Book Review: The Secret Keys of Conjure

Upon finishing this long awaited book by Chas, I knew I had to write a review for it. Out of other countless books written on the subject of hoodoo and conjure (of the Deep South), this is by far the best, in depth beginners guide for new rootworkers and hoodoos although it does cover a wide range of history when it comes other American folk magic traditions.

Through obvious extensive research and experience, the author leads the reader through the varied loops and tangles of Southern Rootwork in a fine layout organized by ranks of need and method such as Blessings, Good Luck, Hexing, Protection, Graveyard work, and Healing, each chapter being imbued with its own unique wisdom and wit from the author.

Each chapter begins with a storyline that places the reader into the place of the Root doctor at the crossroads under a hooting owl or making a charm for a client, making the reader use their senses to get the picture of the work of a Conjure man, further creating a relationship between the reader and the book.

The Secret Keys to Conjure also includes some accurate lore and info from the Appalachian and Ozark traditions which I was glad to see! I was also surprised to learn the author works with handkerchiefs quite similar in manner to how I do it in the Appalachian tradition.

Besides this, there are multitudes of recipes for incense, powders, and tricks throughout the book. One I personally found intriguing was the Three Kings Wise Men cocktail which I will be trying soon as I’ve always only used one brand of whiskey for baptizing roots. I was also very pleased to find the information on foot washing as I had figured not many workers today continued that practice at all.

I was amazed to find so much information with these pages such as lore, stories, symbolism and formulas both common and rare, from inducing true dreams to meeting the Black man at the crossroads for mastery in skills. The author’s tone brings you into the Conjure world, seemingly leading you through the backroads and folk scenes of American Folklore and Magic. His understanding of American Folk Magic and the cultural undertones contained within the various traditions is quite refreshing among the folk magic community today.

He also offers historical tales and tidbits on different curios, methods, and roots used in modern Hoodoo that keep you reeled into the book. Such things given background in the book are “Hell notes” and Nation Sacks for working on sexual desires and natures.

Quite simply, I am amazed at the stock pile of information the author was able to garner into this book. He goes over cleansing, cursing, doll babies, and more! I recommend this for any person just starting out in Hoodoo as I presume you will be looking back at it for some time in your practice. Through these pages, the years of experience and honest work of the author bleed through, offering guidance to the new conjure person with hard truths and advice. At at the end of the book, Chas sets you free: at the crossroads, alone, in the dark, facing the rest of your path among the roots and claws that tear there way up from the soil as the Black Man approaches you.

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Author: Jake Richards

Jake (Dr. Henny) 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 woman in these works before Alzheimer’s set in; his great, great grandfather 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, available for 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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