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.

2 thoughts on “Egg Cleansing in Hoodoo”

  1. Wow, this is actually racist. I’m Mexican, and the ‘limpia con huevo’ is something my family has been practicing for generations and not exclusive to hoodoo or originating in European/American practice. The practice of the limpia is done with an egg or a bunch of basil in traditional Mexican folk healing (or curandería). Everything you know to be “hoodoo” is just as much a part of curanderiía because of colonialism and is a mixture of African, indigenous (to all of the Americas, not just North America), and European magical practices, and is regionally specific. Hoodoo from New Orleans is not the folk magic of the borderlands is not the hoodoo you practice, but all derive from mestizo/creole spiritualities confronting the evils of racist capitalist patriarchy and oppression. If anything, we owe our African ancestors full credit for many of these practices. But critiquing the limpia practices of Mexican people as “not correct”? That’s low, and racist. Read a book, fam.

    1. I’m sorry if this came across in any way as racist or dismissive of Mexican culture and folk magic traditions: that was not the intent of the article and I am sorry for causing any offence. I would like to attempt to articulate better what I was trying to get across in this article, which is that the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition of the Black people of the American South is an entirely separate tradition from the Mexican folk practices of curandismo and brujeria. Admittedly they do share some similarities, but they each exist in their own cultural and historical contexts. What is proper and correct in one tradition is not necessarily proper and correct in another.

      What I was attempting to explain in this post is that egg cleansing in hoodoo/conjure/rootwork is done in a specific manner, and those who claim to practice hoodoo should not be performing and publicising Mexican folk magical practices as if they were the traditional methods of hoodoo. The way things are done in Mexico by people who practice Mexican folk magic are perfectly valid and legitimate, as are the way things are done in the South of the USA by those who practice hoodoo/conjure/rootwork. I would not want anyone to think that one is superior to the other, as both traditions are important parts of the histories of oppressed cultures and need to be preserved. That’s why it’s so important not to confuse the practices of one tradition for that of another.

      There are people out there who are attempting to make a profit by writing whole books about ‘egg limpias’ full of misleading and incorrect information and history, and people who are teaching bastardised versions of Mexican folk magical egg cleansing practices and calling it hoodoo. This post was meant to provide correct information from within a hoodoo/conjure/rootwork context, and I sincerely apologise that my words made it appear as if I regard Mexican folk magic and its practitioners as inferior. I have a lot of respect for everyone who sincerely practices and preserves folk magical traditions, and that includes the people of Mexico and of Mexican descent who are keeping these traditions alive.

      – Mache Cherche (Dorian)

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