Candle Shops of Downtown Baltimore -part 2-
Copyright 2005-2009 Edward Knapp. All rights reserved.
Jericho Herb and Candle Company
(Corner of Lexington and Greene Streets)
The oldest of the local candle shops and certainly the one with the richest history is the Jericho Herb and Candle Company (aka the Golden Horn, formerly the Clover Horn of Baltimore--see Spiritual Merchants by Carolyn Long for more detail).
Jericho occupies a corner storefront one block from the main building of Lexington Market and across the street from the smaller, Western annex of the market. The shop itself occupies the ground floor of the multi-story building. Whether the upper floors are in use I cannot say; the windows have been neatly boarded over and painted. The ground floor windows are completely covered in white-painted steel grating; a handpainted clapboard sign on the side advertises "Gift Shop, Body Oils, Incense", while over the door an aging white sign with red and blue lettering reads "Jericho Herb and Candle Company Natural Herbal Teas". Additional red and gold banner signs advertising "Natural herbal teas" occupy the windows. If the store is closed, a roll-down corrugated metal grating completely obscures the corner-mounted doorway.
Inside, the store is dim and looks every inch the old-time hoodoo shop that it is -- indeed, there is very little to indicate that this store exists in the current century. There are almost a dozen covered wooden barrels (some labeled "powdered incense"), with scoops, on the right side as you walk in; wooden shelves line the four walls, and glass cabinets along the right side and back walls define the sales counters. Shelves on the right-hand wall, just past the barrels, hold various figural candles and bottles of florida water, kanaga water, Hoyt's cologne, and at least 6 different colors of Chinese Wash. Although some of these are national-brand products identical to those sold elsewhere, most of the products, in their glass jars with metal lids and a wild assortment of paper labels (from crude photocopies to eleaborate multi-color prints), appear to still be manufactured in-house.
The side countertop holds racks of bags of tinted sachet powders and stick incense, jars of buckeyes, tonka beans, river stones, High John, Little John to Chew, and Orris roots, and small jars of multicolored "Egyptian incense" powder and various sachet powders. Inside the glass cabinet are small bags of mandrake and devil's shoestrings, lucky buddha statues in various materials, oversized horseshoes, and a selection of condition baths and powders in metal-screwtop glass jars.
Further along, a second glass cabinet displays dozens of multicolored oils in 1/2 oz. glass bottles with predominantly 2-tone paper labels whose designs date back to the first half of the 20th century. Probably 85% of these are condition oils, perhaps 10% are single fragrance oils, and the final 5% fragrance blends. The "Genuine Essential Oil" labels on the single fragrance oils bear the"Clover Horn Co. Balto., Md" imprint; the condition oils (like the other condition products) tend to have names like "so-called Success brand" or "alleged Concentration brand". It should be noted that few of the oils I've seen at Jericho contain any solid matter, with the exception of a couple of oils advertised as "with root" and containing a signle fragment of the root in question, and a few more that contain glitter.
Where the side and back counters meet, there is a tall glass cabinet filled with various name brand herbal products and tonic (Noni, and the like). A display of spiritual soaps (florida water, Santa Barbara, and 7 african powers) of indeterminate manufacture occupies the end of the back counter. Behind both the side and back counters on the wall are shallow wooden shelves stocked with a wide assortment of condition-oriented washes, oils, incense, aerosol sprays, and powders, most of which appear to be manufactured in-house. There is a back room beyond the back sales counter, but to the best of my knowledge, there is no one who does readings or divination at Jericho.
Across from side sales counter, moving along the wall from back to front, are a rack of chapbooks (Anna Riva, dream number books, and psalm-working titles) and tall glass-front wooden cabinets full of candles. Upper shelves hold plain and silk-screened glass 7-day candles of various colors, while boxes of small votives occupy the lower shelves. A large cabinet at the very front of the store (on the left as one enters the store) holds additional glass 7-day candles, as well as huge glass-encased (14-day? 21-day?) candles of various colors. Of the silk-screened designs, about 40% relate to conditions (jinx-breaking, run devil run, road opening, etc.), probably another 40% are various classic spiritual and metaphysical designs, such as Indian Guide, Seal of Solomon, 7 African powers, and the ever-popular (though not strictly Hoodoo) Chango y Macho. The remaining 20% or so are Catholic saint novena candles.
Moving along the wall to the front of the store (across from the barrels), one finds the dried herb and tea section. Both the wall shelves and an island in the center of the front floor area are devoted to big glass jars of dried herbs and bags of tea. One may browse the herb/tea section, although the staff do the actual weighing and packaging of whatever materials one may need. Generally speaking, the dried herb selection at Jericho is above average, relative to other local vendors, though, as with all vendors in the city, there are availability issues with certain items.
Percentage-wise, it appears that at least 90% of the condition oils, washes, sachet powders, and incense powders at Jericho are still made in-house; I have not noticed other mass-produced (Indio, etc.) condition products in my visits, and only a handful of classic national brands, such as Hoyt's and Murray & Lanmann.
The staff people I've encountered at Jericho, while not particularly chatty, are generally helpful--they know their stock and will answer questions about what things are and what they're for. I don't feel that I can provide a definative overview of Jericho's clientele, although I think it would be safe to say that most are African American and have some knowledge of Hoodoo practice, whether from simple cultural familiarity, as consumers of pre-made products, or as rootworkers proper. Herbs and roots for teas appear to be particularly popular.
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