2009.01.07 Sniff my gris-gris

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I have a little bag of voodoo in my pocket. I know it’s there; I can smell it.

Among the presents I received for Christmas this year, my gris-gris is easily the most unique. I think I can safely assume that no one else in my reading audience got gris-gris this Christmas, or maybe for any Christmas.

When we visited my daughter Rosanna in New Orleans a few weeks ago for cajun turkey, I received an e-mail from my cousin-out-law Ralph. I told him I was in New Orleans and he answered with a brief reply: “Don’t forget your gris-gris.”

I asked Rozee what my gris-gris was and learned that it’s a little voodoo thing to ward off evil spirits or bring you good luck. Or at least to have an interesting smell.

Someone told me recently that New Orleans is the only city he’s visited where he sensed evil. I went to New Orleans without the protection of gris-gris (pronounced gree-gree) but I have it now. Mine is a little flannel bag filled with herbs and seeds and oils. It emits quite a scent.

My gris-gris reminds me of the smell of oil painting. I use to mess around with oil paints in high school and sniffing the bag brings back memories of that.

Rozee was looking for a unique gift on a New Orleans website. She noticed a store with an interesting name—Between Piety and Desire—and learned that custom-made gris-gris was available there.

She went to visit the proprietor, Miss Kathy, who went to work on my voodoo on the basis of a few facts Rozee provided.

Gris-gris always has an odd number of ingredients and mine has 13. An informational card states that Miss Kathy refuses to create items for bad purposes, nor will she ever use items from someone’s body. There’s no hair or nail clippings in my bag. No body fluids. What a relief.

But here’s what I do have: some Spanish moss for the understanding of interdependence; St. John’s wort for good rest; sage for wisdom and patience; angelica for protection; grains of paradise for financial security; mustard seed for faith; and carnation for good health.

There are also four oils: orange for cheerfulness and energy; chamomile for calm and the release of anger; frankincense for divine guidance; and cypress for durability.

There’s also a bit of the gem carnelian for strength and flexibility, and a little snail shell for slowing down and appreciating the world.

Rozee told Kathy that I work a lot. Hence the cypress, carnelian and orange oil. I suppose the snail shell, too. Miss Kathy was quite pleased with her work. A note to my daughter said “This gris-gris is really good.”

I sent an e-mail to Miss Kathy asking if it was OK by her if I kept my gris-gris in the little plastic packet that it came in rather than trailing a scent of those aromatic oils.

Either way was all right by her, although she pointed out the potency of the gris-gris is more pronounced outside the plastic.

I told her I would love to untie the flannel bag and take a look, but I figured that might be against the rules. I was right. Don’t open it. She said there are historical reasons and also practical ones, such as spilling some ingredients and risking the loss of power.

Some people are probably horrified to learn that I have voodoo in my pocket. Why would I want to mess around with that stuff? Most  would simply think I’m nuts to even believe in it. Wait, I never said I believed in it, and besides, Miss Kathy explained that no belief is necessary for it to be effective. “What – you believe that?”

Look, I’m just walking around with an odd Christmas present in my pocket. Now and then I remove it to let someone take a whiff.

Eventually, she says, my gris-gris will lose its power. At that point I can return it to her and she’ll recharge it or I can destroy it. She gives instructions:

“Please don’t burn it or cut it up. The best way is to throw it in water running away from you, with a few words of thanks or farewell.”

If you ever catch me me tossing something from the south side of the Main Street bridge, you’ll know my voodoo is gone.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017