EXPLORING THE OUTER EDGES OF SOCIETY AND MIND

Hidden Pathways to Everyday Magic – Supernatural Living in the American Marketplace

Posted in > SUPERNATURAL LIVING IN THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE by David on September 24, 2019

‘It is the glory of the God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.’ – Proverbs 25:2

71183861_10157560850781670_3213642522555318272_n

Entrance to the office at a tire shop just outside of Athens, Georgia

A flat on a rural highway and a closed tire shop in town had me wandering around northeast Georgia this week looking for an affordable solution to getting back on the road. Great reminder that when the regular patterns of our daily life are disrupted we get a chance to discover some of the hidden pathways of magic that exist all around us.

Frustration turned to fascination when I finally found a used tire shop a few towns over and walked in to discover that the owners had protective wards put up over every doorway in the place. The entrance to the office had a Gideon’s pocket New Testament, horse shoe and a pamphlet titled Conditions de Entrada al Cielo (Conditions for the Entrance into Heaven) secured to the frame. It was an immediate reminder of what I’ve been writing about lately in regard to the commonality of magico-religious practices.

The mediated image of folk magic presents an exotic appeal and mystery that is almost entirely missing when you dig in to its actual practice – for many people magico-religious beliefs and spiritual work are integrated fully into their every day lives in a way that is foreign to those who come to these practices from Neo-paganism, popular occultism, and other spiritual sub-cultures that are tied strongly to marketing, commercialism and identity politics rather than a continuation of traditional forms through contemporary means. (1)

.

Grocery Store Grimoires

For the past few years I’ve been fascinating with the distribution of occult books in the seemingly mundane environment of the U.S. marketplace. (2)

If you poke around the magazine aisle – most grocery stores have books that give the basics for developing advanced intuition, out of body experiences, precognition, and similar human potentials. You may have missed them though, because they are almost always aimed at the Christian market – the most prevalent material is under the guise of  ‘spiritual warfare’ and ‘supernatural living’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One person’s Holy Ghost baptism is another person’s Kundalini awakening – some have prophetic dreams of Jesus and others call that precognition. The publication and mass distribution of Eben Alexander III’s book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, is a secularized example of the grocery store grimoire phenomenon. The book was widely available as a bestseller and gave a very public presence to the current state of the debate around Near Death Experiences. However, Secular examples like Alexander’s book don’t have the same staying power or continuous market presence as the spiritual warfare and supernatural living material.

303dce7d6701e82232198d08b25105b8.jpgThe books included in photos above, which I took at a local grocery stores over the years, may be framed within a Christian worldview but this does nothing to lessen their mystique. Remember that ritual magic in large part comes from exorcism traditions and it’s merely a flip of intention to change an exorcism into a conjuration or invocation.

Folk magic and Charismatic and ecstatic forms of Christianity have long been intimately tied. What we seen today in the grocery store aisle might not have the same patina of age worn respectability that an occult classic like the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses has, but when seriously applied a surprising amount of the practical use value remains intact.(0

As I was pondering these potentials I started to wonder how much of my speculation was a thought experiment, and how much was actually likely to occur. Were there really folks out there back engineering this spiritual warfare material and using it for more unorthodox purposes?

Apt to the research it was a ‘grocery store grimoire’ that gave me the answer:

“In the 1970’s a group of ministers who had experience dealing with demons began to hold lengthy conversations with them, seeking to obtain special understanding about things in the spirit realm. In the end this proved disastrous. The group went into serious doctrinal error and some of them died prematurely.”

– Derek Prince, end note in They Shall Expel Demons: What You Need to Know About Demons – Your Invisible Enemies (Chosen Books, 1998)

Ministers using allegedly possessed members of their congregation as mediums to channel discarnate spirits in order to gain forbidden knowledge – you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of unorthodox purposes.

.

Santa Muerte at Walmart

15590301_10154853233646670_1585975336643557860_n

Grim Reaper T-Shirt at Walmart (Athens, GA)

In the course of my research into grocery store grimoires I was disappointed when the closest Walmart expanded their romance novel selection and nixed the Inspirational Books section. A set back more than made up for by the Men’s Clothing area – where la Santa Muerte still sits secure in the rotational display of discount t-shirts.

