On particular section that caught my attention in this week’s reading was from Chapter Nine of Sernett’s book. It was written by Henry Bibb, who was an escaped slave. Henry wrote about how many slaves turned to a practice known as conjuration for religious fulfillment, rather than to the Catholic Church. He cited three or four incidents from his younger days, saying that he believed that conjuration made him powerful enough to do whatever he wanted and still avoid consequence. He found this to be false when he came back late one Monday and was whipped for his misbehavior. Not allowing this incident to dampen his belief that conjuration would make him invincible, he went to a different old slave who practiced conjuration. The slave told him to sprinkle a substance over his master’s hat and boots to stop him from ever abusing Bibb again. This method did not work either. He tried again to use conjuration after this, this time in a different situation. A conjurer told him a way to make any girl he wanted fall in love with him by scratching her with the bone of a frog. Bibb attempted to use this charm on a girl that he knew to be with another man, to no avail. Even after this third failure, Bibb simply went to a different conjurer. The fourth conjurer told him to obtain a lock of hair from the girl he desired and put it into his shoes in order to make someone fall in love with him. He tried this on a different girl, but yet again the conjuration does not work-or, rather, he never got a chance to test it because the girl would not give him a lock of her hair. His stubbornness and unflinching belief in conjuration, despite its many, many flaws-mainly the fact that it never actually worked for him-displays how desperate slaves were for anything at all that would give them even a little bit go hope.
Leave a reply