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What is High John the Conqueror? - La Panthère Studio

What is High John the Conqueror?

One of the cards in The Southern Botanic Oracle is “High John.” This Oracle deck has been lovingly crafted to explore the plants of the  American South, and many of them are included because of their magical uses. You will also find inspiring stories about the trees and plants that are grown, harvested, foraged, or otherwise enjoyed by humans in these parts… but let’s talk about this one today, because many people have never heard of it.

Not all cards in the Southern Botanic Oracle are based in magic; many are inspired by food traditions (such as Butter Beans and Okra), or flower gardening (such as Iris and Azalea), or landscape features (such as Cypress and Hickory trees). However, several roots and herbs are included (such as High John and Angelica) that are significant because of their role in Hoodoo/Conjure magic work.

Traditional Hoodoo is a uniquely American spiritual system based in the folk magic of African Traditional Religions, which have evolved through the centuries to include elements of Catholicism, European folk magic, and Native American healing traditions. In some parts of the South, it is referred to as Conjure, and in other places, it is simply called the Work. When a plant or plant part is included in one of these cards for its significance in Hoodoo, this booklet will provide context for that usage.

High John the Conqueror is a powerful root that is widely used in Hoodoo and Rootwork. It is believed to possess magical properties that can help with a variety of different things, including luck, success, love, and protection.

John or “High John” is a potent and very popular magical root in Hoodoo, and it is usually sourced from the plant known as the Dwarf Morning Glory (some practitioners use other morning glory varietals). The Dwarf Morning Glory itself is a beautiful bedding plant when used decoratively, with majestic, multicolor flowers. The upright trumpet-shaped blooms stay open all day, unlike the standard Morning Glory. This is also not a climbing plant, but rather a bushy mound that develops a thick, bulbous root packed with lots of energy.

Its root, once dried, is highly prized for its magical powers. High John or “conker” roots were introduced to both African and European American settlers by the indigenous North Americans, according to ethnobotanists. Uses have varied over the centuries, of course, but the Cherokee prized it as a cough medicine, a diuretic, and a kidney aid (to suppress urine). In Hoodoo, however, it is less about medicine and more about power.

Here are some of the ways that rootworkers employ high John the Conqueror root in their workings:

1. Luck and Success

One of the most common uses of high John the Conqueror root is in success workings. Rootworkers will often carry the root with them in a mojo bag or place it in a charm or talisman to bring good luck and success in all areas of their life. They may also use the root in candle spells or other types of rituals to draw in luck and success.

2. Love and Attraction

High John the Conqueror root is also used in love spells (called “workings”). Rootworkers often use the root in candle spells, honey jar applications, or other types of rituals to increase a person’s personal magnetism or draw in love and romance.

3. Protection Workings

High John the Conqueror root is believed to possess protective properties. Rootworkers employ it to protect themselves from harm, negative energy, or evil spirits. They may also use the root in candle spells or other types of rituals to create a protective shield around themselves or their home.

4. Strength, Courage, Power

High John the Conqueror root is also used in spells for courage. They use the dried, powdered root in rituals to invite the spirit of High John to come help them overcome obstacles, face challenges, and achieve their goals.
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