“But that’s just a cheap grim reaper shirt!”

Oh no my friend, it’s a gateway into supernatural living if you know anything about the popularization of Saint Death’s iconography in the black and grey market.

If you are a savvy entrepreneur in the Mexican market, looking to quickly capitalize on the growth of a popular tradition, or if you are an intent devotee looking to represent La Nina Bonita through your clothing, where would you start?

A few companies make Santa Muerte specific shirts, but these are not always easily acquired – so you grab the first thing that fits the bill within your environment. In Santa Muerte’s case this just happened to be shirts with illustrations of the Grim Reaper. Those outside the devotion see nothing more than a shirt from Walmart – those within know that here in the midst of the mundane la Madre Poderosa stands hidden in plain sight. (3)

.

A Study in End-Times Biblical Prophecy

15697505_10154876003061670_7970475931616469339_n

Bible study invitation in the foyer of a local post office.

A trip to the post office can turn into an adventure in apocalyptic fervor when you encounter a delightful invitation to an End Times Bible Study.  In the hyper-textual landscape of popular religion you’re never far from the edge of the eschaton.

Flyers like this provide ephemeral strands stretching between the grocery store grimoires and the folks who read and practice them. The same cultural streams which focus on end-times biblical prophecy are very likely to be attentive to the import of spiritual warfare and exorcism.

Subtle markers on the boundaries of a secret landscape – these examples all hint at a interconnected, intwined and integral aspect within the daily lives of people who would balk at the idea that they are involved in some form of esoteric or occult practice. Secured by the othering of academic categories which ignore these living streams of mystery – they go about their normal days unseen.

.

The House on Devil’s Pond Road

15800718_10154916904956670_2905016902064562530_o.jpg

The house on Devil’s Pond Road

I can’t tell you how many times I drove past this abandoned house thinking it was merely another one of the curious and crumbling memories that populate the landscape of rural Georgia. That is until a casual conversation with a local antique dealer about the efficacy of charms lead to a surprising revelation:

“Back in the 1930’s there was a woman practiced conjure a couple towns over. They say she held court from a throne formed by the twisted roots of an old oak tree down on Devil’s Pond Rd.”

The oak tree that the antique dealer mentioned is that sort of black vegetative splotch in front of the structure – it’s now broken and overgrown with vines – a striking symbol of how fragile these intimate traditions are. When the line of transmission is broken unless one is skilled in interpreting residual traces they drift away into rumors and forgetfulness.

After learning more about the site’s history I developed a series of sound pieces (available to stream above) to honor the conjure that once lived here – they are best enjoyed with ear phones while gazing at the photo to imbibe the residual transmissions of the house on Devil’s Pond Rd.

.

Facts and Predictions for the Entire Year

56848089_10157158806901670_1946678181561892864_n

Lottery Dream Books at a convenient store just outside of Athens, GA

These simple manuals systematize a symbol set which can be slowly memorized and tied to intuitive responses. Once the supernatural cover story is dropped, what you essentially have is a folk version of the art of memory with the intention of accessing dream states and day to day synchronicities to heighten intuitive functioning. (4)

.

Craigslist Conjurations

1*ntf26o3bqL0w4TA7FTaOPA.png

Mother Powers advertisement from The Lucky Red Devil Combination Dream Book and Numerology Guide (Eagle Book Supply Inc, 2013)

Generalized psychic and metaphysical services are a mainstay in the Craigslist classified ads. Presenting an image reminiscent of the psychic hotlines that were promoted in commercials and infomercials during the 1980’s and 90’s the bulk of these advertisements offer standard super natural options for those seeking assistance from beyond the pale confines of everyday life.

With a bit of digging it’s occasionally possible to discover another class of advertisement, more rarefied offerings from a few unique individuals who have stepped outside of the common psycho-spiritual SEO. Ads like the ones I gathered back in 2014 from Miss Mary, who runs a number of advertisements in different cities.

To the uncritical eye they might seem to be repetitious – however, the true connoisseur of traditional spiritual work will recognize the poetic touches that make each ad unique. She uses a time honored formula that is reminiscent of older advertisements for such services. Miss Mary’s ad copy is similar to the Mother Powers advertisements in Lottery Dream Books, or the associated advertisements online for Sister Mary, here you can see the tradition carrying on into the digital world of Craigslist classifieds:

SPIRITUAL ROOTWORKER (BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA)

MISS MARY CAN HELP YOU ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD IN HOURS. ARE YOU IN HARD LUCK? DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS THAT ARE WORRYING YOU? ARE YOU SUFFERING IN PAIN AND MISERY? DO YOU WANT TO GET LUCKY AND STAY LUCKY? IS YOUR HUSBAND OR WIFE SPENDING THE MONEY ON SOMEONE ELSE? HAS HE OR SHE LEFT YOU FOR ANOTHER? CALL MISS MARY NOW FOR HELP. ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE WITH YOUR LEGS, BACK, STOMACH, HEAD, OR ARMS? IS YOUR HAIR FALLING OUT? MISS MARY WILL REMOVE BAD LUCK, EVIL, SICKNESS, PAINS AND NERVOUS CONDITIONS FROM YOU NOW. MISS MARY WILL TELL YOU HOW TO BE LUCKY AT HORSES, CARDS, BINGO, LOTTERY, DOGS, SLOT MACHINES, AND NUMBERS. CALL NOW FOR HELP. YOU WILL BLESS THE DAY YOU DID. MY WORK IS 100% GUARANTEED. CALL MISS MARY TODAY AND BE RID OF YOUR TROUBLES BY TOMMOROW.

MISS MARY POWERFUL ROOT WORKER (BRUNSWICK, GA.) 

MY POWERS ARE GUARANTEED. DO YOU HAVE BAD LUCK? NEED HELP? MISS MARY SOLVES ALL PROBLEMS. MONEY, LUCK, BUSINESS, HEALTH, NATURE, MARRIAGE, LOVE PROBLEMS, DRUG PROBLEMS, ALCOHOLISM. MISS MARY CAN REMOVE EVIL SPELLS OF ALL KINDS. VOODOO, ROOTS, HEXES. 100% SURE FAST RESULTS. CALL MISS MARY TODAY AND BLESS THE DAY YOU DID. MY MAGICAL POWERS ARE BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION. CALL NOW FOR IMMEDIATE RESULTS.

POWERFUL ROOT WORKER (BRUNSWICK, GA.)

MISS MARY WILL READ YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WITHOUT ASKING YOU A SINGLE QUESTION. SHE HAS THE ABILITY TO HEAL BY PRAYER. ARE YOU SUFFERING? ARE YOU SICK IN ANY PART OF YOUR BODY? ARE YOU LOSING YOUR HAIR? HAVE YOU EVER STAYED AWAKE AT NIGHT THINKING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE? WELL THINK NO MORE MISS MARY IS HERE TO HELP YOU WITH ANY PROBLEM YOU MAY HAVE. MISS MARY WILL HELP YOU IN LOVE, MARRIAGE, ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE, LAWSUITS, EVIL, DIVORCES, ANY PROBLEM IS NOT TO BIG OR SMALL. I WILL GIVE YOU LUCKY NUMBERS TO PLAY LOTTO, BINGO, HORSES, DOGS, SLOTS. CALL MISS MARY TODAY AND BE RID OF YOUR PROBLEMS TOMORROW. MISS MARY SOLEMLY SWEARS TO HELP YOU. CALL MISS MARY  TODAY AND BLESS THE DAY YOU DID.

0RDAINED PSYCHIC READER AND ADVISOR (BRUNSWICK, GA)

HAVE YOU BEEN HOODOOED? ARE YOU SICK IN ANY PART OF YOUR BODY? MISS MARY HAS GOD GIVEN POWER TO HELP YOU OVERCOME YOUR PROBLEMS NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL. I WILL TELL YOU JUST WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT FRIENDS ENEMIES OR RIVALS, WHETHER HUSBAND, WIFE OR SWEETHEART IS TRUE OR FALSE, HOW TO GAIN THE LOVE YOU MOST DESIRE, CONTROL OR INFLUENCE THE ACTION OF ANYONE EVEN THOUGH MILES AWAY. WILL GIVE YOU LUCKY NUMBERS, I HAVE HELPED THOUSANDS THROUGH ALL WALKS OF LIFE. I WILL ADVISE YOU ON LOVE, MARRIAGE, BUSINESS, HEALTH, DIVORCES, LAWSUITS, LUCK, ALCOHOLICS, DRUG ADDICTIONS, HAPPINESS,SPELLS, SUCCESS AND EVIL INFLUENCES OF ALL KINDS. I WILL TELL YOU WHO YOUR FRIENDS AND ENEMIES ARE. GUARANTEES TO REMOVE ALL EVIL AND BAD LUCK!!! WHY SUFFER WHEN YOU CAN BE HELPED AND FREED FROM ALL YOUR TROUBLES!!! DON’T FAIL TO CALL MISS MARY TODAY YOU WILL BLESS THE DAY YOU DID!!! CALL MISS MARY AND SEE FOR YOURSELF WHAT MY POWERS CAN DO FOR YOU!!! DO NOT COMPARE ME WITH CHEAP, COMMON, ORDINARY INPERSONATORS MY WORK IS WITH GOD!!! CALL MISS MARY TODAY

SPIRITUAL READER AND ADVISOR (BRUNSWICK,GEORGIA) 

MISS MARY WILL READ YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WITHOUT ASKING YOU A SINGLE QUESTION. MISS MARY HAS THE ABILITY TO HEAL BY PRAYER. ARE YOU SUFFERING? ARE YOU SICK IN ANY PART OF YOUR BODY? HAVE YOU EVER STAYED AWAKE AT NIGHT THINKING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE? WELL, NOW YOU DON”T HAVE TO! THIS SPIRITUAL WOMAN WILL GUIDE YOU TO OVERCOME YOUR PROBLEMS NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PROBLEMS MIGHT BE. I CAN HELP YOU WITH LOVE PROBLEMS, MARRIAGE, OR BUSINESS PROBLEMS. I CAN GIVE YOU SURE HIT LUCKY NUMBERS. I WILL CURE ANY PROBLEMS THAT YOU HAVE. DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF OTHERS FAILED YOU. MY WORK IS WITH GOD AND MY POWERS ARE GUARANTEED TO WORK. CALL ME AND FIND OUT FOR YOUR SELF HOW GREAT MY POWERS ARE. CALL MISS MARY AND BLESS THE DAY YOU DID.

MISS MARY ROOTWORKER (BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA)

LET MISS MARY REMOVE ALL EVIL SHADOWS AND SPELLS FROM YOU AND YOUR HOME. I USE LOVE POTIONS, SPELLS, DOLLS, HERBS, OILS AND CANDLES IN MY WORK TO REMOVE OR PLACE A VOODOO. DO YOU WISH TO CONTROL THE ACTIONS OF ANYONE YOU DESIRE MISS MARY WILL ADVISE YOU IN LOVE, MARRIAGE, BUSINESS, LUCK, HAPPINESS, AND MONEY. CALL MISS MARY TODAY AND BE HELPED AS THOUSANDS HAVE ALREADY DID. CALL MISS MARY AND BLESS THE DAY YOU DID.

Psychic Palm and Tarot Card Reader

I AM A LOCAL PALM READER HERE IN BRUNSWICK, GA. I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR OVER 30 YEARS I HAVE ALOT OF REPEAT CLIENTS THAT ARE VERY SATISFIED WITH MY READINGS I AM AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE PARTYS IF YOU ARE HAVING A PRIVATE PARTY AND ARE INTERESTED IN HAVING A REAL LIFE PALM READER AT YOUR PARTY CALL ME FOR RATES MISS MARY

In ads like these we find spiritual workers who retain connections to long running traditions of folk magic and healing – reminding us again how common traditions of folk spirituality continue on despite the tendency to relegate these areas of human experience and expression to dead images of a curious past. (5)

For the full 53 page PDF – Craigslist Conjurations – Preliminary notes on Spiritual Services, Folk Magic and Digital Advertising – CLICK HERE

.

