In bright contrast to this image of the "evil" black cat, there is a "good" black cat -- the antinomian lucky black cat of the African-American sporting and gambling world. This black cat does double-duty as a representative of the black arts (including the granting of invisibility and the return of lost love) and as a bringer of money luck.
In the form of a figural candle, the black cat is burned in rituals designed to increase gambler's luck. Hoodoo products, such as the Lucky Mojo Brand Black Cat Sachet Powder, Black Cat Bath Crystals, Black Cat Dressing Oil, and Black Cat Incense shown here, are also popular with gamblers, especially those who play at cards and bet the lottery. In addition, a popular style of mojo bag for gamblers is the so-called Black Cat Curio Bag, which is decorated with a small black cat charm on the outside and filled with a variety of luck-bringing roots and herbs, including John the Conqueror root.
THE BLACK CAT BONE SPELL
The notorious black cat bone charm is a subject with which i am, frankly, rather uncomfortable. Although it is strongly identified with African American hoodoo , its origins are actually in European grimoire magic. Here, thanks to Mike Rock, is a copy of the way it appears in an English translation of the Portuguese grimoire of Saint Cyprian of Antioch:
"Cook the body of a black cat in boiling water with white seeds and wood from the willow until the meat is loosened from the bones. Strain the bones in a linen cloth and, in front of the mirror, place the bones, one by one in your mouth, until you find that you have the magic to make you become invisib
le. Keep the bone with the magic property and, if you want to go somewhere without being seen, place the bone in your mouth."
The African American novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who studied hoodoo in Florida and Louisiana in the 1930s, and Harry Middleton Hyatt, who collected over 13,000 individual spells from 1600 African American informants throughout the South in the same time period, reported at length on the many root doctors who claimed that every black cat has within its body one bone that will either grant the owner invisibility or can be used to bring back a lost lover.
To secure this bone, they said, a black cat must be thrown alive into a cauldron of boiling water at midnight. The animal dies in agony, and the heartless practitioner boils the carcass until the meat falls off the bones. Some say that the special bone will be the top one left when the water boils away, others say it can only be found by placing each bone in turn beneath the tongue while an assistant stands by to notify the practitioner that he has become invisible, and still others swear that if all the bones are thrown into a stream that runs north (uncommon in most of North America), the desired bone will be one that floats on the water and heads south.
The reputation of the black cat bone spell is so great that even today, when animal sacrifice is not condoned by society, several hoodoo supply companies offer black cat bones and black cat oil in their catalogues. Out of curiousity, i bought a so-called black cat bone mojo bag and a vial of black cat oil from one supplier and was amused to see that the bone in question was the broken end of a chicken thigh that had been spray-painted black, while the oil was lightly fragranced mineral oil. I was relieved to learn that no cats had been killed to satisfy my curiosity -- but amazed at the arrogance of the lie that was being perpetuated by the seller, who also offers bat's hearts, cat's eyes, and swallow's hearts for sale -- undoubtedly all gallinaceous in origin (unless the "cat's eyes" are really cat's eye shells, which come from a mollusk).
BLACK CAT SPIRITUAL SUPPLIES
During the 1930s, when the belief that an elephant statue with its trunk upward was lucky became endemic in the USA, the "trunk up" belief was spread to the black cat with "tail up" as well and magic candles in the form of a black cat with tail up began appearing in mail order hoodoo catalogues in the 1940s, if not earlier. However, tail up black cat statues did not become popular -- probably becasue there was so much "bad luck" attached to them in the general population -- so black cat figural hoodoo candles, which are generally burned for luck in gambling, are all that remain of this belief.
In researching the traditional formulas used for hoodoo style oils, incenses, bath crystals, and sachet powders, it became obvious to me that some sort of Black Cat Brand product would be wanted by gamblers and practitioners of the dark arts. However, because i am not willing to kill cats -- nor to lie to the public by selling painted chicken bones -- i have originated a Black Cat formula that contains black cat hair and certain botanical substances and am selling this authentic preparation under the Lucky Mojo brand name.
At the time of this writing, three black cats supply all the hair used in these products, courtesy of their owners, who collect it while grooming them. These cats are Mama, Santana, and Little Black Cat (owned by my friends and family members). The Lucky Mojo Black Cat label is adapted from vintage packaging of the 1930s.
|Order Black Cat Oil from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order Black Cat Incense from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order Black Cat Bath Crystals from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order Black Cat Sachet Powder from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order Black Cat Vigil Light Candles from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order a Black Cat Spell Kit from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
|Order a Black Cat Mojo Bag from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.|
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