During the 10th Century a severe drought struck Medieval Europe causing massive crop failures which lead to widespread famine. On the island of Sicily, just off the coast of Italy, starvation was becoming epidemic. Millions were spared from starvation by the one crop that seemed still able to survive in the harsh conditions: The fava bean. Followers of St. Joseph living in Sicily took this as a sign of divine intervention marking the bean as sacred. As such, they began leaving the beans as offerings on altars erected to St. Joseph where they would pray for the rain to resume and the bountiful harvest to return with it. Their prayers were answered during the Spring Equinox prompting the locals to declare a holiday known as St. Joseph’s Day and a feast was held every year thereafter in his honor. A feast which, of course, prominently featured fava beans.
As time progressed, this tradition spread across Europe and into Africa, bringing the legend of St. Joseph and his magic beans with it. African tribes began to incorporate these beans into their culture, traditions, and rituals, earning the bean the moniker “African Wishing Beans”. When African People were taken by the slave trade and forcibly relocated to America their rituals and traditions blended with other practices, including Christianity and Voodoo, and created a practice that came to be referred to as “low-country Voodoo” or “Hoodoo”. Prior to the Civil War this practice was particularly prevalent in and around New Orleans where the magical beans were frequently referred to as simply “Mojo Beans”.
Mojo Beans have been carried by many as a standard “good luck” charm in a fashion similar to a “lucky penny” or a rabbit’s foot. It was believed that carrying a Mojo Bean in a flannel pouch (especially a red or green one) would bring good fortune. Some withheld that one would never be without the life essentials, such as clothing, food, and shelter, so long as one had possession of their Mojo Bean. Others maintained that the bean would ensure that a continuous supply of pocket change.
Traditional Hoodoo has a specific ritual for the proper use of Mojo Beans. Practitioners instruct the caster to make an odd number of wishes, typically 1,3, or 7, and then to carry the Mojo Bean in a flannel pouch for 7 days. At dawn on the 7th day the petitioner is told to find a source of running water, call out their wish (in the name of a preferred Deity, if desired), and then toss the bean over the left shoulder and into the water. Having invoked the spell, the caster is told to “walk away and do not look back”. The wish will be granted 7 days after the ritual is completed.
MydnytBlu offers freshly dried, cleansed, and consecrated Mojo Beans in quantities of 1, 3, or 7, in keeping with Hoodoo tradition, and they can also be found seasonally as part of various pre-packaged altar kits or ritual kits. Click here to order.
A similar item, sometimes called “Black African Mojo Beans” is the Tonka Bean, but that is an entirely different thing. The Tonka Bean is technically a fruit that originates from South America and has its own magical and metaphysical uses. More information regarding Tonka Beans can be found by clicking here.