…Got a black cat bone
got a mojo too,
I got John the Conqueror root,
I’m gonna mess with you…
“Hoochie Coochie Man,” Muddy Waters
The black cat is more often than not a sign of bad luck or bad portent. Black cats are considered very unlucky in the European and American traditions. In some European cultures, it is thought that if a black cat crosses your path the only thing you should do is turn around and head home. Black cats are often linked to the Devil and with witches. This is how they became popular as Halloween decorations.
However, the black cat of the African-American culture can mean good luck in the sporting and gambling world. In the case of the black cat bone it is considered lucky or positive. Maybe not for the cat who has a horrific end to it’s life but is good for it’s practitioner. A black cat bone is a type of lucky charm used in the African American magical tradition of hoodoo. It is thought to have properties that will lend to its user a variety of positive effects, such as invisibility, good luck, protection from black magic, rebirth after death, and romantic success.
The way to obtain a black cat bone is disturbing. To secure this bone, they said, a black cat must be thrown alive into a cauldron of boiling water at midnight. Cook the body of a black cat in boiling water with white seeds and wood from the willow until the meat is loosened off the bones.
The job is not finished as now the bone has to be determined. It is not just any bone. It must be discovered which is the magical bone. As only one contains all the magical powers. There are many methods of finding a black cat bone and they range from odd to entertaining.
Some of these techniques or methods are as follows:
- strain the bones in a linen cloth and, in front of the mirror, place the bones, one by one in your mouth, until you become invisible.
- taste each bone, and then select the first bitter-tasting one as the correct one.
- boil the water off and then select the bone that is left on top.
- place each bone in turn beneath the tongue while an assistant stands by to notify the practitioner that he has become invisible.
- throw all the bones into a stream that runs north (uncommon in most of North America), the magical bone will be one that floats on the water and heads south.
- And finally,to determine the magical bone, pass each one of the cat’s bones through your mouth in front of the mirror while reciting, “Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho (3 times). Are you from the motherland? Wonderful!” When the reflection of the bone becomes dark, you have the right one.
Once found, the black cat bone is carried in a mojo bag and anointed with Van Van Oil. Without the coating of oil, the bone is held in the charm-user’s mouth. The oil or fat of the cat is bottled for use as a candle dressing and for anointing gambler’s charms.