Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got My Mojo Working

The word mojo has been used all over the place from movies to branded products such as barbecue sauce and hot sauce. It has become a place holder for some kind of southern spice representing local flavor.

In 1997, Mike Meyers introduced the fabulous Austin Powers. I must say I thought the movie was pretty funny and laughed out loud at the hairy chest that Austin was so proud to sport.

In the movie, Austin promoted his mojo. Which for him, was some sort of internal sexual essence that made him the ultimate ladies’ man.

Being so heavily influenced with the blues culture over the years, I became curious as to what a mojo was. “Got My Mojo Working” is a staple song that’s sung by just about every blues band so it was only natural that a middle-class white guy would want to know the definition. Especially if that white guy was singing about it.

Little did I know that uncovering the truth of the mojo would become a sociology adventure and lead into the superstitious world of the early slaves in America. This being the world of Hoodoo. Not to be confused with Voodoo from Haiti as Hoodoo came directly from Africa and evolved in Louisiana. New Orleans to be exact.

There are three areas of influence in Hoodoo and they are:

1. African folklore and magic
2. Christianity
3. The medicinal treatments created by American Indians

You could not create a more odd mixture using such a wide variety of beliefs if you tried. And if you examine the cake from a birds eye view, it’s obvious that this was all developed for insurance purposes from what would be a very frightened and perhaps primitive person. What I mean by insurance is that they really didn’t know what to believe and so to make sure all the boxes were checked, they simply created Hoodoo.

For instance, put the shoe on the other foot and think about it. You were raised to believe in magic. It’s part of your culture and there’s even a real witch doctor within your community. Your family has been engrained within this belief system for generations and you really don’t know any other way.

Then, you’re minding your own business and some white guy snatches you up and makes you work in some really hard conditions picking cotton all day. But by the way, let me tell you about our Lord and Savior and how wonderful He is and if you don’t believe in Him, you’ll suffer an entire eternity of damnation in a pit of fire.

Throw in some random meetings from an American Indian Medicine Man that tells you he can cure your ailments with some roots he dug up and you’ve got yourself a brand new belief system complete with chicken feet.

So with all that out of the way, what is a mojo after all? A mojo is a small bag of roots, herbs and perhaps personal items tied up in a very small red cloth sack. The sack is to be hung from your bedroom doorknob or hung from the inside of your coat. The purpose of the mojo is to give you the upper hand and perhaps put you in control of a situation. As in, controlling your spouse or significant other.

Let me assure you that if the mojo were real, every man in America who insists he wears the pants in his family the same way that I do would be running to New Orleans and purchasing one today.

And perhaps a wife or two.

Peace Out…and Get Your Mojo Working!

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