Mountain Conjure and Southern Rootwork
Previously published as The Candle and The Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root Work
by Orion Foxwood
Published by Red Wheel / Weiser Books
Publication date: January 1, 2021
I have always been drawn to the practice of conjure – maybe it’s the power in the word itself. It evokes the ability to “conjure up” magic, healing, spirits and who know what else. I know little about it, and indeed, have followed other pathways. I took the opportunity to read Mountain Conjure and Southern Root Work find out more. Orion Foxwood was raised in his family’s tradition of Appalachian Mountain conjure and root magic, taught by his mother and local root workers who continue to work with him as ancestors. This is the first book I have read about conjure and my first read by Orion Foxwood. I am so glad I did!
Foxwood grounds the book in the history, culture and religious foundations of conjure. It is a confluence of the streams of “many threatening cultural encounters, not the least of which were slavery, forced relocation, cultural assimilation/homogeneity and genocide of indigenous Native American people and their practices,” along with an undertone of European paganism “with a Christian overlay” (52). It is a magical practice for finding spiritual power in a repressive culture, a magical path to freedom, as he calls it, “a path… of spiritual sovereignty in the face of oppression and adversity” (227). Foxwood was born with “the veil” and recounts his personal experiences in apprenticing to conjure, including the foundational practices he uses, the nature of the spirits he has encountered and the Three Paths to Cultivating Spirit. This section of the book makes for fascinating reading! His descriptions of energetic and spiritual streams apply to many forms of otherworldly work, as I understand it.
Once he has given us an overview of conjure and how he came to the work, Foxwood gives us practical methods for working with Ancestors, the Dead and graveyard magic, spiritual and energetic cleansing or “uncrossing” negative influences, and “working at the crossroads” or how to walk in the physical and spirit worlds with power. Foxwood emphasizes working the root, or essence of yourself as you embody the spirit of creation, and growing your spirit in a good way. In fact, this is the core of conjure practice as he details it. He writes beautifully about this root work and describes practical methods for it. This is not a “recipe” spell book, however. The roots of the magic are woven throughout the book and without reading the entire thing, you’ll miss the essence of the essential root work and spiritual relationship development needed before the magic has true power.
There is a recommended reading list and a section on resources for further exploration and study.
Mountain Conjure and Southern Root Work is a great read and a great reference. Because Foxwood sets the context of the cultures in which his particular family practice arose and the individual teachers who mentored him, the Christian influences that run throughout the book make perfect sense. I did not find them triggering, although there are some who might. Foxwood is generous in describing and sharing his ways of working. Since conjure is not a part of my recent familial lineage work, I do not think I will use these methods exactly as he has described them, but he has inspired for me new ways to think about the work I do. The writing is beautiful and evocative. For example:
“[an invocation] came through me during a session of turning my
awareness inward toward the eternal stream of ancestral
presence, essence and universal rhythm that knows no end and is
always beginning…My mother called it “the knowing.” It is into
this state of being that all conjurers go for inspiration,
incarnation…It dwells where the web of fate and the river of stars
join in a dance of creation and revelation. To engage in these
states of being, magic workers must part the perceived veil
between the worlds and take the spirit of their seeking to that
place where humanity and divinity meet-the crossroads. At the
crossroads, the gate to the web of fate opens and the spirit roads
This is resonant, powerful writing and reflects the spirit that flows through this book. It also is a beautiful way of describing where those who practice magic of any kind can source connection. Whether you practice conjure or not, Mountain Conjure and Southern Root Work is worth reading for the writing alone, as well as for the wonderful, practical discussion of the work! Foxwood’s other books, which include books on faery magic, are now on my reading list.
Orion Foxwood is a conjurer in the American southern folk tradition, a traditional witch and a Faery Seer. He is the founder of Foxwood Temple of the Old Religion in Maryland and a co-founder of Conjure Crossroads and the annual Folk Magic Festival held in New Orleans and Conjure-Con. He was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and is the author of The Tree of Enchantment and other books.
About the Author:
Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.
Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.
Open Channel Astrology www.openchannelastrology.com
Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com