Sunday, December 30, 2007
I was interviewed.
Thought you'd want to know that the nice folks at ParaWomen Radio were nice enough to interview me for their paranormal blog.
Kristy/Amy: What are Conjure oils?
C/O: Music is a great analogy for traditional perfumery as there are harmonies and dissonances, chords, balance, etc. Conjure Oils are fairly traditional as far as perfume blending standards go. The finished oils are a blend of essential, essential oil bouquet, fragrance, accords and herbally infused oils that are carefully crafted with attention paid to top, middle and base notes so a balanced and pleasant composition can be created. However, Conjure Oils doesn't stop with traditional perfumery and a pretty smell! There is an additional dimension of magick formulated into the blends through prayer and attention to folkloric detail.
The name "Conjure" is a tip of the hat to Anglican Minister and amateur folklorist Harry M. Hyatt and the 1600 root workers (whom he called "informants") he interviewed throughout the mostly Southern United States between 1936 and 1940. Hyatt documented the folklore, beliefs, practices and over 12,000 spells from various, primarily African-
American Root Doctors, Conjures, Hoodoo Men and Ladies and Two-Headed folk. Those interviews were published in a 4766 page, five volume set called Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft – Rootwork.
I feel we are truly indebted to the Conjure Doctors for sharing their knowledge and to Hyatt for his recordings.
Amy: What makes Conjure Oils so unique?
C/O: Simply put, it's the union of perfumery with the metaphysical knowledge of magickal herbalism. The oils are created not only with the quality of the fragrance in mind, but with the traditional spiritual associations of the herbs, roots and flowers as well.
More specifically, it is the spiritual/energetic aspects of being a priest and a spiritualist that I personally bring to the table. Honestly, it's all about Ashe, (oft pronounced "ah-shay" or "ah-chay") that makes these oils unique. We all have our own Ashe and, as is the case with most everything else, Ashe has multiple levels of meaning all of which are equally as applicable. Ashe can be a gift, or talent given to us by God ("Wow! Singing really is your Ashe!") but is also a word used for our own personal spirit and energy. It is often used interchangeably with chi or manna and means the substance that animates the universe. Ashe is life-force and it makes the world go 'round. Really, I could give you the recipe for all the oils, but since I'm not making them, they'd be different. Not better or worse – just different. So in that sense, I guess plagiarism would be impossible!
Kristy: How do they work?
C/O: I'm assuming that you want to know how they work magickally, otherwise this would turn into a chemistry lesson! ? How they work is very personal and will depend on your belief system, so most folks can decide for themselves how the oils work. I personally believe that they work because the plants/minerals used to create and enhance the oils lend their Ashe to the user's Ashe. It's kind of like the user gives off a diffused light and the oil concentrates the light into beam of energy for a specific purpose and the combination of personal prayer and the oil's ingredients fine tune the light of intention to a laser point. I also believe that the oils work whether you believe in them or not, since herbs and minerals really have their own inherent power and strength and sentience. They are prayed over as well, and since I believe that prayers never die, this makes the oils blessed and raises their "vibration," so to speak.
Now how the decision is made as to why certain plants are associated with certain magical properties harkens back to the beginnings of time. However, Paracelsus, a 15th century occultist, astronomer and alchemist came up with "Similia similibus curentur" or "like produces like" also known as The Law of Similars (of which Hahnemann later used to develop the medicine of homeopathy.) Paracelsus had a famous quote that stated: "Only the poison is also the cure." Meaning that the substance itself lends clues to what it is used for. If you look at the physical structure of a plant, the environment in which it grows, etc, you can get an understanding of this process. For example, in Hoodoo, to attract love, you can wear a dried violet leaf in your shoe. This is because a violet leaf is the shape of the heart, and the sole of the foot is a great way for magic to enter the body. (There is a load of foot-track magic, but that is another subject altogether.) That's a pretty solid, basic answer.
Amy: Do you have a favorite blend?
C/O: My favorite blend, right now, is Inanna though that constantly changes. Athena and Freya are two of my other favorites. I really like Amaterasu, Van Van and Espiritista oils. Everyone else's favorite is Whore of Babylon! ? I may develop a Whore of Babylon spell kit if there is enough interest.
Kristy: Is there a recommendation for a relaxing bath soak in which you can use oils?
