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Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs Paperback – June 8, 2004


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Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs + Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure + The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (June 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738702757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738702759
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephanie Rose Bird is a hereditary intuitive, contemporary rootworker, solitary green witch and visionary.  She has been involved with mysticism, symbology, spiritualism and the occult for thirty years.  Bird is inspired by her ancestors, in particular her grandmothers, one of which was a psychic and the other a spiritualist minister and herbal healer.  Her uncle, a Santeria priest, Babalawo of Shango, taught her the Ifa traditions of the Yoruba people.  Bird studies healing, magical and divination traditions of indigenous people around the world with a focus on Africa.  Her passions include keeping the ancient traditions alive and updating them so that they evolve with us, suiting our current environment and lifestyles.  She is a member of the American Folklore Soceity, the Herb Research Foundation and the Handcrafted Soap Maker's Guild.

Bird holds a BFA cum laude from Temple University and an MFA from UC San Diego, and has received multiple academic awards.  Bird was an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1986-2002.  Bird is active advising masters' and doctoral candidates, giving lectures, conducting goddess rituals, and writing for numerous publications. Visit Stephanie's webpage at http://www.stephanierosebird.com/.

 

Website: http://www.stephanierosebird.com/

Blog: http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephanierosebirdauthor.   

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Fixin' to Work Roots

Hoodoo began in folks' sheds, basements, and kitchens. It seems as though once it spread into the hands of merchants, the demise of this folkcraft began. The renewed interest of late in Hoodoo, rootwork, and conjuring affords a wonderful opportunity to start fresh from scratch. If you want to be a hoodoo, who else can you depend on to procure the proper ingredients, and blend them at the right time and in the right way to produce the desired results?

Time and Space
Time is one of the main elements needed for rootwork. Luckily, you don't have to run out and buy it. You do, however, need to have some set aside. I can't sugarcoat this for you. Just like a good soup stock, tasty stew, or homemade pie, your herbal brews and fragrant oils will take time and skill to fix them up just right. On average you will need to invest at least an hour for the preparation of your handmade treatment. While recipes that require infusions or distillation will take longer, some treatments are instant. If you crave convenience, the latter are the recipes for you. One of the main reasons the making of Hoodoo products was relinquished to others was the rise of companies interested in marketing to African Americans. This group of companies, salesmen, and merchants saw an opportunity to profit from the folk beliefs and the lack of time folks faced for mixing their own products. Now, instead of quality products, we are sold inferior blends that often are little more than sweetly scented, colored waters and synthetic oils-a pale memory of the depth and texture the old hoodoos who were well versed in herbalism invested in their roots.

The real deal is, if you want your rootwork to take, you need to be absolutely certain that the roots, berries, beans, and herbs are authentic and that the harvest was correctly timed astrologically according to the effects desired. Many of us are unaccustomed to spending hours in the kitchen, and even less time in the garden or woods. However, if you want to be a good hoodoo, let me help you become reacquainted with the lost art of patience in pursuit of quality. Start slow; take your time, gradually build up your expertise, taste, and skill, and before you know it you'll have all the herbs and equipment needed to formulate a unique repertoire of recipes for your loved ones and yourself.

Clean, organized space is also essential. Having a work space (such as a level table or countertop) clear of clutter for your cookery is very important. Clean space will save you the agony of messy accidents or contaminating your brew after all of the love and care you've put into making it.

Equipment and Tools
In this book I have tried to give ample options in the recipes with consideration for various budgets, time constraints, and geographic locations. This is designed to ease your passage into the art of rootworking as gently and painlessly as possible. Before fixin' to work up a mojo, sachet, wash, or anointing oil, however, you need certain equipment to get started.

Apron
A plastic "splash-proof" apron sold by soap suppliers and chemical shops is highly recommended for protection against the caustic sodium hydroxide used during cold-processed soapmaking. Also consider putting on old clothes to use as smocks or work clothes.

Blender
A blender is used for thorough mixing and liquefying.

Bottles and Jars
Bottles and jars are very important pieces of equipment. I like using recycled bottles as much as possible for shampoo and conditioners. Mouthwash, liquid dish detergent, shampoo, and conditioner bottles, as well as lotion, yogurt, and baby food containers are all useful. Glass storage jars are used mainly for oil infusions and tinctures. Tinted glass ones with spring or cork tops work well.

At times you will want to make special blends as gifts or for stores. There are plenty of specialty container suppliers who carry powder dispensers, spritzers, cologne bottles, flip-top body-wash bottles, and decorative jars with screw tops for this purpose. It's nice now and again to use these decorative containers for yourself -especially the powder dispensers, since powders are essential to hoodoos. Pretty perfume bottles used for storing personal scents also add a nice touch. They can be bought new or at antique shops. There is more information in appendix B about commercial bottle suppliers.

Remember, when using recycled materials, it is very important to sterilize them first by boiling plastic containers and cleaning glass bottles with very hot, soapy water. Rinse and allow to dry before beginning. They can also be sterilized in a dishwasher if you have one.

Cauldron
A cauldron doesn't have to be fancy or bought from a specialty shop; a plain, castiron Dutch oven will do. However, if you want to brew your roots in a proper cauldron, there are plenty of suppliers who carry them.

Charcoal Blocks
Buy charcoal blocks in quantity, as they are the most efficient way of burning loose herbal incense. Avoid those that contain saltpeter; it is toxic when burned. (Traditionally, saltpeter was an ingredient used by hoodoos. Sadly, the type sold today is sodium nitrate, a highly combustible substance that is also harmful to the skin, eyes, and lungs.) Pure bamboo charcoals from Japan are available and make a more wholesome alternative.

Chiminea
A chiminea is a portable, miniature fireplace that is generally kept on the patio. This is great for burning incense and for fire rituals if you don't have a fireplace.

Coffee Grinder
A coffee grinder is a convenient way to grind tough spices and roots compared to its ancestor, the mortar and pestle, which requires hand grinding and lots of elbow grease. Watch out though; really tough spices and roots need to be ground by hand or they'll break your coffee grinder. Trust me, I've been through quite a few.

Double Boiler
A double boiler is an indirect way of heating that prevents waxy mixtures, like ointments and candle wax, from cooking too quickly. A double boiler can be improvised by floating a stainless-steel bowl in water in a pot that is slightly larger than the bowl.

Droppers
Droppers are essential for dispensing droplets of essential oils, fragrance oils, body fluids, or other precious liquids that you don't want to waste. Throughout this book I ask that you drop in essential oils, as this is the approach used by good perfumers. It helps ensure that the oils don't clump up; instead, they disperse evenly. See appendix B for suppliers.

Drying Rack
A drying rack is where fresh herbs are hung by their stems to dry. Also, it's an attractive way to display and store dried herbs indefinitely.

Food Processor
Even a mini food processor without all the fancy attachments will do to blend and liquefy ingredients for personal-care recipes.

Freestanding Mixer
A freestanding mixer is convenient, but not essential. It is used for whisking and thoroughly blending ingredients while saving your energy.

Funnel Set
Funnels are used to prevent spills and ease the transfer of liquids, oils, and powders from the bowl or pan to a small-necked bottle (referred to here as bottling).

Grater
A Teflon or stainless-steel grater is recommended because it lasts longer and resists sticking and rusting. It is mainly used for shredding beeswax and refining roots.

Kettle
A kettle is used to boil water for infusing herbs.

Measuring Cups
Measuring cups are used to measure both dry ingredients and liquids. Pyrex, tempered glass, and stainless steel work best. Glass and stainless steel are easy to clean completely to prevent cross-contamination of ingredients.

Measuring Spoons
Measuring spoons made of stainless steel with clearly marked measurements etched into the surface are preferred.

Mixing Bowls
Glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel mixing bowls are recommended because they will not become stained from colorants, nor will they harbor bits of leftover ingredients once cleaned properly. Cleanliness is very important because dirty bowls or other equipment will introduce bacteria to your recipes, lessening their longevity and efficacy.

Mortar and Pestle
Recommended for tough spices and roots. See "Coffee Grinder" section above.

Pans
Stainless-steel pans with heavy bottoms work best because they distribute heat evenly and resist burning and overheating. Most importantly, stainless steel stays inert, which prevents contamination and depletion. Contamination and depletion are likely to occur while using cast iron, aluminum, or copper. Make sure you have tight-fitting lids handy as well. They help retain the medicinal qualities of the volatile oils, otherwise these precious substances evaporate.

Stirring Spoon
Stainless-steel stirring spoons are preferred.

Stirring Wand
A stirring wand, usually made of nonreactive glass or ceramic, is used similarly to a cocktail stirrer to blend perfumes while discouraging cross-contamination.

Storage Bins
Storage bins are used to hold dried herbs. Dark glass containers with spring tops or stainless steel is ideal. Keeping light away from the herbs helps them retain their medicinal qualities longer. Some folk store them in brown paper bags, particularly when they are being dried. This works well only if you don't have moths or other pests that might try to eat the herbs.

Stove or Hotplate
A stove or hotplate is used for heating, drying, and simmering brews.

Straining Devices
A straining device can be cheesecloth (muslin) stretched over a preserve or other wide-necked jar and secured with a rubber band or twine. I prefer to use a stainless- steel sieve.

Sun Tea Jars
Glass or plastic sun tea jars are used to brew herbs in sun- or moonlight.

Thermometers
Candy thermometers will work, but a meat probe is my first choice because it will not break as easily. Thermometers are essential when making soap, and are useful for checking temperatures during the creation of creams, salves, and healing balms.

Twine
Twine is good for tying herbs together at the stems before hanging them to dry, and for fixing muslin to a jar for straining. Hemp (marijuana) string is an excellent alternative for its strength and durability.

Whisk
A stainless-steel whisk is preferred.

Gathering and Drying Herbs
Suggestions to Urban Dwellers
For folk living in cities, apartments, or other tight spaces where land comes at a premium price, the primary source for gathering herbs will be specialty catalogs, health-food stores, and the Internet. Even within this commercial arena, the way you go about gathering is critical, and the relationships you develop can be meaningful, educational, and fun. Things to look for are as follows:

Are the herbs ethically harvested? Be careful about barks and roots. Some,like Little John, are overharvested and face extinction.

Are the herbs organically grown? This is the safest method for personal-careproducts and consumables.

Are the herbs fresh and within their expiration date? They should have abright color, strong scent, and no mold or mildew.

Are the prices fair, without excessive markups? Do some research and compareprices.

Are the herbs usually in stock, available without delays? Is the source convenient and practical for you? Is a knowledgeable person available to answer your questions?Start out with a local shop, if possible. Then, as you become comfortable with creating your own brews, you can branch out into wholesale. Buying herbs in bulk saves big bucks! Other options include visiting your local farmer's market, or driving outside the city to support roadside farm stands. If you so choose, you can also grow your favorite herbs in pots on the windowsill, terrace, or even inside using grow lights.

Suggestions to Suburban and Rural Dwellers
If you are fortunate enough to have enough space to grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables, the following suggestions are for you. Please remember, when gathering Mother Nature's gifts, approach the plants with respect and thank them for sharing their healing energy with you.

Harvesting Leaves-Look for leaves of a consistent green color without brown or yellow spots. Harvest midmorning after the dew has evaporated. Gather leaves before the plant begins to flower. For plants that have long growing seasons, such as basil or oregano, pinch back the tops to prevent flowering. (Flowering takes energy away from the main body of the plant.) Keep herbs separated by type, and tie the stems loosely together in a bundle with twine or hemp string. Until you are very familiar with all of the herbs, it is best to label the bundles and date them as well. Hang them up to dry immediately after harvesting to prevent mildew or deterioration.

Hang the herb bundles stem up in an area with good circulation away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for the first twenty-four hours is ninety degrees, followed by seventy-five to eighty degrees the rest of the time. Most herbal bundles will dry between two to three weeks. Petals and leaves should feel light, crisp, and paperlike. If there are small buds or tiny leaves that may fall off during the drying time, create a roomy muslin bag to encase flowers and leaves and tie it loosely with twine or hemp string at the stems. This is particularly important with seed-dropping plants, such as fennel or sunflowers. When herbs are completely dry, store the whole leaf and stem away from direct sunlight in dark glass or stainless-steel airtight containers.

Harvesting Flowers-Flowers are extremely delicate. Select healthy flowers in the early afternoon during dry weather conditions. Take extra care not to bruise the petals, refrain from touching them, cut from the stem, and allow the flowers to drop into a basket. Dry smaller, more delicate flowers, such as lavender and chamomile, whole. You can hang them upside down tied with twine over a muslin cloth or large bowl or wrapped loosely with muslin to retain dried buds. Use fresh flowers in the home whenever possible. You may also freeze them in an ice cube tray filled with spring water.

Harvesting Seeds-Collect seeds on a warm, dry day. Seeds need to dry in a warm, airy environment. Make provisions to catch the quickly drying seeds by placing a bowl or box underneath the hanging plants. Harvesting Bark-Bark peels easiest on damp days. Choose a young tree or bush and, if possible, one that has already been pruned, cut, or taken down naturally by wind or stormy conditions to prevent damage or even death to the plant. Stripping too much bark from a tree will kill it. A thoughtful approach to Mother Nature's gifts is essential. Bark may harbor insects or moss, so wash it first and allow it to dry flat on waxed paper in a location that is well ventilated and away from direct sunlight.

Harvesting Roots-Roots are ready for collecting after the autumn harvest. Dig up roots after their plant has begun to wither and die. Extract the whole root while trying not to bruise it. Like bark, roots need to be cleaned before they are


More About the Author

Biography

Stephanie Rose Bird, is the author of five books: The Big Book of Soul: the Ultimate Guide to the African American Spirit: Legends and Lore, Music and Mysticism and Recipes and Rituals, (2010, Hampton Road Publishers), A Healing Grove: African Tree Medicine, Remedies and Rituals ( 2009, Chicago Review Press), Light, Bright, Damn Near White: Biracial and Triracial Culture in America and Beyond (2009, Praeger Press) Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones Hoodoo, Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs (June 2004, by Llewellyn Worldwide Publishers) and "Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural Living (Llewellyn, 2006). Her first work of fiction, "No Barren Life" is a paranormal young adult fantasy novel. She holds a BFA cum laude from Temple University, Tyler School of Art and a MFA from University of California at San Diego where she was a San Diego Opportunity Fellow. She was a professor of fine art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for over fifteen years. She has also taught at the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago Botanic Gardens and Garfield Conservatory. Bird works as an herbalist, aromatherapist and sole proprietor of Almost Edible Natural Products. Her product line features herbal soap, incense, potpourri, bath salts, sachets and dream pillows. Bird writes regularly for www.naturallycurly.com as resident herbalist specializing in ingredient descriptions. She has been a professional member of the Handcrafted Soap Maker's Guild, for whom she wrote a column "Soap Worts: Useful Herbs for Soap Makers. Bird is a member of: the American Botanical Council's Herb Research Foundation; the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and the International Center for Traditional Childrearing. Her writing on herbalism, natural healing, complimentary therapies, herbal lore, goddesses, rituals and ceremonies are featured in "Sage Woman Magazine" "The Beltane Papers," WitchVox.com, DivineCaroline.com, "International Journal of Aromatherapy," "Aromatherapy Today," "The Oracle," "Herb Quarterly," "Herb Companion," "The Llewellyn Magical Almanac," "The Llewellyn Herbal Almanac" "Enlightened Practice," E-pregnancy and "Spell-a-Day." As a Fulbright Senior Scholar, Bird studied the art, rituals and ceremonies of Australian Aborigines in the outback of the Northern Territory. Bird's fine art is held in several important national and international art collections, she has exhibited in numerous galleries, museums, universities and public spaces. Stephanie Bird is a hereditary intuitive and healer specializing in positive energy work and spiritual cleansing using African plant wisdom.
Website: www.stephanierosebird.com
Blog: http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/stephanierosebirdauthor

Customer Reviews

I loved this book its a beginners book on Hoodoo.
Priestess Auset Ra Amen
You can't just go taking graveyard dirt all willy-nilly.
Mrs. Dooley
Stephanie Rose Bird's books are great references.
Tracy Corbin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Reviewer on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
After reading through Bird's second book, "Four Seasons of Mojo", and seeing how bad that one was I read through this book hoping it might be better; no such luck. This isn't real Hoodoo and any practitioner who is trained in the tradition would either be highly annoyed, or laugh themselves silly, by what is being passed off as Hoodoo.
The problems with the book start right at the beginning. Bird gives the reader the ingredients for a "Fast Luck" Mojo without explaining that "Fast Luck" isn't a generic term for luck. It is a term used in Hoodoo to describe a hand made for luck with money or love. I'll also add that the number of ingredients included don't work to strengthen the spell.
On the very next page the author gives the list of curios/ingredients for a "Stay Away From Me" mojo, but includes Senna Pods and Dragonsblood resin. Interesting, if illogical, choices considering the fact that in Hoodoo, Senna Pods and Dragonsblood resin are used to draw people to you! I didn't analyze all of her recipes, but I'm not hopeful that the book gets any better if it starts off this bad. The mistakes I found in the book are the type you might expect a novice student to make, but not those of someone who deems themselves knowledgeable enough to write a book on the topic.
SSRB reminds of Ray Malborough's Hoodoo Mysteries, and is just as full of misinformation and misdirection. If you are looking for real, authentic Hoodoo stick with Hyatt, if you can afford to collect Hyatt's work; Cat Yronwode, Jim Haskins, or even Henri Gamache. I also have a Listmania, "Hoodoo/Rootwork/Conjure and nothing but", which lists other reputable authors, but do yourself a big favor and pass on this one.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Naya Aerodiode on October 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Really now. Do we have to associate everything with the four elements? Do we have to constantly refer to deities and energies and chi and every other chunk of cheese from the word salad of new-age nonsense? This book is capitalizing on the increasing popularity of Hoodoo and packaging it up nice and neat for an audience of the most irritating global-spiritual-buffet-practice neo-pagans and neo-wiccans. When I purchased this book, I was hoping to find insights into Hoodoo practice; instead I got heaps of lore about practices Hoodoo does not use, nonsense about the amount of chi in some plants, a huge pepperings of "Blessed Be"s and a ridiculous invocation to Ra!

