Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Got My Mojo Working

Most of the riders on the Bus are familiar with the story of the crossroads as it relates to the blues. It is said that Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil at a dark, lonely crossroads. The “devil” that Johnson met that night was most likely not the Devil of the Christian Bible, but one of the African deities of the African-American Hoodoo tradition. Hoodoo (not to be confused with the Voodoo of the West Indies) is the result of the blending of cultural beliefs brought by slaves from West Africa and the Christian, Jewish, and Native American folklore.

Natural healing and the use of herbs, roots, and amulets were commonplace with all the inhabitants of North America. White, Christian society frowned on natural healers and witches, but among the Native American and African-American societies the Root Doctor or Shaman was a respected member of the community. In the Hoodoo culture that developed in the southern United States some Hoodoo practitioners became nationally known and people traveled many miles to consult with them. Some of the best known conjurers were Doctor Jim Jordan of Murfreesboro, North Carolina; Doctor Buzzard of Beaufort, South Carolina; Aunt Caroline Dye of Newport, Arkansas; and the Seven Sisters of New Orleans. You may recognize some of these Hoodoo doctors from the songs that have been sung about them.

If one was to consult a Hoodoo man (or woman) seeking a spell for good luck or fortune, the root-worker would most likely make up a Mojo Bag. A Mojo Bag is usually a small flannel bag filled with whatever herbs, roots, bones, or charms required for the spell to work. The Mojo Bag, sometimes called a Mojo Hand, conjure bag, jomo, or gris-gris, is worn under the clothes or carried in a pocket hidden from view. If seen or touched by someone else the magic could be lost or transferred to the other person.

Charley Lincoln - Mojoe Blues.mp3

Johnnie Temple - Hoodo Women.mp3

J.T. Smith - Seven Sisters Blues.mp3

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - Hoodoo Lady Blues.mp3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tommy Johnson was playing before Robert, and it was he who met the devil at the crossroads, as remembered in "O Brother Where Art Thou?"


March 02, 2007 9:43 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

You are absolutely correct!
Same devil, different Johnson.

March 02, 2007 2:22 PM  

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