Originally created 06/20/00

McDuffie County law forbids mojo



McDuffie County commissioners have passed a law making mojo a no-no, at least at the McDuffie County Courthouse.

"We keep getting voodooed," County Commission Chairman Joyce Blevins said. "It's been going on for a couple of years just before a session of court. They'll go into a bathroom and really just trash it. Once they got in front of the courtroom doors and trashed that with whatever they put out."

On June 7, McDuffie County commissioners passed an ordinance making it illegal to vandalize or deface the county courthouse. The new law was drafted because of the incidences, which mostly have occurred in courthouse bathrooms.

For at least two years, strange things have been left behind inside McDuffie County's courthouse. Because the incidents - which some attribute to voodoo practices - happen before each session of court, they can't be tied to any one case.

"They always use three fresh eggs in the shell," said Annette Finley, McDuffie County clerk. "There's a brown substance that to me looks like coffee grounds, but some say it might be spices or herbs. They go to the corner of the bathroom and break the eggs there and put the powder down.

"However, recently they also put some blue glitter on the back stairwell all over the stairs. Then they put something in the judge's chair in the courtroom. He was told about it, so he just turned the cushion over. Then they put something in the water pitcher that turned the water black or brown. Then they sprinkled some substance outside the main courtroom doors, a yellow, chalky substance. At any rate, we can't catch them."

Whether the incidents are related to voodoo or just bizarre acts of vandalism, no one really knows.

Voodoo is an African religion about 7,000 years old. In about 1510, as the slave trade began into the West Indies and in particularly Haiti, Voodoo moved with it. By the 1820s a good number of Haitian slaves had been imported into New Orleans, bringing the practices of their religion with them.

But there are other possibilities besides voodoo, said Dr. Allen Scarboro, Augusta State University sociology department chairman. With McDuffie County's large migrant worker population, it could be Santeria, a religion that has Caribbean origins. Or it could be a root doctor performing these ceremonies, a religion that has a stronghold in the rural South.

"From their perspective they are doing something to try to bring religious attention or power to an event, they are trying to affect the outcome in the same way people having a prayer rally would be doing," Dr. Scarboro said. "Any time you destroy an object like that (an egg) ceremonially, it's a sacrifice, it's an attempt to direct or channel sacred power."

The fact that the powders were placed in the stairwell and in front of the courthouse door is also significant, he said.

"Staircases and doorways are thresholds, crossing places, always places of power because they separate two realms," Dr. Scarboro said. "They stand for things like decisions, cruxes, critical events that could go one way or another, so they are always potent places."

And there have been other incidences of black magic in our area.

In September a slaughtered baby goat, a chicken, a rooster, seven pigeons and a handful of corn were discovered inside a bag found on the front steps of the district attorney's office in Richmond County. The goat's head also was in the bag.

In May, security measures were installed at the Aiken County Courthouse partly because of an incident that occurred two months earlier when two eggs and black powder were placed behind a toilet in the lady's bathroom on the second floor. And Columbia County Clerk of Court Mary Reeves said she has found similar things.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.



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