Old Style Conjure: Hoodoo, Rootwork, & Folk Magic

Old Style Conjure: Hoodoo, Rootwork, & Folk Magic


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Conjure, hoodoo, rootwork--these are all names for southern American folk magic. Conjure first emerged in the days of slavery and plantations and is widely considered among the most potent forms of magic. Its popularity continues to increase, both in the United States and worldwide. This book is a guide to using conjure to achieve love, success, safety, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment. Author Starr Casas, a hereditary master of the art, introduces readers to the history and philosophy of conjure and provides practical information for using it. Featuring Casas's own rituals, spells, and home recipes, the book provides useful information suitable for novices and seasoned practitioners alike.

In its pages, you'll learn about:

  • Bone reading
  • Candle burning
  • Conjure bags
  • Building your own conjure altar

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578636228
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 09/01/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 253,657
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Starr Casas, a veteran rootworker and traditional conjure woman, has been helping people for over 35 years through her ancestral art of old style conjure. She is one of the preeminent modern masters of this southern American style of folk magic, and she maintains an active teaching schedule. Starr is also among the organizers of the annual New Orleans Folk Magic Festival. Visit her at www.oldstyleconjure.com.

Orion Foxwood was born with the second sight in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, area rife with the folk practices of the southern and Appalachian tradition. He lectures in across the United States and the U.K.

Read an Excerpt



I KNOW SOME FOLKS will have a lot of questions about this work, while others who read the book will already know what I am talking about. I want to go over some general questions here.

Q. What is Conjure?

A. Conjure is magic, plain and simply. Conjure was brought over by the slaves from Africa. It is a combination of culture, beliefs, and knowledge brought over by the ancestors.

Q. Where did Conjure come from?

A. Conjure was brought to North America from Africa with the first slaves.

Q. Is it the same work that was done in the African homeland?

A. No! That was not possible. For one thing, the roots, herbs, trees, and the land in general were different. The ancestors weren't allowed to bring anything with them, so none of the things from their homeland came along with them here. Instead, they found things over here that worked for them. So the answer is no, it is not possible for it to be the same exact work.

Q. Who are the ancestors of Conjure?

A. The ancestors of Conjure are the slaves that were captured and brought here on the slave ships to be sold, carrying only their knowledge.

Q. Were the ancestors of Conjure Christians?

A. This question has caused many debates and outright battles. Some folks still refuse to accept the fact that Conjure is hidden within Christianity.

Christianity was already in Africa by the time the ancestors were captured. History tells us this. Those who were not Christians when they were captured were soon forced to become Christians, and they made Christianity work for them, as we will see over and over in this book. So to answer the question: yes, the ancestors of Conjure were Christians.

Q. Can white folks do conjure work?

A. Yes, they can, as long as they honor the ancestors of this work. Those ancestors are the folks who were kidnapped and sold into slavery. They brought this work here and deserve to be honored. And who better to honor them than white folks who at one time enslaved them?

Q. What is a two-headed worker?

A. A two-headed worker is a worker who works with both hands! This means that they can heal or curse, not just one or the other. Most conjure workers are two-headed workers.

Q. How does the Bible fit into Conjure?

A. When the ancestors were forced into Christianity, they hid a lot of their works within the Bible, the spirituals they sang, and the stories they told. It is important that it is understood that as slaves they had no freedom! They had no say in the way they worshipped, but they were smart! They hid their worship within Christianity.

Q. Is Conjure a religion?

A. No! Most conjure workers are Christian, but Conjure is not a religion. Conjure is work that brings about change with prayers, the Bible, roots, herbs, and other ingredients.

Q. Do you have to be initiated?

A. No! There is no initiation or priesthood in Conjure.

Q. Is Conjure the same thing as Santeria or Palo?

A. No! It is a set of works that came out of slavery. It is not a religion.

Q. Are the works in Santeria or Palo the same works as in Conjure?

A. No! They are not. They may be similar, but they are not the same. The work is done differently, and the ingredients used are not the same.

Q. Do you have to be a Christian to be a conjure worker?

A. No, you do not have to be a Christian. But if you remove the Bible, then you are no longer doing conjure work; you are doing something else. The Bible is an integral part of Conjure. There are a lot of folks who would love to take the Bible out of Conjure, but if you do, then it is no longer Conjure. You have to separate the Bible from the churches, because the churches are man-made and men make the rules. Why would you throw a powerful book away just because you don't like the church or the folks who run it? This work is very powerful, and it stands alone without a bunch of hocus pocus to make it be effective.

Q. Who are the ancestors?

A. The ancestors are your blood kin that have passed on. Sometimes folks outside the bloodline become ancestors. If you have a mentor or someone you love dearly, they could become your ancestor.

Q. What is an altar?

A. In conjure work, the altar is a place to say your prayers and meet Spirit. A conjure altar can be as simple as a table covered with a cloth, or it can be as elaborate as you want it to be.

