My voodoo mentor Earl Marlowe and I were both big fans of legendary Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson. We once went on a pilgrimage to what we believed was the crossroads where Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for guitar prowess and fame.
During our journey into the American South, Earl told me how certain hoodoo conjurers in Mississippi believed that Johnson’s ghost haunts many country intersections in that region.
“If you are a musician and pass through a country crossroads in Mississippi at the witching hour, you need to beware,” he warned. “Otherwise Robert will take you by the hand like the pied piper and lead you down to hell.”
Earl added that the spectral Robert Johnson would then take you to the Devil and try to trade your soul with him in a bid to get out of the bargain he made with the Devil back in the early 1930s.
But according to Earl, the Devil is picky. He only accepts the souls of musicians with genuine star potential. He doesn’t take amateurs or deluded wannabees.
“But if you got talent and charisma, it ain’t safe to pass through a country crossroads at midnight in Mississippi,” said Earl. “Otherwise Robert might just come along and try to trade your soul.”
Earl made clear that this was a bad deal all round. “You won’t get nothing out of it,” he said. “No fame. No uncanny musical ability. You’ll just be sacrificing your immortal soul to rescue Robert from his deal with the Devil.”