In cataloguing articles for this archive, i have been guilty at times of straying from the intent conveyed by the accidentally-bestowed name "Lucky W" -- for in addition to lucky charms and amulets, i have included apotropaic or protective talismans, and even religious icons from religions that are not my own. (This is easy to do, for i practice no religion at the present time.) Tonight, March 9th, 1996, i feel a little strange about the blurring of lines between objects designed to draw forth the good in life and those designed to repel the bad -- and especially the way in which i, a cultural outsider to almost every culture, including the one into which i was nominally born, have treated the icons and idols of certain religions as manifestations of folk belief, suitable for harvesting from the flea markets of the world and placing upon my window sill.
Religion first: Most folkloristic magic-making is the remnant of some religion or other, and the entities we call mythic figures today were the worshipped gods and goddesses of yore. Saint Expedite may be really weird (no; i take that back -- Saint Expedite, with his dead crow and his upraised cross, IS really weird), but Saint Martin Caballero is just another saint, isn't he? Simply because a million Mexicans paste his picture on horseshoes wrapped in red thread and covered with sequins and tack them up on walls to draw fast money, that doesn't make him less a saint...or does it? The nine-headed red and gold Ganesha on my window sill is holy to someone, is he not, son of Shiva and Parvati that he is, nine trunks waving, eighteen eyes staring at me? And yet, in India, where he can most easily claim divinity, his swastika-bedecked statue is placed on altars for luck, to open opportunities, to bring success.
Can a saint be a lucky charm? Can a god? Is it fair of me, born to be a Jew, to keep a hamsa hand beside a phallic California Indian charmstone replica, a Saint Christopher medal, an ancient Egyptian djed pillar amulet representing the spine of Osiris, and a walnut shell carved with 108 Buddhas? Am i playing fast and loose with people's fondest hopes for an ordered world, an afterlife, a path to heaven? Am i a consumer of religion?
Perhaps -- but if i am, so are the the many people who worship at the altars of luck-gods and protector-goddesses; who subscribe to Reverend Ike's Blessing Plan; and who, while paying lip service to some sky-borne thunderer or sea-borne mother, also carry a buckeye nut, a rabbit foot, a piece of John the Conquerer root.
Saint Dymphna, patroness of the mentally ill, watch over my dear friend; Caffeina, awaken him; Legba, open a way for him at the game of chance that is life; and may the sacred vulva of the moon goddess keep him safe.
Ah, "keep him safe;" there it is -- the inverse of "let him win the lottery" or "may his love-life be fulfilling." One side of my favourite lucky coins reads, "Good Luck Will Accompany the Bearer." The other side reads, "The All Seeing Eye Guards You From Evil."
Evil has never much troubled me, actually; i am not of the paranoid persuasion. I have known a lot of sorrow in my life, but i seem to be incapable of reading random bad chance as the work of enemies or evil spirits. I search for good luck, i'll admit it, but i seldom have personal use for talismanic shields against bad luck. The jinx is not on me. And yet, to tell the truth, many, many people do feel the jinx, the curse, the bad luck spell, the hellhound on their trail.
Worse still, some people seek to place the jinx on others; luck is not enough for them; they want to force others to do their will. To this end they may use amulets, charms, and talismans, augmented by oils, incense, and candles. This is magic, not luck, however, and although i am cataloguing it to a certain extent, i try to do so only when -- as in hoodoo practice -- such magic overlaps considerably with the use of amulets to encourage beneficent synchronicity and prevent malevolent synchronicity.
Apotropaic charms, those which repel accidental or intentional evil, are by definition never "lucky," but they are as commonly encountered at the flea market of life as amulets designed to foster fun and fortune. The evil eye belief, especially, has spawned a host of protective amulets. Disease has also built a ready market in apotropaic charms. The vagaries of travel, war, and other unsettling conditions leads to the use of talismanic devices. Where does the raccoon penis bone of love leave off and the mano fico of protection begin? Not in the symbols themselves; they both represent sex magic. And so i collect them both.
And so they both appear on Lucky W: in real life, a
window sill; in virtual reality, a web site.
copyright © 1995-2003 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
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OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
Yronwode Family: www.yronwode.com, the home page for the Yronwode family
Garden of Joy Blues: www.gardenofjoyblues.com, former hippie commune in the Missouri Ozarks
Satan Service: www.satanservice.org, theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists