Talk:Mojo (African-American culture)

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Shouldn't the pronounciation be məʊdʒəʊ (IPA format)?--droptone 08:33, 9 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We sure that isn't just British slang? I can see the transition from one to the next being pretty easy...

Its nothing this Briton has ever heard

Which Perth? It should say Perth, Australia, Perth, New York, Perth North Dakota, or Perth, Scotland. It just does not seem to make sense as none of them are anywhere near Africa, have much association with the slave trade, and the African origins of the word.

He must have gotten it from The Doors' song that has the line "Mr. Mojo rising..." Well, that's what it sounds like he's saying, anyway! --LS

"Mr Mojo Risin'" being an anagram of "Jim Morrison"

Tim, explain to me why a mention of the word in a stupid movie merits a mention on the page about the topic.  :-)

Because it is how the word is used by people.

Well, the movie mention does (I'll stipulate) illustrate how the word is used by people. But how does the movie merit a mention for that reason?

It is the second most relevent fact about the subject. -TS

Uh, OK.  :-)

"Despite these appropriations of the term by largely Anglo-American urban people, the word mojo continues to mean exactly what it always has meant in the African American community -- namely, a conjure hand." - This doesn't sound at all like a NPOV. It sounds like resistance to acknowledging the broader use of the term outside of its original meaning. The fact that it is more broadly used now requires us to acknowledge the other well known meanings. 14:31, 22 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No attempt was made to remove or downplay other meanings, simply to reiterate the still primary meaning. I am not sure if you know, but when i found the page, all references to the AA use of the word were in the PAST TENSE, which struck me as cultural appropriation and also not a NPOV. It seemed to be saying "We have taken this word away and those old-time Black folks don;t really exist anymore." I edited those references to present tense and i simply wanted to close with that affirmation. I admit the word "exactly" is a little strong and will delete it or accede to its deletion. By the way, white people have increasing come to accept the primary meaning (a charm bag): we sell upwards of five hundred custom-made mojo bags per year through my internet shop, of which about half are purchased by white people, to judge by their voices on the phone.

Mmm. The paragraph directly above was written by me. Sorry, i forgot to sign it. Catherineyronwode 21:50, 23 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Internet Uses?[edit]

I care here because it is such a popular term on Daily Kos, but the main page doesn't seem to address that meaning. I sort of intuit (but I wanted a real definition) that on Daily Kos, Mojo is generated by people recommending comments (but not diaries) and that determines where a diary is posted and whether a user earns trusted user status. It seems to be something like the lifeforce of a diary and a user's rank.

Sounds like the term is being used in that context by people who don’t really know what it means. Jwicklatz (talk) 07:09, 12 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not a metaphor[edit]

Today i removed the following well-intentioned addition to the mojo page, and i would like to explain why:

The magic charm or mojo that blues musicians sang about was frequently a specifically sexual magic charm, perhaps using magic as a metaphor for sexual pulling power (for example, when Muddy Waters' sings Got my mojo working but it just won't work on you).

My reasons:

  • Past tense: As noted in another talk page entry above, there is a tendency for white folks to place the mojo in the past tense. A clear example can be found in the writing of the blues scholar Stephen C. lavere, who wrote a page of definitions of terms heard in old blues songs and called the mojo an "obsolete" term despite the fact that they are made, sold, used, carried, and worn all over the nation right now. This white belief thqat the mojo is a past-tense item is slowly changing, but as recently as 2000 or 2001 a TV reporter put me in touch with an archaeologist who had uncovered a cache of hoodoo goods at an old house site and the archaeologist was flabbergasted to learn that these things are still being made and used. He thought that it had "all died out." Not so. As i said above, we mak and sell about 500 of them per year in our one little shop, and folks are making them all over the country.
  • "frequently a specifically sexual magic charm": I do not think that this is true. Mojo hands are made for all sorts of purposes, and sexuality is not the most common reason that mojos are mentioned in blues songs.
  • In "Spider's Nest Blues" by Hattie Hart and the Memphis Jug Band, Hart wants to go to New Orleans to get her toby (mojo) "fixed" because she is "having so much trouble" -- the mojo is protective and its power is wearing off, as witnessed by the "bad luck" she is having.
  • In "Mojo Hand" by Lightnin' Hopkins, the singer complains about a woman who is "always raising sand" (causing arguments and fights) and he wants to get a mojo hand so that the women will "come under [his] command" -- in other words, he wants to rule, control, and dominate a woman instead of being the target of her bickering.
  • In "Louisiana Hoo Doo Blues" by Ma Rainey, the mojo is protective of an established love relationship and the singer is going to Lousiana to get a mojo hand because she's "gotta stop these women from taking my man."
  • In "Little Queen of Spades" by Robert Johnson, the woman has a mojo and uses it to gamble at cards and win and the mojo explains her otherwise inexplicable winning streak: "everybody says she's got a mojo, 'cause she's been using that stuff".
  • In "Hoodoo Hoodoo" by John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson, the mojo is used to break up a menage a trois: "I'm goin' down into Louisiana and buy me another mojo hand, all because I got to break up my baby from lovin this other man."
  • In "Mojo Boogie" by J. B. Lenoir, the narrator is given a jack (mojo) by his aunt but doesn't know how to use it: "I got one jack, sure is crazy / My aunt forgot to teach me, just how to operate it / I went to a night club, I was squeezing it tight / I believe that's the cause of them people's start to fight ." The mojo in this case causes people to quarrel.
  • In "Hoodoo Lady Blues" by Arthur Crudup, the mojo is again protective of a relationship by causing a break-up with an outside lover. The narrator asks, "please give me a hoodoo hand; I wanna hoodoo this woman of mine, I believe she's got another man." As with Lightnin' Hopkins, what bothers the man is not sexual, rather it is the woman's argumentativeness: "Now, she squabbles all night long, she won't let me sleep / Lord, I wonder what in the world this woman done done to me."

There are hundreds of songs about mojos, and very few refer to sexuality per se.

  • "using magic as a metaphor for sexual pulling power": This is not true. When mentioned in blues songs, a mojo -- or magic, [e..g. hoodoo -- is almost never used as a metaphor. It is, as the Germans would have it, "das ding an sich" -- the thing itself. That's why there are so many different kinds of mojos referred to in songs. And even when the mojo IS used mtaphrically, it does not refer to "sexual pulling power" but to a woman's genitals! This is the metaphor found in several songs -- notably "Scarey Day Blues," "Talkin' to Myself," and "Ticket Agent Blues" all by Blind Willie McTell -- in which a woman's "got a mojo and she's tryin' to keep it hid." The hidden mojo is a metaphor for her hidden genitals and the male singer says that he's "got something to find that mojo with." This is not a metaphor about "sexual pulling power" -- it is the bag or purse-like mojo as a metaphor for female genitalia. Mojos are more often associated with women than with men. In fact, it is interesting to note that Preston Foster 's "I've got my mojo working but it just don't work on you" was not intended as a song for Muddy Waters, and, in fact, the first recording of that song was by a woman, Ann Cole.

I hope this little pile of lore and information helps others editing the page. I may try to figure out a way to place some of it on the page itself at a later date.

Catherineyronwode 07:31, 21 May 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Catherine, my apologies for my unhelpful edit to the page.


austin powers: "I'VE LOST MY MOJO!!!!"

O RLY?[edit]

If it's not really a metaphor, then mention it's often mistaken or interpreted as metaphor by listeners who aren't aware of the literal meaning.

In popular culture section[edit]

Is this the right article for representation? Anna Frodesiak (talk) 05:01, 2 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:African-American gospel which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RMCD bot 23:17, 18 February 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

article should mention the frequent misuse[edit]

this excellent article has lots of good detail about the real meaning of mojo, but unfortunately I think some mention needs to be made of the way it has been misunderstood and used as a metaphor for something like sexual prowess or virility, since that is unfortunately the only meaning known to many people (presumably mostly white?), many just ignorant, perhaps misled first by Jim Morrison and other followers and wannabes. Maybe somebody more knowledgeable can add that or i will at some point. Without mentioning this foolishness, the article is, sadly, incomplete David Couch (talk) 06:26, 28 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]