What is Hoodoo-Conjure-Rootwork?
Conjure/Hoodoo is a form of folk magick and spiritual practice that comes from African American culture. This form of spiritual practice revolves around the natural power of the earth and its spirits and like America itself draws its influence from a wide-range of cultures.
When Africans were brought over on slave ships they brought their beliefs and practices with them. This form of spirituality shared a commonality with other African religions and practices in that they held faith in the power of a spirit-world and its interconnectedness to this world through a medium of spirits, deities, and the spiritual power of natural materials like herbs, bones, roots, and minerals. These practices and beliefs soon mixed and assimiliated
into the Protestant Christian faiths as slaves were converted to faith of the new land they were brought to.
We find in conjure a mix of spiritual practices that are drawn from Germanic and European folk magic, from Near Eastern culture, and from Native American herb lore and beliefs. Along with the core strand of African magical practices and the Protestant religious base, these all melded together into the various traditions of conjure as we know them today.
It is important to note that conjure and hoodoo is not a single megolithic
entity, but rather it is more accurate to view it as a spiritual paradigm with various traditional streams that stem from different family traditions and regional practices.
The name for this spiritual practice varies from region to region, it is commonly known as hoodoo, conjure, rootwork
, working roots, or simply spiritual work.
2 Streams of Conjure:
Conjure is transmitted in two forms of streams. One revolves around the practices and wisdom passed down by families and the other revolves around a form of formal education.
Families with a history of conjure practices pass down their wisdom from generation to generation and as a result are a bastion of traditional learning. These practices include everything from simple, but sage advice of why not to lend out your Salt, to complex spiritual workings that involve how to clear messes with cleansing and uncrossing baths.
The second stream of conjure revolves around the intellectual learning of magick itself. Conjure-doctors were more than merely town herbs-folk, or spiritual elders. These individuals were educated in magical arts and as versed in the nuances of spiritual sciences as their counterparts in the Western Magical Tradition. Conjure-doctors studied grimoires and texts on the occult and often adopted such traditions into their own practice.
This stream of knowledge was passed down from teacher to student. A person with a gift for such things would find a willing conjure doctor and learn the trade and Art from them. It is even hinted in the work of some anthropologists that there may have been remote "conjure schools."
The Practice of Conjure:
So we know that conjure comes from the practices of Africa and is influenced by the traditions picked up from the Near East, Europe, and North America. We know that it is transmitted from generation to generation in family lines, or taught from teacher to student in a form of spiritual education, but what are the practices of Conjure? What does it mean to work a conjure or practice hoodoo?
The practices of conjure and hoodoo revolve around the natural power of the world around combined with the drawing of power from the spiritual-realms in order to effect change in persons, circumstances, and fate. This means that the conjure doctor relies on the innate spiritual power of natural elements like herbs, roots, minerals, and similar curios along with his or her power to call upon the assistance of otherworldly spirits like the dead in order to bring power to any situation and sway the flow of things into a manner of his or her liking.
These practices are seen in the use of magical products like incenses, powders, oils, teas, and other such mixtures combined with ritual actions like baths, candle magic, creation of talismanic objects, altar work and such. What results is an elegantly straight forward set of practices that is immensely potent. By combining the power of spirit with the power of nature the conjure doctor is able to move mountains.
Types of Conjure and Hoodoo:
There are a variety of ways that hoodoo is worked and practiced. Each is an essential element of the magical practice of hoodoo and is how conjure doctors and spellcasters
in the hoodoo tradition effectively carry out their work and manifest restults
Before the popularity of candles
, hoodoos would would often combine their natural magic and spiritual work with oil lamps and kerosene lamps to bring fire and power to their spells. Since the popularity of candles
since the 60's and 70's, candle magic
has become a popular and essential element of hoodoo.
in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes are dressed with specially-prepared herbal oils, powders, prayed over, and worked to carry out spells
for love, money, curses, protection, court case, healing, and much more. The spiritual power contained with the candle is then released through the flame that burns with power to manifest the results desired.
are used by themselves, along with other forms of altar work
, are used to represent people, and in a variety of other ways.
