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JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT
and
JOHN THE CONQUEROR SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES

"As an amulet, JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT has no equal. It is used for Drawing Luck, gaining Mastery, and Strengthening Male Nature. We make a dressing oil from chips of the root, and incorporate it into sachet powders, incense, and crystals for bath or floor wash. All our JOHN THE CONQUEROR supplies contain pieces of real root!"
-- The Lucky Mojo Curio Co. catalogue

High John the Conqueror root is one of the staples of African-American folk magic. Its use in mojo hands is as ubiquitous as its qualities are varied, and its very name signifies power and prosperity to many.

Who was John the Conqueror and what is the root named after him? Ethnographers, especially those influenced by Zora Neale Hurston, say that he was a black slave whose life -- perhaps a real life that was embellished in the telling, perhaps a fictional life entirely imagined -- was an inspiration to slaves who wanted to rebel against their masters but could not do so openly. John, said to be the son of an African king, was in captivity, but he never became subservient, and his cleverness at tricking his master supplied many a story with a pointed moral. If he was a real being, he soon acquired some of the characteristics of mythical trickster figures like the Native American Coyote, the African-American Bre'r Rabbit, and the West African deity known variously as Elegua, Legba, and Eshu. He gave -- only to take away. He bet -- and never lost. He played dumb -- but he was never outsmarted. The reputation of High John is so great that, as recorded by the folklorist Harry Middleton Hyatt in the 1930s, just reciting the words "John over John" and "John the Conqueror" is a powerful spell of magical protection against being hoodooed.

THE THREE JOHN ROOTS

There are three roots named for John the Conqueror. Each is in a separate botanical family and has a different method of use. 

HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT

High John the Conqueror is the most prized of the three John roots. When Willie Dixon sings in "Hootchie Cootchie Man" that he has "a John the Conqueroo," he means a John the Conqueror root -- the hard, woody tuber of Ipomoea jalapa, a member of the morning glory family, and a relative of the common sweet potato. Fresh John the Conqueror root has a unique, spicy fragrance, reminiscent of a combination of cherry-scented pipe tobacco, vetivert, cedarwood, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and mace. Like many other ipomoeas, some of which are psychedelic, it is rich in alkaloids, but in magical practice, the root is not ingested, probably because it is an extremely powerful laxative. Instead it is used whole -- carried on the person as a pocket piece or as an ingredient in a mojo bag, especially one designed to draw money, bring luck at games of chance, or enhance personal sexual power. The root is generally available in the form on High John the Conqueror Small Whole Root, High John the Conqueror Large Whole Root High John the Conqueror Extra Large Whole Root and High John the Conqueror Root Chips and Pieces.
 
JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT CHIPS AND PIECES
For use in luck spells and for making your own dressing oil. (See Botanical Curios for WHOLE JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT)
 •  Read about John the Conqueror Root with Free Magic Spells and Prayers
$3.00
HER-JTC-RTCH

HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT, WHOLE, SMALL
Small, 1 1/2" max., whole root, for pocket piece, mojo bag.
(We also sell John the Conqueror Oil for anointing roots.)
 •  Read about John the Conqueror Root with Free Magic Spells and Prayers
$5.00
BOT-JOH-WRSM

HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT, WHOLE, LARGE
Large, 2 1/2" max., whole root, for pocket piece, mojo bag.
(We also sell John the Conqueror Oil for anointing roots.)
 •  Read about John the Conqueror Root with Free Magic Spells and Prayers
$7.00
BOT-JOH-WRLG

HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT, WHOLE, EXTRA-LARGE
Extra-Large, whole root, for pocket piece, mojo bag.
(We also sell John the Conqueror Oil for anointing roots.)
 •  Read about John the Conqueror Root with Free Magic Spells and Prayers
$9.00
BOT-JOH-WHXL

DIXIE JOHN, SOUTHERN JOHN, LOW JOHN ROOT

Southern John or Dixie John Root (rarely called "The Conqueror") is the root of the common Wake-Robin or Trillium grandiflorum and related species. These spring-flowering members of the lily family have long been used medicinally, and among Euro-American herbalists, Low John is sold medicinally under the name Birth-Root or Beth-Root and used as an aid in childbirth and with menstrual cramps. However, in African-American folk magic, Low JohnLow John is not ingested. It is carried on the person, usually for help in family matters and love. For instance, it is an ingredient in Dixie John Root Spiritual Supplies. and Dixie Love Spiritual Supplies.
 
SOUTHERN JOHN (DIXIE JOHN, LOW JOHN) ROOT WHOLE
Carried in a bag or brewed into tea for luck in love, sex, and family matters.
 •  Read about Southern John Root with Free Magic Spells and Prayers
$3.00
HER-SOU-ROOT

CHEWING JOHN, LITTLE JOHN, COURT CASE ROOT

The third John root is Chewing John, sometimes called Little John to Chew or Court Case Root. This is Alpina galanga, otherwise called Galangal. It is a member of the ginger family and is medicinally used as a stomachic and carminative. In African-American hoodoo practice, its pleasant gingery taste is part of its charm and, unlike High John Root or Low John Root, Chewing John Root is actually chewed and the juice swallowed. A typical spell prescribes its use in court case magic: Chew the root, swallow the juice and discretely spit the "cud" onto the courtroom floor before the judge walks in; he will decide the case in your favour. Court Case Root is also available ground up, in the form of Little John to Chew Powder, for those who wish to use it as a sprinkle on offertory candles or in honey jars for court case magic.
 
LITTLE JOHN TO CHEW, CHEWING JOHN (GALANGAL) ROOT, POWDER
Chew and spit to win in court.
$3.00
HER-LJC-PWDR

LITTLE JOHN TO CHEW, CHEWING JOHN (GALANGAL) ROOT, WHOLE
Chew and spit to win in court.
$3.00
HER-LJC-ROOT

WORKING WITH WHOLE JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOTS

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John the Conqueror roots are primarily "male" roots because they resemble the testicles of brown-skinned men. When carried as a lucky amulet, a man's root is always whole. No African American man i know with a family background in hoodoo practice would walk into my shop and buy a broken High John root, even if it was as big as a baby's head and cost two dollars!

The whole roots that we carry at our Lucky Mojo occult shop are available for examination by walk-in customers so that they may select the one that "speaks" to them. I had a man in here once who drove about an hour and a half to see us, just to select the right root for his mojo bag. He spent almost fifteen minutes going through the hundreds of roots we had, and in my opinion, he picked out the absolutely most perfect root in the shop, without a doubt. It was so good that if i had seen it first, i'd probably have kept it for display. He got a bargain at $5.00 -- for that was a really good root.

John the Conqueror chips and pieces are only used in making spiritual supplies. That's why you may get more weight in a bag of chips -- even as much as many times the weight of a small, symmetrical whole root.

To obtain the maximum results from a whole John the Conqueror root, it is customary to "fix" it, either as a pocket piece or in a mojo. Here are a few of the many ways a John the Conqueror can be fixed:

JOHN THE CONQUEROR SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES

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High John the Conqueror is also prepared in the form of anointing oil, spiritual incense, scented sachet powders, and ritual bathing and cleaning supplies. Each bottle or packet of these spiritual supplies should contain broken pieces of the root, plus other essential herb extracts. (Beware of modern so-called "Hi-Conquering" or "Hi-John" products that are made up of nothing more than synthetic oils, dyes, and fragrances; real High John the Conqueror spiritual supplies MUST contain pieces of the root.)

High John the Conqueror Oil is used to "feed" John the Conqueror roots and to dress mojo bags, and offertory candles that are used in spells of commanding, personal mastery, and courage. It can also be worn by a man on his body, to strengthen his nature or help him when he is gambling. Along with Lodestone Oil, Van Van Oil, and Fast Luck Oil, High John the Conqueror Oil is probably the most traditional of all hoodoo formulas, and it is still among the most popular.

John the Conqueror is one of a family of related formulas that also includes Nature, Power, Master, Master Key, Commanding, African Juju, and Crucible of Courage products. Each one of these old-time recipes is slightly different -- some placing emphasis on sheer strength, others on male virility, leadership qualities, or mental force, or all of these combined with good fortune and luck at love and games of chance -- but they have in common the underlying aim of enhancing the magician's internally generated forces, enabling action upon the external world.

The above formulas may, of course, be mixed and matched in any way that suits the practitioner, or may be teamed up with formulas from another line of goods, such as a financial or money luck formula like Money Drawing, or a passion and sexual love spell formula like Love Me.

How you choose to use John the Conqueror spiritual supplies is, of course, up to you, but one very traditional method is to employ them in conjunction with the 23rd Psalm, while praying for all that is desired.

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PSALM 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil for thou art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil.
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 
Amen. 

GENERAL JOHN THE CONQUEROR SPELL SUGGESTIONS

There are thousands of specific spells that employ a variety of hoodoo spiritual supplies. Here are some of the ways you can use John the Conqueror brand spiritual supplies to attract the luck you desire.

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PREPARATION

You may perform spells for increasing luck, serendipity, fortunate coincidences, and acquiring whatever you desire at any time that is convenient. If the need is not urgent, you can take time to align your spell-casting with cosmic forces and work by a Waxing Moon Phase, so that the Moon grows bigger while you work. But don't let the Moon Phases hold you back: if the timing is not right, you can do the work according to the Planetary Rulers of the days of the week, the Atrological Sgns of the Zodiac, or whenever it is best for you.

ANOINTING AND DRESSING WITH RITUAL CONJURE OIL

John the Conqueror hoodoo oil can be used as a bath oil, to dress candles for magic rites and rituals, as an additive to oil-based furniture polishes, or to wear on your own body as a magical perfume. The genuine and authentic herbs and roots in the bottle are your assurance that this is a hand-made conjure oil and not a chemical-scented factory product.

BATHING WITH HERBAL BATH CRYSTALS

Before dawn dissolve half the packet of John the Conqueror Bath Crystals into a tub of hot water. Pour the water over your head 9 times as you say the 23rd Psalm and name what you want. Air-dry yourself and collect a basin of the used bath water, which now has your essence in it. Dress in fresh, clean clothes, carry the basin of bath-water to a crossroads and throw the water toward the sunrise in the East. Walk back home and don't look back.

SPRINKLING WITH SACHET POWDERS

Dust your body, your important paperwork, or your socks and shoes with John the Conqueror Sachet Powder, or sprinkle a pinch of John the Conqueror Sachet Powder in the four corners of the room where you plan to meet with those whom you wish to influence. Each time, say the 23rd Psalm and name what you want.

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SMOKING WITH INCENSE

Make the John the Conqueror Incense Powders into cones (use a twist of paper or a small candle snuffer cone, pack the incense in with your finger, and turn it out of the cone) or place it loose on a brazier. Many people find that keeping a pot of Incense smoking while they work increases their ability to break through into a spiritual space or magical way of working.

SETTING CANDLES AS PRAYER LIGHTS

Carve your full name on an Offertory Candle and dress the candle with John the Conqueror Oil. As you dress it, speak aloud your petition, such as, "With the help and grace of God, may i achieve what i require and desire."

You may burn the candle in sections (generally 15 minutes at a time) or let it burn through to the end, no matter how long it takes. If you burn it in sections, you may fnd it a good idea to light and burn the incense each time as well.

If you want the spell to be ongoing, or want a light at home to "back you up" while you are about your business, you would be better off to use a fixed and prepared John the Conqueror Glass Encased Vigil Candle. Write your petition on paper, cross it with your name written 9 times, and set the Vigil Light in a safe place, such as the sink, bath tub, or shower stall, where it will not cause any problems while you are out.

DRESSING YOUR CLOTHING

Whenever it is convenient for you, dissolve the remaining half of the bath crystals in hot water and add the liquid to the rinse water when you do your laundry, especially your underwear and stockings. When you wear these clothes, you will be "dressed" for luck.

CLEANING UP

It is important to properly dispose of ritual remains. Because these are magic spells for good luck, you may want to keep the remains around your home. Wrap up any left-over candle wax, incense ashes, and used sachet powders in a piece of cloth. Secure and tie it with thread or string. Bury it in your back yard.


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HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT
IN THE AMERICAN HOODOO TRADITION

How did African slaves and their descendents come to believe that the root of a wild morning glory vine native to Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida was a powerful magical herb? The answer probably lies in the little-documented but widely-acknowledged contact between captive Africans and the Native Americans from whom they acquired local botanical knowledge.

Any intelligent herb doctor or shamanic healer who was transported to a new environment would seek out a list of regional plants whose uses corresponded to the ones with which he or she was familiar. Thus, it is only reasonable to assume that Ipomoea jalapa was the designated surrogate for a West African plant with similar magical or medical properties.

The Native Americas made use of various regional species of Ipomoea both as a laxative and for magic. To the Iroquois Indians, the plant was "Man Root" or "Man In the Earth" -- and men carried it while hunting to strengthen themselves and increase their endurance. It was even said that if a man rubbed his root before hitting another man in a fight, he could kill his opponent with one blow.

Because the character of the person or mythical figure called John the Conqueror partakes of the tricksterish and way-opening qualities of the orisha and the loa known variously as Elegua, Legba, and Eshu, it is not unreasonable to search for a hypothetical African fore-runner to John the Conquer root in the herbal folklore of Africa.

It may be that there are three John-roots in the African-American hoodoo tradition because each in its own way substituted for some part of an African root that incorporated diverse qualities. That is, an African root that could be chewed for male power was analogous to the Iroquois Man Root -- except that Man Root could not be chewed, so Chewing John was added to the retinue of John Roots to cover for that aspect of the African knowledge-base. Likewise the African root was used to help women in childbirth -- so the obvious substitution by Native shaman for this would be Birth Root or Dixie John.

It is also possible that the relative rarity and expense of whole Ipomoea jalapa roots made substitutions by unscrupulous root doctors inevitable. The fact than early ads for this plant sometimes carried the phrase "True High John the Conqueror Root" seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of widespread fraud.

By the 1930s, spiritual supplies incorporating John the Conqueror root as an ingredient were sold nationally by the primarily Jewish chemists and herbalists who supplied the urban black market. Probably the most popular of these compounded formulae was John the Conqueror Root in Oil. Each bottle of essential oil contained a small piece of High John root; the oil was used for anointing mojo hands and dressing altar candles. Another popular product of the era was John the Conqueror Perfume, worn by men to attract women and for luck in games of chance; it too was packaged with a piece of fragrant root in each bottle. A third product, John the Conqueror Herbal Tonic for Men, was an actual medicine, said to "restore lost nature" (sexual potency); in addition to John the Conqueror root, it contained other herbs traditionally believed to increase male sexual vigour.

After World War Two, commercial manufacturers of hoodoo spiritual supplies gradually began to leave out the actual botanical ingredients that had originally given the products their names -- and their power. Today most John the Conqueror anointing oils, sachet powders, floor washes, 7-day candles, and incense (except those manufactured by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.) have never been in the same factory with a John the Conqueror root. Contemporary mass-manufacturers merely sell artificially-scented petroleum-based oils under the John the Conqueror brand name, even going so far as to replace the image of the root with that of a bearded Caucasian king wearing a Medieval circlet crown, after the style of Charlemagne. This phoney "John the Conqueror" image obscures the authentic derivation of High John as a kingly African who was sold into slavery but nevertheless outwitted his captors. It also obscures the widespread ethnobotanical use of various Ipomoea species for medicinal and psychedelic purposes.

HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR ROOT
IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN BLUES LYRICS

Chicago blues musicians Willie Dixon (left) and Muddy Waters (right) have probably done more to familiarize white folks with the magical uses of John the Conqueror roots (and mojo hands) than any book on folklore ever could. Here are Dixon's lyrics for "My John the Conquer Root," recorded by Waters in 1964. Thanks to Gorgen Antonsson of Stockholm for the discographical information.
MY JOHN THE CONQUER ROOT

My pistol may snap, my mojo is frail
But i rub my root, my luck will never fail
When i rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain't nothin' she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root

I was accused of murder in the first degree
The judge's wife cried, "Let the man go free!"
I was rubbin' my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain't nothin' she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root

Oh, i can get in a game, don't have a dime,
All i have to do is rub my root, i win every time
When i rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain't nothin' she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root

#13473: My John The Conquer Root (Willie Dixon)
Muddy Waters, vcl; J.T. Brown, ten sax; James Cotton, hca; Otis Spann, pno;
Pee Wee Madison, gtr; Milton Rector, bs; S.P. Leary, dms
Recorded: Chicago, Ill., Oct 1964
Released: Chess 1914 [45], Chess (UK) 8001 [45], Chess (UK) CD RED BOX 3

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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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