Saturday, November 21, 2015

Who is Anna Riva and are her products good?

Hello Everyone,

My Aunt, Ms. Q, had drafted a number of articles to be posted on her blog, in going through them using her notes, I finished them and then read the articles to her for her approval as well as any suggestions or additions to done to the articles. 

My Aunt has via comments on her posts, has been asked many questions, and she has always felt that it would be best since many of the questions are the same to reply as a post so that everyone will know and understand. 


The name Anna Riva, like the alleged “7 Sisters of New Orleans”, or the names of Doctor Buzzard or Aunt Caroline Dye, or Black Hawk, comes up frequently among practitioners of Conjure Magic.   Her products have been seen on many metaphysical online shops and in brick and mortar stores, but the big question is “Who is or was Anna Riva?”

Anna Riva was the pen name of Dorothy Spencer, a well-known American occult author and manufacturer of hoodoo spiritual supplies. According to Catherine Yronwode, "Anna Riva" was a nom de plume that Dorothy Spencer used only in her writing and business; Anna was her mother's name and Riva was her daughter's name.  During the 1960's she owned a mail order occult supply business called “International Imports” based out of Hollywood, California then later relocated to Toluca Lake. She wrote a number of booklets under the pen name Anna Riva.

Her books of magic spells always called for items like “Money Drawing Powder” or “Black Cat Oil”, which of course, she sold through her digest sized mail order catalog. Her biggest selling items were items such as “magic oils”, “magic powders” and “magic incense”.   But it appears that it might have been Anna Riva that introduced the idea of having the oils, powders and incense in colors because of the mixtures used.

According to Craft Magick, Dorothy Spencer was born in 1923 and began writing as Anna Riva in the 1960s. In the book Spiritual Merchants, author Carolyn Morrow Long described how the "1970s and 1980s saw the publication of a new crop of spell books" for products available from the same companies selling the books. "The best-known of these writers is the extremely prolific Dorothy Spencer, who writes under the name 'Anna Riva.'"

Her company International Imports began publishing a number of spell books such as the Modern Witchcraft Spellbook (1973) and the Voodoo Handbook of Cult Secrets (1974) among other popular titles. Many of these spell-books recommended the use of spiritual oils that International Imports also manufactured---so the books were akin to advertisements for the oils.

Spencer's books contained collected spells from many traditions, including Neopagan sources, European occultism, and the Judeo-Christian grimoire tradition. They often included mention of African American folk magic as well as Haitian Voodoo.     Spencer/Riva had a disclaimer in every catalog that the items sold were merely “curios’ with no magic powers implied, although clearly the items were being sold as magical ingredients for spells. Her books carried similar disclaimers.  This kept her from ever being sued for fraud, this is because many various state and federal laws state very clearly that you must indicate as such.

My aunt, Ms. Q, when she did readings at various Fairs, such as Renaissance Fairs or Halloween events and such always had written at the bottom of her advertising sign (for entertainment only) to avoid being arrested for fraud, although she did tell me that she could understand why it was important to have that disclaimer, being a practitioner one carries a lot of responsibility, but also there were a lot of gullible people who could be easily misled by someone unscrupulous.

In addition to writing books on magic, Spencer produced an extensive line of magical oils, incenses and powders which were sold by occult suppliers. When Spencer retired in the late 1990s to live in Montana, her company, International Imports of Los Angeles, was purchased by Indio Products owned by Marty Mayer, which continued to manufacture spiritual supplies bearing the Anna Riva name, as well as keeping her books in print.

Sadly Dorothy Spenser suffered from Alzheimer’s in her twilight years and in 2000, the owner of Indio Products, Marty Mayer, stated that Dorothy Spenser known as Anna Riva was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In Spiritual Merchants (2001), Carolyn Long confirmed and wrote "Dorothy Spencer is now quite elderly and, unfortunately, suffers from Alzheimer's disease, so I was unable to interview her.”   This inability to access knowledge and information from Spenser/Riva was an opportunity forever lost.

Dorothy Spenser aka Anna Riva died in 2003 although some sources say 2005.

