“Our Religion and Superstition Was All Mixed Up”

Yvonne P. Chireau

in Black Magic

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520209879
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940277 | DOI:
“Our Religion and Superstition Was All Mixed Up”

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This chapter considers the centrality of supernatural traditions of Conjure in the African American spirituality, presenting examples from various historical contexts. Conjure is a magical tradition in which spiritual power is invoked for various purposes, such as healing, protection, and self-defense. From slavery days to the present, many African Americans have readily moved between Christianity, Conjure, and other forms of supernaturalism with little concern for their purported incompatibility. During the slavery period, persons believed to possess special powers were present in black populations throughout the United States, and African American practitioners of Christianity often mingled unusual practices with their traditions. African American testimonials describe how some slaves believed that the power of charms and amulets provided them with protection from abuse and racial subjugation by white slaveholders and affliction such as sickness and destitution. Supernatural practitioners often adopted symbols from Christian traditions for use in their own practices and rituals, such as protective charms and Christian accoutrements.

Keywords: Conjure; African American Christians; supernatural traditions; Christianity; superstition; African American slaves

Chapter.  9864 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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