Hoodoo and Balance

To varying degrees, many spiritual belief systems from organized religions to so-called pagan and craft practices advocate balance. When life is balanced, people feel better, are happier, enjoy more success, and find much positive synchronicity in the people they meet, the opportunities that arise, and the smooth and seamless way plans and projects unfold.

When life is unbalanced, people are more likely to experience ailments and accidents, are often unhappy, and find that even the easier plans and projects become stubbornly difficult to accomplish.

Hoodoo--often called conjure or folk magic--has a similar focus. Hoodoo differs from Voodoo in that it is not a religion. However, many practitioners are very devout and believe the outlook of their Protestant (and sometimes Catholic) denominations are wholly compatible with conjure.

Hoodoo's ancient basis stems from the traditional religions of central Africa now governed by Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Cabinda, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region and culture were often referred to as Kongo and this is probably the strongest African influence in hoodoo.

According to Carolyn Long ("Spiritual Merchants"), "In traditional African thought, the goal of human endeavor was to achieve balance. Human beings were believed to come into the world poor and good and to defile themselves by acts that offended the community, the deities, or the ancestors, thereby upsetting spiritual balance."

Hoodoo subsequently absorbed parts of other systems with similar beliefs, including healing through the use of native plants, from folk Christianity, various Celtic and craft approaches, mainstream Christian and Jewish thought (including mysticism), and Native American practices.

As with the culture called Kongo, many of the integrated spiritual/healing practices came from other groups who also believed in a supreme being whose power and wisdom filtered down to individuals working to maintain or achieve balance and harmony in their lives and the lives of others in the community.

The spells, techniques and herbal information in the three Florida novels are all based closely on those used by former or current root doctors. They are presented as part of a story and are not intended as advice or remedies for readers.

Hoodoo is a traditional form of folk magic and is in no way presented in Conjure Woman's Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, and Lena as fantasy because that would be disrespectful of those who have spent their lives studying and perfecting their craft.

paperback, audiobook and e-book editions available at major online booksellers

Conjure Woman's Cat

Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book, which was first published in 1889 and can still be found on Amazon, lists objects out of dreams in alphabetical order along with dream interpretations and lucky numbers that were used in policy gambling.

Typical curio catalogue advertisement for hoodoo supplies.

You can find some of his work on YouTube.

"Hoodoo consists of a large body of African folkloric practices and beliefs with a considerable admixture of American Indian botanical knowledge and European folklore. Although most of its adherents are black, contrary to popular opinion, it has always been practiced by both whites and blacks in America. Other regionally popular names for hoodoo in the black community include 'conjuration,' 'conjure,' 'witchcraft,' 'rootwork,' 'candle burning,' and 'tricking.' The first three are simply English words; the fourth is a recognition of the pre-eminence that dried roots play in the making of charms and the casting of spells, and the fifth and sixth are special meanings for common English words." - catherineyronwode

Malcolm R. Campbell - Conjure Woman's Cat


Hoodoo Links
Hoodoo curios

I enjoyed the "Timeless" TV show in which the bad guys were trying to kill blues singer Robert Johnson while the good guys were trying to keep him alive via dueling time machines.

It was fun hearing the music and seeing a mainstream show focus light on one of the most influential blues artists who ever lived. 

Naturally, I refer to Robert Johnson in my folk magic trilogy, including his supposed visit at the crossroads with the devil who taught him how to play. The devil in hoodoo, however, isn't Satan, but a dangerous trickster who will help you if you treat him with respect.

According to Wikipedia, "Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend. One Faustian myth says that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of Mississippi highways to achieve success. As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, Johnson had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime."