We’ve already talked about one of the major don’ts in Hoodoo in the blog post from March 12th called, “And Remember Kids - Don’t Eat the Hoodoo.”
But let’s take a look at some of the other do’s and don’ts.
Invariably when I teach a class on Hoodoo I have somebody, sometimes several somebodies, bring up “The Rede” or “The Three Fold Law.” I have to remind them that this is Hoodoo not Wicca. Hoodoo does have a moral compass, however… is the work justified. I tell folks don’t kill a butterfly with a cannon. In other words if your neighbor’s dog keeps digging in your yard you wouldn’t (or at least probably shouldn’t) cause your neighbor to suffer a horrible wasting away disease that ends with a horrendous death! That’s not justified. You might jinx them to move away or for her garden to never produce flower or fruit till the dog stops digging. (Meanwhile you should not neglect the mundane work and…oh I don’t know – talk to her!) Or maybe you’ll put up some “keep away” wards to encourage the dog to stay in his own yard. So this Hoodoo Don’t can probably be summed up by…Be sure the work is justified and don’t shoot a butterfly with a cannon.
Another don’t would be: Don’t confuse European Herbalism with Hoodoo. Hoodoo will sometimes use botanicals for the same medicinal properties as European Herbalism. However, Rootwork/Hoodoo deals more with the human condition (heartbreak, legal battles, bothersome neighbors, runaway husbands, financial difficulties etc.) whereas European Herbalism is more focused on health (which herb to use for which ailment ie: ginger or peppermint for tummy aches, eyebright for sties, white willow bark for headaches, etc.) There is some overlap, Rootwork would often work on physical ailments and herbalism worked right alongside European Folk Magic or Witchcraft. The lines often blur and information has been shared in the distant past as it is today.
But don’t confuse them and create an amalgamation, they are two different schools of study with some shared commonalities.
Don’t be fooled by those who tell you (or imply,) “you can just make it up,” “intuition will guide you” or some other bull larky. Rootwork is a practice that has been around for hundreds of years, based on practices much older than that, and the recipes and rituals are a learned practice. The only way to truly learn is from a teacher. One on one. Oh I know there are books and you can learn a lot from books, if the writer truly knows the subject. There are authors who do a little reading and then re-write a bunch of recipes and history and voilá they are experts. Then there is Pinterest. You just know that those are the real recipes, right? Kind of doubt it. Of course you can learn a lot from buying the products. Far be it from me to tell you not to buy ready-made products, hell, I make products. But you are only getting part of the picture if you are buying the products to learn Hoodoo. But if your goal is just to do the work and you’re not worried about learning Hoodoo, then by all means buy the ready-made products, after all that is the way it was in days of old. There has always been those who learned these ways and those who came to the Rootworker for help with their problems. It works, why mess with it now?
But if you are trying to learn Hoodoo then you cannot rely on books, or intuition, or European Herbalism knowledge, or guessing what’s in the bottle. Rootwork has been and always will be partially hidden in the shadows and the swamps. The recipes of the various practitioners are carefully guarded secrets.
That leads me to another don’t…Don’t ask me, “What in it?” It is considered just rude, like asking Colonel Sanders of KFC for his secret recipe. My recipes took years of work and research. Some of them were handed down to me or other members of my family. I’ve spent many years working with teachers down in Louisiana, and still work with them every year; and you just want me to tell you how to make it…excuse me???
If you are checking to be sure you won’t breakout in hives then ask it differently; maybe something like, “I’m severely allergic to lemon grass…can I use your Van Van Oil?” (NO)
Ok, I have a kind of weird Hoodoo – Do. While you are learning buy a wide variety of the ready- made products out there. While you cannot fully learn Hoodoo this way, it is a good way to introduce you to the knowledge of what is real and what is just a money making con. It shows you just how much crap is out there. Buy from many companies or vendors. Buy from the semi-tacky tourist shops in New Orleans, buy from the real Voodoo practitioners, buy from the botanicas, buy from the online stores, buy buy buy and compare. What is their mojo bag or gris gris bag made of? What’s inside? What should be inside? What would you expect to see? Are their oils made with herbs and minerals, roots and flowers? Or are they just perfumed oil? Are there dyes or synthetic products added? Should there be? How do you think the rootworkers of say 1870 made their products? Find out how that changed in the 1930s and why. So for me another “DO” would be to educate yourself. Take classes, read, go to conferences, join Rootworker or Hoodoo or Conjure Facebook groups, but remember there are a lot of folks out there who take a class or two, maybe read a book or two and pass themselves off as experts. I guess my last don’t is…Don’t be one of them. Till next time…Remember Kids, Don’t Eat The Hoodoo.
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.