What is Mojo?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Bad mojo may be a reference to impure cocaine.
Bad mojo may be a reference to impure cocaine.
Bad mojo may be a reference to impure cocaine.

Mojo is a term that derives from several of the 450 Bantu languages of Africa. It carried quickly to the language of African American slaves and was often applied to charms, magical spells, or small bags carried for personal protection as part of the hoodoo belief system that evolved during slavery.

Different regions might refer to the mojo by different names. Those in Louisiana often called it a gris-gris, derived from the Bantu word gree-gree. Island nations like Haiti refer to a wanga or oanga. A mojo might also be called a nation sack, jomo, mojo hand, or toby. Numerous other names were also commonly used.

"Mojo" is a term often used to describe the sexual potency of men.
"Mojo" is a term often used to describe the sexual potency of men.
"Mojo" is a term often used to describe the sexual potency of men.

In its most precise definition, people might carry or wear a mojo, a small fabric bag. It could contain numerous things, such as herbs, small, carved symbols or fetishes, or papers on which prayers or petitions were written. Usually, the bag is not displayed and is hidden under clothing.

A mojo could be type specific. For example, a person might carry one that would help him or her find love. It might protect against evil curses from others, or simply bring good luck.

The migration of the term mojo into today’s language is mainly due to its use in 20th century rhythm and blues songs. However though the word still refers to a source of power, it doesn’t necessarily refer to a mojo bag. Instead, it may simply mean magic or spells.

Frequently, mojo is connected to the sexual potency of males, with females able to strip the mojo from males. Bad mojo may simply mean bad luck or it can relate to supplies of cocaine that are not pure. The term is also jokingly used in song and film references. The second Austin Powers film involves Powers’ search for his stolen mojo. Since Powers is rather sex-crazed, it clearly relates to his source of male potency and dubious attraction.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon58916

how do i make my own mojo bag for protection?

WGwriter

To anon13370,

Mojo can be used to obtain things, like finding true love, as well as as a protection device that casts out evil spirits.

anon13370

can mojo be used for good luck or is it only for casting bad karma on someone? thanks tooley

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    • Bad mojo may be a reference to impure cocaine.
      Bad mojo may be a reference to impure cocaine.
    • "Mojo" is a term often used to describe the sexual potency of men.
      "Mojo" is a term often used to describe the sexual potency of men.