Crossroads ritual

Has anyone here actually done this hoodoo classic and met the black man or know someone who did? I don’t doubt that it works but i’m curious as to the extent of skill mastery one can expect from performing it. All traditional accounts hype it up as a novice-to-pro catapult in disciplines like e.g. playing an instrument or throwing dice:

“If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and you go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there, be sure to get there just a little 'fore 12 that night so you know you’ll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself…A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he’ll tune it. And then he’ll play a piece and hand it back to you. That’s the way I learned to play anything I want.” - Tommy Johnson

Or this one:

“You go out there [to the forks of a road] about four a’clock, jis’ commence dawnin’ day, jis’ about crack of day – an’ start a-pickin’ at de guitar. Yo’ go jis’ onest. An’ they says de [ devil ] came out an’ take it – jis’ somepin will pull it from you, you jis’ give up to it. An’ he’ll tune up an’ hand it back to you and you start to play . You can pick any song you want to pick.”

Is this really as incredible as it sounds? I’m contemplating going through with the ritual myself but If the results are, in reality, way more subtle than described, I think i could achieve the same thing with a Goetic without having to play my guitar 9 nights in a row sitting on a crossroads at midnight lol. The Black man supposedly bestows mastery in any manual skill upon the seeker.


I’m inclined to read that as metaphorical or taking a lot of portic license. The entire can help you learn, and maybe increase your aptitude, but you still have to ground that into the physical with work.

I would agree but i just can’t see it as anything other than literal. Harry Hyatt interviewed thousands of early 20th century southern black americans and gathered their testimonies, many from people who claimed to have done the ritual themselves. Every single one has the same theme - the black man teaches you anything you want; when you meet him, he tunes your guitar or jams with you or even dances with you if that’s what you wanna master and, after it’s done, you can play any piece, do any trick or anything manual you desire. I find it unlikely that all of those people spread throughout the states played it up when describing it. It’s so interesting. There is a very strong emphasis on attaining mastery with the skill you wanna learn, that’s why in some accounts you have people telling him that you will become a virtuoso because you sell your soul to him [rolling eyes]

Dey goes to de fo’k of de road to learn how to pick a guitar, an’ dey
goes to de fo’k of de road to do all diff’rent works.
(Do you know what they do when they get out there?)
Yes sir, dey goes to de fo’ks of de road - on de guitar pickin’, now, ah’m
goin’ give yo’ first on dat. When dey goes down to de fo’k of de road fo’ guitar
pickin’, dey take a guitar - dat’s a person nevah have know how to pick a guitar.
Well, in goin’ tuh de fo’k of de road at twelve’ clock at night wit a fifty-cent
piece in yore hand, wit de guitar in yore hand - well, de devil walks up dere an’
takes dis guitar outa yore hand an’ picks a piece, de piece dat dey’s tryin’ tuh
pick yo’ know fo’ months or somepin like dat. An’ then dey lays de fifty-cent
piece down an’ he picks it up, an’ after he picks de fifty-cent piece up, den he
picks de guitar up an’ he picks de same piece dat dey been tryin’ tuh learn. Den
dey [pupil] - de devil supposed to be backin’ his life - den he [pupil] picks de
box up himself an’ after picking de box up, he’ll pick dat same piece an’ any
other piece dat he wants tuh play.
Ah knows a fellow right chere now done de same identical thing, in Waycross.

[Waycross, Ga. , (1143), 1860:8.]