Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Mojo Magic Square (with update)

Mojo Magic Square - digital - © 1981, 2014, DS
(click to enlarge)

"Mojo is magic, magical ability, and the power to get things done. "Mojo" first appeared in the 1920s in the southern United States from the Gullah word "moco" (magic), Gullah being Creole spoken by some groups of African-Americans.  The ultimate root of "mojo" was the word "moco'o," which means "shaman or medicine man" in the African language Fulani.  "Mojo" spread first into mainstream Black English and then general usage primarily through the popularity of jazz and blues music.  Muddy Waters got his 'Mojo working' and Jim Morrison of The Doors called for the Mojo Risin'."
- Quote found here.

"Think joie de vivre, that sense of being alive, joyful, and fully present in the moment. The path to finding your mojo differs for everyone. For some, mojo is a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. For others, it’s reclaiming optimal health or sparking their creativity. Some seekers find mojo by getting in touch with the divine, while others get their mojo by getting in touch with their sexual prowess. For many, it’s all of the above."
- Quote found here.

"So what is a mojo? It is, in short, the staple amulet of African-American hoodoo practice, a flannel bag containing one or more magical items. The word is thought by some to be a corruption of the English word "magic." Others state that it is related to the West African word "mojuba," meaning a prayer of praise and homage, as it is a "prayer in a bag" - a spell you can carry. A third possible derivation is from the Bantu/Kongo word "mooyoo," the magically-charged ashes and ground up bones of an ancestor that are encased in the front of a nkisi ndoki - a fetish-statue made in the form of a human being or animal. This connection with the bones of the dead is interesting, because historically, many mojo hands have indeed contained small bones, either of animals or of humans.

Some root workers top off their mojo bags with parchments upon which are printed medieval European grimoire seals and sigils of talismanic import, particularly the Jewish-derived seals from the Greater Key of Solomon and The 6th and 7th Books of Moses, both of which are sold as sets of seals printed on parchment paper, and are used without reference to the rituals given in the texts of the original grimoire books.

These last items surprise many Caucasians, who are unaware that a strong vein of Germanic and Ashenazi Jewish folklore runs through traditional African-American hoodoo. Still, however strange it may seem to cultural anthropologists in search of "African survivals" in hoodoo practice, it is a fact that John George Hohman's "Pow-Wows or the Long Lost Friend" - first published in America in 1820 and translated into English in 1856 - has long been a staple source of inspiration for conjure-workers in both the African-American and European-American Appalachian traditions, and many a black hoodoo practitioner can cite chapter and verse of "Albertus Magnus," "The Black Pullet," "Secrets of the Psalms," "The 6th and 7th Books of Moses," "8th, 9th, and 10th Books of Moses," and other occult books of European origin."
- From an article found on Lucky Mojo.

A Sator Magic Square in Oppède, France.

"The earliest dateable Sator Square was found in the ruins of Pompeii, which was buried in the ash of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Examples may be found carved on stone tablets or pressed into clay before being fired. Its translation has been the subject of speculation with no clear consensus.

It seems that, in all early examples, it is a Rotas Square that reads "ROTAS OPERA TENET AREPO SATOR" from top to bottom, and from left to right.

The Sator Square is a four-times palindrome, and some people have attributed magical properties to it, considering it one of the broadest magical formulas in the Occident. An article on the square from The Saint Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. 76, reports that palindromes were viewed as being immune to tampering by the devil, who would become confused by the repetition of the letters, and hence their popularity in magical use....

The square has reportedly been used in folk magic for various purposes, including putting out fires (the spell is "TO EXTINGUISH FIRE WITHOUT WATER" in John George Hohman's Long Lost Friend), removing jinxes and fevers, to protect cattle from witchcraft, and against fatigue when traveling. It is sometimes claimed it must be written upon a certain material, or else with a certain type of ink to achieve its magical effect."
- From the Wiki Sator Square entry.


Well, it's officially a new year in the western world, but, in the Far East, the lunar new year doesn't occur till February 2nd. (More about that later...) So, it's a relative thing, and if your "mojo" isn't quite working the way you'd like it to, you've got a whole month to get yourself in gear. Now, while "gear" isn't necessarily the operative term when defining the word mojo, dynamo, or dynamic kind of is; so, in the last analysis, you know your mojo is working when your inner world is moving seamlessly in synch with the outer world. My guess is, if one can get that down, then, regardless of all the circumstances beyond one's control, he or she will be A-OK... and as much of a contender in this game of life as anyone else is.

As it happens, mojo is a word that's been used - in various corrupted forms - quite a lot in recent years. Originally it was Hoodoo charm (although not to be confused with this hoodoo) bringing good luck and psychic protection to its bearer. Now, it's a catchword most commonly utilized by motivational speakers, executive coaches, "life" coaches, and self-help gurus when describing formulas for increasing ones productivity*, particularly in the workforce.

But, just exactly what do I mean by the word Mojo?

Mojo is animism... the dynamic energy fluctuation that makes an organism tick. If ones wiring is in top form, ones inner force pulls back and then moves forward in sync with ones conscious desires and motivations. In other words, ones Mojo is "working". On the other hand, if ones wiring has gone awry - for instance, in the case of a series of set-backs, intense trauma or injury of any kind, or just plain chronic disappointment - then ones Mojo is thrown off its game. It isn't as if you've lost it... it's that it's blocked from true expression; in other words, it's broken.

Case in point: the magic square (first image above) is something I've had on my desktop for the past 2 years. Why is this? Well, that's a good question! Before this period, I had just gone through a series of unfortunate events, and was holed up in an unfamiliar town with absolutely no clue - and no hope - for a "brighter future." Without going into details, my mojo was, in fact, at the lowest point of its existence...

Durer's Magic Square

I'm not sure why or how it was that I rediscovered my original image. The piece itself was actually an old textile design of mine - gouache on board - which, no doubt, was stored away in one of the numerous portfolios and/or boxes of books, ephemera, and art supplies that littered my so-called "living room" at the time. But, what I was actually looking for while fishing around through my artistic graveyard was of little importance; what I found was the textile design. It was like coming across an old friend... an image I had, in fact, had hanging on my wall when I lived in New York City in the 80s.

"Hell," I thought to myself, "if this image could get me through life in the big city, maybe it's the sort of charm i could use now."

So, thus inspired, I returned to my computer, placed the design on my scanner, cleaned it up, and brought it into the 21st century. My "magic square" was about to be reborn. I put it up on my desktop.

And then what happened? Well, no, I didn't win the lottery, meet the love of my life, sell my artwork in a gallery, or anything like that. Instead, as I was carrying some laundry downstairs into the basement, I tripped and broke my foot!

Not an auspicious sign.

So, then I did what any other madwoman would do. I decided my "lucky charm" must have a major flaw. Moreover, I knew just what it was: regarding the overall symmetry of the piece, the central symbol was facing the wrong direction. So, I fixed it.

The earliest known magic square: the  Lo Shu magic square.

And, as the days passed,  I began to feel stronger in some enigmatic way, till one day, several months later, after a couple of years of feeling like a dead person, I reported to a friend, that some mysterious "thing" had occurred. I couldn't describe it, nor could I understand the how or the why of it. All I knew is that something suddenly clicked in the center of my psyche, and I felt like my old self again. It was like turning on a light switch, or repairing the flawed element of some mechanism. Suddenly, for no apparent reason I could understand, "I" worked again. I really didn't attribute this change to the image I had on my desktop, but, I began to wonder...

Several months after that, I was saying goodbye to my old life in "the unfamiliar town"; sitting merrily behind the wheel of my trusty Nissan... as if driving alone for 2000 miles to New Mexico was hardly a challenge at all. As the miles peeled away between me and my destination, it was merely like shedding some old skin. Even then, I wasn't convinced my old desktop charm had anything to do with my newfound courage and determination. After all, what's an image exactly? And why and how could it actually change anything? Is it, ultimately, just an idea you plant in your own head - a psychological prompt to get your life in order - or is it something else?

The Freemason's Magic Square, being the numerical version
of the Lo Shu Magic Square (shown above).

Well, as you know, if you read this blog at all, I've been doing a lot of homework in the past year or so regarding art, geometry, and the idea of "magic". And, there seems to be some basis in fact - let alone theory - that pictorial symbols have more than a little influence in our daily lives. Lines, and the placement of lines, seem to reflect a type of underlying code of a higher order; one that moves silently and subliminally throughout our daily experiences, but is so interwoven with the fabric of our existence, that we barely notice it.

And, so, I decided to post my "Mojo Magic Square" for the new year. It isn't technically a magic square, and I'm not sure "magic" is involved at all. I certainly have no idea if it can repair the generic mojo. But, it is a sort of kinetically fun design, and I hope y'all like it. I began playing with it, too, late last year... changing the color placement, so that there's a little more rhyme and reason incorporated in its design. Can you see the difference between the first Mojo Magic Square, and the one below? Good, because I'm too lazy to explain it! ;-)

Mojo Magic Square - © 2015, DS
(click to enlarge)

Oh, and before I forget, the Chinese lunar year of the Monkey is about to occur. I've read that it's a Red Monkey, so my magic square might be on the mark. Then again, I've also read that black and red are unfortunate colors for the Year of the Monkey, and that blue and yellow are preferred. But, not to worry; it's an an easy fix, and, for my Asian readers, I've prepared the magic square below.

A Mojo Magic Square for the Chinese New year of the Monkey
- © 2016, DS (click to enlarge)

In any case, it's 2016, and I'm wishing us all the best year possible. I've no idea what the "seers" are predicting for this year, but I do know that, numerologically, the year adds up to a 9. Generally, the meaning of 9 is: completion. But, interestingly, mathematically, whatever number 9 is added to becomes... well, itself. For example, 9 + 5 = 14, and 1 + 4 = 5. So, perhaps 2016 will be a year of revelation, in that the various components of both our personal and consensual (shared) realities are forced to reveal themselves for what they really are.

Alright, maybe I'm being a tad too optimistic... but, in a numerological sense - in other words, esoterically speaking - the potential for truth does exist in 2016.

Oh, and one last thing to keep in mind: the Mojo Magic Square is not only a beneficial diagram of  forces... it is also a protective device. I'm not going to explain how it works, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be putting it online otherwise! ;-)

*  Note: in the capitalist's dictionary, productivity is spelled with a capital P, and is generally  used in reference to the work of other people... or peons, which, as in the case of the word people, is spelled with a lower case P... as opposed to CEO, for example. ;-)


For more information about magic squares, try Harvey Heinz's magic square pages, or the Maths For Europe pages. Astrotrends has a feng shui magic square page... and here's a page specifically about magic square talismans. Here's a Sacred Geometry Page, and lastly, Magical Magic Squares of Some Advanced Age.


Geometrical Addendum

The Mojo Symbol and the Vesica Piscis

As is my habit lately, here's two geometrical analyses of the Mojo symbol I created recently. For more information about the Vesica Piscis (or "Pisces") symbol, try here, herehere, and here.

The Mojo Symbol intercepted by 3 circles.

Oh, BTW, in searching for the vesica pages, I came across this explanation for all of you who experience that strange, digital 11:11 phenomena... that is, you just happen to look at a clock when the time 1:11, or 11:11 occurs.


Note (added 1/16/16): Now here's a synchronicity for you. There was a big lottery held in the states recently, a Powerball drawing on the 13th of this month worth over a billion American bucks. The winning numbers were: 4, 8, 19, 27, 34, and 10 (the "Powerball"). You'll find all but the 10 in the Freemason's magic square reposted above. And, of course, the central number 5, when added to itself is 10.

Moreover, I posted this article on the 3rd. Ten days later the drawing was held. ;-)


  1. Well, seems your mojo is working if you can produce work like the title piece. Did it begin life as a print? (has s print feel to it).

    And of course, the symbol reminds me of a crow.

    1. Ya think so? ;-)

      Actually, as noted, it started its life as a textile design... meant to be printed on fabric. And, that's more or less, one of my intentions. I'd like to silk-screen it onto fabric and a number of articles.

      Yes, I initially saw it as a bird-in-flight. Now I see it as a bunch of somersaulting bunnies!

  2. Awesome blog post! Love the background on the image.

    I love the esoteric side of mathematics -- magic squares, the relationship of numbers, et cetera. And I love the variants of your design. It has a mojo all its own.

    1. Wow! Love your enthusiasm. Hope it's catchy! :-)

  3. So, does that mean this magic square - or is it the palindrome inside the square - allows you to balance inner and outer worlds? A la: "you know your mojo is working when your inner world is moving seamlessly in synch with the outer world." Because I have long thought that is the secret to success in the world and wondered how to make the two line up properly. The times when I have done so seemed to be a weird combination of luck and fortitude. Inquiring minds would like to know.

    1. Well, first off, let me say that no hoodoo, voodoo, nor formal "magic" rituals are involved. I think the design is just a kind of subliminal prompt to kick out the jams... and get moving. Movement is the key word... and having trust in that movement... believing that, ultimately, you're in the right place at the right time and/or can be and will be. Which is pretty much what "luck" is all about, right?

      I don't know, TB, it's art based on a symbol. Artists aren't gods... they're only scribes.

    2. Actually, allow me to clarify that...
      When I say "kick out the jams" I mean kick out ones INNER jams.

  4. Ok I wondered if you were hinting at some meaning which you knew but didn't want to explain.

  5. Such a powerful design, Dia! To me it is giving out a lot of energy, like nine wheels spinning simultaneously (remembering that 'chakra' means 'wheel'!). Magic squares can be a great inspiration. I've drawn enough of that from the one (the magic square of Jupiter which you feature) which Albrecht Dürer incorporated into his 'Melencolia 1', and Dürer was in his turn inspired by the magic squares in Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's 'Occult Philiosophy', which were the first magic squares to be drawn (and seen in the West) since Antiquity. Yes, art should (I believe) make magic part of its business, whether one calls it talismanic or mojo!

    1. Thank you, David!

      Well, it's very "spirited" isn't it? Almost in a primitive, tribal way.

      I think, in the best-case scenario, if an artist is true to themselves and their work, and can surrender to their inner, intuitive faculties, a type of "magic" is inevitable. Ultimately, it's in the design... and, if the artist can treat its execution as if traversing its labyrinth in a type of walking mediation, something organically cohesive appears.

      I confess, I didn't have a "magic square" or talisman in mind when I designed this piece. I wasn't even cognizant of the fact that I had produced a symbol. It wasn't until much later that I was able to somewhat grasp its gestalt.

      Hmmm... chakras. Possibly. There's definitely a tension between the circle and the square going on as well. But, returning to the actual process which produced it, I'm reminded of something I read about Jung (The Mystic) recently:

      "Fairly soon, he decided to chisel a quotation from one of his beloved alchemists on one side of the cube. But something deeper was stirring, through affinity between Jung and the stone itself. On a second face of the stone, he saw something like a tiny eye, looking at him. He chiseled a definite eye. Around it he carved the shape of a little hooded figure, a homunculus. He had a name for this figure, Telesphoros. The name means “one who guides to completion.” In Greek mythology, he is a son of Asklepios, the patron of dream healing. This figure was a recurring archetype in Jung’s inner life, one he sought to give physical form with pen and chisel and, as a boy, with a pocket knife. When he was ten years old, Jung carved a little manikin of this kind from a school ruler and kept it hidden in a box. He regarded this as his first great secret in life, and “the climax and conclusion” of his childhood.

      Now, around Telesphoros, he chiseled words in Greek that came to him. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections they are translated as follows: “Time is a child — playing like a child — playing a board game — the kingdom of the child. This is Telesphoros, who roams through the dark regions of this cosmos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams.”

    2. BTW, to the Vesica Piscis links listed on this post, I'd like to add a 4th... your wonderful article: