Hoodoo, a form of traditional folk magic, developed from a number of separate cultures and magical customs including African and Native American traditions and European magical practices. Hoodoo is sometimes referred to as conjure, witchcraft, or rootwork and also makes use of biblical figures. Biblical characters are often recast as hoodoo doctors and the Bible is used as a protective talisman.

Traditional African thought is characterized by a belief in balance, and this was sought through devotion to a supreme creator, appeasing ancestors, and using charms to symbolize spiritual power. In some African religions this supreme being was genderless, neither good or evil, and unconcerned with the affairs of humankind. As such, it became necessary to invoke lesser spirits to help with man’s plights.

Hoodoo practitioners use herbs, minerals, parts of animals’ bodies, individual’s possessions, and bodily fluids to help supernatural forces improve daily life. Power is sought over areas such as love, money, luck, revenge, health, employment, and divination. While old-time rural hoodoo incorporated homemade potions and charms into their practice, commercial companies are now offering hoodoo supplies to urban and rural practitioners. Supplies include herbs, roots, minerals, candles, incense, oils, powders, bath crystals, and colognes. Medicine, household cleaning supplies, and cosmetics such as Florida Water have also been met with success.

Remember, Hoodoo belief would suggest that “God have somepin to do wit evah’ thin’ you do if it’s good or bad.”

Eager to learn more about the influence of Hoodoo on our Gullah culture? Make sure to come to our Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration this February!