I am so delighted to offer up a new series for my blog readers-Encounters with AIRR-wherein I will post interviews with the various members of the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers. My clients know that I work in various folk magic traditions and Southern Conjure-Hoodoo are one of the firm pillars of my own practice. AIRR is a consortium of workers in this tradition who offer both intuitive readings and magical advice. It is my privilege to take time out to speak with each of our wonderful workers at AIRR and get their unique perspectives on all things Hoodoo!
My first interviewee is, appropriately enough miss cat herself!
Catherine Yronwode started writing online about Hoodoo and Conjure back in 1994. She wrote the widely acclaimed Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, founded Lucky Mojo Curio Company-a traditional candle shop and spiritual supply house in Sonoma County, California, Missionary Independent Spiritual Church-a church that welcomes ALL Deities to its altars, the Crystal Silence League-where prayer is free, and runs the very popular Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course. Catherine has taught thousands of students and published hundreds of pages online providing free information on Hoodoo, Conjure and the workers, traditions, authors, and merchants associated with it-she is a living master in the tradition and folks can go and visit her, learn from her, and apprentice with her (as I have) still today! She is one of my dear mentors and friends and when I set down with her to ask some questions I learned much-as always. I hope that you will too!
On the Web-you can find cat at:
What is your philosophy on magic and root work?
Well, i am not a very “philosophical” person, actually. In fact, the idea of “philosophy” kinda causes me to zone out. I love learning things, and i love folklore and folk magic, pretty things, old things, plant lore, botanical medicine, natural aromas, good music, effective prayer, and friendly people — and i have found all of that and more in my study and practice of African American rootwork. That’s not a philosophy, however; it is down home Spiritualism leavened with aesthetic hedonism.
What are your favorite types of cases and why?
I like cases for new love, for spiritual protection, for growing a business, and for enhancing spiritual connectivity. I like teaching, and i do some of my best work as a conjure consultant, teaching clients to do their own spells, one-on-one.
If you could give prospective clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Be always sure you’re right — then go ahead.” — Davy Crockett (1786 – 1836)
Many of my readers are familiar with AIRR but a few are not, can you tell us a bit about the organization-how and why it started?
The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers grew out of my work as a pastor at Missionary Independent Spiritual Church. In late 2007, the church’s Board of Bishops decided to create a directory listing of spiritual workers whose reputations were good and whose practices were traditional and authentic. In 2009, the AIRR web site, a collaborative project of many hands, went online, teaching good, old-fashioned hoodoo work to the public, educating the public about how to b a rootworker’s client, and offering the services of our selected group of diviners and conjure doctors. There are now several hundred informational pages at the AIRR site, and more than two dozen Associates of AIRR are listed in the directory.
Probably the best way to find out more about AIRR is to read our “About AIRR” web page, which is here: http://readersandrootworkers.org/wiki/About_the_Association_of_Independent_Readers_and_Rootworkers
Hoodoo/Rootwork are areas of folk magic tradition that are rapidly growing in popularity, as one of the first voices and most prolific writers (and my dear mentor!) on all things Hoodoo related what are your thoughts about the growing popularity of the tradition?
This is a difficult subject for me to address. Obviously when i first went online with information about hoodoo, in 1994 few people knew what i was talking about. When i placed my writings online in 1995,, the web was very young and few people had access to it. Now, almost two decades later, knowledge of hoodoo is everywhere — but so are attempts to appropriate it, water it down, transform it, co-opt it, and put masks upon it that make it look like Paganism or African Diasporic Religions or Latino Folk Catholicism ot New Age spirituality or Gothic magic.
I will simply say, as i have said all along, that hoodoo is a cultural treasure of the African American community and that all those who study and practice it must honor and respect the African American culture-beaers whose gift to the world it is.
You also run the highly successful traditional candle shop and occult store Lucky Mojo Curio Company-it sometimes seems that like brick and mortar bookstores, brick and mortar occult shops are a dying breed-do you think that having physical shops available to the magical community is essential and can you talk a little about the role of the traditional candle shop within the Hoodoo community?
I disagree with you that bricks and mortar conjure shops, occult shops, metaphysical shops, or magic shops are a dying breed. They are everywhere, and if the people who run them have good business sense and are willing to work long hours to aid clients and customers who are often in spiritual, physical, emotional, or personal need, they will both prosper financially and be of service to humanity.
I have seen all too many so-called spiritual shops go under due to the owners’ ignorance about the desires of their clientele, lazy work habits, mental instability, personal drama, failure to engage the local community, or mistaking liberality for tolerance of drug and alcohol abuse, . Running a shop of any kind — whether it be an auto repair shop, an antique shop, a reproduction vintage hardware and lighting shop, an antiqurian book shop, or a hoodoo candle shop — is always going to be hard work, and will require a steady hand, an inventive mind, and enthusiasm for the business of business — for doing the books, stcking the shelves, and greeting the customers.
As for myself, i do maintain a traditional candle shop — but i do so in an untraditional location, in Sonoma County, California. People travel long miles to come to my shop, and it is my pleasure to make the destination worth the drive. We take a lot of time serving our walk-in trade, even though walk-ins account for only about 10% of our total sales volume. Without the walk-ins, we would have no excuse to maintain the shop’s beauty, and we might then just as well be a warehouse. The walk-ins are the impetus to craft a beautiful architectural and garden experience — and that benefits everyone in the shop, because, after all, who wants to work in a warehouse when you can work in the most delightful little candle shop in North America?