Often I get asked, “Are Conjure and Hoodoo the same?”
Well, Yes and No.
Hoodoo is primarily found in the Southern United States. You will find Hoodoo primarily in Louisiana, but it can also be found in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and to a degree in Texas, Florida and Arkansas. Folks who practice it might not call it Hoodoo but it is the folk magic practice that in the South is often interwoven with the Catholic Religion. Conjure seems to be practiced mainly by Protestants, throughout the Appalachians and down the Southern part of the Eastern Seaboard. But for a very long time now those that practiced what we call Hoodoo, and those that practiced what we call Conjure shared information and even married into each other’s families. People are not stationary. They move, they cross state lines and so did this magical practice. During World War II many folks were uprooted from their homes and found themselves stationed at far away bases. My own family moved from Louisiana to California because the Air Force said they had to. Many years later some of them relocated to Florida. So there are no clear cut differences between these two practices, Hoodoo and Conjure, except maybe in the working of Spirits and Saints.
In Conjure you might work with ancestor spirits, asking your Granny for help in finding the right man to be your husband, or to help you make ends meet. Most of us had loving Grannies who would of course help you. (Don’t ask your evil Granny for help…she didn’t get nicer just because she died.) You might also appeal to the Spirit of Black Hawk for protection (a common occurrence in Conjure.) Calling on Black Hawk’s aid originated in the Spiritualist Movement. Others might call on Angels or personal spirit guides.
However, in addition to calling on ancestor spirits or others from the realm of the dead, Hoodoo Rootworkers might also call on the Saints, asking them through prayer to help. For the purposes of this post I am stressing the difference of Hoodoo work with Saints as well as other spirits, versus the practice of the more Protestant Conjure Doctors where Saints are acknowledge but rarely worked with or prayed to.
Now remember it is not a clear line that separates the two. There is a lot of overlap, a lot of mixing.
Nowadays there is also a further confusion of the two practices. Not only have ideas and works been shared to the point of almost no difference between the two traditions, but since Hoodoo/Conjure is a magical practice and not a religion, we find many whose beliefs are neither Protestant nor Catholic.
While it is not the way Hoodoo/Conjure was practiced in “days of old,” you will now often find Wiccans practicing Conjure or Atheists using Hoodoo as their magical practice. While I think this is just fine there is a part (a fairly significant and powerful part) of the magical system that will be lost.
Many who have turned from “The Church” or from Abrahamic religions have a knee jerk reaction to the idea of working with the Bible as a spell book, or praying to a Saint, or making an altar to Moses or Jesus. I completely understand. I was raised Catholic and even though I left that church long ago there is a part of me that still resonates with it. I have learned not to throw the baby out with the bath water. I have found that I can accept the Saints and even Jesus as “enlightened beings.” I don’t need to worship them to recognize their usefulness in spell work. Furthermore, if read with the right mindset the Bible is the most awesome spell book.
Well, I have kind of gone off on a tangent.
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.