Category Archives: Hoodoo

Weight Loss and Smoking: Yes We Can Help

Originally published April 12, 2015

I really feel sorry for people who are trying to lose weight and/or quit smoking. It’s tough, your whole body and mind are basically sabotaging your efforts because our body chemistry is loopy, and even well meaning people tend to make you feel rubbish about it. So it’s no wonder that people turn everywhere they can for help, and one of the places that they turn to is hoodoo/conjure/rootwork or ATR/ADR forums and groups.

I applaud them for that. It isn’t easy to ask for help, and these people literally reach out to strangers on the internet who ought to have the expertise to help them within their particular religion/field. But what these people actually get is a lot of unwanted health advice, and stories about how other people quit using such and such a method and how it worked amazingly for them.

I guarantee you, everyone who has tried to lose wight or quit smoking has heard every crash diet, hypnosis theory, quack medical treatment, exercise regime, visualisation technique, and ‘detox’ regimen. They’ve probably tried at least half. The people who come to a hoodoo or ATR group for advice do not want to hear the experiences of others quitting smoking cold turkey in two weeks, or dropping weight using cider vinegar and cinnamon. They have tried that stuff. They want the advice they actually asked for: how to use hoodoo or the ATRs to help them quit smoking/ or lose weight.

It can be a bit of a tricky one, because both hoodoo and the ADRs came together as traditions way back before we knew that smoking was bad, and obesity was worse. Considering that these traditions sprung from slavery, the use of tobacco and being able to have enough food to put on extra weight was seen as a good thing, signs of wealth and status. When you take that into account, there are no traditional workings that you can do to make weight loss happen or to make someone quit smoking, because they are modern problems.

You have to break it down more holistically, and look at the whole problem. Smoking is essentially a bad habit and addiction. Hoodoo has plenty of different kinds of work that can be done to break bad habits and addictions. Often those works focus on breaking a gambling addiction, but there is no reason the same roots can’t be repurposed to help break a smoking addiction. Similarly with weight loss: you can break the bad eating habits.

If you approach someone in one of the ADRs for help, you’re most likely going to be prescribed a bath. Hoodoo does baths too, and taking a bath to cleanse away any negative thoughts and habits is probably the absolute best thing you can do to help quit smoking or lose weight. The next thing you need to do is to clean out your house. Chinese Wash is brilliant for that, as it removes any negativity from the home. Then all you need to do is replace the negative habits which have been cleansed away with good ones.

As I said, there are no traditional formulas for losing weight or quitting smoking. The closest we come is an old method for gaining weight, whereby you buy it from someone else in a monetary transaction. If you can find someone skinny who is willing to buy a few kilos off you, then great. Otherwise, you need to look at building up good health. For weight loss, you could be prescribed a bath for good health, you could carry a mojo hand* designed to help you make good food choices, you could work a large candle to help your weight slowly melt away. You could carry a mojo to give you the mental strength to overcome your addiction to smoking, or a root like Master Root or High John the Conqueror wrapped in a petition to give you the strength and self control to quit.

There is a lot you can do within our traditions, even if we have to create new ways of working within those traditions to deal with modern problems. If we can do things within these traditions, then there really is no excuse to offer unsolicited health advice to people who are asking for an entirely different kind of help. Yes, hoodoo/conjure/rootwork or Vodou or one of the other ADRs or ATRs can help you. Yes, you can ask for help from a rootworker or a member of the priesthoods of one of those religions, and you should receive the help that you ask for.

Let’s stop judging, let’s stop telling people to ‘visualise’ or ‘detox’ or whatever, and let’s start actually helping. Our traditions have moved into the modern age, and it’s time we shared our knowledge with those who are dealing with modern problems and give them they help they are actually asking for

*We actually make and sell a weight loss mojo hand in the webstore.

Egg Cleansing in Hoodoo

Originally published February 4, 2015

The internet has had a detrimental effect on many traditional aspects of hoodoo, I’m sad to say.  On the one hand, it has helped spread the traditions and kept them alive for a whole new generation, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to learn even half of what I know without it.  On the other, it has become very easy to spread misinformation, which is then copied and passed off as ‘ancient’ or ‘traditional’.  One aspect of the tradition where I see this a great deal is with egg cleansing.

I often see the practice referred to as ‘limpia‘ or ‘egg limpia‘, which is not the corretc term at all.  The word ‘limpia‘ is simply the Spanish word for cleansing.  Hoodoo isn’t a Latin American tradition, Spanish is not the language in which we talk and pray and practice, so we should stick to the term ‘egg cleansing’.  It’s simple, uncomplicated, and sums up exactly what is happening.  No mystery, no fancy foreign name, jut plain and simple rootwork.

Egg cleansing in hoodoo is incredibly simple.  It’s very practical, very easy to do, and once it’s done it’s done.  Egg cleansing in other traditions can be more complex, and some of this had leaked into and been passed off as hoodoo.  Some people fel the need to invent whole new backgrounds for the tradition, particularly in the case of a book claiming egg cleansings originate in Mesoamerican shamanism.  Uh…  No.

The practice of egg cleansing in hoodoo derives, as far as I can tell, from two different traditions.  One is the grimoire known as ‘The Black Pullet’, a European book which was very popular in the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition, and contributed greatly to the hoodoo ideal of the magical black hen.  The second is the African practie of using a surrogate to take in all the negativity of a person, and destroying that surrogate.

