Five-Way Primitive Deconstructed Leather Hoodoo Rosary
Handmade here at Seraphin Station with a mix of bone, glass, wood, brass, and copper beads on leather cord, this rosary/chaplet is truly one of a kind.
I love a beautiful, delicate rosary or chaplet as much as anyone, and I've made plenty and admired plenty more that other folks have made. But lately I've been thinking in terms of the cathedral and everybody's Sunday Best a whole lot less and paying more attention to practicalties of usage, environment, and available resources. The more I did, the less sense those delicate rosaries made to me.
I wanted something more rugged that looked the part it was always being called on to play, since I use rosaries as Roman Catholic prayer beads but also as talismans and amulets in decidedly not-Catholic personal spiritual work; as tools in spiritual cleansings and uncrossings; as offerings and gifts to saints and lwa; as focal points and amplifiers for meditation and for building up and directing what I'll just call "bishop juju;" as defensive weapons in protection work; and as technology integral to what Rev. Dr. Tau Michael Bertiaux describes as esoteric prayer raising "God energy" in the Gnostic Voudon current.
In short, if you could see my rosaries astrally, they'd look less like jewelry and more like a Gerber multitool - one that had essentially been dragged halfway around the world and through a few centuries and couldn't definitively be said to belong to any one of those places or cultures or times inherently.
So I set out to explore what a rosary like that might actually look like. And this is definitely one of my favorite efforts to date.
Whether you want to see this as a charm collection on a charm hanger displaying five individual chaplets or single-decade rosaries, or instead as a sort of deconstructed All Saints' rosary for contemporary rootworkers or vodouisants, this is a striking and unusual piece with a lot of visual weight (and more than the usual physical weight too).
Each decade is connected to the center ring with knotwork, and the center is a hefty Nigerioan brass money ringwhich is Nigerian brass. I've included a length of brown leather cord looped onto it as well if you want to hang it or even wear it as a necklace.
Each decade terminates with a holy medal/saints medal, and the central one also features a crucifix. Saints are chosen for their importance in the spiritual landscape in which I am immersed, which is admittedly a bit more eclectic and idiosyncratic than you might be accustomed to if you aren't from around these parts. It's made with strands or decades for the following:
* St. Gerard, patron of pregnancy and childbirth in the Catholic tradition, also represents Baron Samedi of Haitian vodou in some houses and temples. Here, he is the patron of communication with the ancestors and the dead. On the other side of this medal is Our Lady of Perpetual Help pictured with Christ and the angels Michael and Gabriel. OL of Perpetual Help is called on for all kinds of things - in hoodoo in my region, it's often against sickness, income uncertainty, hunger, and unstable households. She's known to help with all of those things. She's also associated in some houses and temples with the lwa Ezili Danto. Ethiopian copper beads and a carved boxwood skull bead.
* St. Peter, officially the patron saint of fishermen, locksmiths, and popes, is associated with the lwa Legba, the patron of Yoruban divination and master of the crossroads, in many temples and houses. Whether associated with Legba or not, St. Peter always has a strong association with keys and thus by extension with road opening and success work. On the reverse of this medal is St. Paul, the patron of writers, missionaries, and evangelists. Murano-style red and black glass with gold foil accents, a red sandcast bead made from recycled glass and imported from Africa, and red wooden beads.
* St. Jude, the patron of desperate cases. In hoodoo rootwork in my region, he's specifically invoked for financial prosperity and stability as well. In some houses and temples, he's associated with Ogun. (Ok, in only one house that I know of, but what can I say - New Orleans does things its own way.) Round(ish) bone beads of unkown animal origin and a green sandcast glass bead from Africa painted with a brown and white eye motif.
* Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the aspect of the Virgin Mary specifically associated with the brown scapular and with the Holy Souls in purgatory. In some temples and houses, she is associated with the lwa Ezili Danto. On the reverse side is Christ with his Sacred Heart. This aspect of Christ is associated with the lwa Lenglensou in some houses and temples. (If you aren't familiar with that lwa, you should probably consider it a blessing and just let it go. Do not interpret my mentioning Lenglensou as any kind of suggestion that this rosary means you should therefore serve him or offer to him. I do not serve him and his service has absolutely nothing to do with the construction of this rosary.) This medal is vintage and imported from Belgium. Blue sandcast recycled bottle glass and pale blue sandcast glass with painted gold embellishments.
* St. Benedict of Nursia, exorcist extraordinaire and an A-list repeller of evil. He's also the patron of a happy death along with St. Joseph. He's invoked for inner peace, for peace between quarreling parties (or nations), for healing and protection from contagious diseases, to drive away hauntings and malevolent spirits, for the conversion of sinners, and for protection against storms, nightmares, insect plagues, problems in childbirth, poisoning, and temptation by evil spirits. Black wooden beads and a Murano-style clear glass bead with a black and gold foil heart.
I make my esoteric and hoodoo rosaries based in the traditions from the region where I grew up and learned the tricks and tools of the trade (the Gulf Coast of Alabama, with relatives all along the coast from Florida to Texas and six generations of paternal ancestors buried in New Orleans before a descendant went to seek his fortune in the port of Mobile). This area was much more heavily influenced by Catholicism and saw a much greater percentage of old-school workers who worked with the saints than is typical in other regions. So my hoodoo has lots of saints in it and more than a little influence from the Caribbean.
Furthermore, in the work of occultist, author, and Old Catholic bishop Reverend Dr. Tau Michael Bertiaux, author of the Voudon Gnostic Workbook, Vudu Cartography, and the unpublished Monastery of the Seven Rays material, the systems of hoodoo and Haitian vodou are blended into a dynamic system that offers step by step instruction to the practitioner who seeks access to the Gnosis by means of esoteric prayer. Ultimately, this set of handmade rosary beads is a product of the place where Louisiana culture and tradition meet Franco-Haitian Gnostic Voudon to create good old Big Lucky Hoodoo.
This set of beads is ritually created, consecrated, anointed, and censed on five different altars by a fully consecrated bishop and exorcist in a Gnostic Voudon lineage of apostolic succession (me), and empowered to assist the practitioner in his or her work as a rootworker, serviteur of the spirits, or interpreter of messages from the Invisible World.
You don't have to be Catholic or even Christian to work with the saints in hoodoo, though, fwiw, and lots of folks treat these types of rosaries as ritual items, objects of power, talismans, or pwen cho but do not try to pray the traditional rosary with them. Other folks do use traditional Catholic prayers and practices with my rosaries, or delve into the practices of esoteric Christianity and the traditions of the Seven Rays. And of course it's perfectly fine to just use this as a regular old rosary if you honor and work with the saints but aren't interested in the rootworking and esoteric side of things. There's more info about all of this at my blog, Big Lucky Hoodoo, if you're interested in learning more.
Bishop Tau Michael Bertiaux says of the rosary, in his chapter on Upadhi I in The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, that prayer beads are among the most effective ways to generate spiritual energy and "hook up" to God energy. He conceives of the rosary as a "prayer machine" and emphasizes that the rosary is further blessed and empowered through use. I have blessed and empowered this rosary, but it will absorb deeper spiritual energies through your repeated use. So don't store it away in a box for safekeeping where you'll rarely touch it. It's meant to be used.
From top of center ring to bottom of medal on longest decade, piece measures 7.75 inches. Attached, removable leather cord for wearing or hanging is 16" long with ends held together.
Please feel free to leave personalization info when checking out if you'd like me to include any particular prayers or petitions or blessings as I'm preparing this piece for its new home.
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