The Slave Community and Conjure Essay

Submitted By kroger14
Words: 738
Pages: 3

Kieran Rogers
Albert Raboteau, “Conjure”
September 26, 2014 In the excerpt from “Conjure” Albert Raboteau does an excellent job detailing the important role that conjure played in slave communities. Conjure was so significant to slaves because it provided reasons as to why things happen. For the slave it “made sense of the mysterious and inexplicable occurrences of life” (123). If they did not understand why they had been enslaved “conjure was a system of belief, a way of perceiving the world” that provided answers (123). Slaves used conjure as an “attempt to locate the cause of irrational suffering” (123). It also provided someone or thing to blame for their dreadful fate. Their situation was “due not to blind fate or mere happenstance but to the ill will of someone working through a conjurer” (124). The explanations conjure provided make it easy to understand why it was so prevalent in slave culture. The significance of conjure in the slave community gave conjurers power in their communities. The conjurer “enjoyed a measure of authority in the slave community directly proportional to belief in his power” (124). If people did not believe in a conjurer’s powers, they lost their credibility and authority. Some people were skeptical if conjurers had any true power. If a conjurer’s power did not work “a quick-witted conjurer might save face by blaming the dissatisfied customer for failing to follow instructions” (127-8). However, “doubts were tempered by the prevalence of belief” (128). Their power was not merely just a theory. Many conjurers had experience with, and knowledge of medicine, plants, and poison. They were generally good with people, and had an “astuteness in judging human nature (128). With this kind of background, it was easy for people to believe the conjurer’s spells and rituals “gave the various items power” (125). Powers varied from conjurer to conjurer, but they all had many similarities. A conjurer’s power over love “supplied the conjurer with a great deal of business” (126). Men and women believed the potions and charms of a conjurer could make someone love them. Many also believed that it helped save relationships, even marriages. ‘Hush water’ was a concoction that made a person calm, “quiet an’ patient” (127). This would help put an end to many arguments in a relationship. “The simple fact is that slave conjurers kept their credibility and their authority because their power worked” (128). Even when slaves started to become skeptical, their suspicion was disproved because “the majority of the people believed it, and that they ought to know more than could one man” (128). Slaves common faith in conjurer’s powers and the routine exercising of their powers shows that “practices are more enduring than theories” (128). The slave community related to conjure much better than the white community did. “The countercultural nature of conjure was implied by the belief that conjure