Distributed by Keystone Laboratories

Gas stations and Craigslist ads aren’t the only place you can find these residual traces of conjure culture. Walking down the cosmetics aisle at a local Dollar General I ran into Ebony Glow, a soap from Keystone Laboratories that might look just like any other beauty product – however it turns out to be yet another gateway into supernatural living in the American marketplace.

The third picture shows a vintage Keystone Laboratories catalog from Tony Kail’s West Tennessee Museum of Southern Hoodoo History collection. As you can see the catalog features products familiar to anyone versed in American folk traditions such as our aforementioned Lottery Dream Books, votive candles, and conjure classics like the 6th and 7th Book of Moses. (6)

.

Kali at the Gas Station

15844469_10154913417596670_8282549110676948160_oA quick stop a few years ago at the gas station in this photo lead to the discovery of a concealed Durga altar with representations of her maternal and wrathful aspects tucked away behind the counter and hidden from view by a box of blunt wraps and a display of energy supplements.

“Kali is often depicted in the posture called pratyalidha, with Her left knee advanced and her right leg drawn back. In this position Her left foot can prod Her Shiva into wakefulness. Pratyalidha and its opposite, the alidha stance (right knee advanced, left drawn back) both come from a Sanskrit root which means “lapped up, licked, tongue applied to, eaten.”

What She eats, with Her tongue, Her eyes, and Her very pose, is your Ahamkara Shakti, your energy of self. Since the chief expression of shakti in the physical body isprana, the life force, the power which keeps body, mind and spirit functioning together as a living unit, what Kali eats as you worship Her is your prana. Physical life, health and longevity require that ahamkara self-identify strongly with your organism to permit prana to enliven your body. Spiritual health requires ahamkara to relinquish most of this attachment, and Kali is happy to help you actively relinquish it.

The chief carrier of prana in the body is blood, so when you see blood dripping from Kali’s tongue you should see that blood as the prana of Her devotees, offered to Her to transmute. What She craves is your blood (your prana) that She may truly bring you to life. (7)

Unmediated and stripped of exotic framing this simple altar speaks to the powerful integration of applied spirituality in the every day lives around us.

The pure streams of magico-religious practice aren’t found in flashy packaging and artisanal facade – they’re found in hearts consumed by practices that reveal the presence of mystery in the midst of the everyday.

.

71031091_1114176262306582_2925047400600961024_n

View from the side of the road where a flat tire initiated today’s reflections on super natural living.

“The supernatural and occult imagination becomes the locus where the tension between the material world and the world of the spirit is realized and then dissolved.” – Peter Bebergal, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural

All of the examples presented here represent a direct line of influence straight from folk traditions that have come to be popularized and mediated in the various occult revivals over the years.

Here in this varied selection of products and media we see ‘the supernatural and occult imagination’ become enlivened through empowered, contemporary and active traditions of belief that, despite their skeptical detractors, speak to the efficacy of supernatural living and demonstrate this efficacy with their subtle power and presence in the American marketplace.

Footnotes:

(1) https://davidmetcalfe.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/for-our-readers-that-shop-by-mail-fast-cash-money-oil-and-the-old-farmers-almanac/
(2) https://modernmythology.net/satans-target-your-mind-supernatural-living-in-the-american-marketplace-c6c38c616778
(3) https://skeletonsaint.com/2013/05/01/selling-holy-death-from-grim-reaper-to-skeletal-virgin-a-brief-look-at-commercializing-an-emerging-iconography/
(4) https://medium.com/@DBMetcalfe/gambling-with-psi-lottery-dream-books-and-other-money-making-mind-tricks-96622bcec051
(5) https://medium.com/@DBMetcalfe/craigslist-conjurations-an-exploration-into-the-interstices-of-spiritual-services-folk-magic-and-bd210e3f22e6 – and – https://www.academia.edu/13615817/Craigslist_Conjurations_-_Preliminary_notes_on_Spiritual_Services_Folk_Magic_and_Digital_Advertising
(6) https://memphishoodoo.wixsite.com/museum
(7) https://archive.org/details/DeviMahatmyamEnglishTransiteration/page/n33

 

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. James120756 said, on September 30, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Could you have made the font any smaller?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: