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Mojo Bags

 
 
Princess
16:23 / 18.01.07
I want to talk about Mojo bags. I was tempted to start the conversation in the Potions 101 thread, but I think it falls outside of that thread's remit.

For those not in the know:
Mojo (pronounced [ˈməːʊˌdʒəːʊ] or [ˈmoːʊˌdʒoːʊ]) is a term commonly encountered in the African-American folk belief called hoodoo. A mojo is a small bag, a type of magic charm, often of red flannel cloth and tied with a drawstring, containing botanical, zoological, and/or mineral curios, petition papers, and the like. It is typically worn under clothing. -Wikipedia, more here

I've just started to get really into this as a technique. I wondered if anyone wanted to swap stories, share tips, ask questions. There are some people here with a much better knowledge of Hoodoo than me, so I'd like to leech your knowledge.

I made a bag yesterday, but I know it's fairly deviant in it's construction. For a start, I'm wearing it fairly prominently as a kneckalce. Part of the purpose of the mojo was to fascinate, so having the spell in some visible place seemed appropriate.
The major difference is my inclusion of a written element to the magic. I'm told that a spoken charm is mainly a european form of magic, and that Hoodoo doesn't, as a rule, use them much. But I need words, I'm all about the words. The poem has become a fairly important part of it's construction actually. By repeating the words it's like I'm reaffirming my relationship with the ingredients.

The poem is basically a list of kennings. I constructed the bag on a fairly ad hoc basis. I just took a walk and asked for the right things to appear. Other things I already had. I'm using the bag as jewellry, as a pendulum and as a general tool. Though the spell does have a specific focus, I'm using it also as a general extension of my luck. I'm not sure how to explain it. It's like having a piece of magic, that I can use for anything. Though the object is "flavoured" and does have a certain personality, I'm just sort of using as a general "key". It pains me to make the comparrison, but it's aproaching a Pratchett-esque "shamble".

I'll post up the trite poetry and ingredients later, as I've got to go and have my head fixed by the clever ladies at the counselling service. But what do people think? What are your own experiences of the technique?

Also, oh more educated people than I,are there any "standardised" recipes for mojos like there are for Hoodoo oils? Or are mojos generally more individualised?
 
 
Chiropteran
16:37 / 18.01.07
having the spell in some visible place seemed appropriate.

Part of the lore of mojo bags, though, is the frequently-encountered belief that they lose their power if seen or touched by another person. A traditional spot to carry one is strung out-of-sight under the left armpit, or under a skirt (especially the type of woman's mojo often called a nation sack). There are old blues songs where the male singer talks about finding and touching his woman's [sic] mojo, to weaken her power or loose her hold on him (all entendres doubled, of course). Not everyone holds to this belief, but it is well-attested.
 
 
Chiropteran
17:00 / 18.01.07
I guess I wasn't done...

The major difference is my inclusion of a written element to the magic.

The use of written seals or petition papers in a mojo (and other hoodoo work) is very common.

I'm told that a spoken charm is mainly a european form of magic, and that Hoodoo doesn't, as a rule, use them much

Standardized spoken charms or chants that must be memorized and repeated exactly are more European, but a lot of hoodoo can involve extemporaneous prayer or petitions, or at least calling the subject/target's name and the desired effects aloud.

are there any "standardised" recipes for mojos like there are for Hoodoo oils?

I don't know about standardized, but there are some traditional combinations. There are also rules/guidelines for construction that concern the number of ingredients (at least 3, odd numbers, etc.), and the types of ingredients that can go best together (these are going to vary by region and by worker). I've been told that those mojos work best which are most specific in their purpose: a "gambler's luck" bag instead of a multipurpose "love/money/protection/power" bag (although a good luck bag may cover a large sphere). Some hoodoos say you should only carry one mojo at a time, but there are some that walk around strung up like Christmas trees (which has a precedent in some types of African "charm vests," and the like), so take that as you will.

This is all just one tradition, of course, and a tradition that (it sounds like) you haven't been entirely working in all along. So, all or none of the above may actually apply to your specific work. If you're really following your own magical instincts, you'll probably come up with something that will work just fine for you (even if it might not do a thing for anyone else).
 
 
Ticker
17:32 / 18.01.07
some of the first magic I can recalling doing when I was wee was constructing these sorts of bags. My first BF hand stitched lovely leather mojo bags and we stuffed them with important bits of what have you. Our intent was to create protective amulets and we wore them fairly constantly save when they were on our altars to charge up.

I should go dig mine out and poke around in the guts to see what still has charge...

Anyhow...I've often viewed them as uber portable altars carrying a variety of energies that a single charged item may not be able to represent properly. When I started carrying stuff in my body mods I required less external gear. While I enjoyed working with my bag I was always a bit concerned about something happening to it.
 
 
rosie x
17:38 / 18.01.07
Part of the lore of mojo bags, though, is the frequently-encountered belief that they lose their power if seen or touched by another person.

I can second that as far as tradition goes. That ain’t saying that the same dictate applies to your work, Princess S, but it’s a stronghold of Hoodoo. The taboo against someone else touching your mojo is quite a strong one; same goes for them being seen, though I tend to make occasional exceptions for that one. For instance, if I’m tying a mojo for someone, and leave it on a home altar to charge for awhile, then yeah, there’s the chance that my partner will see it. Also, though I commonly keep my own mojos in a secret pocket in my handbag, I often discretely take them out when I’m on the train, or sitting at work, to charge for a little while in the palm of my left hand. No one ever pays any attention…

…are there any "standardised" recipes for mojos like there are for Hoodoo oils? Or are mojos generally more individualised?

They tend to be pretty personal in my own experience, though there’s often some consistency as far as the botanicals used go. One does occasionally come across fairly simple little recipes for this bag or that, and who’s to say they don’t work just was well as something more complicated? But among rootworkers I know, and also in my own practice, bags tend to be quite individualised. Recipes often take into consideration the person whom the work is being done for, and often include their hair, fingernails or other personal concerns. Sometimes a little written charm, “name paper”, or photograph may also be included. The botanical herbs, flowers and roots added to the bag will depend upon it’s intent; same goes for animal or mineral curios. Sometimes the worker’s patron spirits will dictate the ingredients for a specific bag, or lead them on a drift so that the necessary elements may be gathered together.

Holders of mojos are often encouraged to “work” with their bag; often this includes holding it in the palm of the hand or close to the heart, with prayer, or visualised intent regarding the desired outcome. Often people place them on personal altars, or on those of their patron spirits for “charging”. It’s also common practice to “feed” a mojo with any number of liquids, in order to keep it strong. My personal mojo is often left of the the care of my Maitress (she adamantly refuses to be called Matron!) and fed with the substances that are favoured by the both of us: fine perfumes, frangipani absolute, florida water, holy water and rosewater.
 
 
Ticker
17:56 / 18.01.07
of my Maitress (she adamantly refuses to be called Matron!)

thanks for that Rosie X, I have the same issue with mine!

is there any explaination for keeping them hidden? Is it normal for various spells and artifacts in the tradition or is it unique to the bags?
 
 
rosie x
18:43 / 18.01.07
There could be several reasons why mojos are traditionally kept hidden, although I want to stress that these thoughts are mere speculation on my part, and not based on historical research. Keeping a mojo hidden preserves its magic, as there is great power in a secret. Lots of things are kept secret in Hoodoo: goofer balls may rolled under the houses of enemies, curses may placed under their front steps. Same goes for nicer magic: a seduction sachet may be hidden between a bed frame and mattress, or a defensive charm buried in one’s own front yard, out of sight from others. Secrecy is power.

I was going to suggest to Princess that you might want to reconsider posting the ingredients of your bag online for all to see on a public forum. Doing so might negate the mystery of the bag and break the spell. Recipes for bags are generally not shared among root workers, even should they be close colleagues, friends, family or lovers. Asking someone what’s in their mojo would be considered bad taste.

Bags may also be hidden for the practical purpose of keeping them close to the body, so that they may more easily absorb sweat or the oils of the skin. Such things are reputed to increase the power of a mojo, and bind the magic more closely to the person who’s working it, or whom it’s been worked for.

Historically, the early practitioners of Hoodoo were, for the most part, enslaved, and so keeping magical items hidden was probably a good idea, lest they be confiscated by slaveholders, or their hired hands. Even after emancipation, times in the American south remained tough, and carrying a mojo in the open could provoke unwanted attention. Also, desperate times often call for desperate measures. If you’re wearing a bag intended to help you conquer your enemies, do you really want them to know what you’re up to? Best keep it hidden!
 
 
Princess
18:54 / 18.01.07
I was going to suggest to Princess that you might want to reconsider posting the ingredients of your bag online for all to see on a public forum. Doing so might negate the mystery of the bag and break the spell. Recipes for bags are generally not shared among root workers, even should they be close colleagues, friends, family or lovers. Asking someone what’s in their mojo would be considered bad taste.

Thanks rosie x. Another poster had PM'd me about it too. I shall keep it all under wraps if people think that's the best way forward.

The whole concept of magical secrecy is pretty interesting. Do we have any other conversations on it? Because that's something I'd really like to deconstruct.
 
 
electric monk
19:11 / 18.01.07
From the Wiki link:

"The tying of the bag is an important part of its making, as this keeps within it the spirit whose aid is being sought."

This answered a question I had about mojo bags, but it's brought up another: Would opening a mojo bag, even to make offerings, disturb or dissipate the spirit in residence?
 
 
Chiropteran
19:37 / 18.01.07
As far as I know, it is traditional that once a bag is tied, it stays tied (the exception being a woman's nation sack, which she can add to over the years). If there is something inside like a lodestone that you want to feed, you would generally feed the whole bag (from the outside).
 
 
Princess
19:49 / 18.01.07
Secrecy Thread -thanks Monk.

Lep, could you give me some more information on the nation-sack? As far as I can tell it's a gris-gris for female domination in the house? Sort of a magical reaction to the power men have\had over women? I'm not sure I understand it entirely.
 
 
Chiropteran
19:55 / 18.01.07
Princess, my knowledge of nation sacks is pretty much limited to what I've already said - you can get a little more information here (luckymojo.com).
 
 
electric monk
20:57 / 18.01.07
My pleasure, Princess. And thanks, Lep!
 
  
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