Black Magic

Yvonne Chireau

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520209879
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940277 | DOI:
Black Magic

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This book looks at the origins, meaning, and uses of Conjure—the African American tradition of healing and harming that evolved from African, European, and American elements—from the slavery period to well into the twentieth century. Illuminating a world that is dimly understood by both scholars and the general public, the author describes Conjure and other related traditions, such as Hoodoo and Rootworking, in a detailed history which presents the voices and experiences of African Americans and shows how magic has informed their culture. Focusing on the relationship between Conjure and Christianity, she shows how these seemingly contradictory traditions have worked together in a complex and complementary fashion to provide spiritual empowerment for African Americans, both slave and free, living in white America. As she explores the role of Conjure for African Americans and looks at the transformations of Conjure over time, the author also rewrites the dichotomy between magic and religion. With its analysis of an often misunderstood tradition, the book helps to explain the myriad dimensions of human spirituality.

Keywords: Conjure; healing; harming; slavery period; Hoodoo; Rootworking; African Americans; magic; culture; Christianity

Book.  231 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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