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Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by catherine yronwode
is sponsored by the
"At one time, it is said, a person could not walk down a street in the Algiers district without smelling the scent of Van Van oil. Prepared from aromatic Oriental grasses, all-purpose Van Van is favoured for dressing Amulets and Charms and is reputed to Clear Evil from the Door-Step, Change Bad Luck to Good, and Open the Way to New Opportunities."
Lucky Mojo Curio Co. catalogue
Van Van is an old hoodoo formula for oil, incense, sachet powders, and washing products that are designed to clear away evil, provide magical protection, open the road to new prospects, change bad luck to good, and empower amulets and charms. It is the most popular of the New Orleans or "Algiers style" hoodoo recipes. As an amulet enhancer, it is closely associated with both the rabbit foot and the lodestone -- clicking on the links to those two pages will take you to a 1940s advertisement for a rabbit foot key chain charm that was sold with a small vial of Van Van oil and a 1930s label for Mo-Jo Brand Lodestone in Van Van oil. This style of dual-packaging of Van Van oil with lucky amulets is still in use by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
The items shown above are a gold-foil package of Lucky Mojo brand Van Van self-lighting incense powder and a 1/2 oz. bottle of Van Van oil for anointing oneself or dressing candles or a mojo bag. At right is the label for Lucky Mojo brand Van Van bath crystals. which can be used to cleanse oneself or made up into floor wash to scrub out messes in a house.
Like the rest of the Lucky Mojo line, these products contain genuine reputed love-drawing
herbs and herbal essential oils, not synthetic fragrances. The
ingredients in Van Van include Lemon Grass, plus other herbs and essences. Lucky Mojo
labels are adapted from vintage packaging and in many cases the images are
as traditional as the ingredients themselves.
It is an interesting curiosity to note that due to the "Van" sound in the name of this formula, many people
assume that it contains Vanilla scent -- but such is not the case.
Instead, as pointed out by Dr. James Dotson,
who has extensively researched the history of perfumes, Van Van is a
phonetic pronunciation of the French word Verveine, a name of a flowering plant
commonly known as Verbena or Vervain in English.
In the Creole French dialect of Louisiana, Vervain
is pronounced "Vaah-Vahn". And, indeed, Dr. Dotson has
found records of old hand-written formularies archived
at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum which indicate that
as early as 1900, "Verveine" perfume was made with Lemon Grass.
The reason for this substitution, as best i can
determine, is that Verbena itself does not
produce a stable essential oil for perfumery,
but Lemon Verbena, a popular species of Verbena,
does smell a great deal like Lemon Grass or
its close relative, Citronella Grass.
Finally, here is a label for a product that is no longer manufactured: Valmor's Van Van Hair Dressing Pomade, which "contains our Van Van brand oil." This hair-slicking product was marketed to African-Americans during the 1950s and 1960s, and had the added benefit of granting the wearer luck and protection. As usual with Valmor hair-care products, a sad-looking woman with "bad" hair is contrasted with happy people whose hair has been "temporarily straightened" and appears "neat." The same form of hair-care self-loathing can be seen in another Valmor product from 20 years earlier, Lucky Brown Hair Dressing. The magical aspects of the Van Van pomade are indicated to the knowledgeable buyer in symbolic form: eye, heart, four-leaf clover, star, horseshoe, key, and wishbone. Similar images appear on Lucky Mojo brand Van Van products to this day.
I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. James Dotson
for his historical research help with this page.
I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. James Dotson for his historical research help with this page.
|Order Van Van Oil from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Van Van Incense from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Van Van Bath Crystals from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Van Van Sachet Powder from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Van Van Spell Kit from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Van Van Mojo Bag from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Triple Strength Van Van Mojo Bag from the Lucky Mojo Curio Company|
|Order Rabbit Foot Charm with Van Van Oil|
|Order Assorted Coloured Rabbit Foot Charm with Van Van Oil|
copyright © 1995-2010 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
Send your comments to: cat yronwode.
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HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE by cat yronwode.
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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
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
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Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races
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
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Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: psychic reading, conjure, and hoodoo root doctor services
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
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
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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
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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