Category: hoodoo

Crossroads magic featured image

Crossroads Magic – Going to the Crossroads

The Magick and Meaning Behind Going to the Crossroads

crossroads magical meaning
According to tradition, a crossroads is a spot “between worlds” where supernatural spirits can be contacted, and paranormal events can occur. Crossroads magic can signify liminality, a place that is “neither here nor there,” “betwixt and between,” and so indicates a point where two worlds collide. While many people think of a crossroads as just the intersection of two highways, they can also be a spot where land and water meet, such as a beach, a place where a field transitions into a forest, or even a doorway. Some people think of a crossroads as a fork in the road where you must choose one way or the other. But a crossroads is really any intersection of of road or passage with two or more branches. Some people prefer to only work with a crossroads that has four paths, creating a cross or ‘X’ pattern.

Crossroads in Greece

In Greek mythology, Crossroads were associated with Hecate and Hermes, and shrines and rites for both were held there. Due to Hermes’ affiliation with travelers and duty as a guide, the herm pillar connected with him was widely used to identify these locations. Though Hecate’s link to crossroads was less well-known in Greek mythology than Hermes’, it was more deeply rooted in ritual. At each new moon, ‘Suppers of Hecate’ were left for her at the crossroads, and she was known as the ‘goddess of the crossroads.’ The three faces of Hecate can be a depiction of the road. Hermes is mentioned in several myths as assisting people during transitions. Similar customs can be found in India, where the god Bhairava is said to guard crossroads, and stone phalluses and eye statues are frequently erected to honor him.

Crossroads in England, Ireland, and Scotland

In the United Kingdom, criminals and suicides were traditionally buried at crossroads. This could be due to the community’s crossroads defining its boundaries, as well as a wish to bury those who broke the law outside the village, or because the multiple routes would confuse the dead. Crossroads were also frequently utilized as a site of criminal punishment and execution (e.g., via gibbet or dule tree), which may have contributed to the fact that suicide was considered a crime. This crossroads burial ceremony dated back to Anglo-Saxon times and was practiced until 1823, when it was discontinued.

magic at the crossroads in hoodooCrossroads Magic In the Hoodoo Tradition

Crossroads magic in hoodoo comes from the Kongo cosmogram in Central Africa, and is used in conjure, rootwork, and hoodoo, a sort of African magical theology practiced by African Americans in the United States. It signifies the sun rising and setting, as well as death and rebirth in human life. The conversation with spirits takes place in the crossroads’ center. The Kongo cosmogram entered the United States by African slaves during the transatlantic slave trade. On slave farms in South Carolina, archeologists discovered images of the Kongo cosmogram on clay pots created by enslaved Africans. The Bakongo cosmogram and the “Yowa” cross are other names for the Kongo cosmogram.

Almost every cultural group in Africa has its own version of the crossroads god. African-diaspora names for the spirit who opens the way, guards the crossroads, and teaches wisdom include Legba, Ellegua, Elegbara, Eshu, Exu, Nbumba Nzila, and Pomba Gira. Both the T and X roads are used in the Quimbanda religious-magical tradition.
T roads are for Pomba gira (npambu nzila), a spirit who deals with sex, lust, and passion. In Quimbanda, the X roads are used for work for Exu (Eshu), a hoodoo man of the crossroads who is identical to the hoodoo man of the crossroads. Road Opening spell work is often associated with the crossroads.

“If ah want tuh go gamblin’, go to a crossroads ‘fore de sunup and have de dice in yore han’s . . . an’ shook dem dice at dat crossroads until de sun gets up where yo’ kin see it” (excerpt, Harry Middleton Hyatt – Hoodoo – Conjuration – Witchcraft – Rootwork)

forked pathCrossroads are thought to be haunted by numerous spirits who delight in perplexing travelers, according to folklore. The meeting and parting of ways, which are frequented by ghosts, devils, the Devil, witches, and fairies, can also be used to summon the same spirits who appear there. The shape of the crossroads can also be exploited to defend against them. The crossroads is used in hedgecraft as a transitional space for traveling to the Otherworld and communicating with spirits. It’s a fantastic location for working with local spirits, Fae, or hedge riding. According to Germanic tradition, you can become Der Teufel’s servant at a crossroads in order to attain your heart’s desire. Christians regard Der Teufel to be the devil. A little sacrifice was necessary to become his temporary servant, but this later changed into the permanent sale of your soul. Witches would gather at the crossroads on Walpurgis Night, most likely to converse with the devil.

W.C. Handy

W.C. Handy composing

Some 20th-century blues songs, such as Black Spider Dumpling’s (John D. Twitty) Sold It to the Devil, may be about making a bargain with the devil at the fork in the road. Many modern listeners consider Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” to be the best song about soul-selling at a crossroads. According to folklore, Johnson allegedly sold his soul at a crossroads in order to learn to play the guitar.

Another well-known Blues song, recorded by W.C. Handy, alludes to a historical spot in Moorhead, Mississippi, where two train tracks crossed: the Southern Railway and the Yazoo Delta Railroad, often known as “Yellow Dog.” According to legend, while waiting for a train in Mississippi, Handy overheard a guitarist singing and playing in a way he had never heard before. It was Handy’s first experience with the music that would come to be known as Blues. He was affected by the musical style he would soon help to define while at his crossroads—one of intersecting paths. Harry Middleton Hyatt compiled the first large collection of reports of this ceremony done by African Americans in the US South in the 1930s. Many of his informants were not musicians and were looking for other abilities, such as being able to shoot dice and win or being able to tap dance.

Disposing of magic at the crossroads

Crossroads disposal can also be used to dispose of candle wax, ashes from burned incense, petition papers and photographs used in spells, and leftover powders from any ritual that had a negative intent or did not involve you directly. A full raw egg used in a personal cleansing ritual is the only relic of a positive spell traditionally carried to a crossroad and flung into it. The reason the egg should not be buried on your property is that it contains all of the negative influences that were pulled out of the person who was cleansed. Instead, breaking it at a crossroads allows the dark energies to dissipate harmlessly among passing strangers. The same goes for disposing of the water used in a spiritual bath where all the absorbed “bad vibes” are given to the spirits of the crossroads to finalize instead of it resting at your home. We found an interesting article on using conjure to open the roads by our friends at Crescent City Conjure.

In crossroads magic a crossroads is created by drawing a cross in chalk on a roadway (many times an intersection will do), but if no crossroads are available paper must be laid down flat upon the ground and marked instead. After marking the paper, it’s turned up toward the sky, which allows spirits to travel down along it and into this world. The most common method of using the crossroads in hoodoo is for the disposal of used magical items or to nullify magic by leaving the items at the intersection and never looking back.

Crossroads Card in Lenormandcrossroads lenormand card

The crossroads card in the Lenormand card divination system gives you two paths, two solutions to any difficulty. The choices are rarely simple and must be carefully considered. This is the ultimate card of free will, demonstrating that you always have the option of going one way or the other. It also signifies that a decision must be made is you are to move forward. The Crossroads, in general, signifies alternatives, possibilities, and potentials – for example, currently unrealized abilities or yet-to-be-achieved objectives.

You can employ the crossroads magic in your personal practice in a variety of ways, from communing with deities to interacting with spirits. These entryway areas offer a plethora of magical possibilities, many of which aren’t even covered here. On the other hand, Crossroads are not simply geographical locations but also moments, such as nightfall, morning, and turning points in your life or magical practice. Use these times and places to seek protection, commune with your ancestors, leave offerings for a god, clear a blockage, dispose of spell leftovers, banish negativity, create objectives, seek guidance, or conduct any other magic you think acceptable for calling upon the power of the crossroads. The crossroads is the ultimate location for restoration in our lives — it is where therapy and messages are found. There are diverging paths before you, none of which leads back to the past. When we are at the crossroads, we have the opportunity to ask the universe anything.

love spell ingredients and herbs

Love Spell Ingredients – What Herbs, Roots, and Flowers to Use in Your Love Magick Rituals

Love Spell Ingredients – What Herbs, Roots, and Flowers to Use in Your Love Magick Rituals

The Ways Flowers and Herbs have Been Used for Love Spells Over the Centuries

Herbs, roots, and flowers have long played a role in the art of casting love spells. Just like love itself, love magick is a delicate balance of give and take – and so are the ingredients used in casting spells of passion, love, and lust. The Romans were especially fond of basil and burned the dry leaves to attract love to them.

roses in love spells

rose petals are probably the most commonly-used ingredient in love spells

The Victorians used the language of flowers to convey their feelings to another by way of nosegays, also called tussie-mussies. Initially carried to fight off disease, these little, round bouquets of flowers and herbs were carried to send a message, depending on what flowers were included – lavender for loving devotion, bay leaves for fidelity, thyme for deep friendship, and so on. For centuries, folklore and mythology the world over have made mention of the symbolism of flowers. These meanings from many cultures are partly responsible for the ingredients used in magick and spellwork. Plants, minerals, barks, and some animal bones have historical associations with certain emotions, moon phases, seasons, and even predictions and omens. This is how we came to know which ingredients to use when casting a spell. These long-understood meanings are why thousands of men buy their love roses on Valentine’s Day – not a cactus or a bundle of ragweed.

Herbs and Ingredients to Use in Your Love Magick

Here are 25 ingredients that can be used in your rituals. Each of these herbs, plants, and ingredients has a unique property that can be beneficial in magic and love spells.

Adam & Eve root – Adam and Eve roots come from the roots of the Orchid plant. The ‘male’ roots are more elongated and usually the older ones while the ‘female’ root is rounded in shape and comes from younger ones. They are used in pairs for love work to make a relationship more committed and secure. For this reason, many people turn to Adam and Eve roots for strengthening a marriage.

Balm of Gilead – said to ease the pain of a broken heart and to comfort those in need. Since it is known for calming arguments, it is often used in magic dealing with reconciling two people, bringing peace to a troubled marriage, and helping to make a couple’s home peaceful again.

Basil – used in spells of love to make emotions sweeter, it is often called upon to bring arguments to an end and dissipate negative emotions between two lovers. Often used for luck.

Bay Leaf – this well-known culinary herb was once used to crown Greek victors. Brings protection, success, and visions. It can magically be used as an alternative to petition paper, similar to the way some write on the bark. Can be used as a jinx deterrent by placing in the four corners of your property, your house, or a room.

Blood root – a native plant to the Americas, bloodroot was used by Native Americans to create dye but also for love. Magically, it is a marriage protector and aids in promoting harmony among family members, especially in-laws, to help prevent them from interfering in your marriage. Sew inside the pillowcases of you and your spouse if you feel someone is trying to disrupt your marriage.

Buckeye – carried to bring you money, good luck, and has also been used by some in divination by turning the buckeye into a pendulum. In the hoodoo, it is said to keep your pockets full of money. In the love department, it can be used as a charm for male potency, to protect your relationship, and to heat up the passion between two people.

Catnip – used in spells for joy, contentment, and beauty. It has been used to make another fall for you with its powers of attraction. In attraction spells, it is meant to draw people to you and have them bask in the glow of your company.

Coffee bean – increases powers of persuasion. Often used to stimulate spells and potions to make results happen faster. Used as an ingredient in passion spells to increase male desire. Damiana – the herb of passion that sparks new interest in your sex life; it is known as the ‘love herb.’ Is used in all kind of magick that deal with sexuality, stamina, and virility.

Deer’s Tongue – used in opening up communication, which is good for solid relationships. Can be used in drawing a love interest towards you.

Dixie John – used for matters of love and family, it is also called Southern John or Low John. If an interloper threatens your marriage, Dixie John is said to drive them away. Also known by the names Beth root, Red Trillium, and Wake Robin. Said to be good for the sex life.

Honeysuckle – the sweet scent of honeysuckle is said to bind a lover to you. Because it draws things near, many use it with green candles and the herb alfalfa to draw in more money. Some use honeysuckle oil to increase their psychic abilities by anointing the forehead.

Hydrangea – often used in love magic as a replacement for Queen Elizabeth Root. Widely known as an unhexing plant that can be worn on yourself or scattered around the house. Some burn the root to rid a property of a jinx or curse. Use during uncrossing spells to help put up an extra barrier between you and the person you are trying to break free from.

Jezebel root – Jezebel Root is any of five species of Louisiana Iris, including; Iris fulva, Iris hexagona, Iris brevicaulis Iris giganticaerulea, and Iris nelsonii. Originally used by prostitutes to get paying clients, it is more modernly used to get money out of a stingy man. Many exotic dancers carry it on them to increase their tips. Another name for it is Painted Whore.

using lavender in love spells

Lavender is often included in love spells, but it also helps strengthen the bonds between friends

Lavender – Lavender is a flower of friendship and harmony. It’s often included in love spells, but it also helps strengthen the bonds between friends with its calming effects to assist you while sleeping or focusing on something else like scrying. Worn as an amulet against cruelty from spouse and protection against nightmares due to their powerful fragrance helping keep away evil thoughts/dreams, it is associated with the third-eye chakra and used to center the mind.

Lodestone’s magnetic powers draw in the things you desire, such as power, luck, money, and love. Can help to attract and bring into your life the things you want. Also known as a grounding stone.

Lovage – used in glamour and magic of allure, lovage is popular for getting people to notice you. Used not only in spells of attraction, it is also used to make you more attractive to those around you. Also associated with psychic dreaming and purification.

Magnolia leaves – increases love and loyalty and encourages fidelity by placing under your mattress or under the bed. Used to solidify your commitment to each other. Can also be used in a controlling manner to keep a man from performing for no one else but his wife or partner.

Marigold (calendula, aka pot marigold) – marigolds can be added to a magical bath for attraction and confidence, helping you to win over the respect and admiration of everyone you meet. Also used to create a happy, warm, and sunny atmosphere in the home.

Patchouli – considered an aphrodisiac, patchouli is often associated with love and passion in relationships. While some might consider it a masculine scent, it is considered gender-neutral in magic. Also a popular ingredient in money magic.

Queen Elizabeth root – from the rhizome of an iris plant, it is also known as Orris root. Traditionally, a woman would carry the root to attract a man and have him fall madly in love with her. Good for matters of communication and helps to promote success and popularity.

Raccoon Penis Bone – also known as a love bone, it was an old Southern custom, most often used in Hoodoo, for a man to give one to a woman to show his intentions of love to her. An alternative would be for the man to bury the bone beside or beneath her porch to convince her to love him. Can also be tied underneath a bed to heat up the passion between two people by amplifying sexual pleasure.

Rose – used to induce dreams of one’s future love. The main ingredient used in love spells. For emotions and divinity. To build a long-lasting relationship.

Tonka bean – associated with the planet Venus, carry a tonka bean with you to attract love and romance. Some choose to carry 3, 5, or 7 beans corresponding to how many days they wish to draw out their attraction spell by carrying that many beans in their pocket then placing them under the bed in the evening. (considered toxic to consume in the U.S., also be careful around pets if you plan to place them under the bed)

Verbena – used for drawing in new love and bringing your inner beauty to the surface. Verbena was wildly popular in the Victorian era as an ingredient in perfumes, which led to its association and connection to beauty. On the flip side, it is sometimes used for breaking a curse or as an ingredient in break-up spells.

Violet leaf – when it comes to love work, violet leaf is used to heal a broken heart. Many use it for peace, creativity, and for attracting prophetic dreams. In love, it could be focused on having your dream about your future partner.

violet flowers and leaves for love

There are a wide variety of ingredients used for love spells not mentioned here, all used for a broad range of conditions that deal with love: passion, fidelity, marriage, pure lust, fertility, and attraction. The 25 we showcased above should give you a running start on casting that spell to bring you lasting love and romance.

For spells to use these ingredients in, try the book Casting Love Spells – Rituals of Love, Passion, and Attraction. 

Anointing Oils - Mixing Magic in a Bottle

Anointing Oils – Mixing Magic in a Bottle

What is a Magickal Anointing Oil?

Magickal anointing Oils, potions, and magical concoctions are found throughout literature and have been used for spiritual purposes since before recorded history. They have been used to anoint Kings and priests, to cleanse sacred objects, to ensure a pregnancy, and to heal wounds and broken hearts. You can use magical oils within witchcraft, hoodoo, or any other spiritual path & practice. When you blend oils with herbs, roots, and minerals for a spiritual or magickal purpose, you are basically mixing up magic in a bottle.

Combining the Magickal Use with Aromatherapy

In the Hoodoo tradition the creation of oils is used for anointing the body, candles, and objects to cleanse or bring about change. Learning the basics of aromatherapy and essential oils will give you a deeper understanding of the ingredients that go into making a spiritual oil. You will then know the magical use of each essential oil in a blend, but also the aromatherapeutic benefit and the physical reactions it causes to the mind and body. For example, geranium oil is typically used in love condition oils, but it also aids in skin problems.

Not surprisingly, these benefits often cross over from the practical to the magical side with little effort. Let’s take lavender, for example. Lavender is often associated with love spells and to bring about peace and a sense of calm. In aromatherapy, it is used for calming and for relaxation. In the chakra system, it is associated with the 7th chakra – the crown chakra where peace and a connection to the universe and God are experienced. In Hoodoo, it is not only used for love but also for creating floor washes that are intended to bring peace into the home. Many Voodoo recipes use lavender for peace, clarity, and psychic blessings. So, whether it is used in aromatherapy, witchcraft, the chakra system, or a folk magic service, the benefits are the same — to bring about a sense of peace and harmony.

Anointing Oils in the Bible

So, what is anointing? What does it mean to be anointed? The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio, meaning “to smear or rub with oil” and, by association, “to consecrate for office or religious service”; and aleipho, which means “to anoint.” Biblically speaking, people were anointed with oil to imply God’s blessing or mark that person’s calling in life. One was anointed for a special purpose – to be a king, to be a prophet, etc. In Christian religions that use anointing oil, it is understood that the oil alone has no power. Anointing oils are made according to scriptural specifications, taken from the word of God. Therefore, only God can anoint someone for a religious purpose.

Probably the most well-known account of the use of an anointing oil is the biblical story of Samuel and David. Samuel was known as “the Prophet” and had anointed Saul as the first King of Israel. Before a campaign against the Philistines, Saul was waiting for Samuel to arrive and offer sacrifices to seek God’s favor. When Samuel didn’t appear as soon as he expected, Saul offered these sacrifices himself, assuming the privileges of a priest. When Samuel arrived, he informed Saul, “You have done a foolish thing,” using the Hebrew term ‘fool’ for people who act without regard for God. Samuel denounces Saul, telling him that his descendants will not rule in his place.

At a later date, Saul was given another assignment by God, to destroy the Amalekites. Saul, however, failed this second chance given to him by God by disobeying instructions. The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” The story continues with Saul evaluating each of the sons based on their appearance, contemplating which one would make a good king. However, God chose David, the youngest of the sons. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.

Anointing or Condition Oils in Hoodoo

Anointing Oils - Mixing Magic in a Bottle

In the Hoodoo tradition, anointing oils are mainly known as “condition oils,” as each one is formulated to tackle a particular condition (problem, a state of mind or body) that a person is experiencing. You will usually only find this term in Hoodoo and conjure practices where the oils are used to anoint the body, candles for rituals, and practical spell casting. While, historically, most practitioners of Hoodoo are Christian, the concept of where the power of the oil comes from is slightly different: It is the combination of the correct herbs, flowers, minerals, and curios that come together to create an oil that is capable of magical change. Many bless the oils after they are made or petition God, ancestors, or distinct Saints to bring forth their blessings to complete the process.

The primary benefits of using anointing oils, besides the physical ones such as relaxation and overall well-being (i.e., for use in aromatherapy), are:

  • Protection from evil, accidents, negative things or people; brings about a feeling of safety
  • Can be used to repel enemies or ward off evil spirits
  • Can be used to protect a place or person at any time
  • Can be used in spells and rituals to bring about manifestation of your desires
  • Use it before praying to strengthen your connection with God/the Divine/Your Angels/Higher Self/Spirit Guides/Saints etc.
  • Anoint candles or other tools used for spell work.
  • To remove hexes or break spells that have been put on you or the home/business.

Anointing oils are made using essential oils, carrier oils, herbs and sometimes stones depending upon what is appropriate for each one. The blends can be customized to your needs, either by your own intuition or by asking God, your angels, saints, etc., which combination is best for you at this time. Each anointing oil has its own prayer to petition the divine powers to bless it so it will bring forth its desired effects when used by anyone who aligns themselves with its purpose.

Uses in Witchcraft and Pagan paths

In Witchcraft and some Pagan religions, oils are used not only in spell work but also a celebration. Some use different oils to mark the turning of theAnointing Oils - Mixing Magic in a Bottle Wheel of the Year. In the Spring, flowers are most often used. Summer is a time of green leaves and fruits. In Autumn, the choices are usually spices and barks. Pure plant oils are considered to be a way to connect with the very nature they come from, bringing more power and connection to spells and magical workings.

You will notice that in many Pagan and witchcraft traditions, magic is spelled with a ‘k’ inserted to differentiate from what most consider to be stage magic. The magic they do is not separate or different than what anyone else can do magically. The tools (i.e., oils, herbs) are merely helpful catalysts to bring forth the power of intent more quickly and with greater effect.

Anointing oil can be made using pure plant essences or by using an infused carrier oil base which you make yourself at home easily. When choosing your herbs for each type of oil use ones that correspond to purpose (i.e., protection, money drawing etc.). For this type of spell work it’s ideal to keep all ingredients natural unless you know what you are doing in terms of magical herbalism; some concoctions that look harmless may end up causing harm if ingested internally or used topically on the body.

How to Make Your Own Anointing Oils

  • Mix ingredients together in a dark glass bottle (i.e., brown or blue) with glass dropper if available. If you can’t find one, use cork or wooden stopper and keep the oil away from heat and direct sunlight. The darker the glass, the better, as light can damage some oils over time; this is why most pharmacies keep their medications in dark bottles only. You can also store your anointing oils in small tins that are made for perfumes but make sure they seal properly before using them to prevent leakage which can ruin anything it comes into contact with (counters, clothes etc.).
  • If you are making an oil for protection, use protective herbs such as bay laurel, rosemary or angelica. Protective essential oils can also be added to the mix if preferred.
  • If you are making an oil for wealth, use basil leaves, coriander seeds and/or cinnamon bark. The same goes for prosperity essential oils or extracts.
  • Anoint candles with it before burning them during spell work for increased manifestation of your desires into physical form through sacred fire. They can also be used to dress an altar to ensure safety thereon after being consecrated with the intention that only positive, loving energies will manifest there so all who come in will feel its safety and peace therein.

As you can see, oils play many different roles in rituals and traditions across the world. Whether they are used to anoint a king or prophet, as condition oil for hoodoo spells, or part of magical workings with witchcraft-the power is derived from the unique ingredients that combine together to create them. The choice of which one (or more) may be right for your own tradition depends on why you want it and how you plan to use it.

See some of our featured products below, and our magical oils for sale here!

There are some good magical oils recipes over at Learn Religions in their Magical Oils 101 article.

what is hoodoo featured image

What is Hoodoo?

What is Hoodoo?

What is hoodoo? Hoodoo is a unique form of American folk magic. Often called by other names including rootwork, conjure, and laying tricks. It’s based in African magic, melded with Native American medicines and European culture, to create something uniquely American and uniquely Southern.

The Roots of Hoodoo

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, African-Americans 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.

West and Central Africans all brought from Africa their own forms of conjure. Despite this ethnic diversity on American plantations, they pooled together their customs and beliefs into the practice. As recently as the 1950s, practitioners of hoodoo in New Orleans reported having to hide their magical practices because they feared oppression by Christians who would see their practices as Pagan or Satanic.

hot foot hoodoo oil

Hot Foot oil used in hoodoo to drive away an enemy

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.

New Orleans Voodoo – a Hoodoo Variation

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. But to many, New Orleans Voodoo is considered its own special brand of magic – not Vodou and not Hoodoo, but contains quite a bit of both.

In New Orleans, conjuration was a common practice because it gave people the ability to seek justice. It has been argued that this is one of the reasons that New Orleans became a melting pot for different cultures and faiths including Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others. People from all over came to Louisiana knowing they could find something familiar.

Conjure doctors became a common practice in the city because of its high immigrant population and the desire to seek justice. There were even times when these types of practices were used by white plantation owners and their families, as well as wealthy white New Orleanians who had African American servants they wanted to make sure remained loyal.

Crossroads Magic

The crossroads is a symbol of the meeting of two worlds, and in hoodoo crossroads magic is often used to make contact with the spirit world. In fact, crossroads magic can be used for any reason at all that you would want to call on spirits from the other side, such as communication between seemingly warring factions or obtaining information from beyond.

crossroads country hoodoo

the crossroads is a spiritual place in the hoodoo tradition

In crossroads magic a crossroads is created by drawing a cross in chalk on a roadway (many times an intersection will do), but if no crossroads are available paper must be laid down flat upon the ground and marked instead. After marking the paper, it’s turned up toward the sky, which allows spirits to travel down along it and into this world. The most common method of using the crossroads in hoodoo is for the disposal of used magical items or to nullify magic by leaving the items at the intersection and never looking back. See our full article about Crossroads magic.

Mojo Bags

In the Hoodoo tradition, we customarily use the term ‘mojo bag, ’ but it can be called by many other names: a mojo hand, gris-gris bag, toby, or trick bag. The word ‘gris-gris’ means charm or fetish. The reason behind why a mojo bag would be considered a fetish

what is hoodoo

mojo bags

is because practitioners of hoodoo consider it to be a living thing. Inside there may be a variety of ingredients: herbs, minerals, bones, flowers, and sometimes personal items like a locket of hair. When made for a specific purpose or person, a mojo bag usually contains a petition (a written prayer or intention). Some people use an actual drawstring bag to create their mojo. One method is what is known as a ‘flaming comet’ style mojo bag where a square of flannel is gathered up around the ingredients and tied off with string or twine. It should be made small enough to carry on your person. After it is created, it is fed with a liquid of some sort. While many use Florida water cologne or some other type of alcohol, others prefer to feed the bag with condition oil — one that corresponds to the nature of the mojo bag.

ORIGINS, VARIATIONS, AND DETAILS
A gris-gris bag is an amulet that originated in West Africa, specifically Ghana. Like a mojo bag, it also contained a number of objects such as stones, bones, oils, and herbs that combined to provide protection against bad luck and the evil eye. When they reached America, the gris-gris changed over time. Some began to think of them as harmful tools to curse another, often being left on the tombstones of cruel slave masters or hung on buildings and homes. In Haiti, they are still considered to be positive, and bearers of good luck and have made their way into Voodoo practice. It is thought to be proper to carry a gris-gris in your left pocket. Scholars trace it to the word ‘juju’ the West African name for fetish or sacred object.

A nation sack is a mojo bag that is only carried by women, specifically for the purpose of controlling a man. Some debate that it is actually called a ‘nature sack’ and white researchers misunderstood the dialect of the black subjects they were interviewing. It appears the nation sack was not a widely known tool, with most accounts of it being made and used in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Also used to keep a lover faithful or a husband from straying, its contents are related to love, devotion, and domination. Queen Elizabeth root (orris root) is often found in a nation sack, and it is a common custom to use menstrual blood as a key element as well as the semen of the man involved.

A jackball looks similar to a mojo bag but is made and used much differently. While it also contains herbs, roots, and other components found in a mojo, those ingredients are encased in a ball of wax (or beeswax) by slowly adding wax into the ingredients and shaping into a ball. It is then wrapped in red yarn or red twine, leaving behind a long tail when complete. Jackballs are considered to be container spells, calling upon the same energy one would use to create a witch bottle. They are used as a talisman to protect against evil, to influence others, to bring mastery to the keeper of it, and can also be used for divination – the same way someone would use a pendulum. It is believed that swinging a jackball in the air charges it with power.

From a historian’s perspective, it is hard to determine if there were many people who advertised themselves as practitioners of conjure. There are records that show ads for midwives and doctors in the Times-Picayune newspaper but there are no records of any ads for “conjures.” The only type of person who was regularly documented performing these types of practices were African American women who were often referred to in historical documents as “doctoresses.” During childbirth, African American midwives spiritually protect the house because it is believed that evil spirits might harm a newborn soul. The doorway is often covered in a line of protective herbs to keep evil spirits out of the house during the birth along with other charms. These items are left untouched until after the child is born.

Hoodoo in Literature

Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is an example of

Zora Neale Hurston is a very famous folk magic & hoodoo practitioner & writer

Zora Neale Hurston

hoodoo in literature. It tells the story of Janie Crawford, who is initially living in Eatonville, Florida, but eventually moves to Eatonville. The book follows Janie’s life and relationships, detailing her rebellion against the norms of society. Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1891 and died in 1960. This means that her book was published before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or color. However, it is also a book written about a black woman living in the South during Jim Crow. The society that she lived in was shaped by centuries of oppression and racism. This means that their eyes were watching her to make sure that she “knowed her place.” In this sense, many of the characters in Hurston’s novel are representative of hoodoo figures from folktales and stories.

Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men is considered to be one of her most influential works in terms of writing folklore. Her rich descriptions of life in the rural South provide a unique perspective on the “American Negro” (her words) during the early 20th century. She described her experiences with conjure doctors and how hoodoo was used to empower the African-American community.

Is Hoodoo a Closed Practice?

Unlike Vodou, 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 would be considered outright cultural appropriation. While it isn’t necessarily closed, it is deemed to be restrictive. Meaning, to practice Hoodoo it should be done from an Afrocentric perspective. While it does have elements borrowed from Jewish mysticism and English folk magic, they are not used predominantly but rather to enhance the tradition and its workings. English witchcraft practices are carried out much differently than the magical practices of Hoodoo. Those not born from African ancestry should in no way try to take ownership of or claim authority over the tradition. This is the very definition of appropriation. Rather, those outside the culture are considered “guests” in the tradition. If they choose to learn its magic, part of that journey should include preserving its heritage for what it is it – African-based magic.

For a more thorough look into the practice, check out the article: What Hoodoo Is: An African-American Folk-Magic Tradition by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

voodoo doll cloth

Voodoo Dolls and Hoodoo Doll Babies

beeswax doll poppet

beeswax poppets

 

Let’s talk about voodoo dolls or, in Hoodoo, they’re known as doll babies. Voodoo dolls have gotten a bad name, mainly from the movie industry, who have shown depictions of people using them to stick in pins and harm someone else. But initially, the voodoo doll was known for healing. Its origins are actually British and have been used there for hundreds of years. Most of the time, they would take a doll, also known as a poppet, which is supposed to represent a specific person; it’s their effigy. And let’s say they were sick. They would possibly stuff a doll with healing herbs, and they would actually doctor on the doll too, and perhaps use a form of prayer to help heal the person. So originally, they were a work of good. The movie industry, which we know needs to market dramatics to make it entertaining, has turned the voodoo doll into a wicked thing.

Choosing a type of doll for your voodoo doll

There are countless ways to make your own dolls for this purpose. One great add-on is to take a small vile and fill it with whatever herbs are appropriate for the doll’s situation, cork it shut, and sew it to one of the doll’s hands. This works exceptionally well with something like a yarn doll or a corn husk doll, which you can’t fill with herbs. Some people like to have a fully sewn doll. You can always make it yourself or go to the craft store where they usually carry them in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can even find tiny ones for about $5 for a pack of six. Little dolls like this are easy to conceal.

corn dolly poppet

Cornhusk dolly

But, you can use any sort of doll – even a Barbie doll can be a poppet. Also found in the craft store are the wooden figures used to help you sketch the human body.

  • cloth voodoo doll
  • wax poppets
  • corn dolly as a voodoo doll
  • purchased dolls like Barbie
  • purchased baby dolls make good hoodoo doll babies
  • stick dolls bound by string or twine
  • statues
  • wooden art figures

The main objective is to use an object that represents a person. Anointing your doll with magical oils to change their vibration to your wish. For example, let’s say you’re wanting to reconcile with someone. You may put something like Reconcile oil on the doll on the chest where the heart is. For money matters, put money drawing oil on the doll’s hands. For general healing, anoint the doll’s head with healing energy oil.
These are just a few examples of how you can tend to your doll baby.

The first step is to baptize it in the person’s name. You might actually bath the doll in holy water while reciting the person’s name. If that isn’t an option, you might leave it resting on top of his or her picture overnight.

voodoo doll clothAnd you care for them in different ways, depending on the intended purpose. Let’s say you want to make one for passion. This type of doll should be cuddled and kissed on. You should whisper to it, telling it all the things you want your lover to know how you feel, how you want them to think of you. And you should sleep with it for the first three nights, just like you would a mojo bag. And after that, you can tuck it in as into its own special place. Some people make a little bed for them so that you can actually tuck it in at night, showing the doll or the person you’re targeting, how much you care about them. Prove how much you’re willing to nurture them, be there for them. This is simply a way to show it affection and put that desire out into the universe. Some people will actually place this doll down their pants when they sleep. Traditionally, they would slide the doll in their underwear and sleep with it, which awakens the other person’s passion. Another way to use the passion doll is to tie it underneath your bed. If you’re in a relationship with the person and that person’s going to be in your bed, tie it up underneath, it just don’t let them see it.

antique dolls as voodoo dolls

regular dolls can be used as a voodoo doll or doll baby

For the act of healing another with a doll or poppet, you can anoint it with healing oils or Holy water. You might decide to put a candle beside it with the intention of the flame burning out the sickness. Don’t be afraid to use your instincts and imagination. If someone’s actually hurt in a specific place, you can massage the doll in that area. Let’s say, for example, someone you love has a broken arm. You can rub it herbs or oils, envisioning that broken bone mending back together. For depression, massage the doll’s head and send it white light. For a cold or flu, anoint where the lungs would be. This is the traditional method of using a doll for healing.

If you want to use a doll to bring more money, you might choose a green one and anoint with money drawing oil. Leave it beside you when you’re balancing your checkbook. When you’re filling out your tax returns, when you’re going over a business plan – keep it right there with you beside the computer. When you’re filling out applications, you might rest in on a bed of cinnamon sticks, which are money drawing, fenugreek, all the money drawing ingredients. A success doll is similar to a money doll. You might choose to make it in like another shade of green or purple. Work it for the things you want to achieve in life. Most of the time, this is your own likeness, and you would do the magical work for yourself. For example, a lot of success spells are done by artists and musicians. If you are a guitarist, you will play the guitar to the doll every night before you tuck it in. If you’re a painter, set it beside your easel while you work. An accountant? Put it beside the calculator!

Think about props to use with your doll baby. Let’s say you’re wanting to be a popular entertainer. Cut out a picture of a large stadium, packed with people, and anoint the doll with success oils or powders. Then place the doll in front of this image, using the stadium or stage as a backdrop. And it’s supposed to represent you, this imagery can help you define your goals and get a clear picture of your future success.

If you need a protection poppet, you will anoint it with things that are protective of nature. You may smudge it first so that it is completely clean, put it in a place where it’ll protect and guard you. You can actually do more than one, putting one at the front door and the other at the back door. Think of them as little ‘guard dolls.’

Finally, we get to the baneful doll, which some call the voodoo doll. But, that’s not very fair to Vodou’s religion, so we’ll use the term ‘dolly baby.’ This type of doll is mistreated or harassed. Maybe you want someone to move away and not be a part of your life anymore. Perhaps you’ll tell that person via the doll that they will have a constant headache until they move away and leave you alone. Each day, you take the doll and thump its head against furniture or a stone. The concept is to make the person relent, and they finally give in to your will. Is this evil work? That would depend on why you want the person to leave. For example, commanding a stalker to leave you alone would be considered protective work. Another way of working your baneful doll is to burn it. Take the ashes and drive them to the other side of town and dump them out to get this person out of your life. You can throw it in a river with running water or onto railroad tracks – another way to get someone to move away from you.

Whether your Hoodoo doll baby is fabric or wood or beeswax or yarn, the amount of time and attention you give the doll is what crafts the magical energy. With perseverance, hopefully, things will begin turning your way.

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