Utter nonsense. I understand that Hoodoo is eclectic, but let's not scrape from the bottom of the barrel for stuff to add to the practice. That is what this book does. Toss it.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful By J. Martinez on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is a HUGE disappointment to anyone already familiar with hoodoo, rootwork and conjure. Ugh! I was really looking forward to this book based on the claims that she was of hoodoo ancestry etc..but upon perusing this classically Lllewellyn-esque bastardization I felt totally ripped off. Here is an african american woman of hoodoo lineage referring to the wiccan king Scott Cunningham in regards to herbalism etc...saying she follows his tradition of this and that. What happen to her own family traditions? Thats what I wanted to hear about! Instead, the book is chockful of cutesy pootsie "potions" , the bulk regarding the ever popular money generating angles of love and money like most mass produced fluff titles coming out of Llewellyn. For examples, her rose water recipe is nothing more than the ever popular/fake water with rose EO added, not actual rosewater from rose petals,she also uses distilled water throughout which is thought by some spiritualist to be void of any spiritual essence as all minerals etc have been removed. Stick with Original publications or your local botanicas to have better books. Don't waste your money on this one unless you buy one of the 50(now 51!) copies available here for only $5.00. And thats still too high in my book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A.M.B. on February 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with those who wrote in saying that this is a work of nonsense. It is typical that Llywellyn would publish a book like this, and it smacks of the "fluffy bunny" style of most every other Llywellyn book. In keeping with the same tradition of Ray Malbrough's epic failure, "Hoodoo Mysteries" this book by Bird is just another waste of paper. If you are looking for books on the subject of Hoodoo and Rootwork, read Cat Yronwode's excellent book, Jim Haskin's work, and the Hyatt materials.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By El Brujo on August 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
When we hear the words Hoodoo, or Voodoo, most people automatically think of Zombies and Voodoo Dolls. And while many people try to hide it, "Yes these things do exist" these things are not what Hoodoo or Voodoo is completely about. I have been initiated into Santeria. But all my life I was raised and grew up in Puerto Rican Brujeria and Espiritismo. There is one thing that is common with Brujeria and Hoodoo. The practitioners of both paths come from various religious traditions, but both Los Brujos and the Hoodooists are consulted on things both Good and Bad. This is one thing that is greatly missing in this book.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but I felt there was so much missing, when I saw who the publisher was, "LLewelyn" it all came clear. Stephanie Rose Bird is a good author, and the book read well. It is a combination of Luisah Tesh's great book Jambalaya and the various Ray Malbrough books,

I felt she could have taken the book some place else. The recipes for making oils, and Four Thieve Vinegar, have been published before. There is so much more to Hoodoo than just these typical things, which Llewelynn allows its authors to write about.

Although I am not giving the book five stars, because most of the stuff is written elsewhere, I have to give Stephanie some credit for being informative, and I learned a few things, that I had not known.

This book is defiantly not only about Hoodoo, it is a mixture of Vodou, Santeria, Candomble, Brujeria and so forth. But unlike other authors who have done a messy job in trying to put the four-mentioned together, Stephanie really places them together nicely. In a way that is Very Brujeria, and yes we can even say, "Modern Day-Hoodoo.
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