Hoodoo is the American name for African American folk magic, as pagan author Rachel Patterson explains in her new book Pagan Portals - Hoodoo. She goes on to explain that although she is not a born and bred hereditary Hoodoo root worker living in Georgia or New Orleans in the USA, she has studied Hoodoo in great detail.
Her book offers an introduction to the subject that I found really fascinating. Hoodoo is not something I have had much experience of in the past. I am an eclectic Wiccan living in England and my main background in folk magic has been that of my own country. However, Hoodoo is something I get asked about from time to time, largely because people assume a bad witch should know about it.
Hoodoo often gets confused with Vodoun or Voodoo. As Rachel says: "Many religions sprang from the African traditions, such as Yoruba, Santeria, Vodoun and Candomblé. Hoodoo came out of those beliefs and is the magical practise, not an actual religion. It is definitely not Voodoo, as it is commonly called by mistake. Voodoo, or Vodou, is a Haitian African religion, while Vodoun is West African."
Spells in the Hoodoo practitioner's repertoire are inherently practical - for things like love, luck, happiness, health and wealth, as well as a few curses to get even with enemies. Modern-day witches might choose never to curse anyone, but curses are documented a part of the Hoodoo tradition that are interesting to know about.
Most hoodoo magic - often called "root work" - uses things like herbs, plants, roots, stones and minerals combined with chants and rituals. Ingredients can be put into spell bags - called "mojo bags" - or used to enchant candles and other handmade items or made into incense, oils, powders and magical washes. If you fancy giving any of this a go, Rachel's book gives clear instructions, recipes and examples as well as explaining the history and theory behind it all.
Publisher Moon Books says on its website: "Pagan Portals – Hoodoo is an introduction to the magical art, detailing what Hoodoo is and how to work with it as well as offering recipes and other ideas. The book details the author’s personal experiences with Hoodoo, deities, beliefs and the magical practises along with information on various Hoodoo crafts - bottle spells, foot track magic, crossroads magic, powders, spiritual washes and much more."
I've learnt a lot from the book and while I am unlikely to ever try the darker side of Hoodoo, such as curses and jinxes, I could definitely see myself trying to make Florida water to spiritually cleanse my home, or a mojo bag to bring myself a little luck.
Rachel Patterson's earlier books include Grimoire of a Kitchen Witch, and Pagan Portals: Kitchen Witchcraft. She is an Outer Court Member of the Correllian Tradition and a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and has worked through the three Wiccan degrees.
Links and previous related posts
Pagan Portals - Hoodoo: Folk Magic