“Folks Can Do Yuh Lots of Harm”

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:
“Folks Can Do Yuh Lots of Harm”

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This chapter examines use of supernatural traditions by African Americans for causing affliction. Harming practices include Conjure, supernatural oath taking, witchcraft, and poisoning. The use of harming practices was well known among African American slaves, and later, among their descendants. As with benign Conjure, many harming practices were connected to spiritual beliefs which demonstrate fundamental concerns over the nature of evil and misfortune that have occupied African American people across place and time. From devious acts of petty sabotage to organized schemes of collective revolt, blacks utilized Conjure and other supernatural harming methods as a form of resistance, revenge, and self-defense. Just as significantly, however, harming magic was a pervasive means to express blacks' hostility within their own communities in order to punish criminals and wrongdoers; to attack opponents; to combat evil forces; and to retaliate against enemies and perceived adversaries. At times, people embraced harming practices and religious faith simultaneously, integrating Conjure and Christianity as dual sources of empowerment.

Keywords: Conjure; supernatural traditions; supernatural harming; African Americans; Christianity; witchcraft

Chapter.  12553 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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