CHRISTIAN CO. (Mamie Hanbery)


A snake head an’ er lizard tail, Hoo-doo; Not close den a mile o’ jail, Hoo-doo; De snake mus’ be er rattlin’ one, Mus’ be killed at set uv sun, But never while he’s on de run, Hoo-doo.

Before you get de lizard cot, Hoo-doo; You mus’ kill it on de spot, Hoo-doo; Take de tail an’ hang it up, Ketch de blood in a copper cup, An’ be sure it’s uv a pup, Hoo-doo.

Wait until sum stormy weather, Hoo-doo; Put de head an’ feet together, Hoo-doo; In a dry ol’ terrapin shell, Let ’em stay fer a good long spell, But don’t you ever try to sell, Hoo-doo.

De rattlers mus’ be jus’ seben, Hoo-doo; But mus’ not be ober leben, Hoo-doo; He mus’ be curl’d up fix’d to fight, But see dat you don’ let him bite, Den you hit w’en de time is right, Hoo-doo.

Ef you do, it’s power is dead, Hoo-doo; ‘Cause it is all right in de head, Hoo-doo; Save de head and de buttons, too, Fer de work you’ll have ter do, You will need ’em till you’re thru, Hoo-doo.

Ketch a live scorpen wid you han’, Hoo-doo; Drown in mare’s milk in a pan, Hoo-doo; Den dry it on a pure lime rock, Ninety-nine minutes by de clock, Hoo-doo.

Den git a hand which is a bag, Hoo-doo; Made uv any sort uv rag, Hoo-doo; An’ let de top be color’d blue, Den git de hair frum out de shoe, Hoo-doo.

Now we’n you find de folks ain’t well, Hoo-doo; An’ dey wants you to move de spell, Hoo-doo; Git your gredients together, Ster dem up wid a goose feather, In sum dark an’ cloudy weather, Hoo-doo.

Den put ’em in de hoo-doo bag, Hoo-doo; In dat little blue top rag, Hoo-doo; Den slip ’em in between de ticks, Ef you want de conjure fixed, Is de way you do de tricks, Hoo-doo.

Ef dey wants you to git ’em well, Hoo-doo; Dat is de han’ dat moves de spell, Hoo-doo; Take it out before der eyes, An’ you mus’ be awful s’prised, And dey will think dat you is wise, Hoo-doo.

Den lay right down on your back, Hoo-doo; Ef you hear de timbers crack, Hoo-doo; Den yer kno’s yer trick has won, Den you’ll ast er-bout de mon, For you kno’s yer work is done, Hoo-doo.

Now ef you wants de conjure fixt, Hoo-doo; All you do is to turn de tricks, Hoo-doo; Jes git dat bottle what you had, An’ to make your patient glad, Is but to make de conjurer mad, Hoo-doo.


Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007-2024. The WPA Slave Narratives must be used with care. There is, of course, the problem of confusion in memory resulting from (73+ years) of the participants. In addition, inexperienced interviewers sometimes pursued question lines related to their own interests and perspectives and attempted to capture the colloquialism of the informant's speech. The interviews provide fascinating insight and surprisingly candid information, however.

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