Cover image for Spiritual merchants : religion, magic, and commerce
Title:
Spiritual merchants : religion, magic, and commerce
Author:
Long, Carolyn Morrow.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xxix, 314 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781572331099

9781572331105
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library GR105 .L58 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

They can be found along the side streets of many American cities: herb or candle shops catering to practitioners of Voodoo, hoodoo, Santería, and similar beliefs. Here one can purchase ritual items and raw materials for the fabrication of traditional charms, plus a variety of soaps, powders, and aromatic goods known in the trade as "spiritual products." For those seeking health or success, love or protection, these potions offer the power of the saints and the authority of the African gods.
In Spiritual Merchants, Carolyn Morrow Long provides an inside look at the followers of African-based belief systems and the retailers and manufacturers who supply them. Traveling from New Orleans to New York, from Charleston to Los Angeles, she takes readers on a tour of these shops, examines the origins of the products, and profiles the merchants who sell them.
Long describes the principles by which charms are thought to operate, how ingredients are chosen, and the uses to which they are put. She then explores the commodification of traditional charms and the evolution of the spiritual products industry--from small-scale mail order "doctors" and hoodoo drugstores to major manufacturers who market their products worldwide. She also offers an eye-opening look at how merchants who are not members of the culture entered the business through the manufacture of other goods such as toiletries, incense, and pharmaceuticals. Her narrative includes previously unpublished information on legendary Voodoo queens and hoodoo workers, as well as a case study of John the Conqueror root and its metamorphosis from spirit-embodying charm to commercial spiritual product.
No other book deals in such detail with both the history and current practices of African-based belief systems in the United States and the evolution of the spiritual products industry. For students of folklore or anyone intrigued by the world of charms and candle shops, Spiritual Merchants examines the confluence of African and European religion in the Americas and provides a colorful introduction to a vibrant aspect of contemporary culture.
The Author: Carolyn Morrow Long is a preservation specialist and conservator at the the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.



Summary

They can be found along the side streets of many American cities: herb or candle shops catering to practitioners of Voodoo, hoodoo, Santeria, and similar beliefs. Here one can purchase ritual items and raw materials for the fabrication of traditional charms, plus a variety of soaps, powders, and aromatic goods known in the trade as spiritual products. For those seeking health or success, love or protection, these potions offer the power of the saints and the authority of the African gods.
In Spiritual Merchants, Carolyn Morrow Long provides an inside look at the followers of African-based belief systems and the retailers and manufacturers who supply them. Traveling from New Orleans to New York, from Charleston to Los Angeles, she takes readers on a tour of these shops, examines the origins of the products, and profiles the merchants who sell them.
Long describes the principles by which charms are thought to operate, how ingredients are chosen, and the uses to which they are put. She then explores the commodification of traditional charms and the evolution of the spiritual products industry from small-scale mail order "doctors" and hoodoo drugstores to major manufacturers who market their products worldwide. She also offers an eye-opening look at how merchants who are not members of the culture entered the business through the manufacture of other goods such as toiletries, incense, and pharmaceuticals. Her narrative includes previously unpublished information on legendary Voodoo queens and hoodoo workers, as well as a case study of John the Conqueror root and its metamorphosis from spirit-embodying charm to commercial spiritual product.
No other book deals in such detail with both the history and current practices of African-based belief systems in the United States and the evolution of the spiritual products industry. For students of folklore or anyone intrigued by the world of charms and candle shops, Spiritual Merchants examines the confluence of African and European religion in the Americas and provides a colorful introduction to a vibrant aspect of contemporary culture.
The Author: Carolyn Morrow Long is a preservation specialist and conservator at the the Smithsonian Institution s National Museum of American History.

"


Author Notes

Carolyn Morrow Long is a preservation specialist and conservator at the the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.



The Author: Carolyn Morrow Long is a preservation specialist and conservator at the the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.



