There is a lot of confusion regarding the path(s) of Rootworkers
and Hoodoos in the modern neo-pagan & Occult communities. What's
not helped are the varying degrees of accuracy on certain websites
offering to be the end-all font of knowledge about Hoodoo and the
Southern Spiritual traditions.
This page is going to serve as a sub-page on my site to help
present a side of Hoodoo & Rootwork-Conjure lore that has been
severely lacking. The focus will be on the practical yet the
historical shall not be shunned. Where solid secondary references
such as books are concerned, these shall be cited. Unfortunately,
the bulk of the folklore and training one receives in Rootwork is
primary information or that of personal instruction of an oral
tradition. This is handed down by the practitioner to the student
from mouth to ear.
There is a lot of information that's been given to one particular
individual thru oral interviews and that was the famed Harry
Hyatt. His five volume set of Hoodoo Folklore is a must have for
the serious student of Hoodoo. Of course like any source of
information, there are pros and cons regarding Hyatt's work.
The pros is that he took time and went out to interview a hundreds
of African Americans about their own Hoodoo practices. A
tremendous amount of folklore was culled and the mammoth five
volume set of Hyatt books contain over 10,000 entries. This IS a
wealth of information to work your way thru. The other main point
is that it's considered (by some) to be accurate due to the
varying degrees of validity given to each entry. As a researcher,
Hyatt recorded the locale where the entry was taken from thus
giving his source. Many of the entries validate one another thru
this process however some seemed far fetched.
The downside to Hyatt's book is that other than self-validation,
there's little to no way to accurately establish if an entry (or
series of entries) is true or not outside of the book itself.
We've all seen the grade school experiment called "Telephone" and
how a story is started at one end of the class and by the time it
reaches the last child in the class it's totally different than
what it started out as. Folklore is much the same. It's
information that is given to friends and family, often orally,
which can easily result in embellishments and truth-stretching.
Can this be true of the lore presented in the Hyatt collection?
Absolutely. Does this inherently imply that all of the information
is suspect? Of course not.
Some modern conjure workers who've perused this work have said
that the information seemed as if it came from very unreliable
sources. For instance, medical diagnosis is not considered valid
when given by a non medical source as it is when given by a
trained, medical source such as a practitioner. Thus the same for
Rootwork-Conjure pracititoners and their lore. It's always been
difficult for outsiders to come in and dig into the lore of oral
traditions and gain any sort of truth without embellishments or
outright lies given them.
Scholarly attempts to uncover truth within a Spiritual tradition
that has had a history of being closed usually results in
incomplete and often inaccurate information. This makes uncovering
factually accurate folklore difficult if not downright impossible
for the scholar/outsider. Thus the old adage, "Forget who said it,
is there any truth to it" must surely be applied and relevant
information must be sifted from the muck to find the diamonds.
This can be remedied if one will make the conscious effort to
apprentice oneself to a bonafide practitioner. The information
given then will be of the highest merit however the downside to
this is that usually an oath is given not to reveal such
information to anyone else who is not recognized as an initiated
practitioner of the same tradition.
The cycle of the dog chasing its tail continues.
Definition of Terms
Part of this can be solved thru the understanding of accurate
terminology and definition of terms. For the sake of clarity, it's
often felt that one should define one's terms. Thus with Hoodoo
and its related quasi-Spiritual & Sorcerous practices. If we look
at a practice and relegate it to a known and accepted label, the
discussion of the material will be much more agreeable and more
easily processed due to the lack of confusion. Of course many will
vary in opinions as to the validity and factual accuracy of said
definitions given and I shall not apologize for this. I can only
offer these definitons up as they relate to my own personal
experiences and research.
Worker: One who practices a form of southern Sorcery.
Hoodoo: 1) A corruption of the term Voodoo (Vodu, Vudu,
Voudou, etc.); 2) A Sorcerous practice whose origins has roots in
the Congo; 3) A folk practice using folklore, charms, and varying
degrees of pseudo-spiritual goods such as sold by mail order curio
houses from the early 20th century; 4) A practice that borrows
elements from Necromancy, Spiritualism, Root-working, Christianity
and Native American Shamanism, among other sources.
Voodoo (Vodu, Vudu, Voudou, etc.): 1) A Fon magico-religious
practice rooted in Haiti and the surrounding Caribbean isles. 2) A
magico-religion coupled with Root-Conjure work as practiced in New
Orleans during the mid to late 19th century.
Root-Conjure: 1) A practice of Neo-African Sorcery that
utilizes the roots of various flora and fauna native to the
practitioner's home. 2) A Worker who engages in the art and
practice of evoking Spirits for practical ends. 3) A Worker who
uses the Christian Bible as a source of Mystical folklore and
Magical instruction which is primarily gleaned from the Psalms and
the vrious books of the Prophets.
Obeah: A tradition of Caribbean Witchcraft  that has
origins among the Ashanti tribes of Africa. These Africans were
deposited as slaves in Trinidad and Jamaica durign the slave trade
 Witchcraft as practiced in the Caribbean should NOT be
confused with the Indo-European Pagan practices of Wicca. The
former is considered diabolical and evil by islanders whereas the
latter is considered to be earth centered and more of a positive
nature. Furthermore, Caribbean Witches are not known to be
compassionate and their truck with evil is usually thru various
venefica and death magics performed on their victims.
Brother Moloch 969