Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring by Yvonne P. Chireau

By Yvonne P. Chireau

Black Magic seems to be on the origins, which means, and makes use of of Conjure--the African American culture of therapeutic and harming that developed from African, eu, and American elements--from the slavery interval to good into the 20 th century. Illuminating a global that's dimly understood by means of either students and most people, Yvonne P. Chireau describes Conjure and different comparable traditions, similar to Hoodoo and Rootworking, in a fantastically written, richly targeted historical past that offers the voices and reports of African americans and indicates how magic has expert their tradition. concentrating on the connection among Conjure and Christianity, Chireau exhibits how those probably contradictory traditions have labored jointly in a posh and complementary type to supply non secular empowerment for African american citizens, either slave and loose, dwelling in white the USA. As she explores the function of Conjure for African americans and appears on the changes of Conjure through the years, Chireau additionally rewrites the dichotomy among magic and faith. With its groundbreaking research of a regularly misunderstood culture, this booklet provides a huge point of view to our realizing of the myriad dimensions of human spirituality.

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Accoutrements adopted from both Catholic and Protestant traditions were enlisted by black Conjurers for supernatural protection. The slave Old Divinity, a Mississippi Conjurer who claimed to be the grandson of a witch, was buried clutching his cherished silver medal of Saint Anthony and the infant Jesus. W. D. Siegfried, a Baptist missionary who lived among the freedmen in Augusta, Georgia, after the Civil War, complained bitterly of the sale and dissemination of religious books and pictures to African Americans, who frequently adopted them as charms and protective objects.

Being born with a caul, the amniotic veil covering the face of the newly delivered infant, was interpreted as evidence that one was gifted with enhanced insight into the invisible realm. Another well-known belief held that the seventh child of a seventh son or daughter would enjoy an auspicious spiritual lineage. 24 These anomalies sometimes led the depiction of Conjurers as outsiders, inhabitants of the fringes, dwelling within a cultural demimonde. ” Social marginality allowed some practitioners to accumulate material wealth from their professions—or to at least achieve the illusion of having done so.

36 Yet not all the works of churchgoing Conjurers were benign. A source from Arkansas in the 1890s notes that a former slave was believed to 30 “Our Religion and Superstition” have “hoodooed” unsuspecting victims out of “meanness” even while a member of a local Baptist congregation. ” Another Arkansas Conjurer was “renowned in three counties” for his alleged role in the deaths of at least ten men and women by supernatural means. ”37 The Christian church and its membership were also sometimes the objects of spiritual malevolence, either from Conjure practitioners or other supernatural specialists.

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