Sunday, October 16, 2011

HOODOO

Hoodoo - it’s all the rage these days and with good reason. It’s just folk magic charms, incantations, prayers, and other folk lore from American Black culture from days long past and today many people are trying to use to supplement their other Spiritual/Magical practices with.

For instance McWiccans do not teach anything about Cursing or Hexing, so what’s a newbie to do when they’re bullied by some asshole? They turn to Hoodoo. Also Ceremonial MagicKians (CM) such as Golden Dawn or Thelema don’t teach (let alone advocate) the use of Curses & Hexes either so they too turn to Hoodoo for help.

Western Occultism is rife with Karmic horse shit with inept practitioners who simply couldn’t Hex their way out of a wet paper bag. Thus, Hoodoo comes to the rescue....

The problem with Westerners is that our minds are such that we tend to want structure to learn from and there is no true structure to Hoodoo. Typically it was taught from parent to child, neighbor to friend or more likely a technique or prayer was learned then shared from someone else. There are no true ‘Hoodoo rituals or ceremonies’ because of the lack of structure. Most of the time in the elder days someone would learn a quick prayer or a trick to somehow fix a situation that needed it. If no tricks or techniques were known, they’d go visit a Root Doctor.

Most (not all) of your old time Hoodoos did not call themselves ‘Hoodoo’ nor label themselves as such. Sure some did because they were looking to attract business but the majority of your old time, black Hoodoo practitioners labeled themselves ‘Spiritualist’ and did ‘Spiritual Work’ not Hoodoo. These are important distinctions that middle class, white Occultists are ignorant of. If you spend time talking to an old, black, Spiritual Worker, they will gladly set you straight on this fact.

Today, everyone and their brother call themselves Hoodoo. I find it humorous that 24 years ago when I was beginning to investigate the Occult, I could not find anyone involved in Witchcraft (let alone Hoodoo or RootWork!) Today they bump into you at the grocery store, coffee shop or laundry mat. Literally! And the funny thing is that they all tend to be white. Sort of like in the 80's when American Indian spirituality was at its peak, all you heard was talk about medicine cards, shamanism, what tribe was someone descended from, how many 16ths someone was American Indian, and so on. Who were the purveyors of this American Indian lore? Yup, white middle class folks.

Regardless I’ve always preferred RootWork-Conjure Sorcery to Hoodoo because RootWork has more to do with the herb and plant lore of folk magic; Conjure is about what it says: conjuring spirits. Hoodoo by contrast tends to be more about charms like lucky hands, rabbits/alligator/chicken foot, Catholic Saint’s medallions, candles, prayers, and other stuff. Most people tend to lump them all together under the blanket term Hoodoo but that’s like lumping Golden Dawn, Thelema, Builders of the Adytum, Society of Light, and other paths under Ceremonial MagicK - they’re all CM of course but each has its own ways, means, methods and protocols to observe. Aside from being fruit, they're not a true apples to apples comparison.

Many people put a lot of faith in a collection of books called Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft, Rootwork by Harry Middleton Hyatt. It is a five volume set which contains the transcripted interviews of hundreds of black folks from the South, about Hoodoo in their culture. In the early 20th century, Hyatt (an Anglican minister) took it upon himself to interview these black folks about their cultural beliefs and practices they referred to as Hoodoo. What he found was a huge amount of information. Some of it is worthwhile, other info is absolute garbage. Really it is four volumes of info with the fifth volume being an index to the other four.

Much of what the books offer in the way of spells or Tricks as they’re referred to in Hoodoo, are not viable today. Why? Well the lore is from a time and era when black folks were dirt poor, often living in hovels with outhouses, no indoor plumbing nor any of the modern conveniences like washers/dryers. It was easier to sneak into someone's home and hide a Trick to cause them harm. Or one may have been able to obtain dirty, unwashed clothing this way to use to put the jinx on them. Sometimes, things like human waste from chamber pots was stolen so that could be used in a Trick. Today that is all but impossible to obtain with modern housing & neighborhoods with crime watches and so forth. If you’re stupid enough to get caught, now you have to explain it to the judge why you were skulking in your enemy’s backyard.

So aside from being a historic look into the past of black Americans, these books are difficult if not impossible to put to use. Still people pay handsome sums of money to have them on their shelves with some booksellers charging ridiculous prices to the fools crazy enough to part with the money for them! $6,500 for the 5 volume set? That amount can do a lot more for you than a five volume set of books can! In some African Traditional Religious (ATR) groups, you could get initiated for that amount.

Now what’s really interesting is how many people are adapting Spirits from either Yoruban culture (Santeria, Ifa) or out of the Fon culture (Haitian Vodu, NOLA Voodoo) to fill in the missing info in Hoodoo. Most ATR do not recommend doing that since many of these Orisha's & LWA's need to be approached respectfully rather than trying to be used as CM's & McWiccans are wont to do. These are not archetypes to call upon for your Four Quarters of your circle or to be placed on your Tree of Life.

Hoodoo tends to use a lot of prayers from the Catholic church. The reason for this is that there are Saints for everything and each has prayers attributed to Them. Plus you can find the so-called 7 day jar candles (really burns only 5 days) at botanicas & grocery stores. Combine this with the plethora of metaphysical oils Hoodoo uses as well as incense, powders, sprays, colognes, perfumes, and so on and you have a very workable system for handling day to day problems that your McWiccan & CM paths do not.

If you look around on the Net, you’ll soon see what I’m talking about with magazines and sites devoted to Hoodoo, Conjure and RootWork. Spirits like Elegba, Elleggua, Eshu, Papa Legba are stirred up to open the gateway when in fact a generic opening of the gateway is sufficient. These people talk about leaving offerings at places like crossroads and cemeteries when they don’t know anything about the Spirit they’re trying to rouse. Same can be said for collecting Graveyard Dirt. One simply does not walz into a cemetery, find the oldest male or female grave, drop 3 pennies, take dirt and walz out - unless you want to take the chance of pissing off the Master & Mistress of the cemetery. (It's your choice)

But I’m not here to forewarn anyone. If you burn your fingers, not my problem. Nor will I say, “Told you so” like some would. Rather my suggestion is to use Hoodoo for things you need like job promotions, getting a job, selling a house, getting a neighbor to move, shutting the mouth of an asshole at work, and so on. CM are usually so focused on their inner planes work that they often neglect to teach their students anything practical to help them with their day-to-day lives. As if no CM's ever lose their job, eh? So is it any wonder that CM’s resort to Hoodoo? (If truth be told many of them use Wiccan spells for the same thing)

For Hoodoo to really work well for you, it’s suggested that you get rid of your pretenses about religion - especially any animosity you harbor towards Judeo-Xianity (re: Christianity) because there are Angels, Saints, prayers, Psalms, Biblical passages & so on that are used in Hoodoo, RootWork-Conjure Sorcery. If you have a real aversion to all things Xian, then you may want to leave Hoodoo alone & work with Wicca or other forms Sorcery.

Realize that most Spiritual Workers revere the Xian Bible as a talisman. In the Hyatt books, some passages from informants (which is what Hyatt called the interviewees) about the Bible tell of its power and how it comforts a person as soon as you read a passage from it. Let's face it, south of the Mason-Dixon line, you run into a LOT of folks who are reared in backwoods country church settings. Xian faith is strong there. Hoodoo is both revered & feared by many.

Back in the old days, before abolitionists came to the forefront, the religion was Xianity and the biggest sect of Xianity was Catholicism. It was (still is) considered to be THE Magical version of Xianity with its plethora of prayers, Saints, Spirits, Angels, litanies, creeds, and various incantations. There are other reasons I’m not allowed to go into but suffice to say old Catholic churches radiate power that the average Baptist church is wholly unaware of. Trust me when I say if an old Hoodoo Trick requires dirt from a church, do not get it from anywhere but a Catholic church.