Hoodoo Rootwork: A History
When enslaved African peoples were brought over to the United States beginning in the mid-1600s, they brought with them the ancient wisdom traditions practiced by their ancestors for millenia. These not only included remedies for healing bodily ailments through the use of herbs and other materials found in nature, but how to use these same tools to effect change on the material, emotional, and spiritual planes. This holistic worldview saw no difference between the inner and the outer, or the subtle and the manifest.
Primarily plant-based in their work, those priests that had been called root doctors in Africa found themselves without access to the botanicals they were familiar with. Through friendships formed with American Indian peoples in the "New World," they learned which plants would make keen substitutions in their formulas, ranging from those that enhanced strength and virility to those that invoked protective forces and promoted conjugal relations - and everything in between.
Over the next two-and-a-half centuries, Southern Protestant "hoodoos" came into contact with the traditions of the German Pennsylvania Dutch, Irish Catholics, Jewish Americans, and the rites and symbols found in English ceremonial magic grimoires, fleshing out what would become a uniquely American form of spiritual work. Hoodoo became a syncretic melange of practices and continues to remain flexible and adaptable with techniques being utilized across the world by those who find regional variations and modern innovations to be effective for them.
Still, hoodoo's lore and beauty are most evident in its more traditional forms, dating back to the time before the migration of Southern U.S. African-Americans to the North in the early 20th century. This era was heralded and recorded in the works of American anthropologists and Southern blues musicians of both fame and infamy with author Zora Neale Hurston, folklorist Harry M. Hyatt, guitarist Tommy Johnson, and singer Ma Rainey among them.
The Hoodoo Rootworker: A Spiritual Doctor
Rootworker. Conjurer. Two-Headed Doctor. These fairly interchangeable terms all refer to someone with a cultivated knowledge of herbs, roots, minerals, and zoological curios and their effective employment toward attaining material and spiritual goals. Successful rootworkers are often considered "gifted for the work," and may have experienced signs early in their lives that hinted at (or made use of) a profound intuitive sense, the ability to manifest outcomes through thought and word, a talent for channeling spiritual entities, an adeptness at working with plants and animals, or other talents. Professional rootworkers are almost always in tune with personal guides and ancestral guardians that guide them in their work, provide them with intuitive insight, and lend a hand when they are taking on difficult cases.
As spiritual doctors, rootworkers are able to reach into life’s crevices to help transform conditions and circumstances that practitioners of other professions might not be able to. They are gifted, and often trained, to work with tools from the natural world and powerful spiritual allies to help bring about real change in all of life’s arenas. Working with the subtle energies that make up our world, a skilled Hoodoo rootdoctor can shift the odds in your life to help you find love, heal from past wounds, cultivate strength and financial abundance, find justice, and reach a myriad of other goals as needed or desired in your life.
Rootdoctors are also adept at seeing when efforts toward a certain goal - such as healing, love, money, or employment - are hindered not by mundane means but by energetic disturbances and blocks that can be removed through the use of spiritual medicine in the form of baths, teas, candle work, hands-on cleansing, and ritual.
Hoodoo Medicine: Tools of the Craft
All hoodoo rootwork, medicine, ritual, and spellcraft begins with intention.
What do you want?
Is it an increase in your financial prosperity?
Greater closeness and better communication with a lover?
To be rid of nagging doubts that hold you back from pursuing your dreams?
You might want to increase your strength and sense of motivation before taking on an important but difficult task. An unjust court case against a loved one might need to be set right, or a seemingly unending streak of bad luck in the family might need to meet its end.
Whatever the need, hoodoo begins with desire and culminates in real change.
Many rootdoctors work with a form of divination to look inside the energetic patterns at play in a client's questions to better see which paths are blocked, which paths are open, the underlying motivations of those involved, and what spiritual work would be most effective at getting their client the outcome they seek. Some rootdoctors work with age-old systems of information gathering like the Tarot or the casting of bones upon a mat or animal skin. The patterns and images that arise, along with the guidance of channeled spirit allies, will tell a story and provide clues as to what is needed in the client's situation. Others might work with a pendulum or throw shells, while others simply "know," using clairvoyance, clairaudience, or channeling to gain clarity about the situation.
If divination and spiritual sources suggest that work should be done to rectify or lend help in a particular situation, the rootdoctor will turn to their skills as a medicine person, spellcrafter, and spiritual devotee to get the job done.
Plant, Animal, & Mineral Allies
Hoodoo is a form of shamanism in that one of its primary tools is that of alliance with botanicals, minerals, and the animal kingdom. Every plant, stone, and natural material has a vibration matching one or more of life's arenas. The Doctrine of Signatures is one way that people have tried to explain the phenomena of many plants being shaped like the biological organs they can heal, or others' leaves mimicking human genitalia while being known for having aphrodisiacal qualities. This universal system of sympathetic correspondences speaks to the life-force that is known to inhabit all things. Rootdoctors invite the unique perspective of each botanical, mineral, and zoological ally to be the medicine that helps transform our reality.
In addition to herbs, roots, stones, and bones, most Hoodoo practitioners invoke an aspect of the Divine into their rootwork. Being a primarily Protestant Christian tradition until quite recently, the few Hoodoo grimoires, or books of formulas, that exist expound the repetition of Psalms, the invocation of Jesus of Nazareth, and the use of Biblical scripture as written incantations as sources of power.
Indeed, some rootdoctors lean toward a particular religious faith or spiritual tradition - working solely with the Saints found in Catholicism, or God and Jesus of Nazareth in the Protestant Bible - while others are eclectic enough in their spirituality to craft work that speaks to their client's religious beliefs and spiritual preferences. Some are particularly adept at working with the Hindu pantheon while others are gifted at channeling Universal energy and Love. No matter the source, almost all rootdoctors acknowledge a force (or forces) greater than themselves that they will call upon to help them meet their clients' needs.
Places of Power
Part of the beauty of hoodoo is its sense of place - as a form of shamanism, it links to the power of one's landscape, the activities that take place there, and the landmarks that gather particular significance based on their history, form, and use. Carrying over from its African origins, the place of the crossroads remains especially important as the intersection of two roads occurs in nearly every town and locale, marking a myriad of paths and possibilities that can be taken in the physical realm.
Though most lore concerning specific spiritual entities associated with the crossroads has been lost to Hoodoo (but maintained in other African diasporic practices), that of a unique teacher spirit - the "Black Man at the Crossroads" - that can be invoked by those committed to learning a skill or craft has remained. Still, most Hoodoo practitioners "work the crossroads" as a place of significance unto itself, dispersing waters and workings there while gathering dirt for use in the future.
Dirt may also be gathered from banks, churches, post offices, cemeteries, and other cultural or community landmarks to be used in accord with work that could benefit from that place's energetic frequency. A candle for invoking blessings may be surrounded by dirt from a local parish's lawn, while a potted plant "fixed" to keep long-distance lovers faithfully communicating might include some soil from the post office's property.
Places of power are as varied as the needs and proclivities of the practitioner and remind us that allies in our endeavors can be found all around us.
Spells, Workings, and Conjurations
After herbs, dirt, minerals, and other elements of nature are gathered, they are put to work toward the intentions of the rootdoctor's client in one or more ways. Hoodoo spells - in which the client's prayer, petition, or need is written down and placed amongst these elements along with candles dressed with appropriate oils - are only one way to manifest that which is desired. Diagrams and symbols borrowed from European grimoires and Pennsylvania Dutch traditions have made their way into the eclectic tradition of hoodoo as well, and may be used in such workings. Often, a personal concern of the client - such as a handwriting sample or a lock of hair - will be utilized as a link between the client and the spellwork, enhancing its efficacy. The intuitive hoodoo rootdoctor will know which techniques are best suited to the situation at hand. Divination might suggest the use of talismans such as mojo hands and mojo bags which, after being filled with elements that speak to client's intentions, are given "the breath of life" to contain a spirit that works eagerly to bring about the outcomes the client seeks. Baths of herbal and mineral allies may be prepared to remove harmful energies and blockages that might be limiting the client's possibilities. They can also be prepared to endow the client's energy field with a vibration that is in alignment with what the client desires, be it money, a boss's favor, protection from harm, or even a good night out on the town. Similarly, floor washes of oils, botanicals, and minerals can be used to endow an entire property, home, or business with energies desired, clearing the way for possibilities and opportunities to manifest and inviting in them in with the scrubbing of floors, doors, and entryways.
Oils, powders, and incense can be applied within larger spiritual workings or on their own, being used to anoint and dress the skin, mailed letters, furniture, and other items, endowing the object with the energies of the formula used, or intended to affect another who will touch the object, influencing them to act in favor of the client.
Why Should I Work With a Hoodoo Rootdoctor?
With a hoodoo rootdoctor, you get the benefits of having intuition, foresight, and custom tools for wellness and success right at your fingertips!
Having a spiritual medium and hoodoo rootdoctor as part of your support system can provide tremendous benefits to you and your loved ones. In addition to the psychic intuitive insight that a gifted professional can provide regarding your life path, decisions, and well-being, a hoodoo rootdoctor can equip you with spirituals tools and medicine that can help you heal, help you grow, and help you reach your goals in nearly every life arena. They can:
- provide you with personalized tools and guidance for attaining success,
- help you navigate a new career or love interest,
- and even help you choose professionals in other trades to work with by providing insight into what you can expect from their services and your interaction with them.
Best of all, a gifted hoodoo rootdoctor can tap into the spiritual, the subtle, and the energetic and transform problems into solutions by operating at the root, underlying cause of an issue.
As humanity's exploration of quantum physics continues, many are beginning to see the physical world as merely a reflection of the subtle, spiritual realm - something rootworkers, shamans, and practitioners of indigenous spiritualities have always known. The insight and practices of a hoodoo rootdoctor can support you from the ground up with holistic techniques grounded in the interconnectedness of your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
What makes hoodoo different than other consciousness-focused or "alternative" wellness modalities that are focused solely on changing thought patterns or shifting energy is that it honors an important fact of the world: you are connected to everything and there is help for whatever you're going through.
Hoodoo rootdoctors know the allies in the plant, mineral, animal, and spiritual realms that can help you get the results you're looking for and the success you deserve. They can aid you in your quests for material gain, emotional fulfillment, and spiritual evolution. Working with an ethical and professional hoodoo rootdoctor who knows how to tap into these forms can help you manifest the life that you desire - one filled with joy and personal fulfillment.