In hoodoo, the egg used for cleansing should come from a black hen.  The egg is taken and rubbed down the body from head to foot, while prayers for cleansing and purification are recited.  Psalm 51 is commonly used for cleansing in hoodoo.  After the egg had been rolled down the body, it is thrown into a crossroads or at a tree.

People are talking a lot about divining the egg yolk at this point, but thats not a thing in hoodoo.  Some African Dispora Religions do divine the yolk, but that is not a part of the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition at all.  There is one yolk divination performed in hoodoo.  Once the egg is thrown at the tree or into the crossroads, it is examined to see if there’s any crap inside it.  If there are hairs, blood, black stuff, bits of baby chicken, or other grossness then teh cleansing is not complete.  In which case, you grab another egg and go again.  If the cracked egg looks normal, the cleansing has been successful.

Here are the steps again:
1. Take a fresh egg from a black hen
2. Roll it dwn the body of the person beaing cleansed from head to foot, while praying Psalm 51 or similar cleansing prayer
3. Throw the egg hard and far away, at a tree or into a crossroads
4. Check to see if the cracked egg is clear or dirty.
5. If the egg doesn’t look normal and has gross stuff in it, repeat the process until the egg is clear.
And that’s it.  It’s very, very simple.  A lot of hoodoo is very simple, very practical, and very accessible.  I understant why people would want to make things complicated: sometimes it’s just hard to accept that something could be so simple and yet so effective, so we feel like there must be more to it.  Well, there’s a lot more to cleansing in hoodoo, and there’s a lot more regarding black chickens, but that’s your basic egg cleansing.

Don’t go buy the book, don’t go find a teacher or egg limpia guru, just grab some black hen eggs and get to it.

Poppets/Doll Babies in Hoodoo

Originally published September 11, 2013

 


Although hoodoo is a tradition that is primarily African American in its origins, the concept of poppet magic is actually European in origin. The concept was adapted from Germanic practices, and has had local herblore and personal concern concepts added to it to make it an American, hoodoo style piece of conjure.

You ideally take an article of clothing belonging to the person you’re working, and sew your poppet together from that. Poppets were typically always made from the clothing of the target, particularly used clothing and preferably from a sweaty smelly area of the body. If it’s love/lust work and you can get used underwear to make your poppet with, then yay you! If worn unwashed clothing was not an option, then plain fabric like calico was used, or whatever scrap fabric was to hand. Red flannel would also be common.

You then take the poppet and stuff it with Spanish Moss and any herbs you might want to use. If you manage to get personal concerns of the person you are working, but don’t have an article of their clothing to make the poppet with, you stuff them inside as well. If you have their clothing but it isn’t enough to make a poppet with, or if you want to be more discrete, you can stuff it inside the poppet instead of making the poppet with it.

The most important step is to baptise the poppet and bring it to life. You baptise it in the name of the person you are working, usually by saying, “I baptise you <name of the person you are working>, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” repeated three times. This is accompanied by drops of whiskey, Hoyts Cologne, or holy water to properly baptise the poppet. This process of calls the person’s spirit into their proxy: the poppet.

From this point on, anything that is done to the doll is done to the person it is baptised for. You talk to it and tell it what you want. You can cradle it and stroke it and keep it close to you if you want to draw in your target. You can torture the poppet if you want to punish your target. You can bathe it and surround it with other works for healing or cleansing. You can place it somewhere safe for protective work.

When done, you can dispose of the poppet in an appropriate manner. Burial in your yard if you drew in a lover and he/she stayed, throwing it in a river if you want the person carried away from you, at a crossroads if you were doing bad things to it.

Now here’s what poppets/doll babies are NOT, because there is some confusion.

They aren’t voodoo dolls. Vodou doesn’t use proxies the same way hoodoo does, nor does Vodou use dolls the same way. Dolls in Vodou are commonly given to particular spirits as offerings, or made into repositories for a spirit. The common fallacy of the ‘voodoo doll’ is entirely non-African in its origins. As stated above, it’s European.

Poppets aren’t offerings to spirits, devotional objects, or things to go on an altar. They are TOOLS. They are made to be WORKED. They are created for a specific purpose, which is to be a proxy for a particular human being. You could make a doll as an offering I guess, but not a hoodoo style poppet/doll baby.

I’m not sure where the idea for making poppets in colours came from, but it isn’t a traditional thing, although the colour symbolism might be. Poppets aren’t made for ‘success’ or ‘money’ or ‘dark arts’. Poppets were typically always made from the clothing of the target or from plain fabric, and they are only ever used to work a PERSON. If they had any decoration at all, it was to make them physically resemble the target of the work. Having fabric ready to go in every colour of the rainbow just in case you needed to make a poppet isn’t something that would have happened in the big heyday of rootwork. Hoodoo originated with the poor, and stockpiling fabric isn’t something most people could have afforded. Much cheaper and easier to raid someone’s dirty laundry, or use whatever scrap fabric you had to hand.

Doll babies don’t work unless you baptise them, they exist solely as a means to work a person without them being physically present. They are an old and powerful form of work, and the concept has become very strongly entrenched in the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition. They rely on the Christian concept of baptism and the idea of sympathetic magic to work, but they serve their purpose well.