Reviews 4

Library Journal Review

Several years ago, Wade Davis's The Serpent and the Rainbow (LJ 3/1/86) was popular reading among anthropologists, ethnobotanists, and anyone interested in the culture of the Caribbean. This new book will find favor among a similar audience. Long (preservation specialist and conservator, Smithsonian Museum of American History) quite thoroughly recounts the history and origins of African religion in the New World, going beyond well-known voodoo practices in the Caribbean to include U.S. practice as well. She then concentrates on the development and evolution of the "spiritual products industry." Most voodoo texts mention very little about those shops and merchants that provide supplies for charms and potions, but this book even contains lists of stores and web sites where voodoo supplies can be purchased. A wonderful complement to books on the history and anthropology of voodoo, including the aforementioned Davis book and books of recipes for spells and charms. Recommended for college libraries and public libraries in areas where African American history and anthropology are popular.ÄJay Stephens, Roanoke Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

For many Americans, formal religions remain remote from everyday concerns, and "scientific" causality (X number of people contract cancer annually) fails to explain why any given individual is afflicted. More dynamic diagnosis and instrumentality are available through the informal votive practices, mystical devices, and talismanic objects that all religions possess--however hidden in their recesses. Long (Smithsonian Institution) provides an engaging introduction to active aspects of African-based religions in the US, documenting and describing historical practitioners and their material culture as a backdrop for present-day merchandizing of candles, aerosols, soaps, and other products meant to gain love, defeat adversaries, win the lottery, and change life for the better. Particular purveyors are interviewed, and addresses and Web sites are provided. Potent products like High John the Conqueror Root are situated in cultural history, and contemporary product design is considered. Long's earnest work makes arcane matters accessible to a popular audience, yet distinct methodological problems arise. A lack of case studies demonstrating particular decisions and the vitality of forms means that ideas and practices become falsely fixed in meaning and moment, as though everyone always has and will observe them the same way. General and undergraduate collections. A. F. Roberts University of California, Los Angeles


Library Journal Review

Several years ago, Wade Davis's The Serpent and the Rainbow (LJ 3/1/86) was popular reading among anthropologists, ethnobotanists, and anyone interested in the culture of the Caribbean. This new book will find favor among a similar audience. Long (preservation specialist and conservator, Smithsonian Museum of American History) quite thoroughly recounts the history and origins of African religion in the New World, going beyond well-known voodoo practices in the Caribbean to include U.S. practice as well. She then concentrates on the development and evolution of the "spiritual products industry." Most voodoo texts mention very little about those shops and merchants that provide supplies for charms and potions, but this book even contains lists of stores and web sites where voodoo supplies can be purchased. A wonderful complement to books on the history and anthropology of voodoo, including the aforementioned Davis book and books of recipes for spells and charms. Recommended for college libraries and public libraries in areas where African American history and anthropology are popular.ÄJay Stephens, Roanoke Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

For many Americans, formal religions remain remote from everyday concerns, and "scientific" causality (X number of people contract cancer annually) fails to explain why any given individual is afflicted. More dynamic diagnosis and instrumentality are available through the informal votive practices, mystical devices, and talismanic objects that all religions possess--however hidden in their recesses. Long (Smithsonian Institution) provides an engaging introduction to active aspects of African-based religions in the US, documenting and describing historical practitioners and their material culture as a backdrop for present-day merchandizing of candles, aerosols, soaps, and other products meant to gain love, defeat adversaries, win the lottery, and change life for the better. Particular purveyors are interviewed, and addresses and Web sites are provided. Potent products like High John the Conqueror Root are situated in cultural history, and contemporary product design is considered. Long's earnest work makes arcane matters accessible to a popular audience, yet distinct methodological problems arise. A lack of case studies demonstrating particular decisions and the vitality of forms means that ideas and practices become falsely fixed in meaning and moment, as though everyone always has and will observe them the same way. General and undergraduate collections. A. F. Roberts University of California, Los Angeles


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