Bottle and Container Spells:
Bottles and containers are used in hoodoo to hold power and carry out spells
. They range in purpose and can be used for anything. Traditionally, herbs, roots, and magical matierals
are combined within a container for a specific purpose. This jar is then worked with prayers, candles
, and intent to bring power to a situation.
can range from the elaborate to the simple and straight-forward. The prayers are kept within the container with the right combination of magical herbs, roots, bones, and curios to manifest the prayer. Each bottle or container is personalized to a specific purpose, or to the client's needs.
Some popular forms of bottle spells
involve the famed honey jar used in love spells, money spells, court case spells, the sour jar or vinegar jar used to break up a couple or turn people against one another, the mirror box used to trap an enemy and turn their evil upon them, along with potted plants where containers are buried under a living plant which becomes an extention
of the spell.
Bottle spells are often used with candles
, left on altars, prayed over, or buried where they may carry out their work.
One of most famed and recognized ways of working hoodoo is the mojo bag
. Drawing its roots from African spirit vessels and European talismanic magic, the mojo bag
is a specially made personalized container often made of cloth, or leather which contains prayers, magical herbs, roots, and spells
are highly personalized containers which house a special spirit-helper, is a talismanic object, and is carried for purposes of luck, love, gambling, protection, and much more. They feature prominently in blues and rock music culture, and is a powerful form of working.
Making a mojo bag
is an intimate and powerful form of spellcasting
which births a magical helper contained in a cloth bag to carry out the prayers and desires of the one that the mojo bag
is made for.
Voodoo Dolls and Doll Babies
Hollywood has popularized the voodoo doll, but the name is misleading. In reality, doll magic
is very popular in hoodoo. Dolls are used to represent specific people. They are made from cloth, bone, clay, wax, sticks, and other matierals
. They are stuffed with specific magical herbs, roots, and curios. They are then named for the people they are meant to represent. Whatever happens to the doll then happens to the person it is named for.
Dolls are used in love spells, in cursing, to influence the mind and heart of another
, and for many other purposes. It is a powerful form of spellcasting
and can often be combined in other forms of altar work and magick
. One example, is the placing of a doll baby inside of a mirror box to trap an enemy and turn their evil curses back on them. Another is sticking a doll baby with pins to cause pain to the person.
Oils, Incense, Powders, and Baths
Hoodoo and conjure are a form of natural magick
that draws its power from the roots, herbs, and magical material fo the earth. These are combined along with prayers into powerful forms of spellcasting
Conjure doctors mix the right combination of herbs, roots, and magical curios in the form of preparations of oil, powders, incense, and baths for specific purposes. These special preparations can be made into things like love oils, cursing powders, and cleansing baths. It is common to buy these from authentic spiritual supply shops, or make them yourself.
Magical preparations are then used in conjunction with candle magic
, are laid out where a person will come in contact with them and therefore infect their spirit, used in bottle spells, to feed mojo bags
, or in other forms of spell casting
Just as magick
can be used for good so there are there those that use magic
to harm and curse. Removing curses, also known as "crossed conditions" in hoodoo is one of the most popular forms of magical work
, or spell casting
. Whether it is the evil eye, or something more nefarious, hoodoo doctors
and conjure men have been using cleansing practices to remove such evil spells
This can range from specially-prepared herbal and salt baths, to fumigations of people, places, or objects, to use of prayers, exorcisms, egg cleansings
and other means to remove curses.
These cleansing practices form one essential element of hoodoo spellcasting
Readings and Divination
In addition to spellcasting
and spiritual services, hoodoo doctors
and conjure men
provide readings and spiritual consultations.
Their connection to the world of spirit allows them to provide unique magical insight into a situation or circumstance. They may employ any from of divination
, to card reading
, or any other form of reading
Most ethical conjure men and women will employ reading
before taking on cases in order to determine the best route to take in their spellcasting
and to ensure the best chances for success. Along with spellcasting
, the role of the conjure man
as a reader
is that made him an important member of any community.
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