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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice
by catherine yronwode
is sponsored by the
Whenever a name or image from a culture far outside the African American Christian South is encountered in the study and practice of hoodoo rootwork three questions arise in the mind:
Such is the case with the many Asian-made or Asian-formulated spiritual supply products bearing the name of Buddha -- in hoodoo usually referred to as the Lucky Buddha -- and such is the case with Japanese Lucky 7, the name given to a line of old-school crystal salts for bathing, putting in the laundry, or performing a ritual floor wash; self-lighting incense powders for fumigating an area where one wishes to increase one's luck; sachet powders for sprinkling on money to be spent gambling; and anointing oil to wear on the body or for dressing candles. Like the rest of the Lucky Mojo line, these products contain genuine herbs and herbal essential oils, and by the late 1920s they were distributed nationwide to hoodoo practitioners living in rural and small-town America, far beyond the regions of greatest Asian American settlement such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Japanese Lucky 7 is one of a long list of related formulas that also includes Fast Luck, Lucky 13, Lucky Number, Lucky Buddha, Lodestone, Magnet, Attraction, Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream, Lady Luck, Three Jacks and a King, Lucky Hand, and our signature-scent, Lucky Mojo products. Each one of these old-time recipes is slightly different -- some placing emphasis on magical conjuration, others on magnetic attraction, herbal allies, spirit contacts, spell-casting, or speedy results, or all of these combined with good fortune and luck at ritual, occult, and ceremonial workings -- but they have in common the underlying aim of enhancing the practitioner's luckiness and ability to draw in that which is desired from the external world.
So who or what are the "Japanese Lucky Seven"? Seven herbs? Seven scents? Seven formulas in one? No.... not quite. The Japanese Lucky Seven are seven gods who are venerated in Japan's indigenous ethnic folk religion, variously known as Kami worship or Shinto. Their name in Japanese is "Shichi-fuku-jin," which can be translated either as "Seven Gods of Luck" or "Seven Gods of Happiness."
The Shichi-fuku-jin are often pictures riding together on a small "treasure ship" about the size of a large row-boat, that sails the seas. Onboard the craft they display their various magical implements and symbols, which incluse a hat of invisibility, a roll of brocade cloth, an inexhaustible purse, keys to the divine treasure-house, a musical instrument, scrolls or books, a lucky rain hat, and a robe of feathers. Representations of the Shichi-fuku-jin are also depicted individually. Carved of wood or bone (or, in earlier times, of ivory) they often take on the form of lucky amulets, which are used as fasteners to pin together kimono robes.
The seven Japanese gods of good luck and happiness are probably an expansion of earlier Chinese deities who fulfill the same functions. There are five of the Chinese lucky deities. They are dressed in the red robes of civil servants, and each is usually accompanied by a bat. In fact, due to the similarity between the sound of the word "bat" (fu) and the sound of the word "happiness" (fu), five bats flying together is a common symbol for the five Chinese gods of luck.
The popularity and acceptance of spiritual supplies bearing the name of the Japanese deities can be partially explained by looking into the tremendous upswelling of interest in Asian cultural artifacts that took place in America from the late 19th century up through the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Shops on both the East Coast and West Coast of the United States sold Japanese and Chinese ceramics, toys, fabric and clothing, novelties, gifts, statuary, incense, perfumes, and cosmetics, and through national magazine advertising and mail-order shipments, these products became well-known throughout the nation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to email@example.com (DHAND302), firstname.lastname@example.org (WeldonKees / Paul Edson) and his brother "who has a master's degree in Japanese culture and language," and to "The Dictionary of Symbolism" by Hans Biedermann.
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|Order Japanese Lucky 7 Incense from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
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|Order Japanese Lucky 7 Sachet Powder from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
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