Trying to make up or pass along rules about "what numbers mean in hoodoo" is bogus. Any opinions stated by a conjure practitioner claiming that the variations in number they use are somehow related to variations in intention (drawing, commanding, or jinxing) is unfounded in this tradition and is strictly personal. That does not make it "wrong," but it is not something that should be taught or promulgated on the internet as part of the traditional work of conjure. This whole rule-making thing about odd numbers has sprung up in the last two years -- no longer! Just two years! The rule-making fantasy purports to tell newbies to conjure some inflexible rule about the number of ingredients in a mojo, number of times a name is written on a paper, number of oils on a candle, et cetera ad nauseum. It is totally WRONG. It is kids playing at conjure as if it were an RPG or a card game, or something. If we went by this super-special odd-number theory in everything, then we'd expect Psalms 3, 7, and 9 to be the really important ones -- but they are not! And if the super-special odd-number hooey applied to lucky numbers in traditional African American numbers play then we'd expect 3, 7, and 9 to be super hot numbers -- but they're not. Most old-timers will tell you that the lucky gig is 4-11-44. Everyone knows that! See, this is all some kind of recent meme that folks are spreading around the internet and it literally has no connection with the history of African American folk magic. Sure, lots of baths have three ingredients in them and so do lots of old-time mojo hands, and some people do prefer odd numbers -- but many old-time traditional workers not only don't prefer odd numbers -- they don't even count the ingredients at all! And now -- this year -- all over the internet people are starting to ask me to endorse this thing they've been taught somewhere, which is to assign invariable and inflexible MEANINGS to the use of these odd numbers -- one odd number to signify drawing work, another odd number to signify jinxing work, and a third odd number for God knows what-all. I will not endorse it. Sure, numbers have meanings. Three reminds of us the Trinity. There are indeed five spots in a quincunx pattern. Nine is a lucky number in Africa and seven is lucky in Europe. Thirteen is edgy and unlucky in some cultures, but can be turned on its head and made lucky. In China, 4 is unlucky because the word for four sounds like the word for "death." Also in China, the number 99 is associated with luck because the sound for the number 99 sounds like a word that means "endless" or "eternal." But notice -- the only polarity there is LUCKY <--> UNLUCKY. But there's nothing about a special number of times you have to write a name for crossing or a different number of time you have to write a name for getting love. Overall, in hoodoo, the numbers 7 and 11 are winning numbers because they are winning numbers in the African American game known as shooting dice. (A commercialized variation of shooting dice is known in casinos as the game of craps). Likewise, 21 is a winning number in the card game called blackjack. So 7-11 is lucky to those who shoot dice and 7-11-21 is a general lucky set for gaming. But the referents are not classical, Hebrew, or esoteric -- they come from everyday game play. NUMBER OF INGREDIENTS IN A MOJO BAG For some reason i cannot understand, because i have NEVER taught this -- a bunch of my students have gotten this idea that i somehow told then that a mojo bag "must" have a certain number of ingredients. I have never written this on the web, i have never written it in a book, and i do not teach it in my course. I actually went to the HITAP mojo page and added more information tonight, trying to STOP this well-meaning but twisted rule-making in my name. I never made those rules. I never was taught those rules. I never taught others those rules. I just tried to give a map of the territory. THE MAP OF THE TERRITORY LOOKS LIKE THIS: ----- Some toby makers count out ingredients, and there are some numbers more frequently found among the "counters" than others. Of those who count, more tend to prefer odd numbers than even numbers. Of those who prefer odd numbers, the most common numbers they have told me that they favour are the numbers 3, 7, or 9. Some toby makers don't count out ingredients. Nothing bad will happen to you or to your mojo if you don't count the ingredients, because all that not counting means is that you will be one among many root doctors who never count the ingredients and they are JUST AS TRADITIONAL as those who do. ----- To understand why certain people who are new to hoodoo and come to it from other cultures, especially those of European or European American background, insist on imposing make-or-break rules regarding magic on a system that has very few such make-or-break rules, you will have to rad the introduction to "Hoodoo herb and Root Magic." People who insist that a horseshoe "must" point in a certain direction or that a spell "must" rhyme or that magic "must" be performed at a certain phase of the moon are coming to hoodoo and trying to force it to comply to their own culture's rigourous beliefs in make-or-break rules. These people do not understand what they are doing -- it seems so natural to them, after all, to beset their magical work with make-or-break rules -- but those of us who have worked in conjure for a long time look at them and shake our heads. WHY? Why? Why don't they join US instead of forcing us to adopt their rules? And then, after getting maybe half of them to relax their rigid rule-making, well, guess what? They decide that what we said was "There are no rules in hoodoo." NO. That is not what we said either. For instance, it is a general "rule" in hoodoo that magical packets, mojos, gri-gri bags and so forth should be wrapped, tied, or sewn shut. They are never left open. This derives from African methods of working. So there are "rules" -- but they don't happen to concern the number of times a name must be written on a paper for crossing versus the number of times it must be written on paper for winning the lottery. Let us walk a balanced path between the requests of well-meaning but rule-obsessed students, customers, and friends and those well-meaning students, customers, and friends who claim i've said "There are no rules in hoodoo." NUMBERS IN NAME PAPERS A name paper is a certain type of petition paper, and i have seen such papers written out by African American conjure practitioners from 1961 to the present and their instructions have included writing the name any number from "once" to "fill the entire paper with his name written over and over on both sides." Each spell is different, intentions vary from spell to spell, and each person will tell you what they know to the best of their family's knowledge or according to the particular spell you are asking about. I suggest that if you have no family traditions in conjure, you may wish to study with someone who does, or who can pass the tradition along to you, instead of you trying to pick it up piecemeal from an internet forum. I teach a one-year course in hoodoo and it does cover name papers. There also at least four different traditional variations of how to write a name paper shown in the illustrations to my book "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic" which costs only $14.95. All the number stuff promoted as personal opinion is totally specific to whoever tells you whatever they tell you. Look in HHRM, see the "Faithful to a Trust" payback spell name paper -- one time each way for the names -- and that is how i was taught it about 30 years ago. It is an authentic spell, a real spell, not some cheap-ass joke of a spell. And the name is written TWICE. About fifteen years ago I was down in a conjure shop in Oakland and i watched as the owner of the shop, Bishop Whyte, told a man to write his name "21 times." He didn't question her. He did it. She took the paper to use in a job-getting spell for him. Does this mean that 21 is going to become the new special "job-getting" number now that i mentioned it? NO. It means that Bishop Whyte wanted him to focus on writing his name 21 times. Okay? Now, guess what? The writing tablet she handed to him was a memo pad that had lined paper. There was room for -- 21 lines. [img]http://cloud.graphicleftovers.com/10143/item14578/note%20paper% 20spiral%20lined.jpg[/img] If she'd given him a smaller piece of unlined paper -- and i saw her do this too, with other customers -- she might have said, "Write your name three times" or if it was a larger price of paper, she might have said "Write your name seven times." NUMBERS IN THE APPLICATION OF OILS Someone asked me how many different oils can you use to feed a mojo hand: "Can it be dressed with, say, 3 or 5 different oils? Has anyone heard of any general rule for this? Should it be an odd number of oils (3, 5, 7, etc)?" Here the question about number-rules is formulated in a different way, but the reply is still the same: Some people apply each oil singly, others blend their own custom oils from a series or set of other oils, which they find more convenient than applying each oil singly. You may use as many oils and herbs in crafting a mojo as you find useful, but there is no point in increasing the list to ungainly proportions. An intelligent focus of purpose is more efficient than a scattershot approach. Any attempt to institute some sort of "odd-numbers rule" is pointless and non-traditional in the practice of African American conjure and i advise you to stop thinking that way right now.There is no reason to substitute game-player-style rules for your own wise thoughts or for the traditional teachings of this practice. MORE INFORMATION You can also find information at my "Lucky W Ameulet Archive" web page on the worldwide cultural ascriptions made to the Lucky Number Seven, here: https://www.luckymojo.com/number7.html cat
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