According to African-American folklore, High John the Conqueror was the son of an African king in the Congo, sold into American slavery. John was known as a clever trickster for the games he played on his master and for his enduring spirit, which was never dampened by his life in captivity.
Folklore tells us that John, also known as John de Conquer, fell in love with the Devil’s daughter Lilith. For John to win the daughter’s hand in marriage, the Devil challenged him to plow 60 acres in half a day, and sow the acres in the second half of the day. Lilith gave John a magical axe and plow to complete the task but also admitted - the Devil meant to kill John even if he did complete the task. Wiley and clever, John stole the Devil’s horse, and he and Lilith both escaped.
In the stories, John and Lilith returned to Africa, both agreeing to never again use their powers so the Devil would not be able to find them. But John left his powers in America in the root of a southern plant, Ipomoea jalapa or Ipomoea purga, a powerful plant species introduced to the slaves by the American Indians. John the Conqueror Root is now a staple of African-American folk magic.
One only has to possess the root of the plant John the Conqueror, and John de Conquer’s powers of luck, love and success can be yours. Now the most famous root in the world, High John the Conqueror Root symbolizes enduring courage, success and laughter. Used externally in the practice (internally it is a powerful laxative), the root can be carried as a talisman or can be incorporated into other charms and spells.
Calling on the Powers of High John the Conqueror
Hoodoo practices note, one only needs to call out the name of High John the Conqueror to enjoy the benefits of his blessings. During your meditations and spell work, hold a root or a related prayer card to help you focus on High John the Conqueror, his unbeatable spirit, his luck, success and escape from slavery into a life of joy. Ask him to aid your efforts and bless your life with his power.
The dried root can also be carried with you as a talisman. Carry High John root in a green bag to draw luck, money and power. Carry the root in a red bag with the lock of hair of the one you admire to draw his or her love. The talisman is also said to stop depression, draw courage and to protect one from spells and hexes.
High John the Conquerer Root is often steeped into an anointing oil, which can be used to bless candles, crystals and sachets. Anoint a green candle with this oil for success, luck and money, a pink candle for love and devotion; a purple candle for removing obstacles and added protection. Perfumes from the oil can be worn behind the ears to draw luck and love, or on the chakras to gain strength and confidence. The root can also be transformed into a tincture and used as a spray, excellent for use in court cases, on legal paperwork and important projects.
High John the Conqueror root is affiliated with the element of fire, and can be used to “burn away” curses and obstacles and start new with a refreshed, confident spirit. The root can be used in floor washes to help empower your life at the office or overcome struggles at home. High John soaps and bath salts can be used in showers and baths before meetings, after a long day or getting ready for a hot date. During your time in the shower or tub, meditate on your goal or challenge you wish to overcome. Release negative energy and pray to John de Conquer, thanking him for the blessings he bestows upon you.
Burn High John the Conqueror incense when you are stuck on a project or solving problems. Let the aroma waft over your body to strengthen your spirit and highlight solutions. Incense can also add John's strength to spells affiliated with luck, love, overcoming and achieving. When mixed with other herbs and ingredients, High John the Conqueror Root can aid in finding employment, or provide protection and peace.
John de Conquer was an African prince unbroken by slavery. He outwitted the Devil to escape to his homeland with his love, but he left his powers accessible to us. His root is a powerful ingredient in Hoodoo, Voodoo and Wiccan work to encourage happiness and enduring strength. His legacy is one of luck, love, success and achievement and through his root, his blessings are available to us all.