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African Religion has reemerged in the United States stronger than ever,

with followers, students and writers, who are influenced by this powerful force,

no longer finding it necessary to camouflage the "Saints"



Books by Arthur Flowers

De Mojo Blues   /   Another Good Loving Blues  

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Mojo Rising 

The Confessions of a 21st-Century Conjureman

By Arthur Flowers


An extraordinary memoir that chronicles not just a life, but also an entire belief system, Mojo Rising follows the enlightened path of an African-American philosophical and spiritual firebrand. A modern-day hoodooman working his "mojo" -- the empowerment of black souls -- through the cultivation of hoodoo practice, Arthur Flowers continues a tradition birthed by Zora Neale Hurston and Ishmael Reed. With academic and emotional vigor, Mojo Rising fosters the transformation of hoodoo into a twenty-first century afrospiritual ideology and literary framework. Unflinchingly honest, passionate and ever conscious of his role in the complex evolution of black society, Flowers fuses scholarship and soul-searching into this progressive literary riff.Publisher (Cover Blurb)


A brilliant, honest, informed, energetic meditation and memoir from the heart of a 21st century conjureman. From Delta modernism to post-modern condemnations of all fundamentalisms and all retro-intellectual methodologies wherever they exist, 'Rickydoc' shows us the way to black empowerment -- the longgame for our souls' survival. No study of black intellectual strategy and striving in our new global order of existence can afford to ignore this passionate hoodoo ceremonial. A triumph and treasure!Houston A. Baker, Jr


African religion was suppressed, often brutally, in the United States, more so than anywhere in the African Diaspora. Despite the ridicule it received from Hollywood and an ignorant media, which still uses terms like "voodoo economics," the Hoodoo people of the South were able to sustain the faith. Today, African Religion has reemerged in the United States stronger than ever, with followers, students and writers, who are influenced by this powerful force, no longer finding it necessary to camouflage the "Saints," from the Santeria people in Miami, to the Ghedecelebrants in Brooklyn, to the upscale women in Berkeley who dance to Yemanja. Arthur Flowers, in Mojo Rising, fuses Philosophy, Religion, Literary History, and Autobiography, to show how this religion of the people has influenced contemporary writers. He has put his mind, heart, and soul into this work, which challenges all of the popular presumptions about African-American writers."Ishmael Reed


Mojo Rising is a retrospective self-examination, a combination of popular history, literary criticism, afrocentric psychology/theology, and political treatise. A writer telling it all. If we have ever wondered about the motives and inspiration behind Flowers' earlier works, De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues, we now know. This book is a work in motion, not only a rumination on the past and present condition, but also a meditation on future possibilities, both personal and collective. A book about the 'Longgame.'"

—Ike Okafor-Newsum 

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MOJO RISING: 1st Movement

I am Flowers of the Delta Clan Flowers and the line of O. Killens.. A babagriot of the hoodoo way. A Lord of the Delta. I am a Hoodooman. Mojo Rising is the Text.

Attend me Lord Legba.

Been most interesting trying to be true hoodoo in these contemporary times. Most folks arent certain hoodoo really exist. If they are conscious of the hoodoo tradition, they generally thinking slaverytime hoodoo - spells, hells and black cat bones. But as African Americans have evolved as a people so too has their indigenous spiritual tradition. Comparing contemporary hoodoo to slaverytime hoodoo is kinda like comparing the space shuttle to an oxdrawn cart.

My understanding is that the word Hoodoo is a linguistic riff on Voodoo, itself a riff on Vodou, a Fon word meaning spirit or deity. Hoodoo is often confused with Voodoo. They are, though, two different systems. Voodoo, like most afrospiritual systems in the Americas, is a conventional religious system (based in Haiti) whose primary concern, in spite of Western sensationalizement is interface with the Divine, whereas Hoodoo has traditionally been a magical system based in the African American communities of the South

When African captives were brought to the Americas they were strategically dispersed as part of the acculturation/pacification process and not allowed to practice their religions or adhere to their respective cultures. Where the African way was heavily repressed, as it was in the US, it became magical. Where allowed, it planted syncretic roots. In Haiti, Fon blended with Catholicism and became Vodou. In Cuba, Yoruba blended with Catholicism and became Santeria. Down in Brazil, Congo and Yoruba bred Macumba and Condomble. When the Coramantee took root in Jamaica, Anansi the spider become Ms. Nancy and down Trinidad way the Ashanti words obayifo (magic) and obi o komfo (priest) became Obeah. The African way took rocky but solid root in the Americas.

