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Encyclopedia > John the Conqueror
The roots of Ipomoea jalapa, when dried, are carried as the John the Conquer root amulet.

John the Conqueroo, also known as High John the Conqueroo, John the Conqueror, or John the Conquer root, refers to a number of roots to which magical powers are ascribed in American folklore, especially among the hoodoo tradition of folk magic among African Americans. The root, in turn, is named after a folk hero called High John the Conqueror. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x836, 97 KB)Ipomoea (then: Exogonium) Jalapa, a/k/a John the Conqueror root. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (640x836, 97 KB)Ipomoea (then: Exogonium) Jalapa, a/k/a John the Conqueror root. ... Species I. batatas - Sweet potato I. violacea The genus Ipomoea, with over 500 species, is the largest genus of the family Convolvulaceae. ... An amulet from the Black Pullet grimoire An amulet (from Latin amuletum, meaning A means of protection) or a talisman (from Arabic tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word talein wich means to initiate into the mysteries. ... a cow In vascular plants, the root is that organ of a plant body that typically lies below the surface of the soil (compare with stem). ... The ancient symbol of the pentagram is often used as a symbol for magic. ... The folklore of the United States, or American folklore, is the folk tradition which has evolved on the North American continent since Europeans arrived in the 16th century. ... Hoodoo is a traditional folk magic which originated in the southern United States. ... African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... A folk hero is a person that is idolized by the common person, but loathed by the rich and powerful, because generally the folk hero must take away something from those of the upper class to make life better for the peasants. ...

The root and its magical uses are mentioned in a number of blues lyrics. Regardless of which name is used, in all of these contexts "conqueror" is invariably pronounced "conker". For other uses, see blues (disambiguation) Blues is a vocal and instrumental music form often based on the twelve-bar chord progression. ... Lyric can have a number of meanings. ...


Who is John the Conqueror?

John the Conqueror was supposed to be an African prince who was sold as a slave in the Americas. Despite his enslavement, his spirit was never broken and he survived in folklore as a sort of a trickster figure, because of the tricks he played to evade his masters. Zora Neale Hurston wrote of his adventures ("High John de Conquer") in her collection of folklore, The Sanctified Church. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The word slaves has several meanings and usages: People who are owned by others, and live to serve them without pay. ... Folklore is the ethnographic concept of the tales, legends, or superstitions current among a particular population, a part of the Oral tradition or oral history of a particular culture. ... In the study of mythology, folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, human hero or anthropomorphic animal who breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually with ultimately positive effects. ... Zora Neale Hurston Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891–January 28, 1960) was an African-American folklorist and author. ...

In one traditional John the Conqueror story told by Virginia Hamilton, John falls in love with the Devil's daughter. The Devil sets John a number of impossible tasks: he must clear sixty acres (25 ha) of land in half a day, and then sow and reap the sixty acres with corn in the other half a day. The Devil's daughter furnishes John with a magical axe and plow that get these impossible tasks done, but warns John that her father the Devil means to kill him even if he performs them. John and the Devil's daughter steal the Devil's own horses; the Devil pursues them, but they escape his clutches by shape-shifting. A vibrant, beautiful, educated and dynamic speaker, Virginia Hamilton is a master of her time. ... The Devil is the name given to a supernatural entity who, in most Western religions, is the central embodiment of evil. ... An acre is an English unit of area. ... A hectare (symbol ha) is a metric unit of area. ... Binomial name Zea mays L. Maize (Zea mays ssp. ... The Ax(e) is an ancient and ubiquitous tool that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. ... For the constellation known as The Plough see Ursa Major. ... Shapeshifting, transformation or transmogrification refers to a change in the form or shape of a person. ...

What is John the Conquer root?

The root known as High John the Conqueroo is (supposed to be) the root of Ipomoea jalapa, an Ipomoea species related to the morning glory and the sweet potato. The plant is known in some areas as bindweed or jalap root. It has a pleasant odour, but it is a strong laxative if taken internally. It is not used for this purpose in folk magic; it is instead used as one of the parts of a mojo bag. It is typically used in sexual spells of various sorts. It is likely that the root acquired its magical reputation because, when dried, it resembles the testicles of a dark skinned man. Because of this, when the root is used as an amulet, it is important that the root used be whole and unblemished. Dried pieces of the root are used in oils and washes that are used in other sorts of spells. Species I. batatas - Sweet potato I. violacea The genus Ipomoea, with over 500 species, is the largest genus of the family Convolvulaceae. ... Ipomoea indica in Baja California Morning glory is one of several climbing plants of the following species, all belonging to the Convolvulaceae. ... Binomial name Ipomoea batatas Linnaeus The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet-tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. ... Species See text Bindweeds are annual or herbaceous perennial vines in the genus Convolvulus, in the Morning Glory family Convolvulaceae. ... Jalap is a cathartic drug consisting of the tuberous roots of Ipomaea purge, a convolvulaceous plant growing on the eastern declivities of the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico at an elevation of 5000 to 8000 ft. ... A laxative is a preparation used for encouraging defecation, or the elimination of feces. ... Mojo (pronounced: mO-jO) originated as a term with a specific meaning, but in the late 20th century became a very fluid term with many different meanings. ... Look up testicle on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... An amulet from the Black Pullet grimoire An amulet (from Latin amuletum, meaning A means of protection) or a talisman (from Arabic tilasm, ultimately from Greek telesma or from the Greek word talein wich means to initiate into the mysteries. ...

Cecil Adams has claimed that John the Conquer root is the root of St. John's wort[1]; however, according to Cat Yronwode, Cecil Adams is mistaken. St. John's wort root is much smaller than genuine John the Conqueroo, and the roots of that plant are unsuitable to be carried as amulets. As the blues lyrics below make clear, John the Conquer root is carried by the user, and the spell is cast by rubbing the root. Cecil Adams is the pen name of the author of The Straight Dope since 1973, a popular question and answer column published in The Chicago Reader, syndicated in thirty newspapers in the United States and Canada, and available online. ... Binomial name Hypericum perforatum Linnaeus, St Johns wort used alone refers to the species Hypericum perforatum, also known as Klamath weed or Goat weed, but is used with qualifiers to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum. ... cat yronwode (born Catherine Manfredi in San Francisco, May 12, 1947 - ) is a writer and editor notable for her extensive career in comic books, in particular for her role as an editor for Kitchen Sink Press and the now-defunct Eclipse Comics company; she now works for Claypool Comics. ...

Other herbs related to the legend

Other herbs are linked to the same body of legends. Low John is the root of the trillium or wake-robin, Trillium grandiflorum. It too is carried about on the person for assistance in family strife. Species See text Trilliums (also Wakerobins) used to be members of the Trilliaceae or Trillium family, a part of the Liliales or Lily order. ... Species See text Trillium is a genus of about 40-50 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants, native to temperate regions of North America and Asia. ... Binomial name Trillium grandiflorum (Michx. ...

"Chewing John" is galangal, Alpinia galanga. This is chewed much as chewing tobacco is chewed, to sweeten the breath. It is said that if you spit the juice from chewing this root onto the floor of a courtroom before the judge enters, you will win your case. Kaempferia galanga Galangal (Thai: ข่า), is a rhizome with culinary and medicinal uses, best known in the west today for its appearance in Thai cuisine (e. ... Species N. acuminata N. alata N. attenuata N. bigelovil N. clevelandii N. debneyi N. excelsior N. exigua N. forgetiana N. glauca N. glutinosa N. kawakamii N. knightiana N. langsdorffii N. longiflora N. obtusifolia N. otephora N. paniculata N. plumbagifolia N. quadrivalvis N. repanda N. rustica N. × sanderae N. suaveolens N... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ...

Blues lyrics

The magic of John the Conqueroo has become known well beyond the circle of hoodoo practitioners by being mentioned in a number of well known blues lyrics. Willie Dixon wrote a song called "My John the Conquer Root", whose first verse goes: Willie Dixons style of blues was one of the inspirations for a new generation of music, rock and roll. ...

My pistol may snap, my mojo is frail
But i rub my root, my luck will never fail
When i rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain't nothin' she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root

In 1954, Muddy Waters recorded a very popular version of Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man" song with an additional verse mentioning John the Conqueroo: 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1915 – April 30, 1983), better known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician and is generally considered the father of Chicago blues. ... Willie Dixons style of blues was one of the inspirations for a new generation of music, rock and roll. ...

I got a black cat bone, I got a mojo too,
I got the John the Conqueroo, I'm gonna mess with you,
I'm gonna make you girls, lead me by my hand,
Then the world will know, the Hoochie coochie Man.

External link


  • Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by Catherine Yronwode. ISBN 0971961204
  • The Sanctified Church by Zora Neale Hurston. ISBN 0913666440

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