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Black cats are considered very unlucky in the European and European-American traditions. Among Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavian people, it is said that one sets out on a journey and a black cat crosses the road ahead, one's only safe course of action is to turn back and return home. Tales of shape-shifting black cats and black cats who are in communication with the Devil are also a feature of European folk-belief. Concommitant with these negative feelings about black cats is the notion that they are particularly favoured as witches' familiars -- hence their almost universal use on Hallowe'en decorations.

In bright contrast to this image of the "evil" black cat, there is a "good" black cat -- the antinomian lucky black cat of the African-American sporting and gambling world. This black cat does double-duty as a representative of the black arts (including the granting of invisibility and the return of lost love) and as a bringer of money luck.

In the form of a figural candle, the black cat is burned in rituals designed to increase gambler's luck. Hoodoo products, such as the Lucky Mojo Brand Black Cat Sachet Powder, Black Cat Bath Crystals, Black Cat Dressing Oil, and Black Cat Incense shown here, are also popular with gamblers, especially those who play at cards and bet the lottery. In addition, a popular style of mojo bag for gamblers is the so-called Black Cat Curio Bag, which is decorated with a small black cat charm on the outside and filled with a variety of luck-bringing roots and herbs, including John the Conqueror root.


The notorious black cat bone charm is a subject with which i am, frankly, rather uncomfortable. Although it is strongly identified with African American hoodoo , its origins are actually in European grimoire magic. Here, thanks to Mike Rock, is a copy of the way it appears in an English translation of the Portuguese grimoire of Saint Cyprian of Antioch:

"Cook the body of a black cat in boiling water with white seeds and wood from the willow until the meat is loosened from the bones. Strain the bones in a linen cloth and, in front of the mirror, place the bones, one by one in your mouth, until you find that you have the magic to make you become invisib

le. Keep the bone with the magic property and, if you want to go somewhere without being seen, place the bone in your mouth."





The African American novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who studied hoodoo in Florida and Louisiana in the 1930s, and Harry Middleton Hyatt, who collected over 13,000 individual spells from 1600 African American informants throughout the South in the same time period, reported at length on the many root doctors who claimed that every black cat has within its body one bone that will either grant the owner invisibility or can be used to bring back a lost lover.

To secure this bone, they said, a black cat must be thrown alive into a cauldron of boiling water at midnight. The animal dies in agony, and the heartless practitioner boils the carcass until the meat falls off the bones. Some say that the special bone will be the top one left when the water boils away, others say it can only be found by placing each bone in turn beneath the tongue while an assistant stands by to notify the practitioner that he has become invisible, and still others swear that if all the bones are thrown into a stream that runs north (uncommon in most of North America), the desired bone will be one that floats on the water and heads south.


Once found, the black cat bone is carried in a mojo bag and anointed with Van Van Oil to bring back a lost lover. The oil or fat of the cat is bottled for use as a candle dressing and for anointing gambler's charms. Hurston claimed to have participated in the ritual killing of a black cat for this purpose -- but she did not reveal whether her lost lover returned to her. (For several much more congenial ways to return a lost lover, see the page on love spells.)

The reputation of the black cat bone spell is so great that even today, when animal sacrifice is not condoned by society, several hoodoo supply companies offer black cat bones and black cat oil in their catalogues. Out of curiousity, i bought a so-called black cat bone mojo bag and a vial of black cat oil from one supplier and was amused to see that the bone in question was the broken end of a chicken thigh that had been spray-painted black, while the oil was lightly fragranced mineral oil. I was relieved to learn that no cats had been killed to satisfy my curiosity -- but amazed at the arrogance of the lie that was being perpetuated by the seller, who also offers bat's hearts, cat's eyes, and swallow's hearts for sale -- undoubtedly all gallinaceous in origin (unless the "cat's eyes" are really cat's eye shells, which come from a mollusk).




During the 1930s, when the belief that an elephant statue with its trunk upward was lucky became endemic in the USA, the "trunk up" belief was spread to the black cat with "tail up" as well and magic candles in the form of a black cat with tail up began appearing in mail order hoodoo catalogues in the 1940s, if not earlier. However, tail up black cat statues did not become popular -- probably becasue there was so much "bad luck" attached to them in the general population -- so black cat figural hoodoo candles, which are generally burned for luck in gambling, are all that remain of this belief.

In researching the traditional formulas used for hoodoo style oils, incenses, bath crystals, and sachet powders, it became obvious to me that some sort of Black Cat Brand product would be wanted by gamblers and practitioners of the dark arts. However, because i am not willing to kill cats -- nor to lie to the public by selling painted chicken bones -- i have originated a Black Cat formula that contains black cat hair and certain botanical substances and am selling this authentic preparation under the Lucky Mojo brand name.

At the time of this writing, three black cats supply all the hair used in these products, courtesy of their owners, who collect it while grooming them. These cats are Mama, Santana, and Little Black Cat (owned by my friends and family members). The Lucky Mojo Black Cat label is adapted from vintage packaging of the 1930s.

Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Oil Order Black Cat Oil from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Incense-Powder Order Black Cat Incense from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Bath-Crystals Order Black Cat Bath Crystals from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Sachet-Powder Order Black Cat Sachet Powder from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Glass-Encased-Vigil-Light-Candle Order Black Cat Vigil Light Candles from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Spell-Kit-at-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company Order a Black Cat Spell Kit from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now
Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Black-Cat-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Mojo-Bag Order a Black Cat Mojo Bag from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Order-Now

For more pages on cats, see:

cats, black
black cat on Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI
black cat figural candles
black cat image on hoodoo votive candles
black cat on Sonny Boy hoodoo oils and incenses
black cat on Mexican package amulet
black cat bone in hoodoo conjure bags
cat's eye shell as evil eye protectant
the Beckoning Cat or money-drawing cat of Japan


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Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races

Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode
Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode
Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards

Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons in book form
Hoodoo Heritage Conjure Workshops: hands-on rootwork classes, lectures, and seminars
Lucky Mojo Community Forum: an online message board for our occult spiritual shop customers
Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour Radio Show: learn free magic spells via podcast download
Lucky Mojo Videos: see video tours of the Lucky Mojo shop and get a glimpse of the spirit train
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The Lucky Mojo Curio Co.: spiritual supplies for hoodoo, magick, witchcraft, and conjure
Lucky Mojo Publishing: books on magic with herbs, roots and candles, sugar spells, bone divination, and more!
Herb Magic: complete line of Lucky Mojo Herbs, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, with sample spells
Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop: antique, vintage, and contemporary fortune telling tea cups

catherine yronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages
nagasiva yronwode: tyaginator, nigris (333), Haramullah, nocTifer, lorax666, Troll Towelhead, !
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards
Jackie Payne: Shades of Blues: a San Francisco Bay Area blues singer

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Arcane Archive: thousands of archived Usenet posts on religion, magic, spell-casting, mysticism, and spirituality
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: psychic reading, conjure, and hoodoo root doctor services
Candle Ministry: Missionary Independent Spiritual Church deacons will set lights for your petitions and prayers
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Crystal Silence League: online prayer request network; upload your prayers here and pray for the welfare of others
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Hoodoo Psychics: connect online or call 1-888-4-HOODOO for instant readings now from a member of AIRR
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; Smallest Church in the World
Mystic Tea Room: tea leaf reading, teacup divination, and a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Satan Service: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including ex-slave narratives & interviews
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective, plus shopping
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology