I get many of the same questions and complaints from patrons and potential patrons about people they’ve worked with in the past. So I decided to weigh in on the issue of fraudulent spell casters in the ATR and diaspora category. There are a few signs that may indicate a fraudulent spell caster. Some of these may apply to spell casters of any type, but in this article, we’ll focus on those in Voodoo, Conjure, etc.
Before we begin, let me be clear that showing any of these signs does not necessarily make someone a fraud. They may simply be misguided or just not very spiritually mature. These things should not be considered definitive proof that someone is a fraud, but it should make someone cautious about taking their help beyond a point. They are at least signs of severe misalignment or bad instruction.
- An obsession with calling others frauds and scam artists.
Someone who is spiritually mature doesn’t attempt to discredit someone else’s spirituality, and is careful about deeming large masses of people frauds simply because they don’t follow the same belief system.
I have seen one claim all root workers must have a Christian background…like non Christian areas of Asia and Africa don’t exist, and nobody ever intermarries with other ethnicities…and like “root work” is a religion with a set cannon and dogma or something.
“Pure” does not exist in witchcraft. We all have influences that come from many places, and many of us are of mixed ancestry. So starting with our Ancestors, we have to embrace two or more ancestral pantheons.
There is no “traditional Hoodoo”. It is mixed and it varies throughout many areas of north America, and has spread throughout the western world already. There is no “traditional Conjure”. Conjure is a general term for practical magic that has elements of ceremonial magic. There is no “traditional Root Work”. Root work covers all practical magic and folk medicine using herbs among the poor in north America. Even Obeah has variations. The Lukumi have many that vary from city to city, house to house. There is no “one true way”. One-true-wayism is a red flag.
Certain practices fit under certain umbrella terms, but differences do not indicate fraud, just difference.
- Claims they are the most powerful sorcerer and/or their style of magic is the most powerful.
All magic is powerful because the forces of Nature are powerful. Ill will or good will directed by the right person at the right time under the right circumstances can be powerful. Spell casting is just doing it in an organized way to produce reasonably predictable results. Saying that a specific style of magic is most powerful is like saying that physicists are more powerful than biologists.
Because it is somewhat eclectic from the outset, and covers both practical and ceremonial magic, Obeah could be considered one of the most powerful systems, but this does not mean that a Hoodoo practitioner living on a mountain in Kentucky could not be a better sorcerer than an Obeah man. It’s not the system that makes the sorcerer. It’s the Spirits and that individual’s connection to them and alignment with Nature.
- No photos of themselves, no network, no nothing.
No evidence that this person does any actual magic work. Even if I don’t understand another’s way of doing things, as long as they’re doing the work, and it’s metaphysically sound, I have no beef with them. Some people’s style looks more like working in a lab with chemicals/ingredients and a lot of energetic chanting. Some people like to go out to the woods. Some people trance, fast, and channel energy through their bodies.
In any case, there will be some evidence of their doing the work…not just a lot of talking or writing. If all you see is talking and writing, and you never even see any of the supplies they hopefully bought with what clients and donors have paid them for the work, then they may not be doing anything.
- Too many testimonials about love spells and curses.
Nobody who has had this kind of work done on their behalf runs around bragging about it. Well, I know only one and that was just because he was so happy his enemy was vanquished that he felt the need to celebrate. In the end, I didn’t post his testimonial because it could be dangerous for him and me.
Usually, people will want to show some discretion so the person on whom the spell was cast doesn’t find out about it and counter it. In the cases that I have had to go up against the work of a powerful witch and won, even if I’m not worried about her/him, if they have helpers, I don’t want them coming after me. Whoever doesn’t fear Nature is a fool.
- Hating on Africans or African American practitioners while claiming to use a form of African magic.
Someone using the terms “mojo” and “wanga” and then at the same time hating on Africans and calling Africans frauds because we don’t do things the same way is a big red flag.
If someone is Rodnoverian or doing another form of fairly area-limited European magic and claims that theirs is stronger for Europeans, then whether or not one would agree, this is at least not hypocritical or culture theft. If they say they’re practicing Hoodoo, but all of their ways are derived from European practices, this is borderline, but still at least not hypocritical. They may be misguided, but again, at least not engaging in any culture theft. Maybe they’re just isolated and don’t know that their Hoodoo is unique, and that most Hoodoo is mixed African, Native American, European, Asian, etc.
If they claim Lukumi, Santeria, Hoodoo (while using African terms for things), Ifa, Vodun, Voodoo, or Vodou, but then claim that Africans are frauds because they don’t conform to their arbitrary ways, then this person spits on the Ancestors and should not be trusted at all. Beware of anyone non African claiming to be practicing African spirituality or magic better than Africans.
For that matter, beware of infiltrators and agents in the African American community claiming that any form of diaspora spirituality is somehow better or more powerful than the original Ifa or Vodun. This is some division that some tried to sow after trying to actually steal ATR from us in the Americas didn’t work. On the one hand, the religion is not the witchcraft, and some diaspora forms may be more immediately or expediently relevant than Ifa in the Motherland, but on the other, Africa is the Motherland. You don’t insult the source of your spirituality and traditions.
- Related to the above, African witches, priests, and babalawo don’t trust, endorse, or interact with them.
Once someone has opened their mouth and said something stupid against Africans, we don’t always attack. It would be like playing whack-a-mole. The world is full of posers. You can’t get them all. One can however, simply opt out of dealing with them, endorsing them, or supporting them in any way.
As I’ve said many times before, no African priest I have ever seen has ever judged anyone in the diaspora for doing whatever they needed to survive. None has ever condemned anyone in the diaspora for having a mixed pantheon or ancestry, so long as everyone was respected. There are deities of other pantheons present in Vodun temples in Africa. So if someone is avoided by Africans in Africa and the diaspora, then they did or said something REALLY messed up.So that you’re aware, even though again, the religion is not the witchcraft here is a list of the red flags that an actual priest/ess of real deal African Vodun is looking for when someone makes a claim that they are serving through an African traditional religion.
As an aside, you may notice that most Obeah, Brujeria, and Kindoki practitioners in the diaspora tend to be more accepting than many others of our limitations. There is a lot we can do as witches and sorcerers/esses, but at the point that someone wants to for-sure know who is their head Orisha, Lwa, Mpungo, etc. or needs community, we are referring them or at least sending them in the right direction to find an actual priest/ess or babalawo. It is very rare for a witch to be able to stradle both roles as a witch and a priestess, despite what trends you see in the new age style western magic community.
Too many people are running around calling themselves a priest or priestess of a deity, but not living that life. Though I am a dedicated child of my head Orisha, I am not going door to door in my neighborhood demanding donations to feed my local female martial artists, veterans, and warriors, though I do what I can for them. There are many things that priestesses do that I don’t, so I don’t call myself a priestess. I don’t need to. I do what I can for folks, and leave the priestessing to the priestesses to whom I happily refer anyone who needs them and not a witch.
- Again, related to the above, they would never refer you to someone else.
Every witch can’t do everything. Every witch doesn’t do every style of magic. If you need something culture specific, search within that culture. If someone outside that culture who has no evidence of any experience with it claims they can do it then well, they are experimenting or just lying to you.
- You don’t have to do anything to help the spell or maintain its energy.
“Just sit back and relax, and I’ll solve all your problems…” Nature doesn’t work that way. All witches have to operate within the forces of Nature. Sometimes what we may do may seem miraculous, but then so does a beautiful domino arrangement.
In order to receive blessings from a deity, you must at least be living and behaving in a way that draws that deity’s energy. If you ask for help from Oshun, you need to actually value the gifts that she has given you, like beauty, prosperity, etc. If you are ungrateful for having a roof over your head, she is not going to bless you with a bigger home. If you treat your lovers like dirt, or being really honest, take them for granted and expect them to act against Nature for you, then she is not going to bring them back to you…at least not for long.
The offerings that are given as a part of your spellwork (again, different witches have different ways, like one sorcerer’s ochinchin may be another’s kyara agarwood incense) do have power. It creates a burst of directed energy that flows out to Nature with the objective of fulfilling your desire. However, it is your responsibility to maintain this energy and keep an open channel to receive the blessing.
If Oshun brings your man back, but your home is a mess, he is not going to stay. If someone gave you the impression that you can receive blessings and then take them for granted or misuse them, and they will stay, they sorely misled you.
- The money back guarantee.
Because so many things can go wrong (like someone messing up their blessings, or something simply being against Nature), a spell caster would be irresponsible to give a money back guarantee. There is a bit of a catch with this one because things that can be guaranteed are gravity, the sun coming up in the morning, the turning of the moon, etc. In truth, if someone gives offerings to a deity in charge of a force of Nature, and respects that force of Nature, they will receive some sort of blessing for it. It won’t be like nothing will happen. It’s just that you may not get what you initially wanted.
The reason not to give a “money back guarantee” is that it sets up a bad situation in which a person may renege on their offerings. If a person doesn’t get the blessing they wanted, they will demand their money back, and this will be bad for them. They may not be able to see how the deity the offerings were given to blessed them because they are focused on the thing they wanted. If Oshun didn’t bring your man back because there was no way to do so without breaking his mind, but she already blessed you with a windfall of money that was many times what you paid the spellcaster, and you take your offering back, she may take many times that money away. I would not want to put my patrons in that position.
- Invisible costs.
Sometimes you can’t afford what you want. A spell caster should be honest with you about this. Some are afraid to tell you up front how much something will cost because they feel they are in competition with the marketing claims of western practitioners who often just light a candle or some incense and say a prayer, and don’t invest a significant proportion of donations in supplies.
This is related to the “no evidence” thing. The African and diaspora way (and I am generalizing here, as there may be some rare person who gets excellent results from just lighting a stick of Dollar Store Black Love incense and wishful thinking) is to give offerings to the deities and spirits they seek help from, make a seal, a talisman, or some physical clarification of the objective/desire, and do some expression like dance, chanting, or focused prayer, to manifest the energy in the physical realm.
It is sometimes more complicated, especially for advanced sorcerers who do “near death” trancing and have walked a long way down a certain path. Time and reality has a different meaning for them, and there are different options, but it is still physically taxing. Then there are the different heads and initiates with different natural talents and doors open to them. What may be difficult for one may be a breeze for another.
Generally though, we know how much the supplies , transportation, and practical elements of the spell will cost, how much energy it will require from us, and how long it will take us to recover. This is why most have discounts during festival seasons. We can do many things in one trip, we have our ile to help us, or because a certain energy is peaking, it will take less from our physical bodies.
So when discussing the price of spells, this is relative to the sorcerer, so I’m not going to go into what is too much or too little. However, you should see some evidence that your spell caster does invest in their work, and if something will require long term offerings or multiple attempts, or maintenance, they should tell you at the beginning, or as soon as they are made aware. If too many hidden costs pop up along the way, be wary.
Also, timing and natural cycles come into play. In your impatience to see results, you may not give things the time that is required to manifest. It’s not necessarily fraudulent, but some sorcerers are perfectly willing to let you send them a ton of money every week if you want, trying to speed things up. Sometimes, if they didn’t tell you the right costs of the work initially, they are relieved that you want to send them more money to cover the real costs.
Again, these signs don’t necessarily mean a fraud, but you should be careful. It has become far too common a practice for people to engage in hating others in order to get more clients. They think most people seeking help are dumb enough to buy their ranting about how everybody else is wrong except them. I don’t want to be one of those people. The only fraud is the person who disrespects the Ancestors or the deities or the people from whom they steal superficial props without understanding or respecting where they came from on purpose.
Someone who actually does the work, even if they are a misguided or unpleasant or even crazy person, is a real sorcerer. Some people were taught wrong by their elders. Some people, especially in the U.S. grew up with a horribly overblown sense of entitlement and blindness to how they harm others with their hatred. Some are so deep in the darkness that they don’t even know when they’re expressing racism. This does not mean that they are purposefully defrauding people. They may just not know better.
Still, when you think of who you want to go to for help, these are things to be mindful of. Do you want help from someone who calls the Orishas while hating on the people who named them for the world? Is it okay for someone to promise you guaranteed results if there is a possibility that you might not get them? Just think carefully before you direct your offerings through someone who may look down on you.
Blessings and Ase!
P.S. Comments are closed for this article because I noticed that such articles attract spammers and haters. If you’d like to say something on this topic, or you have an article, you’d like me to link to, please use the contact form.
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