My understanding is that the word Hoodoo came into being when the Vodou of Haiti was imported into French Louisiana by planters and slaves fleeing the Haitian revolution. When Voodoo was proscribed in New Orleans as "insurrectionary," it went underground and mythopoetic figures such as Dr. John and Marie Laveau shaped its American manifestation. It became Hoodoo when it dispersed out of New Orleans into the southern black experience and became the term for a variety of African magical/religious practices that had survived among assimilated slaves.Around the turn of the 20th Century, African American writer/intellectuals began to explore and use it in their works. The earliest fragmentary references to hoodooism are in the slave narratives. The Life and Times of Fred Douglass recounts a root given to him by another slave to ward off whippings. Then Charles Chesnutt wrote The Conjure Woman and during the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale began anthropological study which she used in her HighJohn de Conquer mythwork and in various works such as Mules and Men, Tell My Horse and Moses, Man of the Mountain.

In doing so she facilitated hoodoo's evolution from a oral, folkloric tradition into a literary one.

Mystically inclined black writers and intellectuals, searching during the 60s as part of The Struggle for an authentic African American Way, happened upon hoodoo and began to study it systematically.

Many were introduced to Hoodoo as an ideological system through the works of Ishmael Reed, in particular Mumbo Jumbo and Conjure. It was Ishmael "Just cause you cant see d stones don't mean I aint building." Reed transformed hoodoo from a magical system to a functioning 20th Century afrospiritual ideology.

Contemporary hoodoo also grew out of the newly systematic study of African religions in the Black Studies Programs of the 70s and even more significant, the influx of Hispanics into New York City and the consequent exposure of African Americans to Santeria.

Hoodoo today is an eclectic system, incorporating a wide range of practices and philosophies, from the classic rural magicworker to urban hoodoo boutiques (botanicas) to eclectic occultists and artists to the sophisticated ideological orchestrators of literary hoodoo.

Though the African Way of God is often ignored in comparative religious study and thought, the African way is one of the most vibrant in the Americas. Throughout the African American cultures in the West, afrospiritual practice organically generating new rituals of empowerment such as Kwanzaa or the allday ceremony the Ancestors Committee of Medgar Evers College holds at Coney Island every Juneteenth for those who didnt make the Middle Passage. Ends with a drumdriven flowerstrewn procession to the waters and I seen de Mambo Cheryl Byron dance she in a bed of flowers on the ocean's floor. From Brazil to Cuba to Brooklyn, afrospiritual practice is one of the most dynamic forces in the Western Hemisphere.

The Hoodoo Way is itself deeply rooted in the African American community of the US from the traditional to the sophisticated. From elders like Douthet's grandmother (who would put an axe upright in her Arkansas yard to split oncoming delta storms) and the hoodoo empire of Walsh Harris' Voodoo Village, (a fenced compound of brightly colored houses and signs in deep South Memphis) to a variety of artistic and intellectual practitioners. Most everybody I know has a personal altar. Afrospiritual practice is in fact much more prevalent in Afroam art than most folk realize. From the literary works of Reed and Morrison to the films of Julie Dash, from the selfhelp works of Vanzant and Tisch to the music of Cassandra Wilson and Randy Weston to the artwork of George Hunt, Harriet Buckley and Enoche Placide, the African way in the Americas as manifested through art is alive and thriving.

Folk still speak of what some fondly call "the witchdoctor's convention" when Marta Vega of the Caribbean Cultural Center of NYC brought together various practitioners - Iyawos, Hougans, Santeros, Babalawos, Mambos and whatnot from the different afrospiritual traditions of the Americas and took them to Ile Ife. Sacred city of the Yoruba. A crosscultural consultation shall we say. Bet they didnt include no hoodoos.

Hoodoo has a conflicted relationship with the rest of the African spiritual family in the Americas. Because it lost more of its African nature and regressed into a purely magical system (only just now putting God back in the hoodoo) the other African traditions tend to look down on it. Dont really accept it as part of the family. Consider it an Outlaw Way. The Lost Children of Legba.

(It was de Olarisha Ashira down at Black Images Book Bazaar in Dallas convince me I man Legba Child cause I like to play w/folks heads and gon try to play w/yours.)

Because contemporary hoodoo is more a mystical tradition than a religious one, it is looked on with even more suspicion. The hoodoo way has always been an eclectic way shaped to the personality of the practitioner. What Ishmael in Mumbo Jumbo calls 'awarding yourself the asson'. But though we lost more we have a flexibility the other traditions dont have. Hoodoo today, as is the Afroamerican community for which it speaks, in a state of flux and transition. A blank slate to be shaped as we see fit.

The cutting edge of Contemporary Hoodoo aspires to be a respected contribution to the Worldspirit - the global spiritual Work composed of the best of the national traditions. Where the essence of religions meet. The Holyground. Concerning itself then not only with its classic tribal roles of afrospiritual guide and guard but with the wellbeing of all peoples and all Jah creatures great and small. Guide and Guardian still.

Consequently the human condition, evolutionary illumination, community empowerment, divine and destinic guidance have become prime hoodoo concerns. At least according to Rickydoc. Thats me.

I have tried in Mojo Rising to explore my evolution as a contemporary hoodooman and get further understanding of questions I have struggled with to get to where I am now the Crossroad Decisions I have had to make.

I hope with this work to contribute to the ongoing evolution of the hoodoo way and make it pertinent to the 21st Century mind and condition.

I hope with this work to establish a claim for hoodoo as one of the world's respected spiritual traditions and to make of it an effective instrument of spiritual and political redemption.

Gon speculate then in Mojo Rising on two primary hoodoo skills Conjuration and Consultation:

Consultation as the classic hoodoo role of Individual Guidance helping folk to address the challenges of life and be greater than they are.


Conjuration as Destinic Guidance destinic orchestrations conjuring reality into being and shaping the future of humanity. Making real that which was not. Turning the key in the hoodoo lock.

In my youth I was a sorcerer.

I have struggled for some 25 years now to manifest as a contemporary hoodooman. I have for the last 10 or so struggled to understand just what it means to be a 21st Century conjureman. A true 21st Century afrospiritual force. A holyman if I may be so bold.

In spite of all evidence to the contrary, I like to think I got my mojo working and I plan to take the trick off black souls. This spell is then designed to define the hoodoo way as the prophetic tradition of the blackworld and shape the hoodoos of the future as spiritual and strategic advisors masters of the longgame.

I have tried to approach this quest with the humility it demands and can only hope that in the journey I have found something worthwhile. My record is spotty and most of my understanding has come from failure. I hope in this work to find my own redemption.

I further hope with this work to influence the destinic dynamics of my times. To give my people a vision greater than their adversity. I hope with this Work to conjure.

Come then o traveler. I claim for hoodoo the prophets way.

Cast your vision young hoodoo as far as you can see.
Determine the challenges the tribe will face.
Prepare the tribal soul to meet them.


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Arthur Flowers, a Memphis native, is the author of two novels, De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues (Ballantine Books), and a children's story, Cleveland Lee's Beale Street Band. He is a Vietnam veteran, blues singer, co-founder of the New Renaissance Writer's Guild. In addition, he is the webmaster of Rootsblog: A Cyberhoodoo Webspace and a performance artist whose presentation, Delta Oracle: A Griot Speaks in Tongues, keeps him busy and Professor of MFA Fiction at Syracuse University.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Eyeminded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art

By Kellie Jones

A daughter of the poets Hettie Jones and Amiri Baraka, Kellie Jones grew up immersed in a world of artists, musicians, and writers in Manhattan’s East Village and absorbed in black nationalist ideas about art, politics, and social justice across the river in Newark. The activist vision of art and culture that she learned in those two communities, and especially from her family, has shaped her life and work as an art critic and curator. Featuring selections of her writings from the past twenty years, EyeMinded reveals Jones’s role in bringing attention to the work of African American, African, Latin American, and women artists who have challenged established art practices. Interviews that she conducted with the painter Howardena Pindell, the installation and performance artist David Hammons, and the Cuban sculptor Kcho appear along with pieces on the photographers Dawoud Bey, Lorna Simpson, and Pat Ward Williams; the sculptor Martin Puryear; the assemblage artist Betye Saar; and the painters Jean-Michel Basquiat, Norman Lewis, and Al Loving. Reflecting Jones’s curatorial sensibility, this collection is structured as a dialogue between her writings and works by her parents, her sister Lisa Jones, and her husband Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr. EyeMinded offers a glimpse into the family conversation that has shaped and sustained Jones, insight into the development of her critical and curatorial vision, and a survey of some of the most important figures in contemporary art.

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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow  / Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 

By Michelle Alexander

The mass incarceration of people of color through the War on Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites. Most people seem to imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . . The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  

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Exporting American Dreams

 Thurgood Marshall's African Journey

By Mary L. Dudziak

Thurgood Marshall became a living icon of civil rights when he argued Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954. Six years later, he was at a crossroads. A rising generation of activists were making sit-ins and demonstrations rather than lawsuits the hallmark of the civil rights movement. What role, he wondered, could he now play? When in 1960 Kenyan independence leaders asked him to help write their constitution, Marshall threw himself into their cause. Here was a new arena in which law might serve as the tool with which to forge a just society. In Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey (2008) Mary Dudziak recounts with poignancy and power the untold story of Marshall's journey to Africa

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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 update 28 July 2008 




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Related files:  Mojo Rising -- 5th Movement    Another Good Loving Blues  Another Good Loving Blues Essay  De Mojo Blues   Rootwork and the Prophetic Impulse    

 Up Against the Wall in Haiti   Magical Negro The Root