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La Madama

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La Madama
La Madama

La Madama is the spirit of an old slave who was a conjure woman. Although not an orisha, as her Spanish-language name indicates, the veneration of La Madama was brought to North America by Spiritists and members of the Lukumi and Santeria religions, primarily from Cuba. As with the Indian spirit guides of North American Spiritualism, the name La Madama is applied to more than one entity.

La Madama is the patron of playing card readers and bone readers, the latter a link to her past on the African continent. As a conjure woman, she carries the wisdom of all the old rootworkers from the past. She is the patron of root doctors, and as a spirit guide, she may be called upon by conjure doctors who seek information when faced with difficult clients or intractable jobs of spell-casting. The broom is one of La Madama's tools; she works with the broom to sweep out all crossed conditions, family issues, troubles, and confusion that clients may bring to the root doctor. Her assistance is sought by those performing rites of spiritual cleansing for clients, opening their roads, or bringing them total success in all they do. She is also petitioned to bless and settle down troublesome folks, bring money into the house, and help bills get paid on time.

Old-fashioned "Aunt Jemima" pancake mix advertising art or "Mammy" style cookie jar figures are images often used to represent La Madama on the altar. Cuban-influenced card readers who work with La Madama may house her in an iron pot, after the manner used when working with orishas, and they will provide her with tools such as a knife to nail down enemies, a pack of playing cards to reveal the client's troubles, a broom for cleansing and to sweep away crossed conditions, some chalk to mark the magical work and lock it down, and a wooden cross to hold her power. The bright colors associated with La Madama, as well as a broom, are also found on Aunt Jemima and Mammy figures. The offerings La Madama accepts are molasses, whiskey, brown sugar, cigarettes, a cool glass of water, and a vigil candle.

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