Probably the best-known bit of work when it comes to hoodoo, the making of a mojo bag is probably the best known. This little art is also referred to as "fixing a hand," and the resultant bags themselves are sometimes called a "toby."The Bag
In Appalachian and most of Southern hoodoo, the bag itself is made of flannel, usually in a color appropriate to the toby's purpose. There is an extra little bit, though - it's not supposed to be made from new flannel.
Traditionally, it should always be cut from something that the one making the hand has used, or from something the one it is being made for has used, although those are the ideals. If you just don't have anything like that, hit up Goodwill and get all their flannel - used by someone else is better than brand new. If all else fails, cut yourself a square of flannel and carry around as a handkerchief for a while.
Some traditions use leather bags, but these traditions tend to be more obeah than hoodoo, at least according to cat yronwode.Ingredients
Traditionally, a minimum of three ingredients go into a toby. Generally, these are animal, mineral and herbal ingredients appropriate to the work the mojo bag is intended for, but these are not the only things.
Exactly what these three items are may vary from hoodoo to hoodoo. Nearly every root worker will put in a Personal Concern
of some kind for the person the bag is intended for. Others may use parchment papers with words or sigils on them, or even mixtures of herbs (counting the whole mixture as a single ingredient, no matter how many herbs are in it).
Some root doctors will put a "signature" token in it. cat yronwode mentions some of these items she's encountered in her studies, from a shiny new penny to a specific mixture of herbs he considered his signature in magic. My own grandmother always used to add an alligator tooth to the ones she made, to "give it bite."
If a mojo bag needs to be particularly powerful, a whole High John the Conquerer root might be added as one of the ingredients. I like to call High John the "mandrake of hoodoo" - it's the quintessential root doctor's root, and all of them are spoken to and treated as though they were alive and had personalities. (Of course, in my own rootworking experience, they sort of are.) High John is the messianic figure of hoodoo folklore, the root-man who taught the slaves new songs and new magic for a new world, so that only their bodies had to be shackled, and not their spirits.
Some rootworkers use more than three ingredients, though tradition dictates it's usually an odd number. Five and nine are usually the other choices, as more than nine starts to get unwieldy.Fixing the Hand
It isn't enough to simply cram these ingredients in your bag and call it good. Each conjureman or -woman has his or her own ritual for doing this, and it's best if you figure out your own. It is usually accompanied by prayer and/or a recitation of the Psalms, while you add the ingredients.
Also, talk to your toby as you make it. You might even name it, if you're so inclined. Compliment it, tell it what lovely things you're adding and why. If you've got a piece of High John in there, make that the first thing you add, and then speak to John as you do it - he's becoming the whole toby, rather than just an ingredient in it.
Once you're done adding the ingredients, sew up the end of it, making sure to seal it up tight; you can also add a cord to it if you intend it to be worn. Then, when that's done, pass it through incense smoke and sprinkle it with a bit of salt water to clean it, then pass it over (but not through!) a candle flame, to "start the mojo cookin'."Breathing the Hand
Once your toby is fixed, it's time to give it the breath of life. Some rootworkers recite the Scripture where God breathes life into Adam, but that's not strictly necessary.
Hold it in your left hand, and call out to it to wake up three times. If you named it, call it by that name. If you placed High John in it, call out to John to wake up. If it has no other name, then just call it "Toby." Tell it it's time to wake up, that he's got work to do.
Then, pat it three times, really quickly, like you're nudging someone to wake up.
Finally, fill your lungs with air and make a quick exhalation on it with pursed lips. It should sound almost like you're saying the word "Too." Do this quick breath on it three times, to breathe some life into it.
Once you've done this, greet your toby, and welcome him to life.Dressing the Hand
Once you've properly breathed life into your toby, it's time to dress him. Take some proper condition oil appropriate to the purpose that your mojo bag will fulfill, and dress it, dropping an odd number of drops over its surface. If you prefer, you can feed your toby other things: a few drops of good alcohol (like whiskey or rum), a perfume (like Hoyt's Cologne or Florida Water) or sexual fluids (in the case of attraction and/or love hands).
Once a week or so, re-dress your hand. At this point, you are literally feeding your toby, which is alive (at the very least in a magical and spiritual sense). Like anyone else, if you want him to keep working, you're going to have to keep feeding him.Keep It Hidden!
Keep your toby safe and hidden. He's shy, and prefers to work in quiet, without anyone knowing he's there, so make sure to keep him safely hidden on your person (a pocket will do, but other places may be appropriate, such as undergarments for sex or love work).
If someone notices him, change the subject, or distract them. Whatever you have to do - tell them he's just a "perfume sachet" or something like that. Don't show him to people, either - if you don't respect your toby's privacy, he's not going to want to work for you. Whatever you do, don't let someone else touch your toby. That's called "killing a hand," and for a good reason: it'll kill it outright.When All Is Done
The toby's magic doesn't often run out, as it were - it'll keep working as long as you need him, and as long as you keep feeding him properly. But, once he's looking a little rough for wear, or when he's no longer needed, it's time to dispose of him properly and respectfully.
Burying is pretty much ideal. Hoodoo disposes of a lot of its used up spell materials by burying at a crossroads. It allows the final lingering mojo in the materials to disperse along the crossroads, scattering it. (As an aside, the only crossroads used in hoodoo are the four-way crossroads.) There are other burials that are appropriate, such as burying materials that you used to work a beneficial trick on you or your home on your property somewhere, preferrably dividing it up into four parts, and burying them at the four corners, with your home in the center of the four (like the pips for the 5 on a standard die). Casting the materials into running water is also a good approach, for the same reason as the crossroads - it scatters the mojo, dispersing it.
A toby sometimes gets a more specialized burial, though, one that is accompanied with proper thanks and libations, as though it were a little person who'd died, and was now being sent off properly. I read somewhere once that the family of a particularly well-known rootworker had a chunk of their property set aside for use as a toby graveyard, including a little fence around it and some cheap statuary in it! :D
As far as reusing certain ingredients, yes you can. Stones other than lodestones, animal parts and roots (but not other herbs) can be reused. You'll have to cleanse them, though, by sprinkling a little salt on them and letting the salt fall into running water or at a crossroads, and then cense them afterwards. But here's the important bit: do not ever use them for another purpose other than the one they were originally put to. PARTICULARLY if it's a High John root - once John sets his mind to a particular task, he can do it over and over for you, but that's all he's going to do.Conclusion
Well, that's about it. cat yronwode's page on mojo hands
is quite good, containing a bunch of history and (best of all) a variety of sample mojo hands, and the ingredients for making them!