SO, YOU WANNA MEET ‘THE BLACK MAN,’ EH?
Even if someone doesn’t practice any kind of path or tradition, chances are that they will still be familiar with the folk tale of the Blues musician, Robert Johnson, selling his soul at the crossroads. Many people believe that this is quite literally what happens – you give up your soul and, in return, you gain mastery in whatever it is you practice. This idea that this is accurate is bolstered, no doubt, by the fact that Johnson, while gaining unparalleled fame, also died an untimely death at the age of 27.
As for myself and many other practitioners, we don’t believe you are actually selling your soul. Instead, the time, effort, attention, and offerings that you commit to the process, constitute a different kind of sacrifice. That sacrifice, coupled with the paying of respects to the entity that appears, are your payment. Now, having said that, I am not going into the full ritual here because it is already well-documented other places. (Google is your friend.) However, I did want to get that thought out there, before continuing, because I think it to be a point of misconception.
KNOW YOUR CROSSROADS
Crossroads are what are considered as “liminal” spaces. They are the waiting room between what was and what is next; the gateway between your past and your would-be future. You go to a crossroads with the expectation of changing something, to affect a transformation, like that mentioned in the ritual above. Stand in the middle of a lonely intersection at midnight and you will get the feeling that anything is possible there; it is full of the electricity of the cosmos. Unmistakably, there is power there and, no small wonder, a plethora of deities are associated with it – Hecate, Papa Legba, Mercury, Ganesha, Ellegua, Men-Shen, and Janus, to mention just a few.
But what kind of work can you do there? Well, crossroads are very flexible. Fundamentally, they can move people and things towards you, fix them in place, or move them away from you. For example, you can begin a trick there and move what you want towards you; do a working to block the progress of your enemies – fixing them in place; dispose of bath water or tricks there to signify the completeness of the act and the releasing of the work to the world; or run somebody off by disposing a little bit of your ritual remains at several crossroads leading away from you. It will help you to understand how to work with crossroads if you always think of them as being a kind of gate.
Be aware, there are different types of gates. Below are my thoughts on working each type of crossroad.
Two Streets Meeting, Creating a “Cross”
This is considered the most traditional of all crossroads and for my money, is the best to use for just about everything. It is considered the “female” version of crossroads and it is upon this type of crossroad that the quincunx pattern of fixing something in place is based. (The quincunx also being another symbol for the cosmos, transformation, and fertility.) I personally feel it is the most powerful type, due to the association with femininity, i.e., women’s ability to give birth; birth being the transition point between what was (conception, gestation, being a part of another being) and what is next (being your own complete, separate being). Women are, in that way, a portal between the world of the spirit and the world of the living, and I feel that is also reflected at the crossroads. Manifestation seems easier at the crossroads and communication with the living and the spirit world seems easier there, too.
Two Streets Meeting, Creating a “T”
This type of crossroad is considered the “male” version of crossroads. (That’s kind of obvious, isn’t it, with the whole “meat and two veg” thing its got going on there?) While your typical crossroads has four arms that seem to go on without ending, this one has a dead end. For those two reasons, I like to use these “male” types of crossroads in works that have a very masculine component or require endings++ of some sort. For example, a “T” crossroad is where I might toss out the ashes of my petition to end an addiction. It might also be the place I’d bury a fixed eggplant for my philandering ex-boyfriend, if you catch my drift.
Two Streets Meeting, Creating a “Y”
While purists don’t really count these intersections as a true crossroad, preferring to see it merely as a “fork in the road,” I still find them useful and powerful. In addition, while this may only be specific to me and the way that I practice, I consider roads of this type as being representative of people of other orientations, as they diverge from the norm. If you look at them another way, you may note that they look like the Greek letter Lambda, which is used in the LGBTQ+ communities to symbolize change through rights advocacy. Therefore, I like to use these “crossroads” for works involving balance, equality, and justice, as well as for works involving people from these communities.
Another feature of this type of intersection is the way the roads either diverge or merge, depending on the direction one is traveling. Following that same symbolism, I will use them for works to separate two people or things or works that bring two people or things together–just like your standard four-armed crossroads.
Road and a Railroad/Road and a River/Railroad and River
These are all considered crossroads as well. I was taught that the faster the traffic moves on the two “roads” the faster the work manifests.
Generally speaking, there seems to be a lot of confusion and trepidation around what one does and doesn’t do at the crossroads, and what kinds of works for which they can be used. I hope this contribution will help you become more comfortable and well-versed when working in these spaces. They really are otherworldly places that hold a great deal of available power; you just need to find your way of tapping into it.
++To my thinking, there is a very subtle difference between an ending and a stoppage; the first being definitive and the latter being changeable at will.
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