Learning guitar, easy tunes

catherine yronwode cat@luckymojo.com
Fri Mar 23 21:48:06 EST 2001

Mike Guldin wrote:
> According to the "legend tale" on exhibit at the Delta Blues Museum in
> Clarksdale MS, one must go with their guitar to the crossroads at
> midnight. (could be something mentioned about the phase of the moon,
> it makes no mention of wearing a hat.......) Sit down and play the
> best piece of blues one can muster. At some point the devil or a
> facsimile there of will appear. Do not make eye contact. He will sit
> down next to you and begin to play with you, and play and play until
> your fingers start to bleed. At some point ( if my memory serves me
> correct....Y'all can jump in anytime and help me with the facts....)
> the devil will take your guitar, again still never making eye
> contact and tune it and begin to play it. This is where it gets really
> weird, I believe the legend states that at this point the Devil rips
> out your fingernails symbolizing the sacrifice of your soul. He then
> returns your guitar and leaves. Doesn't sound a bit appealing, but
> certainly would help instill the ability to sing the blues with true
> passion and pain.

The bleeding fingernails detail is taken from Puckett's "Folk Beliefs of
the Southern Negro" (1926) but from 1936 - 1940 Harry M. Hyatt collected
dozens of crossroads tales from dozens of interviewees throughout the
South ("Hoodoo - Conjuration - Witchcraft - Rootwork") and never heard
that part of it. Puckett may have had a unique informant or may have
done a little embellishing. In any case, a sampling of boith Hyatt ad
Puckett material on this subject can be found on my page on "Crossroads
Rituals" at
which is a chapter of a larger work called "Hoodoo in Theory and
Practice" that also contains a sizeable archive of blues lyrics relating
to hoodoo practices. Once you get there, links will lead you around the
site -- and there is also a search engine so you can search the entire
site for further crossroads or hoodoo or mojo references.


catherine yronwode

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