Author: Julia Walker

Brooms stored straw up.
Trash taken out only in the light.
Cleaning the whole house at once.
Altars all around.
Keeping nightmares quiet until after breaking fast.
Protection spells.
And, most importantly, not sharing the inner workings of our family with just anyone.

All done with no explanations as to the why or when our family decided it was better to be careful and called superstitious than not.

Come to find out, what I practice is called Conjure, not Vudoun or Santeria as I assumed.
Mostly, I’m a kitchen witch who sees things in dreams that later come true.

Julie Moore, my maternal great grandmother and who I am named for, has taught me what I haven’t had an overwhelming feeling to do and is my ancestor that I pay most respect to.
Details that can be fact checked are largely unavailable from my research into her life but I do now know from her that her father, Cupid Moore, was part of the 78 Colored Infantry absorbed by the USA’s Army during the Civil War and that her mother, Annette, was with Cupid at least 30 years.
What I do not know is how neither Annette nor Cupid appear to have been enslaved or where even they were born since paperwork implies that one or both of my maternal great – great grandparents stated that they were from the Carolinas but all traces of them separately or together are from Terrebone Parish, Louisiana.
Speculation and their omissions on paperwork 150 years ago leads me to believe our family rumors about Annette being disowned due to their differences in presentation; she was indigenous according to every generation above me and her spiritual practices seem to have blended with the Hoodoo of black folks, maybe even like Cupid, into what Julie helps me to learn now.

I do know that they all had  children, including Julie who had Garland Julie who had Dorna who had me, Julia.

As far as I know, the two generations between us expressed no desire to follow the path of at least some of our elders and I’ve only begun to find the words and locations to connect my feelings with facts about my roots in the past year.

I believe that Julie and I aren’t the only but that she as my closest relative who practiced these traditions is my guide of sorts and refer to myself as a kitchen witch because mixing fresh ingredients is a talent of mine.
Many a time in my youth I packed a wound with plant medicine or picked a previously unknown flower to nibble as a snack while others waited for me to pass out or die but then, like now, I felt compelled to combine items for my health.

It’s not all remedies and snacks though. I’ve woken up and begun to tear into herb containers making powders to sprinkle based on unsafe feelings in dreams; it’s actually how I acquired my small powder andjuliaconjure3 candle collections. From the days I would intend to go down the street about a mile to the playground and wind up twenty plus away, spending money that I did not have on supplies I knew not what to do with.
As a single mother without babysitting funds, my children go with me everywhere.
Prior to my working on a home altar, this exclusively meant driving outside the edges of town to various places with playgrounds.

One of our family favorites, a nature preserve where my spot was the intersection of a crossroad overlooking water with sand and grass to the west and east and the children’s playground on the far side of the sands, where I made vows to myself and asked for many of the opportunities that have come to be within the last year became a place invaluable to my practice.
At that spot, I let go of several pains that I had carried for years and experienced by daylight motions learned while sleeping to help protect the walls that my children and I need to keep sturdy for survival.

Conjure, to me, is still shadow practice, largely due to our geographical location. East Texas has never been regarded as a place where black folks are encouraged to convene with the ancestors for our personal growth and many of us have internalized messages that what I do is of a devil that I do not even believe in.

Despite the barriers, I have connected locally and internationally with many black femmes that felt the same calls from our elders most recently at roughly the same time.
Some tried on all the religions and wanted to believe in anything.
I am of that group, as a child I tried to be a good Catholic and a model Baptist before rejecting both for nothing. A few years of adolescent atheism led me to finding Runes and legends of Fey, which while interesting never registered to me on a deeper level but did leave questions answered later by researching regional traditions of respect for the elders who passed through this life already. Then a few more years content with having no faith but plagued with prophetic dreams I tried to self medicate away before briefly trying Catholicism back on immediately prior to my time Muslim, which I loved. The rituals and the fact that there’s Hadith for everything made me happier in Islam than anything else but that seed of faith never existed and the suggestions by elders that maybe I would be better suited for the Sufi mysticism helped push me out of the masjid also.
Others, a mix of former Christians, atheists and even a few that begun with eurocentric pagan practices have now all settled in their places as root workers, card, shell and candle readers, healers, and seers incorporating Conjure with a blend of Ifa, Vodoun, Santeria, or none of those, like myself, depending on the places that they came from generations prior.

juliaconjure2From the outside, Conjure, Ifa, Vodoun and Santeria are basically interchangeable for what’s seen on TV and in movies.
But to a practitioner, the differences become easier to notice.
The main difference between my Conjure and the other  things mentioned above is that I use no saints and do not pray to a specific god/s.
So, while we all may light a candle for protection, they may be different colors, on permanent altars or on none at all, and the request for protection in my case, is always a plea to my relatives passed on and to the earth itself whereas others request protection from a god of sorts, either by proxy of saints, Orishas, or something similar,  to their god directly, or a combination of saint type proxy, ancestral proxy and then god.

Locally, I’ve partnered with a sister friend to start helping femmes connect with ourselves first by way of opening up the dialogue to discuss things like moving away from fragrance heavy products to things like menstrual cups and pads. Our group also explains how the moon works with our natural rhythms and we are teaching a recipe per session from healthy foods to lotions to healing salves along with facilitating a space where we can honestly engage with one another on topics such as spirituality.

Later pieces, I and guests, will go more in depth as to how our practices have evolved and what tools we commonly use for various purposes.

At this point, I do not know but a small portion of what I hope to uncover about my family, our practices that until now have only been whispers and Conjure itself but as I discover, I will put pen to paper for future generations.

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