In the 1950s, my parents divorced and my father moved to Sacramento, where he became an oil-field cartographer for Standard Oil. I was raised in Berkeley, where my mother was a library student and later a librarian and my step-father, Bill Glozer, was first a pastry chef and later ran an antiquarian book store with my mother. I spent a couple of years in Santa Monica when my mother worked at the Department of Special Collections at UCLA and then a year travelling through Europe with my folks. During the mid to late 1950s i became interested in folklore, ancient Egypt, sorcery, and popular music -- which for me meant rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and rock'n'roll up to around the time of Buddy Holly's death.
During the early 1960s i further formed my musical tastes, which have remained unvaried to this date: i like rural acoustic blues, jug bands, string bands, and early country music, as well as offshoots from these forms such as gospel quartets (both white and black), early New Orleans jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, Norteno, and some post-War electric blues. Anomalously, i am also very fond of Bing Crosby prior to 1934 and Hoagy Carmichael at any point in his life. In 1965 i went to Shimer College in Mount Carroll, Illinois, as an early entrant, before completing High School -- but soon dropped out and hit the road with my boyfriend Tom Hall. During the latter half of the 1960s i travelled around the United States and lived at Tolstoy Peace Farm, a rural anarchist commune in Washington state. I joined the I. W. W.; i protested the war in Vietnam; i attended the Great Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park. I went to jail in Spokane for growing marijuana. I travelled to England to fulfill a dream in which i was told i should seek out John Lennon. I met my long-time partner Peter Paskin, a fellow blues music and natural history fanatic, and we adopted the made-up surname Yronwode, and since that time i have been known as cat yronwode. In 1969 Peter Yronwode and i left Berkeley and moved first to the little town of Forestville and then to Equitable Farm, an anarchist commune in Mendocino County, California. There we had a daughter named Cicely Yronwode, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when she was very young.
In 1971 Peter and i had another daughter, Althaea yronwode. We spent much of the 1970s raising goats and sheep in the Missouri Ozarks on an 80-acre commune called the Garden of Joy Blues, south of the tiny town of Birch Tree. We were subsistence farmers, using 19th and early 20th century technology and home-schooling our children. There was no running water, and the only electrical appliance we used was a battery-operated cassette tape recorder, to play our precious compilations of rural acoustic blues. To supplement our home-grown garden produce and meats, the group of us earned money by hauling hay, hand spinning, and making quilts. I started seriously pursuing a career as a freelance writer, beginning with articles on old-time crafts and farming techniques. This blurry picture was taken in 1972 at the Garden of Joy Blues. I was 25 years old.
After Peter and i broke up, Althaea and i left the Garden of Joy Blues and lived at various sites in the boondocks off Highway 60 between Birch Tree and Mountain Grove, Missouri. It was during these years that i first began to write about popular culture for a living and to practice and write about a 19th century form of sacred sexuality called karezza. I still maintain my links to the people i knew during those days.
In 1980 i began to write a weekly column about comic books called Fit to Print, which continued through the mid-1990s. I edited comic strip reprints for Ken Pierce and comic book reprints for Kitchen Sink Press. In 1981 i wrote a book called "The Art of Will Eisner," about the works of a popular cartoonist. Eventually i wrote and edited a number of other titles of a similar sort for Kitchen Sink Press.
Through connections in the comics field i met Dean Mullaney and we were attracted to one another because of our mutual interest in comic books. For about 12 years -- from 1981 to 1993 -- Dean and i were partners and we ran a comic book and trading card publishing company called Eclipse Enterprises which had as its central mission the pioneering of creators' rights for comics writers and artists, similar to what creators enjoyed in the field of book publishing. In 1983 i co-wrote a book on the history of female cartoonists called "Women and the Comics."
That same year i persuaded Dean to move with me back to my home state of California and i became Eclipse's editor-in-chief. The comic book company grew steadily, but in 1986 our house (and the entire town of Guerneville) was flooded and we lost almost everything we owned. We were married in 1987 and bought a house together in Forestville, near where Peter and i had briefly lived in 1969. The Eclipse office and warehouse grew to include 14 staff employees and about 200 freelance writers, artists, letterers, and colourists. This picture shows me at a comic book convention in 1986. I was 39 years old.
By the early 1990s Althaea was grown up and had gone off to college at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1993 Dean left me; in 1994, shortly after our divorce, Eclipse went bankrupt. As i write this, i am listening to a CD that replicates an LP i had back in the 1960s -- a collection of rural acoustic blues from Mississippi recorded on 78s during the 1920s. This is typical of my course through life, which displays many superficial changes and a modest number of accomplishments in the ever-unfolding present, but always seems to have been anchored in the time span between 1924 and 1938, somewhere in the rural central South. I have not altered my basic attitudes toward politics, science, religion, philosophy, metaphysics, sexuality, diet, music, or country living since i was an eccentric, bohemian child. Aside from changing my surname to yronwode, my life has been entirely devoid of sudden surprises; i have made no sudden conversions to charismatic Christianity, radical feminism, Scientology, vegetarianism, alcoholism, or the Republican Party. I have neither gained nor lost weight or height. In fact, except that i have aged physically, memorized a very great deal of trivial information, found steady employment, picked up a bit of self-confidence, and bought a house, you will see in me the very same person i was at 17, when i first left home. I support myself by writing, editing, graphic design, and typesetting in the fields of popular culture, comics, collectibles, magic spells, hoodoo, herb magic, and gardening. At right is the cover of a book i wrote in 1998 called "The California Gardener's Book of Lists."
From 1993 to 2007, i worked in the production department of Claypool Comics while simultaneously owning and and operating two online businesses, The Comics Warehouse (which closed in 2003 with the final sale of all Eclipse back-issue stock) and The Lucky Mojo Curio Co., an occult shop. In addition, i have created and am maintaining a web site called southern-spirits.com, a scholarly research archive for academic students of hoodoo rootwork. This picture, taken in 1998, shows me making a mojo bag in the Lucky Mojo spiritual supply store.
Althaea graduated from UC Berkeley in 1996 and from UCSF Medical School in 2002. She is now a surgeon in the San Francisco Bay Area. When i was 50, i performed a very serious love spell that led directly to my living in tantric partnership with tyagi nagasiva, whom i first met through the internet in 1994 and then physically in 1998. When he moved in, he brought with him his best friend, Eris, the Doggess of Discord, a beautiful black curly-coated Portuguese Water Dog. Our chickens were two 2 black Minorca-Polish cross hens, a reddish Minorca-Polish-Sex-Link cross hen, a grey Minorca-Polish-Sex-Link cross hen, 2 brownish American Auracana hens, 2 silver-laced Wyandotte hens, and a silver-laced Wyandotte rooster. Our cat was Kitty Boy Floyd, a long-haired feral grey tabby.
Our home is Arkaotika, an 1875 Victorian farmhouse in Forestville, California, surrounded by a two-acre garden and orchard. The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. occult shop is located on the premises. We drive an art car called the California Mojo Car, which is covered all over with lucky, magical, and religious statuary. In addition to vegetables and fruit trees, i raise lots of roses, especially old-fashioned ramblers and climbers. Our house is full of books, magazines, pamphlets, and comics. I also collect labels, advertising art of the pre WW II period, Catalin jewelry and other Catalin artifacts, Fiesta and other Homer Laughlin dinnerware lines, McCoy pottery, Roseville pottery, Mary Engelbreit chinaware, folkloric lucky amulets, Victorian and reproduction blown-glass Christmas tree ornaments, and linen-era postcards of roadside attractions. This picture, taken in 2000, shows me with my daughter Althaea.
As the 2000s began, nagasiva and i were married. The ceremony took place December 31st, 1999, through January 1st, 2000, at June's and Valerie's home in Milpitas, California, and it has its own Wedding Web Page where you can read the entire ceremony and see a series of pictures. As a result of our marriage and in order to signify "a changed relationship with the Cosmos" tyagi legally altered his name to nagasiva bryan w yronwode. This picture shows siva and me snuggling at our pre-nuptial party. His nieces Ariel and Beverly were the originators of my custom of neatly plaiting his beard in numerous small braids, which he wears as his everyday style. Because this party was a special event, i wove black ribbons into his beard and each braid terminates in a small silver jingle-bell. I am wearing a necklace of Thai penis amulets. I was 52 and he was 38 at the time.
In 2002 i published a new book, Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: a materia magica of African-American conjure. A few months later, our beloved Eris, to whom the book had been dedicated, died at the age of 14 1/2. One year after that, we acquired another Portuguese Water Dog, the darling Sophie, another black curly girl. We were joined by another cat as well, Copper Kitty, a short-haired, long-limbed orange gelding. In 2003 i wrote the The Hoodoo Rootwork Correspndence Coursec and in 2004 we started up In 2003 i wrote the The Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour radio show. In 2006 we founded Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, and the church in turn gave rise to the annual Hoodoo Heritage Festival and the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers. My daughter and her husband David brought new happiness to us with the birth of their sons Max in 2007 and Sam in 2009. Our chicken flock waxed and waned, with Black Bantam Frizzles entering the mix as older chickens passed away.
The 2010s have been a time of social expansion. The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. added more staff and published many more books, including my own Throwing the Bones. We added the LMC Radio Network to our roster of creative endeavours, and the church forged ahead with a new online prayer chain and internet presence, the Crystal Silence League as well as publishing more book titles. including my own The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic, and The Black Folder. Kitty Boy passed into spirit, as did several chickens, and our flock consisted if a Frizzled Black Bantam Cochin, a black Auraucana, and a black Silkie.
For more about me as a collector, you can rent or buy the film "Hunters and Gatherers," in which i am interviewed and in which i can be heard raving rather excitedly about "bringing order out of chaos." For a VHS copy of the film ($30, including shipping and tax), write to:
Hunt and Gather Productions
P.O. Box 10575
998 Bloor St. West
M6H 4H9 Canada
A few years ago, a friend and i were discussing our "deep levels of being" for some reason or another. Out of this discussion i produced a diagrammatic view into my own self-perceived outer, middle, and deep levels of being. These "levels" are available for browsing, should you be so inclined.
go to cat's outer levels
go to cat's middle levels
go to cat's deep levels
I guess that's about all i have to say about myself. I am 5'3" tall, i weigh 110 lbs, and so forth and so on, but since you are reading this on the web, those particular details are not of much practical use to either of us.
Thanks for reading what i write.
I am a member of AIRR: the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers
The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers (AIRR) is a gathering of professional practitioners of African American folk magic, hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork who provide psychic readings and spiritual root doctoring services to the public. AIRR promotes quality service and ethical conduct by means of accreditation and evaluation of our members. Unlike commercial online psychic reader services, AIRR is a membership-supported organization that receives no fees or kickbacks for referrals.
copyright © 1995-2009 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
Send your comments to: cat yronwode.
This is a personal web site for an
YRONWODE family member.
However, most of my writing can be found at LUCKY MOJO,
a large domain that is organized into a number of interlinked web sites, each with its own distinctive theme and look.
Here are some of the LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:
OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
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
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; the 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
Tiger Tiger: prayer flags, singing bowls, beads, ritual religious statues, and altar tools from Thailand and Nepal
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
For free magic spells and information about how to cast them, as well as recipes for making your own magick oils, potions, and incenses, go to the Lucky Mojo Free Magic Spells Archive. The URL is http://www.luckymojo.com/spells.html and you will find hundreds of magic spells there, sorted by category, such as