Siegfried. the spiritualand thephysicalworlds were traversedby the ritualactivityof occult specialists." The which claimed to guarantee letter.43Similar ideas would not have been alien to many eighteenthand nineteenth-century Christianministers who tapped popular supernaturalismby claiming possession of divine giftsand attributesthat enabled them to work miracles. reports Clarksville.71 on Tue." Overlea of Mississippi." he railed. signs. going "hopelessly insane. was buried clutchinghis cherished silver medal of Saint Anthonyand the infantJesus. a who lived African Americans after the Baptist missionary among Civil War. Many charmswere endowed withmagical potency "in the name of the Lord. For some blacks."45Religious accoutrements adopted from Christiantraditions were enlistedby black specialistsforpurposes of protectionand prediction. W." extensively. the rich iconographic influencesof Catholicisminformed theirselectionof occult artifacts. ings This content downloaded from 130. holy objects Augusta. while capricious forces were harnessedand controlled.44 Conjurers often appropriated rituals and sacred symbols from Christianity. while a "seventh son. accordingto Siegfried.complained bitterly of the sale and disseminationof religious books and pictures.41 As in Christianity.234 andAmerican Culture Religion by a spurned woman. In some instances. Even afterreceivingmedicine froma Conjure A similarstoryfroma former he took ill and died. among black families.39 doctor. Practitioners such as Tante Dolores of New Orleans could quiet a stormby splitting it with an axe. a Mississippian Conjurerwho claimed to be the grandson of a witch." ultimately had to leave his pulpit.64.The will of God was divined and revealed in miracles and signs.

are a a dress from Sam at accused of chicken or stealing you then[one]oftheother sucha time. the Bible was considered by many Conjurers to be the "greatestConjure book in the world.Accordingto writerZora Neale Hurston. thenthe assertions Theywould continue menwouldputa stick intheloopofthestring that was attached to thebible.." their ."When the Bible would come to me..told how his white masterwould "tell many a fortune ." Anderson recalled. in thenameoftheFather. A common divination procedure among African American occult practitionersinvolved the use of the Bible for detection of who had been a bondsman in thieves and criminals."52 Belief This content downloaded from 130.47 women. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . attached man at thefirst cabinwithevery Thesefour would commence and theone who heldthestring of thefamily.thebiblewas to turn on around thestring."50 The lore and images of the Bible provided a fertile field for AfricanAmerican occult specialists. .theft." stolen whathe was accusedof." would say..48 that A former slave fromTennessee. a formulaictreatiseof occult science and philosophy thatwas consideredby some blacks to be the "Hoodoo bible. That meantthatI was [a] lucky and righteousman. ifJohn stolethat thatis.58.64. gave a detailed account of the process employed by slaves to findburglarsin theplantationcommunity: with a string had a bible oneofwhich menwereselected."John chicken. South Carolina. it would just spin."she proposed. chicken.. .. [F]our to it. and a Voodoo incantation for the Christianized chant.and each manhad his own partto perform. She surmised that the ritual was an Africansurvival adapted by black Americans: "Substitutea raw-hide shield on two upright spears." while Moses was "honored as the greatestConjurer. twowouldsay. by hangingthe Bible on a key and sayingcertainwords.Jacob Stroyer. apparently Sacred paraphernalia were utilized in other unorthodox would say.and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 235 and ensure safe childbirth from naturaldisasters. for protection of Roman Catholic the stock was merchandisers.ByrlAnderson.folklorist Sarah Handy describeda systemof divinationknown as "turning the sifter"in which a "man of standingin the church"was able to detectan unknown thief or wrongdoerby balancing a sifter between two chairs.and hold it as stillas they could.ifthemanhad Ghost. "and you have the riteas it is practicedtoday on theGuinea Coast."49 In anothernineteenth-century account. attached to the whatever theperson's namewas. and theSon and oftheHoly "Bible.71 on Tue."John stole and another did notstealthe thechicken. turn. and that wouldbe a proof he did stealit. biblewouldsayJohn orTom."51 Other practitioners swore by the Seventh Book of Moses.

Rossa Cooley.71 on Tue. exercised. gests thatConjure sometimesrepresented competing of spiritualauthority form forblacks. "He read fromthe good book and prayed aloud forthe salvation of her soul.60 Even as the Bible and othertexts prayerforrelief were sometimesviewed as written charmsthrough which power was charmor incantation.illnesswas viewed as thework ofthedevil.a whiteeducatorstationedon the Sea Islands after the Civil War.and Conjure was associated with the universalcontestbetween the forcesof good and evil." or bad fortune. The use of biblical sayingsand prayersas ingredients in magical spells and charmsis an elementof the occult tradition thatdates as farback as the origins ofChristianity itself.For manyblacks.58.59While theirtechniquescould vary. described how one ex-slave woman she knew was convinced she had been conjured and sought help fromthe local "colored doctor."This particularcase sugan alternative." a "trick. Some persons who had been afflicted would call upon God to reversetheircondition. largerprovince of powers was also available throughprayerforspecificentreaties. described a case where a "hoodoo tury man" approached a woman who had been conjured."a "hex.236 and American Culture Religion and letters in thepowers contained in writing may have increasedas a for near-sacred acquired literacy significance manyblack Americans in thepost-emancipation era. from tected Conjurersthroughthe power of Jesus.was sought out by church members who wanted him to "break spells" thathad been placed on themby "voodoo or de charmsby de conjurdoctor.C." said thewriter.53 Conjure specialists and clients alike employed the spiritual idiom ofChristianity."6A twentieth-cenin Washington. black folk appealed to God for and moral But a protection strength."55 In Georgia during the early twentieth ex-slave JackAtkinsonasserted that he was procentury. Some prayed in orderto cast spells while others spoke in tongues when performing novelist an aged woman who told how she was Charles Chesnuttinterviewed spared fromthe malicious powers of a Conjurer aftershe heard a voice fromthe "Spirit er de Lawd. saying that." he would be able to cure her. "hardshell" Baptist preacher. "beforehe preceded [sic]to mutter to himself"mystical incantationsthatwould bring about her healing."8 The most common way to removea " was not unheard of forConjure specialiststo prescribea cure forillnessin combination withprayer.5 In 1901. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Patsy a Moses."who prescribedmedicine and fromthe affliction. "with the help of the Bible. a formerslave in Texas.64. recalled how her grandfather. was to enlist the services of anotherConjurer.prayerwas oftenadopted as a spoken In the Christiantraditionof prayer.57 Finally. author D.61 This content downloaded from 130..

Conjure practices. the erful..58. It is perhaps within such a contextthatthe distinctive in emphasis on divine intervention AfricanAmerican religious life both beforeand afteremancipation can be understood.a world where ghosts.. Devil's Shoestring. black Americanreligionfused thenatural and supernatural arenas.. "The old folks." To some. supernaturalpower revealed God's omnipotence. knows more about the signs thatthe Lord uses to reveal his laws than the folks of today.Individuals who possessed Samson's Root or Saint-John's-wort (High John the Conqueror) boasted of supernaturalabilitiesand good fortune.witches. includingleaves. as did otherpowpresenceand interveneddirectly in black folk belief. boundaries between the self and the spiritwere oftenexperiencedas Americanpossession cerepermeable. bark." recalled a ninetyformer slave.many named forsacred figuresand objects. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ."and the emotionalrelinquishing of selfas experiencedin conversionwere all aspectsofAfrican American This content downloaded from 130. The leaves of the Peace Plant and the King of the Woods. the carrier control and give protection.meditation..The folkreligionof African Americanslaves put a force. patternedin the shape of a cross.and organicessences. says it am three-year-old but it am For superstition. Furthermore.As a legacy of traditional Africanthought. Son and Holy Ghost. biblicalcharacters had a real."63 others.earthly in human affairs. For manyslaves and ex-slaves.64.and Christianity in theNineteenth Conjure Century 237 The items thatConjurersemployed to cure oftenhad enormous sacred significance. it was all a matter ofrevelation.unseen spirit beings. Herbs called Angel's Root."62 the beliefsystemsof many Supernaturalism interpenetrated AfricanAmericanChristians. and blood-of-Jesus leaf were utilized to heal and bowels-of-Christ. knowinghow theLord revealsHis laws.thespiritual realm remained a densely populated universe. theblack tradition of "shouting. Occult specialistsmade use ofnaturalmaterials that they believed were endowed with spiritual efficacy.and apparitionsheralded the presence of restlessor malevolentforces.71 on Tue.were sacred and powerfulifused with a prayerto "the Father. The practiceof prayer. "Some of the folkslaughs .64 This lack of a stark dichotomybetween the sacred and the secular led many blacks to view the supernatural as impinging directlyupon present-dayhuman African monies and healingrituals. placed a greatemphasis on theacquisition of supernatural power foraddressingmundane needs. To Christians.The God of Jesusand Moses was also thesovereignlord of thespirit world whose powers were occasionally witnessedin "signs and wonders.Gaining premiumon the spiritas an immediateand effective access to this supernatural power was an enduring concern that linked Christianity and Conjure.

