High John the Conqueror Root and the Mayor of Hell

High John the Conqueror Root and the Mayor of Hell April 23, 2014

Hi John Root photo by Lilith Dorsey. Copyright 2014 all rights reserved.

A Rose By Any Other Name

There are a freaking ton of names for this root, and in terms of anthropology that means something is important, really important. Some of the names are:  Hi John, John the Conqueror, Johnny Conka or Konka. But as the old Shakespearean saying goes” a rose by any other name,…” would be one of the most valuable botanicals to use in Voodoo and Hoodoo magick. People use it for justice, eloquence, money, healing, power, love, gambling, just about everything you can imagine. It can be grated or shaved and used in gris-gris bags or sprinkling powders. Some people  just carry it whole. It is sometimes anointed with other herbs and oils to increase its power, and there is quite a bit of legend that says you can anoint it with the urine of your lover if you like to bring extra gambling success. Not necessarily a recommendation or a condemnation, so I will just leave it at that.


A Most Glorious Root

Ipomea su Alocasia photo by Turinboy. Licensed under CC 2.0

Ipomoea Jalapa, is it’s botanical name which stems from Xalapa, Mexico where it thrives in abundance. It is a relative of the common morning glory found in almost every window box. Regular morning glory seeds have psychedelic properties, so this truly is a magickal root. Lucky Mojo says “Fresh John the Conquer root has a unique spicy fragrance reminiscent of a combination of cherry-scented pipe tobacco, vetivert, cedarwood, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and mace.” It is not however, widely grown in the U.S.


Legend and Lore from Foremother Zora Neale Hurston

Author, anthropologist, and Voodoo priestess Zora Neale Hurston wrote a folktale about John De Conqueror. In her story we see a folk hero of epic proportions always eluding trouble, and eventually marrying the devil’s daughter and becoming the mayor of Hell. This is all a bit reminiscent of the James Cagney movie of the same name. Now folklore is folklore for a reason, and myth is not reality. Her depiction of Hi John the Conqueror includes all the themes and tropes of the Harlem Renaissance: Devils, tricks, and shiny instruments. Zora Neale Hurston, was however a Voodoo priestess and I think it amazing that she found a way to weave one of Voodoo’s most important herbs into the lore of history.


Hi John Ritual Bath and Anointing Water

hi john root shavings

vetivert oil

lime oil

bergamot oil

spring water

Holy water


Mix all ingredients together in a glass bottle. Shake the bottle well to combine the contents, just as you are doing this focus you mind on your desired intent. Then blow one long infusing breath onto the bottle. Use as needed to anoint high john root, gris-gris-bags, or use as a bath during the waxing moon.


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