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This online presentation of
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by catherine yronwode
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LUCKY HEART COSMETICS
AND SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES

The Lucky Heart Company of Memphis, Tennessee is one of the oldest surviving manufacturers of beauty products for the African-American market. Like many other such companies it was founded during the years immediately after World War One by Jewish American chemists and pharmacists, in this case members of the Joseph Menke and Morris Shapiro. LeRue Marx was the company's shief chemist, and for a number of years, Marcus Menke, a relative of Joseph Menke who later went on to found the Clover Horn Company in Baltimore, Maryland, was employed as a salesman. The Shapiro family still owns the company. During the 1920s and 1930s Lucky Heart added a line of supplies for hoodoo root workers, including dressing oils, self-lighting incense, and scented sachet powders.

According to Lucky Heart's former chemist and warehouse manager LeRue Marx, the Lucky Heart line of dressing oils, self-lighting incense powders, and scented sachets was made on the premises in Memphis but many of the curios sold by Lucky Heart -- especially the herbs, roots, and minerals -- were repackaged from bulk shipments purchased from Morton Neumann's Chicago-based Famous Products Distribution. Famous Products was the wholesale operation that lay behind both Neumann's hoodoo-oriented King Novelty Company and his cosmetics manufactory, Valmor Beauty Products, which sold perfumes, skin bleaches, and hair straighteners for African-Americans under the brand names Sweet Georgia Brown, Madame Jones, and Lucky Brown.

At the height of World War Two, Lucky Heart won a very profitable contract to manufacture insecticidal powders for the U.S. Army. As 1944-1946 era advertisements in the black-owned Chicago Defender newspaper make clear, fulfilling this contract temporarily put a halt to Lucky Heart's manufacture of beauty products and spiritual supplies. After the war, cosmetics production was resumed, but the hoodoo supplies eventually fell by the wayside and are no longer part of the Lucky Heart catalogue.

During the 1930s and early 1940s, The Shapiro Family's Lucky Heart products, like Neumann's King Novelty and Valmor brands, were marketed through a system of agents (a system described in greater detail in the page on hoodoo history). Striking evidence of this agent system was given to me by Chris Warnock, a traditional astrologer and root-worker who transcribed an extract from pages 55 and 56 of "Drums and Shadows: Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes," originally published in 1940 by the Savannah Unit of the Georgia Writer's Project of the WPA and republished in 1986 by the University of Georgia Press. The FWP author's attitude is condescending toward hoodoo, but the material is worth reprinting nonetheless, because of the information it contains:

Mattie Sampson, a robust young Negro woman, told us that she does an active mail order business as representative of the Lucky Heart Company, the Sweet Georgia Brown Company [Valmor], and the Curio Products Company. She supports herself comfortably by means of selling her credulous neighbors good luck perfumes, roots, lodestones, and similar charms. "Duh chahms an good luck puhfumes an powduhs do deah wuk independent of any additional hep," Mattie said. "Ef anybody believe a puticuluh chahm is wut dey need, well, dat chahm will do duh wuk."

"Mos of muh customuhs depen on special chahms tuh bring em good luck," the young woman continued. "Dey nevuh puhmit deah supply tuh give out but awduh it ovuh an ovuh. I have sevral bes selluhs. One is duh Mystic Mojo Love Sachet. Dis is sometimes call Quick Love Powduh an is guaranteed tuh make yuh populuh, successful, an happy. Yuh use it tuh attrac a pusson an tuh make dat pusson ad-myuh an love yuh. A lill uh dis powduh is wone in a bag aroun duh neck aw rubbed on duh body. But ef yuh prefuh, yuh kin sprinkle it in duh dressuh draw aw in duh bottom uh duh shoes.

"Mystic Mojo Incense is anudduh one uh muh bes selluhs. On duh box it says dis is duh same incense used by duh Hindus an Arabs an Tuks, an also duh Egyptians, an Chinese. In every box is five diffunt culluhs, each one fuh a diffunt puhpose." From a box which Mattie had on hand we took down the directions: "Work the magic spell now. Just hold Mystic Mojo in hand and light match to tip. Perfumed with rare fragrance and exotic sandalwood, myrrh and incense. Price 25 [cents]. Sweet and strong."

Mattie also constantly reorders a product known as Magnetic Lodestone in Holy Oil. "Dis is used," she explained "tuh drive away evil spirits an bad luck an tuh bring yuh luck in love, an business, an gamblin games. Den deah's Five Finguh Grass. A lot uh duh people heah are sked of witches an spirits visitin em at night. Dey hang Five Finguh Grass ovuh deah bed aw doeway tuh protee duh whole house. Some of em use Black Cat Incense an Powduh."

In addition to supplying first-hand information on the Lucky Heart company, this simple 1940 interview reinforces a number of topics which define the unique characteristics of African-American hoodoo and identify it as a distinct system of magic:

1) Hoodoo practitioners tend to not feel the need to "empower" or "charge" charms or biological curios in the way that Hermetic and Wiccan practitioners do. ("Duh chahms an good luck puhfumes an powduhs do deah wuk independent of any additional hep.") This goes along with the fact that there are very few chants or incantations in hoodoo, and minimal attempts to focus power into natural objects, which are considered to be already powerful in their own right.

2) Again, as in Harry M. Hyatt's 1930s interviews, we see the use in hoodoo of Five Finger Grass -- a plant of European origin. This usage i have long attributed to Morton Neumann's distribution into the black community of John George Hohman's "Pow-Wows or the Long-Lost Friend," a book of German folk-magic, where Five Finger Grass is prominently mentioned. And here we have a real link, not just my speculation, because Mattie Sampson was an agent for Sweet Georgia Brown products, one of several brand lines manufactured and distributed by Morton Neumann, which means we KNOW she had access to the "Pow-Wows" book!

3) Although the interviewer missed it, there is a clear reference to foot-track magic, a distinctly African component of hoodoo. ("sprinkle it ... in duh bottom uh duh shoes.")

4) As can be seen by the labels on this page, Lucky Heart's Mystic Mojo line also included Mystic Mojo Love Drops. The label, with its turbaned Hindu gazing into a crystal ball (in which a bride and groom can be seen) is similar to that used on another Lucky Heart formula, Hindu Double Mystic Love and Luck Oil. Both designs probably derived from King Novelty's Mo-Jo Brand line of products, which depict a similar totemic figure. Compare King Novelty's Mo-Jo Brand Oil label at the bottom of the web page about mojo hands.

Finally, for those interested in 20th century drug stores that also carried hoodoo supplies for their African-American customers, a further extract from my interview with LaRue Marx, regarding his father's Memphis pharmacy business, appears on the web page about Hoyt's Cologne.

Illustrations of labels, packaging, catalogue pages, advertisements, and agents' flyers for Valmor, King Novelty, Lucky Brown, Lucky Heart. Clover Horn, and other cosmetics and spiritual supply companies of the pre-World-War-Two era, plus further text-based information on the interplay between occultism and hoodoo in the inter-war period, can be found on these "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" pages by cat yronwode:

Acknowledgements:
Thanks to Chris Warnock for locating and transcribing the passages from "Drums and Shadows: Survival Studies Among the Georgia Coastal Negroes," and to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for engineering the Federal Writers' Project, which recorded much information about American life that might otherwise have gone undocumented. And, hey, thanks to Willie Eason for his great song, "Franklin D. Roosevelt, A Poor Man's Friend," which beautifully recounts Roosevelt's work to promote the equality of African-Americans during his four terms in office.

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LUCKY MOJO is a large domain that is organized into a number of
interlinked web sites, each with its own distinctive theme and look.
You are currently reading
HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE by cat yronwode
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Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:

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
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
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      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races

POPULAR CULTURE
Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
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

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons in book form
Hoodoo Conjure Training Workshops: hands-on rootwork classes, lectures, and seminars
Lucky Mojo Community Forum: an online message board for our occult spiritual shop customers
Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour Radio Show: learn free magic spells via podcast download
Lucky Mojo Videos: see video tours of the Lucky Mojo shop and get a glimpse of the spirit train
Lucky Mojo Newsletter Archive: subscribe and receive discount coupons and free magick spells
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ONLINE SHOPPING
The Lucky Mojo Curio Co.: spiritual supplies for hoodoo, magick, witchcraft, and conjure
Lucky Mojo Publishing: books on magic with herbs, roots and candles, sugar spells, bone divination, and more!
Herb Magic: complete line of Lucky Mojo Herbs, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, with sample spells
Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop: antique, vintage, and contemporary fortune telling tea cups

PERSONAL SITES
catherine yronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages
nagasiva yronwode: tyaginator, nigris (333), nocTifer, lorax666, boboroshi, Troll, !
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards
Jackie Payne: Shades of Blues: a San Francisco Bay Area blues singer

ADMINISTRATIVE
Lucky Mojo Site Map: the home page for the whole Lucky Mojo electron-pile
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Make a Donation: please send us a small Paypal donation to keep us in bandwidth and macs!

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
Candle Ministry: Missionary Independent Spiritual Church deacons will set lights for your petitions and prayers
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
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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