Katie McCarts.whose goal was to bringthe individual into a supernatural or transcendent experience. offered a means for comprehendingevil and misfortune in human existence. on otheraspects of supernatumagic yetequivocated when reflecting ral belief.manyblacks remainedskepticalor disbelievingof Some rejected Conjure and occultism."I never know much about de hoodoo. I don't believe people can put something under steps or under your house that will harm you. preciselythan Christianity. yes. but de spirits. and even This content downloaded from 130. thatprofunction.Both.Georgia. for occultismwas utilized alternatively harmupon others. in the Conjuringtradition. "I don't believe in those thingsanyhow. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . explained one former who had been a bondsman in South Carolina.forexample. It was through physicalmeans attempted this theurgic the intervention of the supernatural.Conjure was a legitimate of spiritualenergiesand forces.Conjure advanced the prospect of directly resolving one's own suffering. the occurrenceof illness.238 andAmerican Culture Religion religiouslife.but he discreetlyrevealed his wariness of the reputationthatSouth Carolina blacks had forpracticingfolkmagic. its multiple expressions.58. traditionswith which she was "plenty 'sperienced. "Now me.bad luck. appropriation Of course.Yet.and afflictions.71 on Tue." She did. especially portentous dreams and good luck practices. insisted that he had never seen ghosts and had never heard of anyone being conjured. rejected any notion of the efficacy of Conjure charms. Conjure served as a powerful More theoryfor explaining unanticipated instances of misfortune. for occult practitionersand some did of Christianity.In many cases. however. the nature of the supernaturalpower thatwas implied in Certainly. on the part of many Conjure practicestended to fosterreservations to cure or to inflict blacks.The occult practiceof manipulating forces various similargoals. As such. place much stock in signs and omens. its therapeuticorientation. "God is a spirit."65 The coexistenceof African AmericanChristianity and occultism in black culturecan be seen as reflecting a complex ambivalence." he remarked.Yet.64." slave. Conjure articulatedan epistemologyby which African Americans could understand and address their In its elaborate rituals. duced much of the variety-and some of the moral tension-that existed in the folkreligionsof the slaves and theirdescendants. were complementary in that they Conjure and Christianity each responded to a distinctive set of culturalconcernssurrounding issues of explanationand control. a former slave fromOld Fort. ain't he?" George Wood. malignConjurewas manifestedby physical maladies and inexplicable adversities such as natural disasters or sudden death.

