Hoodoo (root work, conjuring) is a type of folk magic – not the same as Voodoo – that came from West Africa with the slaves during that despicable trade in human cargo: the Congo, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, etc. This blend of beliefs from the various tribes of those regions eventually came to be practiced in the Southeast US by the Gullah as well as the slaves in Louisiana, where they were more isolated and able to practice their spirituality in freedom compared with enslaved Africans in other areas. In Mississippi, Hoodoo was observed more under cover of darkness and secrecy.

In Hoodoo, the Bible is considered “as the great conjure book in the world” and both God and Moses are held as ‘conjure men’. Psalms are often recited during root work and spells are taken directly from the Bible. Hoodoo’s design was the improvement of the slaves’ lives through spiritual intervention. The calling of supernatural forces is believed to aid one in obtaining luck, funds, love, health, and jobs. Herbs, roots, animal parts, incense, candles, scented powders, bath crystals, 4 Thieves Vinegar, Florida Water, Red Devil Lye and human bodily fluids are often utilized in Hoodoo ritual work in order to bring faster results.

According to one Facebook page, practitioners of Hoodoo aren’t concerned with Karmic Law (the way Wiccans, for example, are). They believe in going straight to the source and asking for what one wants – no beating around the bush with Hoodoo! If you are in need of money, you ask for it and you even ask for the amount that you need, what you need it for…same with cancer treatment. If you need it, you ask for it. Plain and simple. You can even cause a man to become impotent or a woman to not be able to conceive if that’s what you desire. This is totally unlike Wiccan rituals, where the Law of Karma (Wiccan Rede) rules – An it harm none, do what ye will.

Hoodoo is distinctly African American. Despite what you may have read or heard, Hoodoo is not strongly associated with the Voodoo of either Haiti or New Orleans, nor is is a close relation to Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Appalachian Folk Magic, Candomble, Ifa, Black magick, or Paganism. It may share something with a few or all of these other systems of magic, but it isn’t a part of them. It is as African American as the Blues, a cultural identity that all Blacks in this country share (and even believe in to a certain extent) whether they wish to admit it or not.

A lot of older people in the South still believe in Hoodoo, particularly in the more rural areas. I recall stories my own grandparents and others of their generation told us about people they knew who had been ‘rooted’ by someone, usually for love or material gain. My great uncle supposedly had a root worked on him by a woman who had a strong attraction for his love, which he didn’t feel for her. She caused his stroke, according to family members – but apparently some sort of divine retribution came about because the woman wound up in a wheelchair with both legs removed at the knees due to diabetes, blind and sick. I guess this means that whatever bad you send out to the Universe will come back upon you threefold if you believe in such.

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