Conjure, hoodoo, rootwork—these are all names for southern American folk magic. Conjure first emerged in the days of slavery and plantations and is widely considered among the most potent forms of magic. Its popularity continues to increase, both in the United States and worldwide. This book is a guide to using conjure to achieve love, success, safety, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment. Author Starr Casas, a hereditary master of the art, introduces readers to the history and philosophy of conjure and provides practical information for using it. Featuring Casas’s own rituals, spells, and home recipes, the book provides useful information suitable for novices and seasoned practitioners alike. – Red Wheel/Weiser Books
If you’re interested in Southern American-style magic like hoodoo, New Orleans Voodoo, or other southern folk magic I need you to stop what you’re doing and get this book. This is the ABSOLUTE DIFINITIVE place for practitioners outside of the southern US to start their research. This book is easy to follow and a super comfortable read. Ms. Casas’s obvious southern hospitality and manners come through in her writing and I swear I smelled strong coffee and heard a soft whispering all the way through.
Hoodoo, voodoo, and other African Diaspora magickal traditions have become very trendy lately, with common ingredients and formulas being mass-produced and sold at most metaphysical stores. In fact most of the books I love and the products I buy are produced by people and companies who practice some hoodoo! That being said, I’ve rarely found any one book, let alone on written by anyone actually from the south, that so expertly lays out exactly what hoodoo, rootwork, and conjure actually are and where any of these traditions come from. Let alone one that consistently gives recognition and credit to those who originated it – those stolen from their home and brought to this continent in chains.
I want to start by mentioning how impressed I was with the level of respect and reverence Ms. Casas shows to the people of colour – referred to as The Ancestors throughout the book – that created these traditions based on their “”illegal”” african traditions. I’ve reviewed books written by authors from the south who were not nearly as respectful, upfront, and honest about this (Ugh, “plantation magic“.) so seeing mention of slavery on the first page of her introduction really set me at ease.
Starr admits she’s not a long-winded writer and prefers to get straight to the point, and this approach has made this one of the most accessible and easy to understand books on any spiritual practice I’ve found. The book even includes the basics of conjure in a Q&A format!
The book is Called Old-Style Conjure, and as such Ms. Casas often compares and contrasts some of the facts of her practice with modern witchcraft and paganism, or even with the more white-washed version of hoodoo you’re likely to encounter in the magical community. I found that super helpful! This book includes history right along with recipes and practices, lessons she learned growing up in the culture, and how she works this old style magick in her own life. This makes it an absolute essential foundation for a modern hoodoo practice. It’s important to understand the circumstances and feelings of slavery and of the culture of the south in order to understand everything from typical conjure ingredients, prayers, herbs, and spirits. Start at the beginning!
I normally try to share the things I loved and didn’t love in my reviews, but I have nothing I didn’t love about this book. For a small and easy to read paperback, I feel like I’ve discovered an entire world full of knowledge. One thing that was particularly helpful for me was prayers, psalms, and songs from the bible and church services. Most conjure practitioners, like the majority of people in the south, practice their christian/catholic faith right along with their magickal practice. If you spent your youth going to church, reading the bible, and singing in the choir you may recognize lots of the verses, prayers, and songs in the book! I did not, however. I wasn’t raised christian, and early in the book she says that removing the bible from conjure means it’s no longer conjure but something else. She says this without judgement, and throughout the book lists gives recommendation for psalms and verses, full outlined so I can find them if I’m curious. I was incredibly grateful for this distinction, and the information. I tend to agree that the bible is a very powerful book and it shouldn’t be discounted just because lots of folks tend to twist it for their own means. This book is very much about the CULTURE of conjure as much as the practice, and I think the bible and the saints are an integral part of that so I’m glad it was so well laid out.
I honestly can not recommend this book enough to all socially-conscious witches, or those looking to explore real southern hoodoo, conjure, and rootwork. Since Halloween/Samhain is on the way, I would also recommend it to anyone looking to learn about ancestral altars and ancestor worship, etiquette when visiting cemeteries, working with ancestors and spirits, and generally showing reverence to the dead in your magickal practice.
You can find out more about Starr Casas, her books, products and HOUDINI THE CONJURE ROOSTER (whom I of course love) at http://www.oldstyleconjure.com/!
Ever wondered what my crystal ball rating system actually means?
The Fat Feminist Witch Rating System:
🔮🔮🔮🔮🔮- I literally cannot live without it now
🔮🔮🔮🔮 – YASS
🔮🔮🔮 – It’s good, but it’s not for me
🔮🔮 – Nah
🔮 – I’m literally angry this even exists
2 thoughts on “Book Review of Shadows: Old Style Conjure by Starr Casas”
So glad to see this review! I got this as a bday gift for myself and it just went to the front of my reading list! Thanks! 🙂