things that go bump in the night


Papa Legba




Eshu (though Ellegua, Legba, and Eshu are  derived from the same deity but function in extremely different, those still related, ways)



Do not, and I repeat, do not, blunder into the crossroads lightly. Do not interfere with liminal magic without knowing full well what you’re getting into. The shadows shift there, nothing is as it seems. Of all the folk magics you can get entangled with, this is the one that’s the most like Alice’s Caterpillar-And WHO are YOU?


Humans do not like what I call the in-between and what Jim Butcher calls the NeverNever. We do not like doorways, we do not like dusk, we do not like crossroads. We do not like places that we can’t see our footing in-and in folk magic, the crossroads is right up there on the top of the list of shadowy, shifting places. The only other place that may be more charged in this manner may be the entrance to a graveyard (I almost placed Baron Samedi and his many faces on that list as well, but graveyard and death energy is actually fundamentally different from crossroads energy).

But why? Why are we so afraid of these places?

Because of the potential-and the potential of getting stuck, or getting stuck wandering throughout reality with no set ‘road’.

That’s what the crossroads ultimately represents-the potential. The fact that you are presented with at least five choices-each of the four roads, and the point in the middle-means that all things are fluid here. You also can’t see what’s coming from at least one road all of the time.

To be liminal, an energy has to be stuck in a state of flux. This is almost the Schroedinger’s cat of folkloric thought. The liminal places are those that are in between two states-life and death, future and past, change or continuation. In the positive, the crossroads can be used to pull positive change in a situation. Lord Ganesha likes to open roads for people to succeed. Hecate is used to aid women in childbirth as much as she’s known for her role in witchcraft. The crossroads can be used to summon new skills, new business ventures, money, move out negative energies, and just generally introduce new and cleaner energies into your life.

Or it can be used to summon up demons, death himself, the devil himself, sell your soul for skills, lay curses, bury the unclean dead, trap wandering spirits, bury those accused of vampirism and lycanthropy, work roots, hexes, conjures, and other roots, and otherwise just cause general mischief and misanthropy. Supposedly Robert Johnson knew exactly who the black man he met at the crossroads was, he just didn’t care.

Further, there’s an aspect to crossroad belief that is hugely important but always seems to be left out of conversations of crossroads work: the price. These are not favors that are given away for free, though with some figures the price is slightly lower than others. Ganesha likes when I leave him spare change in the penny cups at the gas station. However, never, and I repeat, never, pick up money you find in a crossroads. Some energies like literal cash as payment and that money belongs to someone else. I wouldn’t want to anger him, personally. Depending on the faith that the belief is coming out of-in Christian folklore, Johnson’s black man was actually the devil-the price can be your soul.

When you’re a folklorist who lives wedged between four crossroads, you tend to learn the legends.


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