Blog Post 31 – Who’s Who in Hoodoo, part deux (Intro, Part III)
Today, I’m going to tackle of few of the modern rootworkers I know and/or admire. This is most certainly is not a comprehensive list of professional hoodoo practitioners in North America, so please don’t start throwing rotten vegetables at me for not listing one of your favorite rootworkers. But DO feel free to leave a comment on this post with the name/contact info of any professional hoodoo you think the world should know about!
Okay, on with the show!
Catherine Yronwode – I believe she actually prefers “catherine yronwode,” without capitalization. If you are reading about hoodoo on the web and you don’t know who she is yet, you should immediately head over to the Lucky Mojo page and read her online text on the history and practice of hoodoo. She is probably one of the most prominent profiles in modern conjure work, and she runs one of the biggest supply houses for magical and occult goods specializing in traditional hoodoo recipes and formulae. Yronwode was featured in Christine Wicker’s Not in Kansas Anymore, which profiled magical practitioners across the United States. She was also a famous comic book artist back in the 1970’s, and judging by the colorful designs on her wares, I’d say she still has an eye for a good picture. She’s also been instrumental in keeping hoodoo a vital, living tradition rooted in history but adapting to modern times. Her course for prospective students of hoodoo is almost a pre-requisite for any rootworker, and her Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers provides a stamp of quality which ensures that those seeking magical help don’t get ripped off. Seriously, if you’re reading this and don’t know who she is, go to Lucky Mojo right now!
Dr. Christos Kioni – This Florida-based rootworker is host of the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour. He is also one of the best known professional conjure men working today, and the active owner of the MyHoodooSpace website. Dr. K also works very hard to preserve the African Diasporic traditions (such as the ATR practices discussed in the introductory post on hoodoo earlier this week. I think he works both with the left hand and the right (meaning he will curse if he sees a need for it), though I’m basing that on some of the discussions from his radio show and he may well have changed ideologies since then. He was also mentioned in Not in Kansas Anymore, and actually knows where to find the grave of Zora Neale Hurston (which very few folks do). He is definitely a big personality, but he has a friendly and warm demeanor about him, and I believe he’s got a fairly high rate of success with his work, too. He also happens to be friends with cat yronwode (if you didn’t guess that from the name of his radio program). As he says of himself “I can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick!”
Michaele Maurer – Miss Michaele (pronounced mi-KAY-luh, I believe) is the owner of the Hoodoo Foundry, a site dedicated to traditional rootwork. One of the reasons I really like her practice is that she focuses on Southern-style rootwork, including a lot of Bibliomancy and using Biblical prayers and magic to accomplish her goals (not that I think all great rootworkers are Bible-thumping Christians, mind you…see Karma Zain or Papa Toad Bone for contrast). I really value her deeply traditionalist approach, however, and I also like that she has a broad range of reading styles, including tarot, pendulum, and ceromancy (reading candle wax). She’s not one who does jinxing or crossing work, but she does at least acknowledge that sometimes it is justified and she helps clients needing those services to find a root worker who will attempt those tricks. She seems to be very tender-hearted and kind, and works for the good of her clients with deep sincerity.
Starr – An old-fashioned Southern hoodoo woman from Texas, Starr has been steeped in conjure work for most of her life. She’s quite sassy and funny, and also very straightforward. She’s another traditionalist who works closely with Christian religious figures, including Saints. While much of her work is focused on things like spiritual cleansing, sweetening, and healing, she also does vinegar jars, hot foot workings, and as she puts it, “I will do separation and break up work on a case by case basis if so guided by the spirit.” She also runs the Old Style Conjure site, and offers mini-courses which compliment a broader study of hoodoo quite nicely.
Karma Zain – Ms. Zain is not only a great rootworker, she’s also a bishop in the Franco-Haitian Gnostic Vodoun tradition. I know, I’ve said I really like old-style conjurers who stick to certain historical precepts regarding the incorporation of Biblical elements, but that doesn’t mean I think all good hoodoo men and women must be Judeo-Christian. Karma Zain proves that point, because besides being a Vodoun bishop, she’s an honest, straightforward worker who isn’t afraid to say “no” to a client if she doesn’t feel their cause warrants the action they ask for. She’s the kind of rootworker who isn’t afraid to dig in the dirt and use the less savory curios like bone fragments and fur. She seems like an incredibly down-to-earth and sensible woman, and one I wouldn’t want t cross!
Papa Toad Bone – This Mississippi based conjure man is the proprietor of the Toad’s Bone Apotheca, one of the funkiest and witchiest sites I’ve seen. Just looking at his webpage makes me want to lay a trick or two or take a walk to the crossroads. He’s also Pagan, and very much a non-Christian kind of Pagan, again proving that great conjurers needn’t be entirely wrapped up in the Biblical worldview. I’ve known him through several different avenues over the last couple of years, and he’s always struck me as someone who really spends time with spirits and understands them incredibly well (I think he even found a great way to play card games with them, but hopefully I’ll get him to tell about that at some point). He’s also a nitty-gritty sort of worker, spending a good deal of time out in the swamps and wild places gathering materials for his shop and clients. Again, someone I wouldn’t want to cross, and a rootworker who gets things done.
Carolina Gonzalez – Another Pagan rootworker, Ms. Gonzalez incorporates her Latin roots into her magic, offering a particularly unique blend of brujeria, hoodoo, and witchcraft to her clients. She runs The Hoodoo Shop on Etsy, and she’s the resident hoodoo expert for sites like The Noble Pagan and The Modern Pagan. She’s located in the Canary Islands, proof that hoodoo is a worldwide phenomenon at this point. Her site offers her products as well as courses and LOTS of great information from her many different areas of expertise.
Sarah Lawless – I certainly can’t leave out Sarah, a friend to New World Witchery and a heckuva witch and conjure woman in her own right. She practices her root work out in the wilds of British Columbia, carefully adapting the fundamental practices of traditional Southern rootwork to her immediate environment. We’ve talked to and about her a lot on this blog, so rather than sound like a rampaging fan boy, I will simply suggest you go check out her blog and store and see how magical she is for yourself.
Stephanie Palm – The wonderful proprietress of Music City Mojo, and my personal hoodoo teacher. She is not one to pull punches or sugar-coat things, though she is also incredibly warm and friendly. Stephanie is the High Priestess of a Traditional Witchcraft coven, as well as a devotee of Vodoun. She’s a gifted teacher, as well as a gifted conjure woman, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in a graveyard or to lay down a jinx if the situation calls for it. More importantly, she isn’t afraid to let someone know that the situation DOESN’T call for a jinx. I really could go on and on about how much I adore her and how thankful I am to her for all she’s taught me, but for now I’ll just say that if you’re looking for someone who knows their stuff, she’s one to talk to.
I know there are lots more rootworkers out there, and I’d love to hear about them from all of you, so please feel free to post a comment on this blog about your favorite hoodoo men and women.
Thanks for reading!