Q. What is the Holy Trinity?

A. The Holy Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost; the sacred number three.

Q. What is a conjure hand?

A. A conjure hand can be a packet, a mojo bag, or a jack ball. Each one of them is made a little differently, but they are all still conjure hands.

* A packet is a piece of red flannel cloth that the ingredients have been loaded into, then it is folded onto a square and you stitch it shut.

* A mojo bag is a small red flannel bag that is hand sewn, then the ingredients are loaded into the bag and it is tied shut.

* A jack ball is different from the packet and the conjure bag because it is wrapped with red cotton string until the ingredients are covered in the shape of a ball.

Q. Is a conjure dollie the same as a voodoo doll?

A. No! A conjure dollie is usually made to represent a target that will be worked on. This dollie is named for the target and may be loaded with the target's personal concerns such as hair, nail clippings, or maybe a photo. Most of the time, a voodoo doll is made to honor the spirits, but they can also be made to represent a target for a work aimed at a target.

Q. Is prayer important?

A. Yes! Prayer is a big part of Conjure.

Q. Do conjure workers believe in karma?

A. No! The concept of karma does not exist in Conjure. This doesn't mean that you can just run wild. Conjure workers believe that it's okay to do any type of work as long as it's justified. In that case, there will be no repercussions.

Q. What does "justified" mean?

A. In conjure work "justified" basically means that the target has to have done you a wrong. I don't mean a slight or they made you mad; you have to have a good reason for the work. It is really important that you understand that you and you alone are responsible for your actions; so make sure you have a good reason for doing the work. Just because you don't like someone is not a good enough reason.

Q. Do works have to be justified?

A. Yes. As a rule, anytime you work on someone, the work should be justified. The "every action causes a reaction" rule works here. You can't cross someone up just because they pissed you off. That would be unjust. Also, if your target did a reversal, then you would get hit by your own work.

Q. What is a "reversal"?

A. A reversal is a set of works that can be done to turn a situation around. Let's say you have had a run of really bad luck and nothing you have done has changed it. You might need to do a set of reversal works to remove whatever is there, and if someone caused your bad luck, they will get it right back. The only way to do a reversal is to utilize a counterclockwise motion. It's like turning back the hand of the clock — you're reversing what's been done. Here's an example of an easy reversal:

1. First, hold a plain white unlit stick candle in your hand.

2. Starting at the crown of your head, circle your body in a counterclockwise motion, moving downwards. Make sure to circle your head and shoulders.

3. When you reach your torso, rather than circling, brush the candle against yourself in a downward and outward motion.

4. Finally, light the candle and pray that whatever is there be removed and sent back wherever it came from.

Q. What do you need to be a good worker?

A. You need faith in yourself to start with. At least 50 percent of this work is the "knowing" it will be a success, claiming success the minute the need for the work arrives. You cannot second-guess yourself or your work. If you do, then you are wasting your time.

Q. Will I go to hell for doing conjure work?

A. Absolutely not! Conjure work is done in the belief that anything one does as justified work is okay. You can't be blamed for doing work that is justified.

Q. Will I be harmed if I work for folks?

A. Some folks tend to be worried about doing works on behalf of others, so I wanted to face that question here. This is a tricky question, because it really has a yes answer and a no answer.

I'll start with the yes. Yes, you can be harmed if you work on someone and you do not have your protections up and you do not do a cleansing after the work.

No, you can't be harmed as long as you are protected, keep up with your cleansing work, and only do justified works.

Q. Am I doing black magic?

A. No! Conjure workers do not have anything to do with black magic. Conjure workers only do justified works; they do not put magic on folks with the intent to harm.

Q. How do I know if a curse is real or not?

A. The very first thing you need to do is divination to see what is really going on and if you indeed have a curse on you or if you are just having a run of bad luck.

Q. How do I know if I am being conjured?

A. Usually when someone has been worked on, signs will manifest. It may just start out as bad luck or your money going out the door, where you end up barely having enough to live on. It could manifest in one accident after the other or everything going wrong at the same time. Family problems just keep happening, one thing after another, or unexplained illnesses just won't go away and when checked out by a doctor they can't find anything wrong. The list can go on and on, but it has to be a continuation of things. One or two things are not enough to claim someone is conjured. The best way to find out for sure is to have a consultation with a worker.

Q. How do I reverse being conjured?

A. There are a set of works called cleansings and reversal works. The cleansing works can be done through some kind of spiritual bath or a brush-down with a candle or with a broom. A brush-down with a chicken foot will also cleanse.

