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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by catherine yronwode
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ILLAS, CANOPAS, MULLAS, and CHACRAS

Much in the style of the Bolivian and Peruvian munachi sex charm and munaiwarmi marital fidelity charm is a class of soapstone talismans once used among the Quechua and Aymara people for ensuring the reporductive fertility of domestic animals. Called illas or canopas in Quechua and mullas in Aymara, these are small figurative charms used to ensure fertility, love, and other of life's benefits. Those which are made for the purpose of increasing the fecundity and health of flocks of herd animals are also sometimes called chacras, that word meaning field or pasture and the charms being activated by burial in a field or pasture.

I ran across three very old illas of the chacras type in 1995 at a store called The Uptown Gallery in Sebastopol, California, which specializes in antique folk art and textiles from around the world. Two of the illas depicted wooly sheep with horns, and the third -- which i bought -- was what the store owner called a "twin illa," specifically designed to encourage fecundity by depicting two animals side by side. In this case the species was cattle, and the carving, about 1 3/4" tall, 2" long, and 1 1/4" wide, is of two horned bovines, one slightly smaller than the other, joined along their flanks.

The carving is schematic, like that of a munachi, but unlike contemporary Quechua stone charms, it is smooth and stylish in execution, resembling an ancient (not recent) Zuni fetish. The cattle's legs are not depicted at all (neither were the sheep's legs on the two single-sheep illas). The powerful forward-leaning bovine bodies seem to rise from the earth as monoliths, and their heads are disproportionately small; their horns, however, are neatly detailed, making their species at once recognizable.

Soapstone illas like this are not made or used anymore, but old ones are dug up out of the fields during plowing, and sold to the folk-art trade. Mine shows signs of long burial in the soil, the once-white stone discoloured and a bit of the leading edge broken off and worn. According to the store owner, it is at least 100 years old and may be older, but it dates no farther back than the Spanish conquest of Peru.

Being a Taurus (the sign of the bull) with Gemini (the sign of the Twins) in the ascendent, and Venus conjunct Mars (a significator of sexual union) also prominent on my horoscope, i was very taken with these "twin cattle" and their use in magical fecundation, and so i paid the price -- $40.00 -- to own this very old charm. May my herds increase!

Not all pre-Columbian Quechua illas were used for fertility. One of the notable exceptions was the weaver's hand amulet, carved in the form of the hand of a weaver holding a beater-stick. Like the illas used for fertility, ancient weaver's hand votive amulets were buried in the ground, but in this case the purpose was to increase the manual dexterity of the petitioner. A modern derivation of the Quechua soapstone weaver's hand amulet be seen in a Peruvian package amulet of the "collage" type.

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OCCULTISM, MAGIC SPELLS, MYSTICISM, RELIGION, SYMBOLISM
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
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Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
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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

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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
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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

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