With Anna Riva products people either love them or hate them because it is said that it is made out of synthetic oils, some people swear by them or stay with the products out of brand loyalty.    It is believe that prior to Spencer selling her company to Indio Products, she made her oils and such they contained actual essential oils and root matter. Afterward, however, the company switched over to using synthetic oils and perfumes in the Anna Riva Oils.  So what some loyal users would do is add a drop or two of their own essential oil and a root or herb that is associated with it.

Another complaint is the gold foil label that would wear off, some people would put clear nail polish over it or a piece of clear tape.

A practioner named Doc Conjure had this to say about Anna Riva products:  There are a lot of people online who bash Anna Riva products because they are not made with 100% natural ingredients. I too felt a bit upset when I learned they are made of artificial ingredients or chemicals. This said, I still have a fondness for them because they were the first spiritual oils I was taught to use…….

…..Now, as I mentioned above the first teacher to teach me to use spiritual oils worked exclusively with Anna Riva oils. However, she would add roots or herbs to the bottles and pray over them. When doing professional work with clients she would also remove the label from the bottle and give them to the client to use. So this was how I was taught to use Anna Riva oils, to add natural roots or herbs to the bottles and to pray over it……

……I currently have about 3 bottles, protection, amber, & rose, of Anna Riva oil in my stash of spiritual oils. I don't care what people online have to say. Anna Riva oils have always worked for me. I've always seen results when using them. This said I have payed $7-$10 for spiritual oils by big name people online that haven't produced any results for me. Now why would I continue to pay up to $10 for a bottle that contains natural ingredients but that doesn't work compared to paying for a reasonably priced bottle of Anna Riva oils to which I add natural ingredients and which always work for me? It's doesn't make sense for me to continue purchasing expensive oils from online occult shops. Therefore I no longer purchase any of the expensive spiritual oils from big names online……

……The last problem I have is with the oils for enemy work. Oils for enemy work shouldn't smell nice and pretty. They should be strong and somewhat offensive. For that reason I do not use Anna Riva's enemy work oils. For such I rely solely on the oils I make myself with essential oils added to a carrier oil base or from the cold or hot infusion method of making oils……

…..So the purpose of this blog entry is to try to counteract the nonsense online. Professional workers have and do use Anna Riva oils. You can and will see success when using them.   By Doc Conjure

Doc Conjure mentions a very important fact, whether it’s an oil, powder or incense that you make yourself or one that you buy from a brick and mortar store or an on line store, the most important thing is to pray over that object or item to infuse it with your own intention.  This is vitally important.

Ms. Q told me that when she purchased oils, candles and such she always prayed over them to infuse it with her intent, her energy, even though the practioner who made it has made it with that intent, by you praying over it you give the oil or item it’s specific intent.   This is very important.   She has used some Anna Riva oils herself with success.

Another practioner,  Carolina Dean has used Anna Riva oils as well and had this to say: 

I used Anna Riva's Promotion Oil when I had been having some trouble at work absorbing a lot of information in a short amount of time resulting in sloppy mistakes and agitated co-workers. I used the oil with a fixed-candle and also used it to anoint my Crown of Success Mojo Bag. I did not add any herbs or root matter to my Promotion Oil, but rather prayed over it sincerely before its use. In my experience with the oil, I saw a difference the very next day and things have continued to get better and better with each use! So, in this instance with this oil I am a believer and will continue to use Anna Riva Promotion Oil again as I continue to experiment with other Anna Riva Spiritual Oils.

In a forum question about Algiers oil Catherine Yronwode of Lucky Mojo products had this to say:

They are simply two different recipes that are similar. When I got the recipe for Algiers Oil the resemblance was obvious to me.    In "Golden Secrets of Mystic Oils" the writer Anna Riva (Dorothy Spencer) attributed the name "Algiers" to "the Mediterranean" and called it a "sensuous" oil.

