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The Blue Charm: Rustic Hoodoo Amulet Necklace

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For this amulet necklace, I’ve basically deconstructed a classic rural Southern-style conjure bag, aka a mojo or toby, and made jewelry out of it.
This is backwoods conjure the way it used to be. It’s miles away from the shiny city general store with imported spices and soaps and fabrics. This is the part of the country where floorwash is made with chamber lye, not ammonia and certainly not Florida Water. New curtains come from recycled worn-out clothes, and those clothes come from recycled flour and feed sacks.

Old barn and field gear provides tiny scraps of leather. Copper, brass, and steel are scavenged from derelict machinery and buildings. Scraps of fabric — saved in an old cookie tin with thimbles and thread — tell 50 years of stories in a square inch: palest blue silk of a once-treasured gown; crisp white poplin once someone’s Sunday best; a thin strip of woven blue and gold once a hair ribbon won at the county fair. Whether passed on or simply moved on, those who once owned these bits and scraps are no longer here. And nobody was listening for their voices before you and I got here. Not everybody can hear them, after all.

This necklace is for those who can – or who want to. It’s for the medium, the storyteller, the card reader, the local historian, for the mad prophet, the family memory-keeper, the soothsayer. It’s for those who live too much in their own heads and those who don’t live enough in theirs, for those who want to remember and those who cannot forget. It’s for magpies of myth, keepers of scraps, and weavers of visions, those who can read the narrative in excavated brick or crumbling beams or rough-loomed fabric remnants. It’s for those who don’t go the long way round to avoid the cemetery at night and who aren’t afraid to slow down and chance hearing whispers in the wind.

You could call it a psychic vision mojo but there’s much more here than just that. It’s not just about what you see or want to see – it’s also about what you’ve left, what you saw while you were gone, what you brought back home with you when you finally returned, and how it honed but also changed your vision. It’s as much about homecoming and weaving together discrete threads as it is ancestral memory or dreaming true – though it touches on and can be used for all of those things.

Accordingly, the “pages” formed by this miniature assemblage feature tokens and talismans for blessing, for clear vision and memory, for soothing of mental and emotional distress, and for opening the way, unlocking mysteries, and taking wise counsel. Both lunar and mercurial, it’s a token and badge for the traveler, the blessing of a coin and a sympathetic ear found along the way, and protection from potential predators and even the benign but annoying overly-curious accidental companion.

True to theme, this necklace has been nearly a year in the making. And while I don’t have to make my clothes out of flour sacks — which is good, ’cause they don’t sell flour in cloth sacks too much anymore! — I’ve definitely made a turn back towards the handmade and away from the storebought and drastically altered my relationship with consumer goods since I moved out here. 

I make lots of things more slowly now. There’s a payoff for that, I’m finding. But it does mean that I never make more than a few of these charms a year, and never the same style or type of charm twice in a year.

So I’ve been putting this necklace together bit by bit, waiting for the right scrap or bit of bone or dried root to cross my path, and once it had taken shape, waiting for it to tell me, finally, who it is and what it does. Among its many bits and parts you’ll find blue glass evil eye beads, a vintage coin from India, shells, milagros, and a piece of wire-wrapped devil’s shoestring root.

The Blue Charm is absolutely 100% one-of-a-kind.

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