These Conjure Hands

Photo by Austin Lea

I am a body of bones reading the bones of other, smaller bodies and calling out fates yet unnamed; twirling fingers through Secret’s hair; ears hearing ungodly tales of the folks in town, and feeling the hands of spirits upon my hands upon those bones.

These hands gather dirt from the courtyard, whispering tunes of love as bugs and critters find freedom from my hand. She loves him. She does.

I scatter the dust of graves on the wind, whispering my enemies names as they fall helpless into chance’s hands, wrapped with gift wrappings sewn from their trespasses. A gift, given unto themselves as Yahweh gave Israel unto herself.

These Conjuring hands have been pricked savagely by the needle and thread, sewing flesh upon flesh of the doll in my hands, speaking to the little soul all my secrets and wants.

These hands have made hands for tying a man up like a bitter black widow. These hands have made beds for the dolls of the ill-stricken.

I pull the root from the earth whispering sweet sayings to the one holding it, those same whispers echoed back at me from the root then wrapped in silken threads. They gonna love me. They do already, but they gonna say it out loud.

I dig at Justice’s feet at the courthouse steps for that which has been done to my peoples by a falsified Jerusalem. Screaming the names of the fallen in the cemetery, my trovel piercing the critters scattered beneath Mother Mountain’s skin. We protect our own. Even when we gone.

These hands lace the bundle of roots for a want-to-be-expecting woman. These hands have held other hands, the hands that hold the root for working them wishes for those left unattended by luck and privilege.

These Conjure hands have traced untranslatable sigils into my lovers skin, handed to me by imagination’s own yearnings.

And these same hands have held the hands of the Ancestors, their many names carved into my bones. The hands, their hands, our hands; they work with conviction, rarely not buried in the earth of some church or garden graves or lonesome road.

These hands have sealed bottles and jars, covered in wax, to seal the working up. There ain’t nothing these hands can’t put together; made by the Creator, these hands are loved. These hands are life.

When you see a Rootworker, watch they hands. Lord, all they’ve been through. They act by the mind and soul. They knot and untangle. Slimed from working roots and twine and bottles. Rough from the mortar and pestle, from breaking the bricks down and turning over rocks in the crick.

Next time you meet a Conjure person, watch their hands; that’s where the Root is grown.

Author: Jake Richards

Jake (Dr. Buck) follows family practice as a Yarb Doctor and Conjure man in the Appalachian Folk Magic tradition. He follows the legacy of his mother (a seventh daughter), that left behind by his grandfather, a baptist preacher who was a blood stopper, wort doctor, and thrush doctor; his grandmother, who was a knowledgeable melungeon woman in these works before Alzheimer’s set in; his great, great grandfather, also Melungeon, who witched for water in Washington County and his great grandmother who taught and worked from her roost at the foot of Devil’s Nest Mountain. Jake is the author of Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia; Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian Conjure Man; and the Conjure Cards deck, all available for order and preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound. When he's not writing, blogging, reading the bones or trying for clients: he is either traveling, gardening, sewing, book binding, reading, or sculpting. For questions, readings, recommendations for future posts, interviews and the like, you are welcome to email him below:

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