Conjure spoke directlyto the slaves' perceptions of powerlessness and danger by providing alternative-but The Conjuringtralargelysymbolic-means foraddressingsuffering.58. thussupplanting the unique functions of Conjure. for addressing specific conditions of explanatory misfortune withinAfricanAmericanculture.For its part. theirlives. was utilized for everyday needs that ranged fromprotectionfromphysical violation to treatment of criticalhealth matters. sectarian Christian healing. duringthe nineteenth century.As AlbertRaboteau has noted.destitution. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Occult beliefsretainedtheirpower withinblack folkculture the efficaciousimpulses of long afterslavery ended. a hidden charm.71 on Tue. African Americans were inclined to invoke Conjure. In both traditions.or a "fix"perpetrated by a vengeful person.questions of securityloomed large in AfricanAmericanexperience. In the era of slavery.It was possible forAfricanAmericans to shiftbetween Conjure and Christianity because both were anchored in their perceptions of an enchanted universe. also addressed suffering but did Christianity so primarily as a universalsystemof moral.The social dictatesof the slave institution created environments that were rifewith uncertainty forblack endured threats ofviolence. Africanreligionshave channeled supernaturalism into institutional formations thataddress misfortune in similarways. as a religion. and both metneeds thattheothercould not.66 Conjure. bondspersons. evil was identifiedand located withinone or more frameworks. Withinblack folk Christianity. in many ways. or both for addressing any number of concerns they might face in theirimmediate circumstances.and to achieve some conceptual measure of control over personal adversity. however.Conjure and Christianityeach offered contrasting therapeutic possibilities.Christianity was "well suited fordescribingthe ultimatecause of thingsand the ultimate end of history" because.64. Conjure emerged as a viable religious alternativeto which This content downloaded from 130. and New World Spiritualisttraditions. or as part of a greaterplan withinGod's will. The day-to-dayconditionsof enslavementengendered a ofculturalresponsesfrom membersofAfrican Americancomvariety munities. but.sickness. and ethical beliefs.and Christianity in theNineteenth Conjure Century 239 death was likelyto be viewed in personal terms:the source of one's distresscould be a cure theirailments.who consistently and theever-present realitiesofracismwithin separation. ditionallowed practitioners to defendthemselvesfrom harm. the work of Satan. these afflictions were interpreted as the consequence of human sinfulness. More recently. Nevertheless.soteriological. it prioritized issues of "personal moralityand personal salvation" above questions of personal security. Christianity.Religiously pragmatic.

: Hyatt Voodoo andHoodoo."Appleton's PopularScience Monthly 1. People John (Cambridge: TheRefiner's Fire:TheMaking 1644-1844 (New York: ofMormon Cosmology. Conjure and Christianity converged. Press.Conjuring (New ofBlackAmerica 4. amongtheGullahs(New York:New YorkUniversity include Puckett. magic ciousand powerful for itsowner. Brooke. sity studiesofblackConjure in theUnitedStates traditions 3. and NewbellNiles Puckett. hope. Press. FolkBeliefs 520-21.more whofinds at theheart ofAfrican American Smith. York: Oxford Press. Godbeer. and. See JonButler.64. theworlds of abiding searchforsecurity. and White doo-Conjuration-Witchcraft-Rootwork: Beliefs Accepted byManyNegroes These Blacks and Whites. HarryMiddletonHyatt. Haskins. 1994). University Culture: Biblical Formations Theophus Smith. Awashin a Sea ofFaith:Christianizing theAmerican D.Christianity present-day helped to explain and make sense of the unknown. 1988). recently. 26-27. 1970-74). 1994). BeingOrallyRecorded Among and Row. forexample. See."A Peculiar and CommuPeople":SlaveReligion nityCulture Press. Foundation. See MargaretCreel. (WashingPersons. Suchobjects werefeatured elements in the ofblackoccult For and magical repertoire specialists. Hoodoo:TheirTradition and Craft as Revealed (New York: byActualPractitioners inAfrican American isbelieved tobe spiritually efficahand.155-70.and Richard Cambridge University Press. The America.C. 1926). Steinand Day. TheDevil's DominPress. AfricanAmerican magic functionedin similar ways. FolkBeliefs ofthe Southern ofNorth Carolina 231-41. Jeanette Robinson "The Survival of African Musicin Murphy. ton. traditions. African has Americans with sources of torically.Conjure granteditspractitioners At the heartof black spirituality is an innerquest forfulfillment.1990). Notes 55 (May-October1899): 663. Negro (ChapelHill:University HarvardUniversity L. prophetic ance from trials.1975). shown. see also Henry Mitchell. descriptions ingredients ofAfrican American hands and other see James Voodoo and charms.58. 5 vols. 1992).240 andAmerican Culture Religion Hismany blacks turnedin orderto give meaning to theirsuffering. to order the believer's conceptual universe. Earlier ion:Magic and Religion in EarlyNew England(New York:Cambridge Univer2. (NewYork: Africa Harper This content downloaded from 130.Puckett. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .BlackBelief: FolkBeliefs and West ofBlacksin America 5. Haskins.71 on Tue. alitya "conjurational" perspective. 1978). Theophus spirituas exhibited in blackbiblicaltraditions. oftheSouthern Negro. but as I have an added measure ofcontrol.creatingempoweringresponses to misfortune and otherpersistent needs in human experience. FolkBeliefs HoooftheSouthern Negro. an In African Americanculture. religion provided with with moral and of visions deliverfoundations.67-97.

Germany:F. On thediffusion ofmagic in America. and trans."Comparative (October1976): 458-75. and Renee Fox. This content downloaded from 130." in German ed. and Richard Kieckhefer. African Religion: ofthe and Practices and Kindred 2d Akan. no.238-46. See John andAfricans in theMakingofthe Atlantic Thornton. See Robin Horton. 1983). Yoruba.see Butler. ofTraditional Africa (Chicago: University 1979). 1984). H. 171-72.50.ed.228. Jones(Wiesbaden. Religionis group-oriented. chap.J. Journal A ViewofSomeRemarkofa Slave-Dealer: ableAxcedents in theLife Nics.1988). Of course.anthropologists de Craemer. University 6. bridgeUniversity 8. 1992). Nicholas Owen.67-97. 9. Sobel. Hair (London: HakluytSociety. Steiner. Trabelin' N. Slave Community (Urbana: Universityof Illinois Press. 9. My usage of "magic" as a category distinct from other "religious" means of mediating the supernatural may be misleading. and Mechal On: The Slave Journey to an Afro-Baptist Faith(Princeton.86. derivingfrom and is colpersonal motives.71 on Tue. Africa 1400-1680(New York:CambridgeUniversity World.11-24."Africa 41.1990).J. 1678-1712.Barbot on Guinea:The Writings on West ofJeanBarbot ed. 4 Study. EvelineMartin(London: Routledge.64.In a frequently on Zairois religious movements. 10.: Princeton Press. Religion 1971). Press. don: EpworthPress."AfricanConversion.Flint. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ed. TheReligion.See also Edward Geoffrey West A Study Parrinder. sociallydisapproved. 2 (1971): 96-97. Awashina Sea of Faith. Keith Thomas.and Dominique Zahan. theynote thatin lifethe categoriesoverlap. "WilhelmJohann Milller's DescriptionoftheFetu Country. and theDeclineofMagic (New York: Scribner. See also Charles Joyner. lective. Although the termsare exogenous. E. 11. 7. on magic in premodernEurope. forWest African History. see ValerieI. J.Adam Owen on theCoastofAfrica andAmerica the of from Year1746 totheYear1757. P.and Christianity in theNineteenth Conjure Century 241 Down by theRiverside: A SouthCarolina esp. 12. Spirituand Thought of Chicago Press. Ibo. Ewe. such as with the use of charms thatmay affect theindividualbut may benefit theentire See Willy community. Magic in theMiddle Ages (Cambridge: CamPress. "Religious Movements in Central A Theoretical Africa: Studies in Society and History 18.1992).Vansina.1930).: PrincetonUniversityPress. Africansthemselveshave distinguished between magical and religious acts based upon the intentions of the practirather thanthe tioners citedstatement focusofspecificpractices. and Fox argue thatthe difference between magical and religiousacts in African cultureslies in the formulation of theirgoals: magic is selfish.and holds positive implicationsforthe largercommunity.58. Beliefs of (LonPeoples. ality. JeanBarbot. de Craemer. 1991). Africa.1961).TheRise of Magic in Early ModernEurope(Princeton.JanVansina. 1662Sources 9.

19.58. 20. pany.79-89. (Murphreesboro. in Sociological Perspective. oftheLow Country Beaufort Book Co. Press. ofWilliam 1873).242 andAmerican Culture Religion 13. 1787-1834(Urbana: University of IllinoisPress.22.1983). MargaretE. (London: FrankCass and Com1970). WilliamWebb. of Slave Society. Hortense Powdermaker. Jamaica 17.TheSunshine ofMy Life.473. chaps. Edward Long.22. N. GeneralSurveyof the Ancient and ModernStateofThatIsland." 2 no.:Princeton Press. This content downloaded from 130. TheRoleofIdeas in a Tropical 1830-1865 Philip D.The Fabled DoctorJimJordan: A Storyof Conjure N. On the transfer and interaction of Old World supernaturalism and occult worldviews forAfricansand Europeans.254. The Historyof Jamaica: or.High Sheriff S.71 on Tue. See Michael Mullin. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . N. and Fox. 47. TheSociUniversity An AnalysisoftheOrigins. 21. Monica Schuler. "The Religious Life of the Negro Slave.: (Beaufort.."Myalism and (Cambridge:Harvard University the AfricanReligious Traditionin Jamaica. and Wyatt MacGaffey. 1970).64. 15.. Charles Raymond.2:416. JohnsHopkins UniverSlavesandMissionaries: TheDisintegration sityPress. and Shadow TheStory or." NewMonthly 27 (June-November Review Harper's 1863): 820-23.: Johnson. See J.TwoJamaicas: Colony. See Mamie Garvin Fields.C. see Mechal Sobel.22. University 18. ofSeventy 1899).Vansina.E. Conn.:FairleighDickinsonUniversity Press. Mary Livermore.1774.1955)." "FetishismRevisited:Kongo nkisi 460. and MaryTurner.TheHistory Webb(Detroit:E. Curtin. (1977): 179-200. 25. with Karen Fields.repr. LemonSwampand Other Places:A Carolina Memoir (New York:The Free Press.121. Africa 14. Africain America:Slave Acculturation and Resistance in theAmerican Southand theBritish 1736-1831(Urbana: Caribbean. 3 and 8.286.1987). D. Freedom: A CulturalStudyin the After Deep South(New York:Viking. Years(Hartford. Crahan (Baltimore: Legacies ofa Link." Proceedings of the International Folklore 2 (1898): 243. See de Craemer. 23. 1969).1982). See Mullin. Roy Johnson.1979).1939). 24. Mary Alicia Owen. and Structure ologyofSlavery: Development ofNegro SlaveSociety inJamaica (Rutherford.see also Orlando Patterson.C. "Religious Movements in CentralAfrica. Hoekstra. Worthington. Congress 22.: A. The World Made Together: Blackand White Valuesin Eighteenth-Century They Virginia (Princeton. on Myalism.J.1992).175-79. McTeer. "Among the Voodoos. 16.J.3 vols. see esp. ofIllinoisPress.Africa in America."in Africa and theCaribbean: The ed. 1963).

" Folklore 13 (1900)." Lippincott's Magazine6 in Nineteenth 1870). Murphy. For a similarversionof a Conjurer's "call. TheAmerican Autobiography.TheAmerican Slave.d. TexasNarratives.Lynchburg." in Mother from This content downloaded from 130. 16. Virginia. L. AlbertRaboteau.58. Times. vol. Thaddeus Norris."Journal FolkofAmerican lore5 (January-March 1892): 122.vol. Carl Carmer. pt. Ruth Bass.TheSanctified Church Calif. Periodicals. 7 (July 1895): 117. 40. "Among theVoodoos. Dundes. pt.P." see John56.1977). 30. See Charles Perdue. 13. oftheSouthern Negro. 41." Southern Workman 24. 32. Georgia Narratives. supplement. Lay My BurdenDown: A FolkHistory of Slavery(Chicago: Universityof Chicago Press. Roland Steiner. BruceJackson ofTexas Press. ofAfro-American (New York:Garland Publishing."Negro Superstitions. (Austin:University 38.127. 1945). "Conjuring and Conjure Doctors.71 on Tue. TheFabledDoctor Jim Jordan. 42. see also George Slave:A Composite Rawick. 4. folder2. 382. theLeadRow (University: ofAlabama Press. 1 (Westport. 1976). Harvey. Owen. ed.and RobertPhillips. Slave Religion:The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South(New York:OxfordUniversity Press.16-17.20." 239. 37.Weevils in the Wheat:Interviews with VirginiaEx-Slaves (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. 36.218."May 29. (July repr. 1978)."Life in Arkansas. BenjaminA. Wit theLaughing ed. 1874. "The Survivalof African Music. Toting University 33. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . son." 334. 27. 1981). see also VirginiaPounds Brown. New York December 20.378. 81.repr.1967). Oral narrative.1981). Barrel. FolkBeliefs 565. Leonora Herron.Stars Fell on Alabama (New York: LiteraryGuild. 39. Boston TheNegroand His Folklore Century ed. Puckett.Thomas Barden.64. oftheSouthern Negro. FolkBeliefs 205. Island Press. University ofVirginiaSpecial Collections. 31. Mother Wit theLaughing BarJournal ofAmerican from rel:Readingsin theInterpretation ed. 29. 28. "Mojo."Folklorein Arkansas. 1934). Zora Neale Hurston. Conn."Braziel Robinson Possessed of Two Spirits. Octave Thanet. 1-4. Botkin. n.1973).. Puckett. Rev.139. heading 279.:Turtle (Berkeley. 2. 248. 36. Rawick..and Christianity in theNineteenth Century Conjure 243 26. 34.278. 35. Alan Dundes Folklore.: Greenwood Press. 1897.series 2.

"Journal ofAmerican Folklore 45 (October-December 1931): 414." 232.TheBlackSpiritual Movement: A Religious toRacism(KnoxResponse ville: University ofTennesseePress.58. Shaker Eldress(Amherst:University of MassachusettsPress. 53.:Jennings folkbeliefsand Catholicismin an early-twentieth-century black community A Regional along the Mississippi River. Supernaturalbeliefswere not unfamiliarto participantsin the Christiantradition. theColoredEvangelist (Chicago: Meyer.64."Hoodoo in America. see also Hans Baer. For the fusionof AfricanAmerican (Newark. N.see Ruth Bass. Barrel.. Zora Neale Hurston.158.: Salem ObserverBook and JobPrinting. 11.a kind of manipulationofnaturalforces was also sanctionedin some cases withinnineteenth-century Protestant evangelicalism." ofSociSelected Research the Berkshire the on Women. New York:OxfordUniversity Press. 17.An Autobiography: oftheLord'sDealings withMrs. "The LittleMan.Weevils in theWheat. 46. 51. W.C. "Negro Superstitions. Black Jean Humez. Dundes. ety: from Fifth Conference of History ed. See Butler. See Jean Humez. Miscellany 48. repr.which were adopted by black Americansas objects spirit-embedding This content downloaded from 130. JacobStroyer. See RuthBass.J. 49.236-41.. so prominentin Islamic lore. "Ole Miss'. (Salem. AmandaSmith.and Donald E.Barden. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . recorded as evidence of their"giftsof power" theirabilitiesto controlthe weather and curtail threatening human behavior. Sarah Handy. 45.130. Siegfried.71 on Tue.Harris (Durham." Lippincott's Monthly Magazine48 (1891): 738. 2:1758. Mass. The Story 22-23. N. 136.1988). Byrne. For example. 394. Perdue." Folk-Say: 3 (1931): 48-69. "'My SpiritEye': Some FunctionsofSpiritualand Visionary Experiencein theLives ofFive Black WomenPreachers. was possibly fused with the Africannotion of charms. 1981).1870)." in Mother Wit theLaughing from ed.1975).1984). D. BarbaraJ. 277. No FootofLand:Folklore Methodist Itinerants (Metuchen.244 andAmerican Culture Religion 43.3d ed. Threetwentieth-century sourcesmentioning "letters"or "books" to the thattherewas a magical significance attachedto such point possibility articles.J.57-58.:ScareofAmerican crow Press. N. My Lifein theSouth. 50. Giftsof Power: The Writings of RebeccaCox Jackson. 1984).155-70. in Women and the Structure 1810-1880.Hoodoo-Conjuration-Witchcraft-Rootwork.1893. Two black female preachers. Hyatt.and Phillips.Rebecca Jacksonand Amanda Smith.. ed. 1885). A Winter in theSouth and Work theFreedmen among Bros. Awashin a Sea ofFaith. 44. "Among theVoodoos.The concept of the mysticalpower of the word that is written. and Amanda Smith. 52. Visionary. 47. Owen.: Duke University Press.

639.520-70. 17-18. from 374. S. informant. Ruth Bass.1926).1977). vol. On." AmericanMercury(October 1929): 237.supplement. 3. 56. 99-135. 65. 58. 25.BlackCulture 37. See also Levine. TexasNarratives.64. Rawick. See Benjamin A. 4. 7.and Christianity in theNineteenth Conjure Century 245 of power. This content downloaded from 130. 1949). 1990)." North Carolina Folklore 32. M. A Treasury Folklore: Stories. pt. (Athens:University among Georgia Negroes Mother Wit theLaughing ed.57.37. vol. fileno. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Norman Whitten. of thePeopleof theSouth(New York: Crown Publishers.see Zora Neale Hurston. Lawrence Levine. see also Rawick. See Puckett. 63. 294-95. 57. 2782. forexample."Mod"Superstition ernCulture 13 (1901).71 on Tue.repr.vol. See.BlackCulture and BlackConsciousness. 6. Lang. SlaveReligion.see Karen Baldwin. Georgia Writers' Project. the commentsof Ellen Dorsey regardingthe devil and Conjurein theGeorgia Writers' Drumsand Shadows: Survival Project. A. Slave. no. 56. Down.41. Cleveland Public Library. 252. Botkin.Motherwit: Ex-Slave Narratives of the Louisiana Writers' Project(New York: P. 1-2. 55. After 54. Charles Chesnutt. and Powdermaker.58." Journal ofAmerican ber 1962): 315. Dundes. Rawick. 4. "Two-Head Doctors.TheSanctified Church. "Contemporary Patterns of Malign Occultism among Folklore 75 (October-DecemNegroes in NorthCarolina. Right. "Fern Seed-For Peace. and Folkloreof theSouth. Freedom. Botkin. FolkBeliefs the Southern 557-59. The American Slave. Trabelin' Project. pt. Atlanta. Barrel. and Levine. Shadows.Raboteau. BlackCulture Lay My Burden and Black Consciousness: Folk Thought Afro-American fromSlaveryto Freedom (New York:OxfordUniversity Press. and BlackConsciousness. 1940).TheAmerican 8. Georgia Writers' Drumsand Shadows.Georgia. Lay My BurdenDown. of Southern and Folkways Ballads." in Folk-Say: A Regional Mis2 (1930): 56. 250. 62. see also Puckett. The Homes of the Freed (New York: New Republic. 2 (Fall-Winter Journal 1984): 50-53. 64. TheAmerican series2. SouthCarolina Drumsand Narratives. Botkin. cellany of Negro. Emma Dupree: That LittleMedicine Thing. "Mrs.Sobel."Negro Superstitions. 34. See Mrs. 61.Traditions. Slave. Studies the Coastal ofGeorgia Press. and Handy. 180. Georgia Narratives. For examples. 59.Newbell Puckett Papers. Ronnie Clayton. Lea." 60.27. 2. Rossa Belle Cooley. For the use of plants in folkhealing in contemporary black Christiantraditions.Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro.

1986).64.71 on Tue. and Medicine in theWestern ed. 29 Oct 2013 10:44:49 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Ronald Health Traditions. "The Afro-American Traditions. Religious Curing: in Caringand 66.551.246 Culture andAmerican Religion Numbers (New York:Macmillan. AlbertRaboteau.58." This content downloaded from 130.