WHAT IS HOODOO AND SPELLWORK? Hoodoo is a unique form of American folk magic. Before the internet and our widespread access to information and technology, it was mainly found in the South. Even today, its Southern roots hold firm. Its heritage is African magic. When the Africans were brought to America during the Transatlantic slave trade, they brought with them their spirituality, their deities, their strong belief in ancestor worship, and their magical rituals and customs. However, they no longer had access to their homeland plants. This is how Native American herbal medicine made its way into the customs of the Africans. Over time, blacks incorporated some elements of the European culture, such as occultism and mysticism. With these three belief systems combined, time and practice created this unique form of American folk magic. Hoodoo is often called by other names including rootwork, conjure, and laying tricks. A practitioner is sometimes called a conjureman (or woman), a rootworker, or a two-headed doctor. The purpose of Hoodoo was to give power to the powerless. It was a way to access the supernatural to improve their circumstances, bringing good fortune and luck in love, money matters, good health, protection, and even gambling. Similar to other types of folk magic, Hoodoo includes the use of herbs, roots, minerals, animal bones, graveyard dirt, the personal possessions of another, and bodily fluids into the practice. As time went on, pharmacies began carrying products that their black customers sought out and began producing goods and oils such as “Money Drawing” and “Love Attracting” as well as candles and incense for “Fast Luck” and others for gambling, protection, and unhexing. As these products grew in popularity, they began finding their way into catalogs and magazines where the merchandise could be purchased through mail order. The Peacock's Complaint by English illustrator Walter Crane 1845 – 1915.
(Used as our Blessing Water label.) Some have referred to Hoodoo as the “country cousin” of Voodoo or Vodou. The slave owners oppressed the African religions and cultures, insisting the slaves become Christian. As a result, the slaves adopted the Catholic saints into their culture to stand in for their own deities and spirits – usually ones whose domain was the same or similar to their own. Louisiana Voodoo is often confused with Haitian Vodou and Deep Southern Hoodoo. While Louisiana Voodoo is strong among the Catholic
population in Louisiana, most practitioners of Hoodoo have historically (mainly since the 19th century) been Protestant Christians. Moses was seen as the greatest conjureman of all time. That being said, unlike Voodoo, Hoodoo is a system of magic – not a religion. Any religion may practice Hoodoo. With that in mind, most earnest practitioners will tell you that it requires respect for its roots. To leave the African connection out of Hoodoo strongly suggests cultural appropriation. Spellwork is, quite simply, the crafting of and art of casting spells. It is the direction of energy to manipulate the world around us to create some sort of desired change. This is achieved using metaphysical tools and practices such as the spoken word, herb lore, ritual tools (such as athames and cauldrons), candle magic, and sacred oils. It can either be performed alone (solitary) or within a group of people to form a planned ritual. At the core of it, Hoodoo work is considered spellwork. Spells are performed by many different religions and paths.
ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS
the same way magically — to bring the problem to the surface so that it can be expelled or banished. When we formulate a magical oil using the proper plant ingredients for whatever condition or problem we are facing, we are putting the magic (and ourselves) in direct alignment with the wisdom and inherent knowledge of the plant kingdom. Some would say we are placing ourselves in sympathy with God (or Goddess) and everything he (or she) created.
ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS - The term “essential oil” is a contraction of the original “quintessential oil.” Aristotle presented the idea that matter is made up of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The fifth element, or quintessence, was thought to be spirit or life force. Forcing the oils out of a plant was considered to be the process of removing the spirit, or life force, from the plant. Modern knowledge teaches us that essential oils are a delicate balance of naturally occurring chemicals found in plants. Today, most essential oils are extracted by either the distillation process or by using the cold process. The first relies on water and heat to remove the precious oils. The latter, in simple terms, is achieved by pressing or squeezing the oils out — most often used in citrus plants because the oils are found plentiful in the peels. It is an interesting idea that when we blend our magical oils, using essential oils as part of the ingredients, that we are calling upon the spirits inside the plant. Almost every essential oil has a magical correspondence to it because they are derived from plants. The main thing to remember is to use real essential oils – not an artificial fragrance. To name all of the magical properties of essential oils could be an entire book on its own. Below is a quick glance of some of the mystical powers associated with essential oils. For love and sex, there is sandalwood, ylang-ylang, lavender, patchouli, vanilla, jasmine, just to name a few. For happiness, use any of the citrus oils: orange, tangerine, mandarin, and pink grapefruit. The exception would be lemon oil, which you might save for a spell that deals with souring. To gain power and success, try oils of bergamot, frankincense, bay rum, or wintergreen. In matters of attraction, there are essential oils such as chamomile, geranium, patchouli, anise, and vetiver. When finances are strained, and you want to bring in more money try oils of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, patchouli, and clary sage. For work of a baneful nature, go with hot and the sour oils such as black pepper, cedarwood, lemon, or vandal root. History tells us the ways aromatic oils were extracted before the perfection of the distillation process. One method, maceration, is very close to the way we create anointing oils today. Plant matter (petals, leaves, stems) are packed into a vessel and covered in a vegetable oil - usually olive oil. The oil was then heated, forcing the essential oils to release into the olive oil. There is a more subtle method that I refer to as ‘infused oil’ where the plant matter is placed into a glass jar and covered with a carrier oil. It is then left on a sunny windowsill for six to eight weeks and is shaken every day to disperse the plant matter throughout the oil. At the end of the waiting period, the plants are strained out of the oil. Once finished, it isn’t actually what is called ‘essential oil’ but makes for an excellent massage oil or spiritual oil base. This solar method, however, can speed up the process of your carrier oil becoming rancid due to its exposure to heat. I have found that that same effect can be achieved without introducing direct sunlight. Store in a cabinet or other dark area for eight to twelve weeks and shake whenever you remember to (although daily is best.) Strain and bottle the infused oil. The Egyptians were master perfumers and had extensive knowledge of aromatic compounds and how to use them for beauty, spirituality, and as medicine. Hieroglyphics reveal the recipe for their famous Kyphi incense using a mixture of honey, raisins soaked in wine, frankincense, myrrh, sweet flag, pine resin, and juniper. They used aromatic oils in the mummification process, frankincense being the most widely practiced oil. When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened in 1922, 50 alabaster jars designed to hold 350 liters of oils were discovered. The Ebers Papyrus, discovered in 1862 by Edwin Smith, is an Egyptian medical papyrus dating to c. 1550 BCE. Besides including 877 prescriptions, it is full of incantations and concoctions meant to drive away disease-causing demons. The Egyptians favored the method of extracting oil by soaking the plant matter in goose fat, another example of an ‘infused oil.’
To create a genuine anointing oil, you will need a base oil, also known as a carrier oil, to suspend the herbs and essential oils in. This dilutes the essential oils used to make them safe and mild on the skin. Historically, olive oil was the principal carrier oil used in anointing oils. These days, a wide range of oils are available to us such as sweet almond, grapeseed, avocado, sunflower, castor oil, macadamia nut oil, and the list goes on. Other than olive oil, my two favorite base oils are jojoba or fractionated coconut oil because they both have a long shelf life and resist rancidity. Our own magical oils use a base of fractionated coconut oil. It differs from regular coconut oil, which is solid. The chain of fatty acids has been spun out of the coconut oil, leaving behind only the liquid element. Without the fatty acids present, fractionated coconut oil’s shelf life increases dramatically. It also glides across the skin well and is readily absorbed.