* To avoid confusion, let us look at interchangeable terms. Hoodoo and Conjure are interchangeable words for the magic practiced predominately by African Americans. Both are regional terms to speak of the same Craft. Conjurer/Witch/Rootworker are also synonymous.
Conjure is a child of the Passage. It was born when African Slaves stepped onto the shores of this “New World”. It is unique in the Spiritual world and while born in the United States; it is tied to the Motherland. Conjure is a living craft that has birthed a new language, interpretations of sacred texts and traditions. Slaves came to the Americas with only faith and knowledge. There were no mystical tools, books or herbs brought in bags across the Atlantic. Everything that Conjure is now, was sprouted from seeds buried deep in the minds of these brave ancestors. Those who ended up in the majority of the South (outside of New Orleans) were influenced by the predominant religion, Christian Protestantism. Slaves, in an ingenious way, sought to preserve their faith by combining African Traditional Religion and Christianity bringing Conjure into being. The slower influx of slaves from Africa to the United States meant that American slaves were cut off from African religions and Hoodoo Conjure was created with its own beliefs and customs with ties to the Protestant Bible.
It is important to note that, dependent on the region, terms for this form of magick can have different names i.e. Rootwork, Hoodoo, or Conjure Work. I prefer the term Rootwork/ Rootworker. Rootwork tends to be popular because it gives homage to the organic and tactile nature of this Craft. Herbs, flowers, roots, bones, stones and other forms of life are an intrical part of Rootwork and are believed to hold mystical and powerful properties. The “work” in Rootwork is a nod to the belief that you must attend to and put energy into spells, candlework, etc. A Rootworker may employ the power of the Divine through workings that include: candle magic, container spells, divination, dolls, mojo bags, gris-gris baths, washes, etc.
The Great Migration of African Americans to the Northern States carried Hoodoo North of the Mason-Dixon Line and allowed it to be more widely touched by other traditions. In areas where Catholicism was prevalent (New Orleans), Christian Saints were called upon for assistance. Today, modern Hoodoo combines Aftrican Spiritual Religions, Catholic Saints as well as time-honored practices of Rootwork.
The Bible in Hoodoo
Understanding a bit about how Hoodoo was born allows the connection between the Craft and the Bible as the sacred text that Slaves were exposed to. The poetry of the Psalms is a favorite of Hoodoo Practitioners. The Divine has placed mystical awareness and “magic” right in front of us, if we are attuned to look. By the same token, why wouldn’t the words to invoke this power also be easily accessible? For those who have closed their eyes to the mysticism of the Psalms and see them as simply another book in the Bible, the Psalms are words. To the Witch, they are spells.
I have found that many Witches have a pronounced aversion to using anything from the Bible due to past negative experience; however, when past history and failings of humans across humans are removed from the equation the fact that the Psalms are spells remains. The Psalms at their core are not the word of God but rather men’s words to God. One of the oldest grimoires contains spells from the Psalms. The Heptameron was considered the most powerful spell book of its day and is still studied. . Unfortunately, the mystic use of the Psalms was crushed by the Catholic Church but has regained popularity in the past century.
As an Eclectic Witch/Rootworker I have used the Psalms for very specific workings. It would appear that I am working backwards in my understanding of Conjure; venturing out before in. One would say that this is how many approach this path. Conquering the external when the true battle is the one within.
How does Conjure/Hoodoo Fit with Other Paths?
Generations of African Americans, and more recently, other heritages have found that Conjure addresses their needs, just as it did hundreds of years ago. Regardless of your culture, heritage, race or creed, we all have the same basic desires. Enough financial capital to care for ourselves and family, good health, protection and the ability to have children. In an exploration of Conjure/Hoodoo, one can’t help but notice the similarities between this path and others.
Conjure is a tactile way to touch the Divine the energy of Creation. It allows us as mortals to shape our destinies and improve our lives. It brings the calm of knowing, the contentment of being one with the world around us while expanding our minds and hearts.
If you have not been acquainted with Conjure, or perhaps you have heard things but aren’t quite sure what’s what: grab a cup of coffee and set a spell. Let’s discover this together.