To reverse work, there are sets of works that can be done. Here is an easy reversal:

1. Hold a small unlit stick "taper" candle in your hand and circle it around your head three times counterclockwise.

2. Brush yourself with the candle in a downward direction.

3. Light the candle and let it burn out.

4. Repeat this process daily for twenty-one days. It is preferable to do this after sunset, but you could do it at anytime, as long as the minute hand of the clock is going downward. In other words, between one minute after the hour to twenty-nine minutes after the hour. (When the minute hand moves from the half-hour mark toward the hour — from 7:30 to 8:00, for example — then it is moving upward and it is not the right time for this kind of work.)

Q. Can I start a candle work, then stop the work until the next day? Will it affect the work?

A. I hear this question over and over again from folks who have been told that if they put a candle out during the work it will affect the work and the work will not be a success. This is some rule that someone set for themselves, and it has been passed around and has become some folks' truth. I can't speak for other modalities, but there are no such rules in conjure work.

The truth is that sometimes it is good to let a work rest in between workings. You should put the candles out after you say your prayers. It all depends on the work you are doing. Also, for various reasons, some folks can't leave a candle burning in their home indefinitely and must put it out. This should not affect the work as long as you do the work daily.

Q. Can I blow out a candle?

A. This is a secret I have never before shared. Here is a work to remove someone from your life:

1. First, write the target's name on a stick candle using a knife.

2. Then when the hands of the clock are going down, light the candle, while calling out the target's name three times.

3. Let the candle burn for five minutes. Then call their name three times again and then blow the candle out.

4. Repeat the process daily until the candle is burnt out.

5. Throw any leftover wax in the crossroads.

So you see, sometimes you can blow out a candle!

Q. Can I use matches to light my candles?

A. Yes, you can. Ole folks say that the sulfur from the matches will drive the devil away.

Q. How does the family live with a conjure worker?

A. For me and my family, this has never been an issue. My children grew up around my mama, so it was just natural to them. My mama treated my husband and his mama was a worker, so there has never been an issue. He did tell me once, that if he had known I was like his mama, he would probably not have married me.

I wasn't insulted. I took it as a compliment, because his mama was a very powerful woman. Like my mama, she took care of business. Most workers who are not raised in the culture don't have it that easy. Sometimes they have to even go as far as hiding the work from family members.

My advice is to take it slow. Introduce the work in small doses. Maybe start with a prosperity working or something that they will see as helping and positive. Don't try to shove it in their faces. Take your time and let them get used to the work, little by little. They may never approve and, if that is the case, then just do your work in private.

Conjure is about tricks: you have to learn how to hide your work, while still doing it in plain sight. Just take it real slow; there isn't any rush.



Wrestle On Jacob

I hold my brudder wid a trebling hand,
SOME OF THE WRITINGS you find in Conjure are different than the English most folks speak. That is because this is the Gullah language, as it is still spoken today by the Gullah people, an African American population living on the Sea Islands and coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida. Gullah is recognized by the US government as a real language; it is not some distant dialect spoken in the past. This is the living language of the Gullah Nation and still very much alive.

In order to really understand Conjure and the culture it comes from, you have to understand the way the ancestors thought. If you were a Southern child, raised in a home where a worker lived, you would have been taught these secrets as you were growing up.

Most folks, when they look at the spiritual above, see a spiritual that talks about Peter fishing and not catching any fish. They don't understand that the words really have nothing to do with Peter. It's a coded message to let folks know what is going on. The prayer house or meetinghouse was the only place the ancestors were allowed to meet and worship. They learned to sing spirituals that the slave masters thought were just church songs, but some were sharing information like the one above.

So what is the message above? You just have to know what you are looking for.

In this spiritual "I hold my brudder wid a trebling hand" lets us know they are afraid. "Wrastl on Ja-cob, Ja-cob day is a breakin" lets us know that the sun is just rising. "Fisherman Peter was out at sea" lets folks know the plantation owner is out of the house. "He cast all night and he cast all day" says he's been out searching all day and all night. "He catch no fish, but he catch some soul" means he caught the ancestor he was looking for, and — "Jacob hang from a trembling limb" — he hung him. "I looked to the East at the breaking of the day, the old ship of Zion went sailing away" tells folks they hung him the next day at daybreak. The old ship Zion is his spirit leaving him, going up into the East to heaven, where it is said the dead will rise on Judgment Day.

As you can see this spiritual really isn't all about biblical matters. It's to let the slaves on the plantation know what was going on. This song really has nothing to do with the biblical Jacob or Peter, but it has everything to do with a runaway slave that got caught and was hung at daybreak the next day.


Excerpted from "Old Style Conjure"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Starr Casas.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Introduction xxi

Conjure Basics Q&A 1

Ole Time Religion 13

The Foundation of Conjure 27

The Altar 35

Offerings 41

Divination 45

Spirits of Conjure 67

Places of Power 105

Lights 137

Conjure Waters 151

Dirts & Dust 159

Roots, Herbs & Trees 167

Tools of Conjure 181

What's Hidden 195

Drawn' & Removin' 203

Africanized 217

Customer Reviews