C/O: Of course there is! You can turn any of the oils into bath salts! Here's a recipe:
1/3 cup Epsom Salt
1/3 cup Sea Salt
1/3 cup Baking Soda
Mix those together in a clean, dry glass jar with a lid. Shake it up really well. Open the lid and add:
5-10 drops of a Conjure Oils oil of your choice! Let's stay with the relaxing theme, so use Blessings oil, Zephyrus or Shui. Another option would be to pick an oil associated with a healing deity, such as Yemaya or Apollo.
Close the lid and shake it up really well again. You can add some food coloring if you want. I like blue for relaxation, so add a 2-5 drops of blue food coloring, Shake it up again. You're ready to go! If you want to get ultra-fancy, you can grind down some life everlasting herb and some pink rose petals and add them to the salts. Make them small enough so they don't clog the drain.
Start to fill your tub with nice hot water, but not too hot! Grab a candle (blue, white or any other color you associate with healing) and slather it with the same oil you used for your bath salts. Pray over the candle for relaxation and healing. Light the candle and set it somewhere safe. (You can keep it as your "healing bath candle" and reuse it as you need to.) Now, pray over your bath salts while the tub fills. I was taught that salt does what you tell it. So as you pray, tell the salt that you want to relax and feel refreshed. When the tub's full, pour all the salts in and stir the water a few times in a figure eight motion. I don't know why a figure eight, it's just something I like to do. I imagine it's because it's the symbol of eternity.
Take off your clothes (a very important step!) and bathe! Here you can use creative visualization to release tension into the water. Let the aroma transform you. Your prayers have set the oils to working. You can also adapt this recipe for a shower if you don't have a bath. Just put the bath salt mixture in a muslin bag and use it like you would a loofah.
This isn't a very "Hoodoo" way to use bath salts, (Hoodoo tends to be a bit more specific and ritualized) but it is a good way to use them for relaxation!
Kristy: What sort of magic is used in the oils?
C/O: Prayers, light, love and Ashe – not very "magical" at all, I guess! Nothing fancy, no specific spells. Just me asking the Almighty to bless the oil so it may get the job done for the user. Prayer is a powerful tool and really transforms the ordinary into extraordinary.
Amy: Are any of your oils created in accordance with the moon/planets and solstices/sabbats?
C/O: 7-7-7 was formulated on 07/07/07. I like to make batches of the Sabbat oils on the Sabbats, and lunar oils during their corresponding phases. Really, it's not a matter of life and death if you don't do it then, but it certainly lends its Ashe.
I believe power is intrinsic because God/Goddess/The Divine made the plants and minerals that go in the oils and they're perfect as they are. They don't need any human "enhancement." You don't need to wait for the perfect moon phase or sign to go wortcutting since the herbs are already divine and ready to work. "Charging" herbs or mojo bags is unnecessary. It's the prayer that sets the items working.
Kristy: What oil do you recommend to create more wealth in your life?
C/O: Prosper, Money, Money Magnet, 23rd Psalm, Blessing, Jupiter, Earth, Full Moon, Lakshmi, Boreas, Mu, Success, Make A Wish, Attract, Bling Bling, Job Finder, etc...
Kristy: What oil do you recommend to create more love in your life?
C/O: Blessing, Love Drawing, How You Doin'?, Whore of Babylon, Jezebel, Astarte, Come to Me, Follow Me Boy!, Queen Elizabeth Root, John the Conqueror root, Shango, Aphrodite, Zephyrus, Freya, Shui, Blue Rose, Cherry Red Lipstick. Just off the top of my head.
Amy: What oil do you recommend for paranormal investigators for protection (or anyone really for that matter haha.)
C/O: You know, I watch that show Ghost Hunters and I mentally prescribe things to Jason and Grant all the time! ? Ok, here's my prescription for all paranormals and psychic folks: First thing, cover your head! That's where spirits like to enter and hang on. A bare head is an open invitation! When you get home, bathe! Cleanse and Purify would be a great oil to use in the bath recipe above. Anoint a white candle with Protection oil or St. Michael oil and let it burn while you're sleeping. Before you go out on an investigation, or to do readings, anoint yourself with both Protection and Espiritista oil as it opens the channels to the spirit realm. So it's this: cleanse, protect, enhance, lather, rinse, and repeat. You know what I'm saying here? Wearing lighter colors is helpful as well. Pray for protection and grace.
Amy: Are your oils 100% Essential Oils, or are the blended with fragrance oil?
C/O: Oh dear! If they were 100% essential oil, my Blessings oil alone would cost $50! Like I mentioned above they're are a blend of essential, essential oil bouquet, fragrance, accords and herbally infused oils diluted to skin safe concentrations. Some oils you can't get naturally. Honeysuckle, for example, you can't get an essential oil for it so you can replicate the fragrance with a mix of other essential oils to create a bouquet that smells like the real thing, or you can just get synthetic oil. I just found a bouquet recipe in an old pharmacy manual from the late 1800's with instructions on how to make Night Blooming Cereus fragrance oil! It turned out lovely and is one of the main components in Inanna. Another example is musk, ambergris and sandalwood. You can either kill a Civet cat for its glands, sift through whale puke and guts for ambergris, decimate the already fragile sandalwood population, or order a bottle of synthetic. It's up to the perfumer. For me, that answer is obvious. Though, it should be noted that I have a definite preference and prejudice toward natural ingredients versus synthetic.
Amy: Your Oils have, Ah-hem, interesting names to say the least (Whore of Babylon for example), how do you come up with the names for your oils?
C/O: I don't have to come up with anything! All I need to do is to turn an eye to the mythology and folklore of the world! This has taken all the guess work out of naming the blends for me. From an early age, I have been fascinated by myths and legends. I'm kind of like a sponge for that kind of information. All of the Conjure Oils lines come from different areas of my spiritual study, education and interests.
Kristy: Is there a ritual you recommend when using the oil?
C/O: I like to recite the 23rd Psalm ("Thou annointest my head with oil") and then anoint myself. If I'm drawing something toward me, I start from the feet and work my way up. If I'm repelling, I work from the head down. A nice ritual is one that speaks to you, that you can repeat in your sleep and has personal power and significance for you. I'm a big fan of people finding what works for them.
Kristy/Amy: Can you burn the oils or do you just wear them?
C/O: I'm burning Prosperity oil right now! I put some distilled water in an oil burner and put about 10 drops on the water. Smells great! In fact, this is a good way to enjoy the oils when they don't work well with your skin chemistry, or if you can't wear oils or live somewhere where incense is impractical or not allowed. You can dab them on light bulbs before you turn the light on and let the heat carry the fragrance.
Kristy: How do you go about ordering your oils?
C/O: You can place an order through the Paypal buttons on the Conjure Oils site, or you can email me directly with what you want and I'll send you an invoice to pay from.
Amy: Are any of your oils available in stores or is it internet based only. Also what is your web URL?
C/O: The URL for Conjure Oils is: http://www.conjureoils.com
They are available on the website as well as Mademoiselle Noelle's Fortune Tea House on 5713 NE Fremont in Portland and at Practically Divine on SE Hawthorne in Portland as well. In March, the store Hex in Salem, MA will be carrying Conjure Oils Hoodoo line exclusively. There is also a store in Walnut Creek CA called Dolphin Dreams that carries the Feri line.
Kristy: Do you do special order oils?
C/O: Yes. I do custom oil commissions all of the time! They're really like a work of art and I enjoy making unique label artwork and distinctive names for all the oils. They are $50 postage paid for 5ml and $40 for each subsequent refill. I keep the recipe for your oil on file forever so you can re-order it for yourself, or share it with friends. Just tell me what you want it to do/smell like and we'll go from there!
Amy: I know you are interested in Hoodoo, what is Hoodoo and how does this magickal practice enhance your ability to create oil blends?
C/O: Hoodoo, very simply put, is African-American folk magic. It is an amalgamation of African religious traditions enmeshed with Native American herbalism, Jewish mysticism, and Protestant Christianity with a smattering of European folklore. While it is African and African-American in origin, it can be practiced by people of any race. Anything I can say on hoodoo is just a reiteration from the work of my teacher in Hoodoo, cat yronwode, who runs the Lucky Mojo Curio Company.
How Hoodoo enhances my ability? It flavors my understanding of how herbs are utilized; what they can and can't do. Hoodoo gives me a framework and a point of reference from which to do the Work.
Kristy: Have you always been fascinated with alchemy?
C/O: Not really. The idea of turning lead to gold could come in quite useful, I suppose – only because we value gold more than lead in most cases. But should Saturn turn into the Sun? They each have their place in the natural order of things. To me, the magickal and the mundane are the same thing so no transformation is necessary. We are all ok as we are and as the Heavens have made us. I think the challenge is to love and value the lead as well as the gold.
Amy: Are all your oils handmade by you?
C/O: The finished product? Yes. Nothing comes straight out of a bottle – not even the single notes in the Apothecary. Someday I will buy a still and make some of my own essential oils! But the raw materials I purchase. The only raw oils I make in-house are infused oils, where the plant material is soaked in oil to extract the herbal goodness.
All Conjure Oils are hand-blended in small batches so they're fresh and potent. This lends itself to some slow deliveries during times of high demand, but most people think it's worth the wait!
Kristy: How did you learn to create the blends?
C/O: I learned from practice, experimentation, reading, taking classes and working with others at various points during my life. I became interested in oil blending specifically when I was very young through learning about Magickal Herbalism, Witchcraft and through books like Incense, Oils and Brews and Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham, as well as books by Tisserand. This was back in the late 80's and early 90's – way before Neo Pagan literature was widely distributed like it is today, so there wasn't a ton of information available – there wasn't even the internet back then! You just had to work with and learn from people you came into contact. I still do that, and it's important to learn something from everyone you can! I had the pleasure of working as a Health and Beauty buyer for many years at a natural health food store and have got much exposure to very knowledgeable folks throughout the years. I also worked under a naturopath who pointed me in the right direction as far as great resources go. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone that has helped me along.
Kristy: Do you feel that you are doing a sort of channeling when creating them?
C/O: I'm glad you asked that, as it adds to the question above. I spend a great deal of time thinking, writing, throwing around ideas in my head – I'm quite cerebral, but I also spend time in the land of image and symbol. I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting and Art Education. (I even survived teaching High School art for a couple of years!) I tend to think in images, though I am lucky and can put them into words. It helps me in the long run because I can do all of my own design work – and do; the website design, all the writing, the label designs – all done by me.
Anyway, the channeling question – I can't say that I am working from any entity. Since I am a priest of Eleggua, I don't want to insult him and say that any other beings work through me other than him. But I certainly am moved by my spirits, my ancestors or Egun.
I work from a place of feeling, intuition and a working knowledge of mythology, herbalism, hoodoo, spell craft and various magickal correspondences that I've picked up along the way. It's all kind of formless until I sit down and start to write out what's going on then it all comes together in a concrete way.
Amy: And finally, do you have a hoodoo spell/ritual you can share with our readers that includes some of your oils?
C/O: Sure! The Honey Jar Spell is older than dirt, but sexy and effective! I learned this version from cat yronwode and have riffed on it a bit, but other forms and variants are out there.
The Honey Jar Spell
Matches or a lighter
White to attract friends
Pink to attract love
Red for sex
A glass jar of honey with a metal lid
A ceramic dinner plate the same color as your candle
A piece of brown paper bag, about 3"x3" all edges hand torn
A red pen
A pinch each of red rose petals, damiana, wild cherry bark (for love and sex)
or pink roses, cloves and slippery elm bark (for friends)
Something from you: hair, nail clippings, etc
Something from your intended: hair, nail clippings, etc.
Friendship Oil if you're attracting friends, or sweetening co-workers.
Boss Fix Oil if you're working your boss
Love Drawing or Come To Me if you're looking for a relationship
How You Doin'?, Whore of Babylon, Jezebel or Cherry Red Lipstick if you're lookin' for some hot lovin'.
Begin on a Friday right after the New Moon. Write your intended's full name 9 times on the paper, turn it 90 degrees and then write your name over theirs 9 times. Anoint the four corners of the paper with the oil that you've decided to use. Place the hairs/clippings and the herbs in the center of the paper. Fold it toward you and make a packet. Set it aside.
Open the honey and have a taste. Imagine how sweet it will be to have whatever it is you're working for. Slip the packet into the jar, screw the lid back on and set it on the plate. Anoint your candle with your oil, rubbing it from the bottom up, the direction of drawing
Melt the bottom of the candle onto the top of the honey jar. The candle will be burning there. Think of what you want and say a prayer. I like to say the 23rd Psalm. Light your candle and let it burn all the way out. Repeat the anointing the candle, affixing it to the top of the jar, praying and letting it burn all the way down every Friday, Monday and Wednesday until you get what you're looking for. Once your wish has been fulfilled, bury the jar in your yard, or light it once a year on you and your new sweetie's anniversary!
Thanks for the interview! It was a lot of fun.
All the best,