However, Edward Lowe, a Texas-born African-American root doctor in Chicago in the 1920s, made and sold Algiers Perfume many decades before Anna Riva came on the scene, and he attributed it to Algiers, Louisiana, which is across the river from New Orleans. This makes good sense to me, as Algiers was at that time known as "hoodoo town."

Ms. Q has this to say That there is nothing wrong with using the Anna Riva oils and such and there is nothing wrong with the Anna Riva booklets that she wrote, for may beginning practitioners you have to start somewhere and then over the course of time one can graduate from Anna Riva to more esoteric materials as you become more proficient.

But Ms. Q did say that  Riva’s booklet  Golden Secrets of Mystic Oils: ( which lists Over 550 Oils and 1300 Spells) is a very good quick reference guide and one can write in their own notations as you become proficient.  

Listed below is a Bibliography of Dorothy Spenser's/Anna Riva’s booklets for your information.

    Modern Witchcraft Spellbook (1973). ISBN 978-0-943832-02-9.
    The Modern Herbal spellbook (1974). ISBN 978-0-943832-03-6.
    Voodoo Handbook of Cult Secrets, International Imports (1974). ISBN 0-943832-01-2.
    Secrets of Magical Seals: A Modern Grimoire of Amulets, Charms, Symbols and Talismans (1975). ISBN 978-0-943832-04-3.
    Spellcraft, Hexcraft and Witchcraft (1977). ISBN 978-0-943832-00-5.
    Candle Burning Magic: A Spellbook of Rituals for Good and Evil (1980). ISBN 978-0-943832-06-7.
    Powers of the Psalms: 375 Ways to Use Psalms (1982). ISBN 978-0-943832-07-4.
    Devotions to the Saints (1982). ISBN 978-0-943832-08-1.
    Prayer Book: A Treasury of Meditations, Devotions, Gems of Wisdom, and Verses for Daily Help. (1984). ISBN 978-0-943832-09-8.
    Magic with Incense and Powders (1985). ISBN 978-0-943832-11-1.
    Golden Secrets of Mystic Oils: Over 550 Oils and 1300 Spells (1990). ISBN 978-0-943832-16-6.
    Your Lucky Numbers...Forever (1992). ISBN 978-0-943832-17-3.
    Six Lessons in Crystal Gazing (1993). ISBN 978-0-943832-18-0.
    Art of Divination (1995). ISBN 978-0-943832-23-4.
    Voodoo Handbook of Cult Secrets (1996). ISBN 978-0-943832-01-2.
    How to Conduct a Seance (1997). ISBN 978-0-943832-20-3.

In Ms. Q's words "Blessings to You"


  1. my dad used the 'golden secrets of mystical oils' written by Anna Riva to perform a lot of magic. many prostitutes, sick, celebrities etc came to him for help and he satisfied them all

    1. Hello Blice,

      That is good to hear. Anna Riva’s books have been the mainstay of many a magic practitioners shelf.

      Bright Blessings,
      Ms. Q

  2. Are the Anna Riva Oils which are been sold online original?

    1. Hello Atem,

      It is my understanding that the company that makes the Anna Riva products follow her formula’s and are good.

      However among some old-timers that have used her products before she sold her company to Indio Products, that when she was making them they felt it was better, claiming that she used natural herbs and oil and that Indio is using synthetic oils, but among younger practitioners they feel that the products work just as well.

      Among the old timers they claim that the oils smell different, what they don’t realize is that over time as the oil age the scent can change and be different from a fresh batch. I discovered that with some perfumes.

      I have used the oils and such both old and new batches and found them to work equally well.

      But it doesn’t hurt to shop around and see how other products work as well, but as a starting point Anna Riva products are, in my humble opinion, good products.

      Bright Blessings,
      Ms. Q

  3. Anna riva's oil are very helpful

  4. I swear by Anna Riva's oils and powders <3 I have been working with them since I was a young girl, and have just restocked my oils box with more bottles and jars. I too put my 'intent' and charge my oils for the things I need, as long as I don't harm anyone <3 I have a huge library of books, as well as my own notebooks. I have to get my hands on her books finally. Thank you so much for a great blog ! Blessings and Big Huggles x

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