She lived deep in the woods hardly ever coming into the light of day. She was a part Indian woman in her eighties I’d say. Her gray hair was braided and hung past her waist. You would see her chewing on a branch off a willow tree much of the time I was told. She wore a long dress with aprons tied around her chunky waist here and there. Washing clothes didn’t appear to be something she did very often. If you were able to get close enough to her you would see she had dark wrinkled skin to show her decades of working in the hot southern sunshine. People referred to her as the ole Hag Lady who made witchy magic or the Cat Lady for she had nearly a hundred cats roaming around her shack. The ole wooden shed in which she lived had never seen a drop of paint instead showing its dark rotten wood with holes here and there. Ivy grew up the chimney side and into several trees nearby. Moss grew in mounds everywhere giving the cats nice sleeping areas when outside. You could hear her about dinner time calling for the critters. Her high pitched voice could be heard for miles and of course the cats came a running. No one knew what she fed them but they did not give the appearance of lacking for food at all.
Once in a long while a new comer would come into town looking for the ole lady. She was known for her spells and cauldron brew. Folks would give her whatever they had to trade for a bottle of her tea and they vowed it cured them of myriads of ailments. Her reputation had grown by leaps and bounds only to invade her privacy. Towns folks kept their children scared out of their wits telling all sorts of bewitching tales she would do if she found them anywhere near her hut. Needless to say no children ever wandered anywhere near her abode.
I wanted to see for myself if all the stories I had heard were true so I decided to search her out. My curiosity had always been the one thing that got me into all sorts of unpleasant situations. I wanted to get some of the brew for myself and just see if I could find out what was in the stuff people found so magical. It took me nearly half a day just walking through the woods in the direction of her house. No one would think of going with me so I went it alone. I sat down on the side of a creek under the trees for a rest and to eat a lunch I had packed earlier. The sound of the water rippling along was so soothing to the soul. It was so peaceful and quiet there. I kept wondering if I was going in the right direction still and hoping that I wasn’t just going around in circles as I had heard so many people talk about.
It was afternoon when I came upon the aged wooden shack. Smoke curled out of the chimney so I assumed she was inside. Thousands of eyes watched me as I carefully made my way up the broken steps and onto the porch. My nose wrinkled as the foul smell became stronger the closer I got to the door. Could a skunk be spraying under the porch? Tapping loudly on the edge of the door I made my presence known. I could hear the shuffling of feet as she neared the porch. To my surprise she gave a big toothless smile and motioned for me to come inside. A big black pot hung from the chimney and its concoction bubbled out spilling on the floor every now and then. She didn’t appear to notice.
I made my wishes known to the ole lady telling her I was willing to pay her well for some of her medicine. She could tell I was pretty ragged from the walking and motioned for me to sit on the top of an old wooden chest. I obliged. She spoke in a raspy voice but seemed kind enough. I could hear the sound of glass bottles clattering together and the ripping of cloth. The glass jar sitting on the table was full of green slimy stuff. I had no idea what on earth it was but I was willing to get a sample for inspection. If it worked I might make myself a small fortune. Filling the glass bottle she opened a metal box and took out a small red velvet bag. She put the bottle inside the bag and began tying it up with a red thread. “Take this with you and only take a teaspoon twice a day. It will take care of what ails you!” She muttered. I handed her a roll of bills I had already prepared. She took them and put them in a green glass jar not bothering to even count it. She nodded motioning for me to head towards the door. Well this didn’t take long I thought to myself stepping off the steps and onto the dirt below. “It is YOUR Mojo bag!” she called out. “Don’t let nobody else mess with it!”
Later that week I poured out the contents of the bag. It contained a frog eye, and feet, hearts of several bats, several herbs and some wild roots of sorts. My team and I dissected every morsel of its contents. Some things we knew and some things we still do not know. It still sits on my bookshelf in its little velvet bag. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to even taste her brew knowing what I found inside it. I do know everyone who touched the bag became violently ill for days. So who knows, maybe the ole woman does have a magic power doctors still have yet to find. I’ll leave that for another curious soul! I believe my Mojo days have ended. I don’t know how long this stuff last or how long it would be effective. Folks are still visiting the old lady and buying her bubbling brew I hear. So it must work on some things. Maybe if I get deathly ill I might try a little. Then again, maybe not!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question for children: What was in the Mojo bag?