Hoodoo is not Voodoo. I know they rhyme and you will often find Hoodoo in Voodoo. But they are not one in the same.
I was teaching a Hoodoo class at Pantheacon and heard a woman mutter, as she peeked in the door…”Oh, it’s a Voodoo class.” I was in the middle of my introduction or I would have yelled out, “NO It’s NOT!”
I think this is a common misconception.
According to Wikipedia…”African American Hoodoo is a traditional African American folk spirituality that developed from a number of West African spiritual traditions and beliefs”
Well, that might be true (at least partially) but the way I learned Hoodoo (my family is from Louisiana) it’s a little like Gumbo, you throw in whatever works. Yes, there are components of African and African American Folk Magic and Spirituality. But here is where Voodoo and Hoodoo (at least the way I learned it) differ. Hoodoo is much less about religion or spirituality then Voodoo, and Hoodoo has a fair amount of European and Native American magical practices worked into it as well.
I am not an expert on Voodoo. I do not practice Voodoo. But I have many friends who practice Haitian Voodoo and New Orleans Voodoo (two very different practices) and most, if not all of them, also practice Hoodoo. A magical practice.
Hoodoo is a magical practice that has elements of Native American, European and African magic, as I said above. Think about it… African men, women and children, many of them brought to the south against their will and in chains, did not bring with them the roots and plants from their homeland. They did not tell the slave hunters, “Can you wait just a minute and let me gather some of this plant.” They arrived in the colonies with nothing. But they learned from the Native Americans and yes, even from the Europeans (sometimes by working with them and sometimes by watching.) They discovered which plants to use to achieve the same effect as their homeland plants. They figured out that Native Americans also used bags or pouches with herbs in them to protect themselves. They discovered that the British had poppets much like their own “Voodoo Dolls.” These are now called Doll Babies by most Hoodoo practitioners, and effigy magic was also not a new concept to the Native Americans. Magic has existed on every continent since…well, forever! And what works will survive. Amazingly many similar magical practices developed on all the different continents. Here in, what is now known as the United States, these similar magical practices met and married. They had a child….Hoodoo.
It has been my observation that if you practice a form of this amalgamation of magic in the Carolinas, or in the Appalachian region it is usually referred to as Conjure. In Louisiana (primarily) or to some extent in the Gulf States it is often called Hoodoo. Sometimes you will hear it called Rootwork, Root Doctoring or “Working the Root.”
Well, I hope we’ve cleared that up.
I would be interested in historical documents or studies that prove or dis-prove my position. Please, let me know if you know of any such documents.
I am Hexeba Theaux. My family has been in Louisiana since the 1700s and most of them still live there. Good Cajun folk. Heck, if you throw a rock in St. Martinville, Louisiana you'll probably hit one of my cousins. I have practiced Southern Folk Magic since I was a child. These are my thoughts on what is called Hoodoo or Conjure. I own and operate CajunConjure.com.