I love to educate. I think I was born to be a teacher. When I was five years old I was in dance class and kept telling the other kids how to do the dance steps. Some people called my instruction, “bossy,” but they just did not recognize my natural teaching abilities. (ahem…cough, cough)
However, it can get really old trying to explain that Hoodoo is not Voodoo, and that Hoodoo AND Voodoo are not evil, or that what is depicted on T.V. and in Movies is NOT real. It is Hollywood, and not what Hoodoo or Conjure is. Hollywood is an entertainment industry and a business. They need to put butts in the seats at the theaters, and many people will pay good money to be scared.
So Hollywood “exaggerates” and creates a spooky environment and wraps Hoodoo/Conjure up in the horror genre, all to sell tickets. Because, let’s face it, a woman in the last half of her life, mixing herbs and oils and setting them on a shelf is just not edge of the seat entertainment.
Are there scary parts of Hoodoo/Conjure? Sure. There is what is referred to as the “left hand path” the “hard work” or “shadow work.” Sometimes you will hear this work called, “laying tricks” or “hexing.” But you have to remember THIS IS NOT WICCA.
Not every practitioner works that path, and those that do take steps to ensure their protection from the backlash that can occur. There are rituals to follow and it is not something to dabble in.
Actually, I think that is where the real scary comes in. If you have spent years studying this form of magic then you know how to protect yourself (hint: it involves more than lighting a candle or casting a circle) and if you haven’t it can get REAL very quickly and that shit just don’t rub off. All the Florida Water in the world won’t help. You have to know what to do BEFORE you play around with this stuff. Because if there is one thing I have learned in my 40 years of working the root….this shit works.
But, back to Hollywood. Since this is the Hoodoo world that most folks are familiar with they don’t read about, or attend classes that will educate them to the wonderful, practical magical practice of Hoodoo/Conjure. Most of Hoodoo is concerned with practical, day to day stuff: getting a job, finding love, making more money, bringing luck into your life, keeping your home safe and happy. These are things everyone wants. And, no, once you start practicing conjure you are not opening the door to evil. There is no “slippery slope.” Those are very Christian concepts and while many practitioners are Christian they just stay clear of the more, shall we say, negative, practice. Many of those who know of Hoodoo also think that if they have the local root doctor put the hex on their ex there will be no backlash on them personally…after all they did not work the magic. So my advice to you is either learn to work the root in a positive manner, or learn how to counter act the negative magic. There are no magical moral police. Magic in and of itself is not good or bad. Magic is neutral. It is the practitioner that decides how they will use their magic that determines whether it is for good or not. And working the root does not look much like what you see on T.V.
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.