Hoodoo (spirituality)  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Hoodoo (folk magic))
Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hoodoo, also known as conjure, is a form of predominantly African-American traditional folk magic that developed from the syncretism of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions. It incorporates practices from African and Native American traditions, as well as some European magical practices and grimoires. While folk practices like hoodoo are trans-cultural phenomena, what is particularly innovative in this tradition is the "remarkably efficacious use of biblical figures" in its practices and in the lives of its practitioners.

The word hoodoo first was documented in American English in 1875 and was listed as a noun or a transitive verb. In African American Vernacular English (AAVE), it is often used to describe a magic spell or potion, but it may also be used as an adjective for a practitioner. Regional synonyms for hoodoo include conjuration, conjure, witchcraft, or rootwork.


Hoodoo and popular culture


Many blues musicians have referred to hoodoo in their songs. Popular examples include "Louisiana Hoodoo Blues" by Ma Rainey, "Hoodoo Lady Blues" by Arthur Crudup, and "Hoodoo Man Blues" by Junior Wells. In addition to the expected terms "hoodoo" and "mojo", other conjure words in blues songs include "jinx", "goofer dust", "nation sack", "black cat bone", "John de conkeroo" (John the Conqueror root), "graveyard dirt", and "black spider dumplings."

The Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love" contains an extensive series of puns about a man hoodooing his lover. He also recorded an album titled Got My Own Bag of Tricks (1972), a reference to a mojo hand or trick bag. In Chuck Berry's song "Thirty Days" he threatens an ex-lover, telling her that he "...talked to the gypsy woman on the telephone [...] she gonna send out a world wide hoodoo...". Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics for "Hoodoo Voodoo", a song later performed by Wilco and Billy Bragg. The song "Born on the Bayou" by Creedence Clearwater Revival has the line "Chasing down a hoodoo there...". Ike & Tina Turner's 1963 album It's Gonna Work out Fine featured a song titled "Mojo Queen", with definite references to mojo, the magic charms used by hoodoo practitioners.




  • Author Ishmael Reed, in his novels Mumbo Jumbo, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, and others, makes great use of Hoodoo, including characters who are practitioners. Reed also published a number of Hoodoo poems.
  • Emma Bull refers to Hoodoo in her novel Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles.
  • Gloria Naylor's novel Mama Day uses hoodoo as both explanation for natural occurrences, and gateway into the magical past of African American slaves on the island of Willow Springs.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hoodoo (spirituality)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools