Solomon Ives was an old conjure man that my voodoo mentor, Earl Marlowe, knew when he was living in the American South before settling in the UK. Earl used to say that Solomon put the “bad” in bad ass. “He took the biscuit,” said Earl. “Specially when he made hisself invisible with a dead man’s head.”

When Solomon Ives died Earl was left his conjure notebook, which was in turn handed down to me. Here’s what Solomon wrote about his invisibility spell, with the spellings and grammar cleaned up:

Start the 9-day working on a Wednesday ‘fore sunrise. Get 7 black beans and the head of a dead man. Put 1 bean in the head’s mouth, 2 in its eyes and 2 in its ears. Careful when you put the bean in its mouth ‘case it bite you. Put the other 2 beans in its nostrils.

Draw a pattern on the head – on its cheek or forehead. Any pattern will do, something easy remembered.

Bury the head in the ground face upwards. Water it with rum each morning ‘fore sun up. On the eighth day you do this a spirit will appear. It will ask you what you doing. Say you watering your plant. The spirit will ask you for the bottle of rum, sayin’ it wanna do the waterin’ itself. Don’t let it. Say no.

Keep on refusing that spirit. Take no notice of its protestations. In the end it will show you the pattern you drew on the head. This is proof that the spirit is the spirit of the head and not some trickster or deceiver.

Give the rum bottle to the spirit and let it water the head.

Next mornin’, on the ninth day, the beans will have sprouted. Take them and put them in yo’ mouth. Look in a mirror and you won’t see no reflection. You’ll be invisible. This is coz the beans carry the invisibility of the dead and the buried head.

But don’t never swaller them beans else you’ll stay invisible forever. You can only become visible again by takin’ them beans outa yo’ mouth.

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