The women who ran the diner were sisters. The elder was tall and angular, the younger short and sinuous. One was Velma and the other Ellie, but in any case all their customers called them simply ‘ladies’. Both ladies had dark green eyes that matched the padded seats in the booths, and although they were courteous and not unpretty, their manner in moments of repose was agreed upon as ‘spooky’. Were it not for the vanilla iced tea they would not have nearly as many customers. Still:
‘Ladies,’ Burt Chalmers from the coffee plantation would say, ‘another of your vanilla iced teas, if you please,’ and one or the other would pour out the dark amber liquid from the huge crystal jug that sat sweating on the vinyl counter. The recipe for the vanilla iced tea was obviously a secret. The ladies brought out the jug from the rickety fridge every morning, and when it was gone, it was gone, and the people of the town would trickle away into the sweltering afternoon.
On this day it was hotter than usual and the tea ran out early. After the diner emptied the ladies took off their aprons and turned the sign in the front window around. They let the screen door in the kitchen slap shut behind them and left their shoes and socks like fallen fruit on the grass that streamed down the slope from the back of the diner. At the bottom of the slope was a creek shaded by jade vines and paved with smooth, flat stones. The ladies slipped their brown feet into the water and felt the current tug at the small hairs on their legs, their skirts bunched in their hands and their faces lifted up to the afternoon sun.
A ghost moon hung like a torn circle of napkin stuck to the side of a glass. The scent of frangipani and vanilla and the sharp wet-green smell of the swamp downstream caught in the ladies' hair and slid through their fingers. The younger slipped a pebble between her toes.
‘Do you still think about him?’ said the elder.
‘Hardly at all anymore,’ the younger said. She squeezed the pebble in her toes and it turned to diamond. She took a step back and looked at the pebble diamond glinting at the bottom of the creek. The elder plucked it from the water, holding her sleeve to keep it from drawing up the wet.
‘Haven’t done that for a while,’ she said.
The younger looked at her. ‘We might as well use it.’
The elder nodded and held the pebble diamond up against the tissue-paper moon.
‘Might as well.’
The heat broke the next day and the ensuing storms flooded the creek almost to the diner’s back door. The pebble diamond stayed on the counter next to the vanilla iced tea jug and threatened to succumb to its own flood, as the crystal jug sweated out all the water in the air and blanched the vinyl. No-one came to the diner until the rain stopped a week later, and by then the pebble diamond was nearly forgotten. Until:
‘Now, whose could this be?’ said Maisie Brimblecombe from the sugar mill. But she said it very quietly so as not to wake the child she was carrying in one arm, and so as not to draw the attention of any of the other patrons who had, miraculously, passed the diamond by, or the attention of either of the ladies who had, miraculously, not noticed such a pretty gem lying on the counter right next to the jug of their very famous and, if truth be told, suspiciously delicious vanilla iced tea. The pebble diamond was cool and heavy in her hand. She knew, even though she was young and barely educated and had the sickly-sweet stink of molasses on her all the time, and could barely keep up with the two kids she had already – and that was without taking into account the fussy new one currently cradled in her arm – she knew it was worth money and she knew it could easily be an heirloom from, say, a wealthy and distant but favourite aunt, who was perhaps recently deceased and who had perhaps remembered Maisie in her will. And she knew that was not such a far-fetched idea, really, considering her daddy once owned the sugar mill, instead of merely drunkenly working there until leaving his debt to Maisie with his untimely death (god rest his soul). She knew all this somehow, so she took the pebble diamond and put it in the pocket on the front of her blouse where it rested with a comforting weight, and she paid for her vanilla iced tea and almost looked the ladies right in their dark green eyes as she left into the still-drying street with plans to look up an evaluator, an occupation she was unfamiliar with but which she knew now might help make her a very different woman.
That evening, after they had shut up and the fireflies began to loop beyond the screen door, the ladies took a jug of tea and two glasses to the damp bank and toasted each other. The elder drank immediately, but the younger paused before putting her lips to the glass. The chickens in the coop behind the diner murmured, still grieving. She looked at the rippling creek and the fireflies, and beyond them to the half-moon and the lights of the suburbs, the dark bulk of the sugar mill, and she felt cold in the place where her soul used to be.
‘Will it ever be worth it,’ she said.
‘We could do more,’ said the elder, and the younger nodded, as though that was enough.
At the beginning of 2013, in the middle of a killer Brisbane heatwave, I got a crush on a friend visiting from interstate. I spent every day in his parents' pool with him, drinking beer and doing laps, and every night obsessing. I could make myself come imagining him walking into a room. When we watched a movie together I had a panic attack; he was lying on the bed with his arms behind his head, and I could smell him. It was so intense it felt like voodoo.
Eventually I figured it actually was voodoo: that he'd pissed in the swimming pool at some point and I'd swallowed some of the water. It's an old and simple spell, like menstrual blood in a man's coffee. It made sense. I felt better.
‘Limerence’ is a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe a state of romantic attraction that is coupled with an acute desire to have your affections reciprocated. Unlike love, Tennov says, limerence does not require concern for the welfare and feelings of the other person; it's an almost entirely internalised sensation of being overwhelmed by unreasoned passion. People who experience limerence (they're called ‘limerents’) find themselves dealing with intrusive thoughts about the object of their affection, and are prone to magical thinking – they sift through the details of any interaction with them, searching for signs of reciprocation, and are often frozen in a state of inaction towards their beloved, afraid that anything they do might ruin their chances. The intrusive thoughts can become so affecting that they take on aspects of OCD, and limerence comes with a barrage of physical effects. Limerents can experience heart palpitations, tremors, pallor, flushing, pupil dilation, nausea, dizziness, and passing out. It also causes elevated body temperature and increased relaxation, receptiveness to sexuality (‘general horniness’, in layman's terms), and a tendency towards daydreaming – equal parts agony and bliss. For those who've never experienced it, limerence sounds farcical, but it all sounds achingly familiar to anyone who's ever had a crush.
I remember my crushes from adolescence more vividly than I remember any other of the bewildering phenomena of puberty: I'm in school assembly and he looks at me. I've never blushed before in my life but my face is burning. My first sex dreams are about boys at school and when I see them the next day it's like an electric shock to my groin. In bed with my hands inside my Tweetie Bird pyjamas I barely even know what I want, but I've never wanted anything so much or felt so totally powerless to get it. I feel ill. I feel insane. I am a limerent.
Limerence, says Tennov, exists at the junction of hope and fear, and as a teen I trod a highway through that crossroad.
Of course by age twenty-two I thought I'd moved on from this affliction, then, out of nowhere: swimming pool/panic attack/voodoo. As a kid, it never occurred to me that someone could have put a spell on me; I was always the one planning spells on them.
Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the first anthropologists to undertake immersive ethnography (he lived with the Trobriand Islanders in Melanesia from 1914 to 1918) was the first to understand magic as existing alongside scientific knowledge, rather than in place of it. He described how Trobriand Islanders' shamans had extensive scientific knowledge of gardening – when to plant, what to plant, how to harvest – and they also conducted magical ceremonies in the garden beds. Trobriandian fishermen who fished in safe harbours had little use for magic and stuck to perfecting their net-making skills, but when out on unpredictable open waters they performed elaborate rites to guarantee their safety. In his 1925 essay Magic, Science, and Religion, Malinowski makes the claim that ‘We find magic wherever the elements of chance and accident, and the emotional play between hope and fear have a wide and extensive range’.
Magic plays a role in all cultures, ‘scientific’ or not – in the form of superstition, belief in ghosts, newspaper astrology columns, the genuine fear felt during horror movies, the booming trade of psychics and clairvoyants, and the persistent existence of witches. So it's no wonder that otherwise unsuperstitious folk in a scientific method-based society find themselves leafing through spell books when something like, say, limerence descends. What else encapsulates that intersection so perfectly but love and desire?
Anywhere that magic plays a role, says Malinowski, its power is real, and wherever it exists, so do people who use it. Magic and its practice is not a thing of the past: Hermeticism, American folk magic, shamanism and divination among others are all alive and well. But the big one for Westerners still is Wicca.
At the same time I started crushing, I discovered witchcraft and Wicca, much in the same way as many other nerdy teen girls: I read a lot of fantasy and the thought of a real-world application of magic was pretty thrilling. I collected candles and spell books and sometimes performed their clumsy, fake-feeling spells. I had one book with a section of sealed spells – just pages stuck together with a perforated edge, a tear-in-case-of-magic-emergency situation. One of them was a love spell. At this time, I had a crush on a boy two grades above me. He had no idea I existed, but I never opened that spell – even then I had some understanding of the taboo around making someone love and desire you with magic.
By the time I was old enough to understand sex in clearer terms than a vaguely-realised but intense pubescent desire, I was over the bulk of my high school crushes and my spellbooks were languishing in a garage. Sex was fun and not an area that required sealed-in-case-of-emergency spells. But sex and magic – both mysterious, both exciting, both taboo and illicit and unavoidably human – are not unfamiliar bedfellows.
Your friendly neighbourhood self-identified witch is likely to be Wiccan. It's a spiritual, nature-based religion that purports to be based on ancient beliefs from the British Isles, but in reality started to appear in its current iteration with Gerald Gardner in the mid-20th century and shot to popularity during the New Age movement of the '70s. Wicca places emphasis on a spiritual connectedness with the universe and the fertility-based God and Goddess, but its rules are fairly flexible. In almost any modern witchcraft book available in any new age/self-help section (look for titles like Green Witchcraft and Spell Weaving, or anything by Silver Ravenwolf), you'll find a mash-up of Celtic, Roma, Native American, Norse, and Egyptian traditions and deities. This sort of magic is the gentle kind of ‘spiritual manifestation’ or ‘realisation of intent’ ritual designed to instil a sense of peace and connectedness. As Wiccan author Tudorwolf explains in the introduction to Spells in the City: ‘Spells are like prayers, with the added kick of using nature to fuel them. They are always for good, for healing, and for giving and receiving that which we desire without bending the will of another’. Witches have been around as long as magic has (i.e. forever) while the moratorium against bending another's will is a recent conceit.
Take the witches of the Middle Ages – the ones who ended up burnt at the stake or broken on the wheel courtesy of the Church. It was believed that these witches conjured love spells that could cause unions or prevent them, that this magic was complicated, sinister and involved a whole bunch of demons. Take the following for instance, from the fourth century, reproduced in The Witchcraft Sourcebook which explains that after shaping wax or clay from a potter's wheel into two figures, male and female, with the male appearing like Ares in arms and the woman kneeling and bound, and after pricking the woman with iron needles, the spell-caster must write and recite:
I deposit this binding spell with you, gods of the underworld, and the Kore Persephone Ereschigal and Adonis, the Hermes of the underworld, Touth and powerful Anubis, who holds the keys of those in Hades, the gods and daemons of the underworld, those who died before their time, male and female, youths and maidens, year after year, month after month, day after day, hour after hour. I conjure all the daemons at this place to assist this one daemon. Wake up for me, whoever you are, male or female and go to every place, to every street, into every house, and fetch and bind. Bring me X, the daughter of Z, whose magical substance you have, and make her love me, Y, the son of A. Let her not have intercourse, nether from front nor from behind, and let her not have pleasure with any other man except me, Y. Let her, X, not eat, not drink, not love, not be strong, not be healthy, not sleep, except with me, Y, because I conjure you in the name of the terrifying one, the horrifying one. When the earth hears his name, it will open up. When the daemons hear his awful name, they will be afraid. When rivers and rocks hear his name, they will burst. I conjure you, daemon of the dead… Yes, drag her by her hair, her entrails, her genitals, to me, Y, in every hour of time, day and night, until she comes to me, Y, and remains inseparable from me. Do this, bind [her] during my whole life [to me] and force her, X, to be my slave, the slave of Y, and let her not leave me for a single hour of time. If you fulfil this wish, I will let you rest at once. For I am Adonai, who hides the stars, the brightly radiating ruler of the sky, the lord of the world… Fetch her, tie her, make her love and desire me, Y… Because I conjure you, daemon of the dead, by the terrible, the mighty one, to make you fetch X and make her join head to head, lips to lips, body to body, thighs to thighs, back to back, and do her job of making love with me forever and ever.
Although there are few accounts of witches actually sexually enslaving men with the help of demons – and the above spell is presumably written by a man – the Catholic church was obsessed with the sex lives of female witches; it was supposed that witches took the Devil for a sexual partner. According to Walter Stephens in Demon Lovers, this stemmed from the belief that women were sexually insatiable and could not be satisfied by mortal men.
Stephens describes the trial of a German woman called Walpurga Hausmannin in 1587, who fornicated with a man she had lusted after, only to find that he had, in fact, been a demon in disguise. Despite this deceit, she welcomed him back into her bed the very next night. This was fairly typical of the recorded activity of witches – although their initial sexual contact with demons would often be the result of trickery or coercion, women's lustful natures would prevail. Once lured into sexual depravity, they would then be granted supernatural powers by their demon lovers, and use these powers to commit crimes like those of Hausmannin – causing crop failures, hailstorms, and the death of livestock and children.
During this time the Catholic Church had adopted the position that sex was a ‘necessary evil’ – an activity to be undertaken strictly in order to procreate. In the Malleus Maleficarum, the 1486 how-to guide for witch trials, authors Heinrich Institorius and Jakob Sprenger repeatedly assert that woman is ‘more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many carnal abominations’ and that ‘all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable’. In the popular imagination, witches and sex were completely entangled. Conflicting information on the sex lives of witches abounds, but it's all pornographic. While witches succumbed to seduction due to their lustful nature, by some accounts sex with demons was a grotesque and painful ordeal. The witches' pact with the Devil allowed them bonuses like the ability to fly, but usually in order to get them to Witches' Sabbats: orgies at which they were promised handsome youths but instead were often required to service multiple demons and sometimes Satan himself. Despite their sexual disinterest in mortal men, witches were also rumoured to cause impotence – literally, to steal penises.
What love magic was actually performed is hard to know; by all written accounts, witches from the Middle Ages seemed too caught up in demon sex and baby slaughter to try to make your average mortal man-about-town fall in love with them.
But wherever people fall in love, there are magical traditions designed to mess with it. There is a Maori spell, the papaki, to make a woman who won't consent to be married to the man who desires her go insane; there are Cherokee spells involving chants and spit to fix a lover to you or to separate two lovers of whom you are jealous; and then there's Wicca, with its Rede and Three-Fold Law (whatever you give, you get times three) and gentle reprimands against involving yourself in another's feelings. For those witches who work magic for others rather than themselves, love spells remain the most requested form of magic. Spells in the City's list of love spells reads like a how-to for writing a Lonely Hearts ad to the universe: ‘A spell for a woman seeking a man’, ‘A spell to attract a lover’, ‘A spell to bring passion’. But the Wiccan position is clear: you can't force love.
Sex, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have nearly as many restrictions. Showing their New Age roots, there’s a distinctly free-love flavour to how modern Wiccans approach sex – it's something fun and pleasurable to be enjoyed with the blessing of your deities. The pursuit of a fulfilling sex life is encouraged. There are plenty of spells across various traditions for making yourself more attractive or desirable, and up until the 18th century laws were even proposed to protect men from being ‘beguiled into marriage by false adornments’. Any women found to have beguiled a man through the use of scents, paints, high-heeled shoes, Spanish wool and bolstered hips, among other things, would incur the penalty for witchcraft. Give a man a boner, you're a witch.
The coupling of seduction and witchcraft is a recurring theme, even today. Silver Ravenwolf promises spells to give your relationship a ‘spicy boost’ in Silver's Spells for Love released in 2001 while Pamela Ball includes spells to ‘enhance your attractiveness’, ‘strengthen attraction’, and ‘focus a lover's interest’ in Spell Weaving. It seems like, for a modern Wiccan, love and sex are profoundly compartmentalised. Love is sacred, but magically messing with sex and desire is okay?
Bear in mind that Wicca, in its present form, also purports to be a descendent of pagan fertility religions. Although modern iterations of The Great Rite (sex to ensure a fertile harvest) are usually symbolic – an athame or magical knife representing the God is thrust into a chalice representing the Goddess – plenty of covens approach this fertility ritual with an admirable enthusiasm for tradition. Even non-sex related Wiccan rituals tend to translate to a lot of middle-class white people getting around nude in group settings. In the 1971 British documentary The Power of the Witch a coven of male and female witches dance naked in a ring while chanting in order to heal a friend's arthritis. Later, the initiation of a Wiccan priest's young, beautiful wife is shown: she stands nude on an altar as he kneels before her, kissing her hips, belly, and hands.
Gothic Grimoire – ‘a book of shadows from the shadows’ by a guy called Konstantinos – may tell its readers not to specifically target anyone with its ‘get a date’ spell, but it does include a section on sex magick that encourages practitioners to channel the energy from a sexual encounter, with a partner or alone, to affect their desires – an approach echoed in many Wiccan resources. If spells are prayers sent into the universe using your energy, then orgasm could be the best prayer boost available, and instead of being the goal of your spell, sex becomes the ritual itself. Of course, if you're just after some mind-blowing erotic encounters, there are spells available to ‘call down the moon/sun’ or invite the Goddess/God to inhabit your body while you have sex. Interestingly, most of the how-tos on Wiccan sex magic encourage practitioners not to tell their partner about the true nature of their lovemaking – whether they're doing it to raise energy for another spell or their body is currently being inhabited by Isis, it's on a need to know basis. A curious position for a belief system that posts a two-paragraph warning on free will and ethics above a spell designed to make someone think about you.
When I started crushing, I called it voodoo, but that’s not quite right. Voodoo is a complex Afro-American religion practiced mostly in the Southern United States and, in a slightly different form, in Jamaica and Haiti. Hoodoo is what caused the piss in the pool problem.
Hoodoo deals in spit, semen, sex, and spirits, as well as blood, candles, graveyard dust, St John the Conqueror root, and Jockey Club perfume, to name a few. It does not call spells ‘prayers, with an added kick’. It does not feel fake. To a girl brought into the magical fold by Silver Ravenwolf and Fiona Horne and the rest of the genteel, ribbons-and-feathers Wicca set, hoodoo seems its diametric opposite: visceral, dangerous, and brashly capital-based.
The Encyclopedia of African Religion explains hoodoo as ‘a system of magic, divination, and herbalism widespread among the enslaved Africans in America’, which allows its practitioners access to supernatural forces designed to improve their lives. Depending on where in the United States it's practiced, it can be called ‘hoodoo’, ‘conjure’, ‘goofer’, ‘rootwork’, ‘tricking’, and ‘fixing’ (often interchangeably) – or the delightfully euphemistic ‘helping yourself’, ‘using that stuff’, and ‘doing the work’. Hoodoo has been around at least since 1700, arriving with the slave trade as the folk magic component of voodoo, and by 1860 it was practiced throughout the American South. By 1928 it had made the journey north; the Chicago Defender, the most popular African American newspaper at that time, sported pages of advertisements for hoodoo-related goods and services provided by practitioners called witch doctors, conjure men/women, hoodoos, or root doctors. By then it had wholeheartedly absorbed Christianity as a spiritual foundation, too – Saints and psalms make regular appearances in hoodoo magic. Hoodoo's influence was, and is, huge. Blues songs from the early 20th century are rich with hoodoo references. In ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ Willie Dixon warns:
I got a black cat bone
I got a mojo too
I got the John the Conqueror
I'm gonna mess with you.
And Muddy Waters sings in ‘Louisiana Blues’:
I'm goin' down to New Orleans
Get me a mojo hand;
I'm gonna show all you good-lookin' women
Just how to treat yo' man.
While Dixon might be the Hoochie Coochie Man messing with things himself, Waters' lyrics refer to seeing a root doctor, or hoodoo lady, because hoodoo was (and remains) a means of commerce. It's difficult and highly complicated work that can be spiritually dangerous, and most people who choose hoodoo as a way of manipulating their fate and fortune choose to employ a root doctor. Apparently Michael Jackson, with the help of such a doctor, put a curse on Steven Spielberg intending to kill him. ‘Do no harm’ this ain't.
No longer limited to those living in the Southern United States, root doctors and conjure men and women now exist in abundance online, willing to work with candles, mojo bags, name papers and lodestones in order to get you what you want. Just like in Wicca, spells of the heart and loins are in the highest demand. Here, though, free will tends to be less of a contentious issue.
‘I would say the idea of interfering with 'free will' may be a bit naive,’ says Conjureman Ali, also known as Doctor Raven, of conjuremanali.com, a root doctor from the US who has worked with the doyenne of online hoodoo, catherine yronwode. According to his website, he offers services to help ‘steer your life in the direction that you seek’:
Do we not put our best foot forward when we go on a date? Do we not conceal certain aspects of our lives, wear the best smelling cologne/perfume, dress up, and otherwise manipulate the target of our affections?
Now that isn't to say that hoodoo is without ethics. It certainly has a great deal of ethics, often drawn from a Spiritualist-Christian perspective, that is to say that we believe that if something is truly not meant to be, or within God's Will, then our work and spells may not accomplish what we want. However, we also firmly believe that it's our God-given right to be happy, loved, healthy, and prosperous, and magic done to support this encourages the rightful state of a person.
Conjureman Ali does perform targeted love spells – I could pay him to make someone love me – but ‘always with the intent of healing and repairing the life of my clients,’ he says. ‘It is for this reason I do divination before any work that I do, to consult the guides and spirits I work with.’
But you can do it yourself, too. Luckymojo.com is a sprawling, dense repository of all things hoodoo and otherwise magical, including spiritual sex practices, mojo catalogues, a huge archive of hoodoo-related blues lyrics, and perplexing personal histories of the site's operator, catherine yronwode, and her partner(s). It also includes ‘Free Love Spells’, some of which are definitely not for healing or repairing. Consider ‘Tying Up A Man's Nature’, found in the ‘Female Domination’ section, which involves measuring off a piece of soft cotton string the same length as your intended target's erect penis, getting it soaked in his semen, then tying a knot in it as he responds to you calling his name. After this, he won't be able to get hard with anyone else (those 14th century accusations of witches and penis theft might have had some foundation). The spell instructs you to keep the string in your nation sack – a kind of mojo/charm bag used only by women – because if he finds that string and undoes the knot, a) he's gonna be mad, and b) all your hard work will come undone and he'll leave, fully potent again.
Or consider the aptly-named ‘Love Me Or Die’ spell, that requires you to combine your hair, his hair, John the Conqueror root, graveyard dirt, and brown paper with your names written on it, into a ball that you keep wet with your own urine. He'll either love you or start to get very sick, in which case you can nurse him back to health and he'll be yours anyway.
When it comes to love and desire, hoodoo does not waste time. While Wicca might harness the energy of sexual release or enjoy a spot of God/Goddess role-play to ensure a fertile and lucky year to come, hoodoo tends to deal with the more tangible aspects of romantic unions. Semen, urine, menstrual blood, pubic hair – they're all imbued with the magical essence of someone, and if you want to control them, that's what you'll use to do it. Even a spell that might not seem out of place in a Wiccan text – ‘Bring passion back into a relationship’ – includes the use of pubic hair and the popular genital candles (exactly what they sound like: candles in the shape of penises and vulvas, used regularly in love and sex magic), as well as another hoodoo perennial: powders and oils.
These are an aspect of the capitalist nature of the practice: you have to buy specific powders (‘Attraction Powder’, ‘Love Me Now! Powder’) and oils (‘Come To Me Oil’, ‘Hot Fucker Oil’ – these are real things, promise). A particularly popular oil is ‘Follow Me Boy’; according to folklore it was worn by New Orleans sex workers to ensure a booming trade. One recipe for Follow Me Boy oil includes sweet flag, liquorice, catnip and damiana – all herbs that allow the wielder control over a situation or other people; damiana is a plain old aphrodisiac. You can use Follow Me Boy on your body as a perfume, put it on your sheets or in your nation sack, and incorporate it into any number of rituals, like the one that requires you to bathe with Follow Me Boy bath salts, sprinkle the bathwater on your target's doorstep, and walk away without looking back. Follow Me Boy is designed to catch a man's attention and hold it – to cause desire and give you command over him.
It's a common theme: the nation sack is specifically for women to gain dominion over their male partners. You make your nation sack on the first day of your period, because it's going to function best if you're using your blood and his semen to anoint certain items that go into it, although in a pinch, vaginal fluids will do as well. Once made, you keep adding items to the sack and keep it hidden from your man – as long as you maintain it, you'll be the one in control, just as God intended. According to Lucky Mojo, hoodoo is big on female domination. Consider the single-entendre ‘Essence of Bend-Over’ oil: anointing the corners of your bed with it is purported to accustom your man to the idea of pegging.
Compared to Wiccan love spells (a candle and two pins? Cinnamon oil and red ribbon? Calling down the moon?), this is heavy stuff. For hoodoo, love spells and sexual attraction spells seem to occupy the same part of the practice. ‘Love’ and ‘sexual attraction’ are used in the literature almost interchangably; to gain control of a man's heart, first you gain control of his dick. And more importantly, hoodoo seems to recognise what all magic-wielding limerents want desperately to be true: that love and desire is a choice, and that choice can be influenced.