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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cooking Your Mojo

Old John-Bear with two of my Master Candles
"Mojo" is a funny word. It probably comes from a West African word mojuba, which means "charm" but its use in Southern culture - influenced by its use in conjure, of course - has transformed. You can get an idea of what mojo means by its various uses. From advertising of conjure curios to blues lyrics, it has come to mean an awful lot of things: sexual potency, skill, luck, self-esteem, confidence.

One old rootworker lady I used to know used it in a way that I've since fallen in love with. It took me a long time to figure out what she meant by the term "mojo." She used it to describe the essential traits of not just people, but animals, things and places too. If she were a neo-pagan, she might have used the term "energy," but that phrase doesn't quite encompass it.

When it came to conjure, though, it is all about the mojo. The rootworker has mojo that she lends to the work she's doing. Some rootworkers don't need a whole lot more than their own mojo, laying on hands, using breath and spittle and prayer.

But unlike many modern occultists, a root doctor will never tell you that all the magic is "just inside you" and the roots, herbs, animal parts and minerals we use "just props to help you focus." To the conjure, everything has mojo, and to claim that it's only people who have it is not just wrong, but it's a little uppity, too.

Mojo has a "flavor," too. People can shift the flavor of their mojo when they're working, if they've got the talent and/or the training. A rootworker does this as they work different kinds of magic: from love to blessing to crossing to healing. Some of this can stick around, like a cooking pot that wasn't cleaned good enough, to taint other work you do, which is why conjures also emphasize cleansing well and often.

The mojo of most non-person things is pretty fixed, however. Mint has a flavor of "money," and patchouli has a flavor of "love." Working conjure is like cooking - you bring ingredients together with a complementary mojo "flavor" to strengthen the work you're doing. In fact, I sometimes refer to setting oils, mojos and other finished curios in front of my master candles as "cooking" them.


  1. Old John-Bear? I want to know more about him!

  2. Sure thing! I'll have to do a post on him. He's such a central part of my conjure practice, that I forget sometimes folks have no idea what the hell I'm talking about when I reference him. ;)

  3. I have the most wonderful imaginings for the use of ‘cooking’ in reference to magick. Not necessarily as it applies to Conjure, but I can so see a backcountry ceremonial magician “gettin’ ready to cook him up some talismans, so as to command him them spirits.” More on topic, I like the metaphor.


  4. That's kinda what I do with it, yeah. :) I feel like there's a "boiling point" to most mojo, and getting it to the right fever pitch through a combination of your own Work, aid from spiritual assistants and by using the right flavor of curios.