THE ONLY SITE FOR AUTHENTIC OLD TRADITION HOODOO
All photos and research on this site are under copyright and are property of the owner of this site. Please contact the site owner for permission to use them. [Dr. Katrina Hazzard-Donald is available for speaking engagements on a range of topics in African American life and culture.]
New Work on Hoodoo from University of Illinois Press 2013
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Click on the tab Mojo Workin" above to order
"No one ever came into Africa who did not want something for themselves" Dr. John Henrik Clarke
Hoodoo, like many other African and African American cultural and material products, is fraught with political debate. This debate is grounded in a sad political reality. That reality is that Africans and their descendants are not permitted to claim their own material resources or cultural products or to be "experts" on themselves. This is true on the African continent, in the West Indies, in Latin America and in the United States. To address this issue we will be posting a list of suggested readings by prominent African and African American scholars who address the political issues surrounding the appropriation of African cultural and material resources.
What is Hoodoo? Hoodoo is African American folk Supernaturalism & magic primarily for healing and controlling. The term "magic" is misleading and is not meant in the Western/European common usage. Rather here it means a supernatural religious tradition. Hoodoo was developed by enslaved Africans on the North American plantations of the old "black belt" South. They salvaged what they could under the harsh conditions imposed upon them by European and White American slave holders from any number of religious backgrounds. The tradition was grounded in priesthood linked by bloodlines and ancestry. The ancient African gods were ancestral and the priesthood was passed down in families. Hoodoo, likewise was passed down in families based on bloodlines which linked back to Africa and African ancestry. Family connection was and is essential in the making of a traditional African spiritual practitioner. It was rarely taught to family outsiders and never to enemies, conquerors and oppressors. Following emancipation, Hoodoo experienced its "Golden Age," an era that both Harry Middleton Hyatt and Zora Neale Hurston longed for, but missed. During this short lived period between emancipation and the years immediately following World War 1, Hoodoo grew and thrived under black control. After World War I, as North American-born Africans and their descendants fled the terrorism of the South seeking employment in the urban North, the old traditions weakened.
The Hoodoo cultural gap, that was left after population displacement and assimmilationist pressures, would be exploited and partially filled by "marketeers"with one purpose: exploiting Hoodoo for as much money as they could get. Most of their clientele were poverty stricken or very poor African Americans. These "marketeers" developed a litany of justifications and explanations when their intent and authenticity were challenged, especially by blacks. Their reasons ran the gamut from "my people used to be closed to blacks" (this one is most frequently used by those that perpetuate the lie that Blacks and Jews were "close" as a justification for their exploitation of Hoodoo) to "I'm helping people." Unlike the Jewish middlemen exploiters, Christian exploiters gave other reasons. Some claim, "I was taught hoodoo by blacks" or "I've been closed to blacks" or "I grew up around blacks". What they were taught was "marketeered hoodoo". Now, as then, many of the white marketeers have their "Negro front men/women" whom they push out front to either prevent or ward off challenges to their legitimacy and to help pull in more black dollars. In my research I found this to be a pattern, especially in the curio shops of the 1930's 40's. 50's and early 1960's. I have recently found this to be a pattern with certain "internet marketeers. It did not matter to the "hoodoo marketeers" then, as it does not matter now, that they were delivering a sacred product that they knew little of. What they did not have they fabricated, thus transforming the face of Hoodoo. But some African Americans resisted, and took the old original system underground, where, if you can locate it, it still exists today.
Those who depend on Hyatt for their knowledge are left to weed through a wealth of collected information on Hoodoo gathered more than two-thirds of a century into the falsification and controll by marketeers; none of whom practice or believe in any African traditional system. Unfortunately these "hoodoo marketeers" have little knowledge of the shortcomings of the interview process, particularly when whites were questioning blacks and offering them money for information. Hyatt must be taken with a critical eye for "ethnographic integrity" as should all the writings of whites who claim to study and write about blacks. One final yet important question:
Would you consult a Buddhist priest to teach you to be a Jew? Would you consult a Christian minister to lead you to Islam? Or would you request that a Muslim teach you about the religion of Zoroaster? Then why would you consult an outsider and non-practitioner of Hoodoo for anything related to Hoodoo? Think about it. When you want Hoodoo--get the real thing from the black community and not from the outsiders who exploit African American culture for their own benefit.
Authentic Possum Bones
prepared for divination
THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO REJUVENATING AND MAINTAINING THE "OLD AFRICAN AMERICAN HOODOO SYSTEM."
THERE ARE OUTSIDER TO OUR TRADITION WHO WOULD DEFINE WHO WE ARE. THEIR SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT TO OTHER PEOPLE'S TRADITIONS WILL LEAD THEM TO ATTEMPT TO REDEFINE OUR SPIRITUALITY. AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE HAS BEEN AMONG THE MOST APPROPRIATED AND CONTROLLED BY OUTSIDERS. THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS AMONG THE MOST STUDIED, EXPERIMENTED ON AND EXPLOITED.
THIS SITE IS NOT LIKE OTHERS DEDICATED TO HOODOO IN THAT IT IS RUN AND MAINTAINED BY GENUINE AFRICAN AMERICAN "OLD TRADITION" BLACK BELT HOODOO PRACTITIONERS WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY TRADITIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HOODOOS primarily in families.
WE USE NO COMMERCIAL SUPPLIES. We harvest and ritually dry all our own roots and herbs. We harvest according to the tradition put forth in the Old Black Belt System. Our materials do not come from a warehouse, supply store, catalog or a commercial site.
MANY OTHER SITES ARE RUN BY MARKETEERS WHO HAVE DISCARDED THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENTS OF HOODOO AND TRANSFORMED OTHERS. THESE MARKETEERS HAVE NO BLOODLINE CONNECTION TO AFRICA AND SEEK TO EXPLOIT AND PROFITEER FROM BLACK TRADITIONS JUST AS THEIR SLAVEMASTER FOREPARENTS DID.
MARKETEERS CLAIM THE AUTHORITY TO "TEACH COURSES ON HOODOO"," "LICENSE ROOT WORKERS", MAKE MOJO BAGS AND MAKE MONEY FROM UNSUSPECTING PEOPLE WHO KNOW LITTLE OF THE OLD SCHOOL AUTHENTIC TRADITION AS IT HAS BEEN MAINTAINED BY BLACK BELT REGION AFRICAN AMERICANS.
WHO ARE WE?
WE DID NOT "grow up around blacks", WE ARE AFRICAN AMERICANS, WE WERE NOT "close to blacks", WE ARE AFRICAN AMERICAN. WE DO NOT CLAIM TO '"know black culture", WE GREW UP BLACK, LIVING OUR TRADITIONS, LIVING THE CULTURE. SOME OF US ARE INITIATES TO OTHER AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS INCLUDING PALO (MONTE & MAYOMBE) IFA, LUCUMI, IGBO TRADITIONAL RELIGION, CANDOMBLE, and HAITIAN VODUN/VOODOO. IN ADDITION SOME OF US HAVE ACADEMIC TRAINING AND ARE RESEARCHERS.
OUR GRANDMOTHERS RUBBED US IN SARDINE OIL, GAVE US "coal oil' ON WHITE SUGAR, PUT PENNIES AND GREASY FAT IN OUR SHOES, WROTE OUR NAMES ON EGGS, PRAYED FACING EAST, soaked our swellings in "mullen leaf tea AND TIED THE HEALING STRING. OUR LIVES WERE STEEPED IN HOODOO. WE ARE BELIEVERS IN OUR OWN TRADITION.
OUR PRACTITIONERS COME FROM HOMES IN WHICH HOODOO WAS PRACTICED IN ALL OF IT'S DIMENSIONS. WE ARE NEITHER OUTSIDERS NOR LATECOMERS TO THE TRADITION. OUR ANCESTORS, GREAT-GRANDPARENTS, GRANDPARENTS AND PARENTS BELIEVED IN AND PRACTICED HOODOO FOR MANY GENERATIONS.
WE USE NO COMMERCIAL OR FALSE SUPPLIES such as COLORED TALCOLM POWDER. WE ISSUE NO DISCLAIMERS SUCH AS "SOLD ONLY AS A CURIO."
OUR WORK IS TAILORED SPECIFICALLY TO THE CLIENT'S NEEDS AND THEIR PARTICULAR PROFILE. WE SELL NO GENERIC MOJOES. EACH ONE IS UNIQUE TO THE CLIENT. IF IT IS LABELED "SOLD ONLY AS A CURIO" IT IS "MARKETEERED HOODOO". THAT LABEL TELLS YOU THAT IT IS NOT AUTHENTIC, BLACK BELT HOODOO. HOODOO WAS CREATED BY AFRICAN AMERICANS FOR THEIR OWN LIBERATION FROM THE OPPRESSION HEAPED UPON THEM BY WHITE SUPREMACY IN ALL OF ITS VILE FORMS. HOODOO ENABLED SPIRITUAL SURVIVAL, IT WAS THE AFRICAN AMERICAN "SACRED CANOPY".
WE GATHER OUR OWN HERBS, MOST FROM THE WILD AND WE MIX OUR OWN RECIPES USING TRADITIONS PASSED DOWN FROM OUR AFRICAN ANCESTORS AND THE AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE COMMUNITY. HOODOO WAS DEVELOPED AS AFRICAN AMERICAN "SLAVE" MAGIC, GET THE "REAL THING" FROM THE PEOPLE WHO CREATED IT AND NOT FROM IMITATORS AND MARKETEERS.
WE ARE THE ONLY INTERNET SITE WITH LINKS TO AUTHENTIC "OLD TRADITION HOODOO" PRACTITIONERS. OUR PRACTITIONERS HAVE BEEN TRAINED AND AUTHENTICATED BY THE ELDERS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, THE ONLY TRUE SOURCE FOR LEGITIMATION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE TRADITIONS.
DON'T LET MARKETEERS, AND OUTSIDERS SELL YOU PHONEY HOODOO. DON'T LET THEM MAKE FALSE MOJO BAGS FOR YOU. GET CLOSER TO THE OLD TRADITION AS IT WAS PRACTICED IN THE PLANTATION UNDERGROUND, AND AS IT STILL EXISTS TODAY.
FUNCTIONS OF OLD TRADITION HOODOO
A MAJOR COMPONENT IN OLD TRADITION HOODOO WAS THE LIBERATION OF AFRICAN AMERICANS FROM ENSLAVEMENT. ANOTHER COMPONENT WAS RESISTANCE TO "WHITE SUPREMACY". MOST TRADITIONAL HOODOO AMULETS INCLUDING "MOJO BAGS" THAT WERE MADE FOR SLAVES AND FREEDMEN WERE MADE TO:
1. AID AFRICANS TO ESCAPE SLAVERY.
2. KEEP WHITE PEOPLE, particularly SLAVE OWNERS FROM HARMING, BEATING, KILLING AND PUNISHING AFRICANS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS.
3. KEEP A LOVED ONE FROM BEING SOLD, OR TO BRING BACK A LOVED ONE WHO WAS SOLD.
4. CAUSE THE MASTER AND/OR HIS WIFE TO BECOME ILL OR DIE.
5. RUIN THE MASTER'S CROP AND/OR FARM ANIMALS.
6. CONTROL THE WHITE MASTER AND/OR HIS WIFE AND/OR HIS CHILDREN.
7. HEALING & MEDICAL CARE.
8. PROCURING FOOD.
THERE WAS NO USE OF CANDLES OR OILS IN PLANTATION BORN HOODOO. OUR ANCESTORS DID NOT INVENT "WAR WATER" & "PEACE WATER". THESE TWO PRODUCTS ARE EXAMPLES OF "MARKETEERED HOODOO" AT ITS EXPLOITIVE WORST. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Authentic Hoodoo Healing Symbol used by African captives on U.S. plantations. This one was recorded in a diary before the end of legal enslavement of Africans and their descendants in the U.S.
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HOODOO
[All scholarly work appearing on this site is both unique and under copyright and may not be quoted without proper citation and/or permission of the author.]
The Old African American Hoodoo system was derived from the ARC. The ARC or African Religion Complex was a group of cultural-religious traits shared by a majority of African captives brought to mainland North America. These traits include at least eight African cultural constructions. (see African Religion Chart) Simply stated, they include:
1. Ancestor Reverence.
2. Counterclockwise sacred circle dancing.
3. Water Immersion.
4. Naturopathic Medicine
5. Spirit Possession.
7. The Principle of Sacrifice.
8. Belief in spiritual cause of malady.
In addition to the above traits, African captives in the plantation environment both before and after the end of slavery engaged in other African traditional religious practices such as "head shaving" upon conversion. Many of these enslaved captives, even after emancipation, could not be converted without head shaving, spirit possession or entering the "sacred circle."
Original Yoruba Amulet for Protection encased in leather and stitched with leather thread. Note the tiny size. A loop is provided on top so that the "mojo" can be secured inside of clothing while worn. Made by Oshun Iyalorisha "Yeye Oshun" of Nigeria. The African American practice of pinning High John roots and other amulets inside of bras, in pockets, in purses came with African captives from the Mother continent, Africa.
TYPES OF HOODOO AMULETS
THERE WERE AT LEAST EIGHT PERHAPS NINE TYPES OF HOODOO AMULETS. THE "MOJIGANGA" OR MOJO WAS ONLY ONE TYPE. THE OTHERS INCLUDED: .
1. The single knot amulet or "sacred string" Used for healing.
2. The multi-knot amulet. Ths amulet represented every organ in the individual's body.
3. The "walking cane" amulet. (this amulet is still available from Hougan Dafuskie Jones. Hand carved with spirit embedded in the sacred wood.)
4. The prayer cloth amulet. This was available from Reverend Ike and was a modified "mojo bag."
5. The silver dime string. mainly worn tied around the ankle but also the neck. This could be seen in the urban industrial centers of the Midwest until the late 1950"s.
6. The "mojiganga" or mojo bag, also known as the "package" as well as a host of other names including but not limited to, gri-gri, toby, hand[mojo hand, licky hand/lucky hand] wanga, and many others. There were also other types of mojo amulets including the "four corners of the world" amulet. This powerful Hoodoo amulet is still prepared by certain "Old Tradition Hoodoos". It is still available from Hougan Dafuskie Jones in Lynchburg, Virginia. Along the Gullah coast "mojoes" were prepared inside a small sea shell, similar in construction to the Esu prepared in a seashell. Traditional "packages" are also available from PaPa Ce residing in Chicago. Contact information & links will be posted. Both Hougan Jones and PaPa Ce can be contacted through their Facebook Pages or through links at this site.
Traditional Kongo Nkisi grouped together in a type of powerful amulet. Four in one construction. These traditional "mojoes" from Kongo resemble one type of African American amulet, the "Mojo Bag". This drawing was taken from "The Laman Collection". The four in one construction is still wrapped in the "four conrers of the earth" amulet available from Hougan Dafuskie Jones.
Spiritual Soap? Two types of soap pictured here. The one on top is the "marketeered" version of traditional "sacred soap". The other is African traditional sacred soap made for "protection" to wash away negative influences/energies, to repel negative forces, "haints," unhappy ancestors, and to neutralize curses from enemies. Like "old tradition Hoodoo soap" this soap is made with rain water caught on certain moon cycles, or from a blacksmith's forge. African Americans used water from the foundry in their baptismal pools when the practice of "baptizin' in da ribbah" was ended. There are two types of traditional African "sacred soap" pictured here. Because African American women in bondage were laundresses as were black women well into the twentieth century, they controlled soap making. They made soaps for "master" and worked the "JuJu", "Conjure" "Roots" on master through his soap.
Used in Hoodoo to speed up any intended action. These types of peppers served as acceptable substitutes when the "alligator" pepper was no longer available as it was in Africa.