You’ve likely never heard of Hoodoo unless you’re from the New Orleans area or the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where this form of witchery and healing is quite well known and widely practiced. Originating in the African spirituality of people living in the Congo, Benin/Togo, and Nigeria, Hoodoo came over to the New World with the slaves. Its name derives from Hudu, a tribe located in Togo and Ghana, and the language spoken by the Ewe people there.
Also often referred to as rootwork, Hoodoo represents a mixture of religion, witchcraft, and faith healing. Occasionally its practitioners also use it to dispel evil or bring harm to evildoers.
Hoodoo relies on conjurers, i.e., people who have the ability to call on God, biblical figures, and other spirits to help them practice their craft. In fact, many Hoodoo practitioners believe that God himself was the original Hoodoo “doctor” and that the Bible is the archetypal book of medicine. Moses is often invoked since he was the man who called upon God to part the Red Sea so that the Hebrews could escape their ancient enslavement in Egypt. For Hoodoo believers, this act represents one of the major Hoodoo events of all time.
Hoodoo practitioners use talismans, i.e., objects they believe have magical powers, as part of their spells. For them, the Bible itself is an extremely powerful talisman. Other widely used talismans include the following:
- Plants and their essences
Hoodoo practitioners generally use a mojo bag as part of their spellcasting. This item, sometimes called a gris bag, is considered a “prayer in a bag,” and the person who wishes Hoodoo protection or healing keeps one on his or her person at all times. Men generally keep them in their pockets, while women often wear them on a cord or chain around their neck.
Generally made of flannel, the color of the mojo bag will depend on the type of magic you wish to avail yourself of. Popular colors include the following:
- Red for love
- White for baby blessings
- Green for money
- Black for banishing
- Blue for healing
- Brown for strength
- Gold for health
- Gray for relieving sorrow
- Lavender for spiritual development
- Orange for creativity and success
- Silver for stability and warding off negativity
- Yellow for happiness, confidence, wisdom, etc.
As with its color, the contents of the mojo bag vary depending upon the particular magic you seek. Common mojo bag contents include roots, herbs, minerals, coins, crystals, carved amulets, animal parts, and personalized objects.
Not surprisingly, for Hoodoo to be effective, you must believe in not only Hoodoo itself but also the abilities of the practitioner to whom you go for help. Generally the process will begin with seeking, i.e., the practitioner asking you questions about your condition or situation and what you want the Hoodoo to do for you.
Thereafter, the practitioner will call upon the spirits to assist in giving you the help you seek. Then he or she will pray over and for you. If you are seeking a specific form of healing, such as for an injured limb or even for paralysis, he or she likely will use holy water to wash your affected body parts and then run a talisman over them.
You also need to exhibit patience when receiving Hoodoo help. While you may see immediate results, you more likely will experience incremental progress, especially if you’re requesting healing of a serious condition such as paralysis. Here the process may take several weeks or even several months, starting with movement in your fingers or toes that then progresses to movement throughout your body.
Hoodoo offers an interesting practice and belief system. Pick up a book or two on the subject to learn even more about it.