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    Hi folks,


    This article was recently published by a friend and she quoted me. I have her permission to post it here for our discussion. Please do not repost it without her permission.




    Hoodoo and Strega                                                                                   Word count: 1.292

    Ti Birchrose w/a Lady Eva Michenet

    450 Chipeta Ave. #8

    Grand Junction, CO  81501

    Email: nilejade443@yahoo.com


       Hoodoo, also known as “conjure” or “rootwork”, refers to Protestant African-American folk magick and beliefs blended with Native American botanical information and European folklore.  Practitioners use their knowledge to assist clients with various metaphysical problems such as turning bad luck to good, obtaining employment or love, or success in court.  They work as herbal doctors.   Rootworkers, however, tend to focus more on the magickal purposes and usually use indigenous plants. Another discipline practiced by hoodoo workers is divination, generally referred to as “throwing the bones”, a form directly descended from West Africa.  Dream divination is common, as is using astrology, Moon phases, and magickal hours.  These last three systems are a relatively recent addition to hoodoo methods; urban practitioners are more likely to have included them or those who have access to the books that teach such systems.[1]

       Hoodoo is found primarily in the rural South where it developed.  Practitioners carry a bag usually made of flannel and called a “mojo bag”, “conjure hand”, “toby”, “nation bag”, or other epithets.  In it they carry their herbs, oils, roots, stones, and various other items they may need for “fixing up” a mojo or “laying a trick” (both referring to doing a

    hoodoo spell) or for doing a ritual.  Unlike similar systems such as Santeria, vodou, or the

    Pagan religious systems, hoodoo “doctors”, “men”, or “ladies” do not use magickal tools and rarely are Catholic, nor do they call on deities in their work, for hoodoo is not a religion, even though practitioners often have an altar for incense and candles.[2]

       Most practitioners are Baptist or Protestant.  They recite one or more of the Psalms while making a spell, and may be likely to call on certain archangels such as Michael (for protection), Gabriel (for wisdom), or Raphael (for healing, though the latter is rarely used).  Hoodoo and rootwork draw upon the inherent powers of the plants and roots employed for specific purposes; outside forces seldom enter into the work.  Christian symbols and spirits rather than African ones are used.[3] And since these systems are not a religion in and of themselves initiation of any sort is not necessary.

       If one’s home—or a client’s—needs to be cleared of negative entities or spirits, hoodoo men or ladies will usually use the traditional fix of tar water to accomplish the task. Often, however, this is not doable or desirable. Tar water is a mix of asphaltum and water; it is not pleasant to the nose and most clients would likely object to the odor.  The most recommended herbal alternative is sage, and the next popular is camphor.  Suggested mixtures are an incense if frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, and copal.  Another is ammonia, camphor, and eucalyptus.  Some hoodoo practitioners recommend incorporating asafoetida into one’s incense as an empowering agent if the spirit(s) are strong.[4]  My own recommendation is to add a crumbled bay leaf or two, rather than asafoetida.  It doesn’t smell quite as bad but it really gets the job done for driving out negative entities.

       The basic method a hoodoo manor lady would use is to open the windows of the home

    and then burn the incense in the affected room, verbally driving out the spirit(s) by reciting Psalms 23  and/or cussing at the entity (which is a form of cursing and so drives out the spirit).  The archangel Michael might be called upon to help, as well as calling on him to protect the home once the cleansing has been accomplished.  One hoodoo man uses angelica root when working with Michael.  Another worker recommends: if the entity refuses to leave, find the object to which the entity is attached, remove it from the home, and then destroy it.  A hoodoo lady advises planting Devil’s Lye at each corner of the house while facing outward and reciting the Psalms.[5]  This last suggestion would be best done after doing the cleansing on the interior, in order to prevent any negative spirits from returning.

       On the other hand Strega, or Sicilian witchcraft, has a darker connotation in general.  Sicilians use a clarifier with the word, such as “strega bella” or “strega maga” which seems to be a way of indicating the type.  As the Rev. Vinnie Russo put it,” [It’s] as if the word (on its own) was simply an indicator of a practitioner of magic (folk or cultural but not ceremonial).”[6]

    He makes the distinction between stregheria—the religious and magickal side of Italian witchcraft, or priest-craft—and stregoneria as magic-craft or Italian witchcraft as a system of magickal practice without the inclusion of the religious.  Stregoneria is what Italian witches do when they make a potion to sell to a client.  Russo indicates that stregoneria shares the same trait as hoodoo in that both are “structured with a very heavy gloss of Christianity.”  He feels that this Christian approach to magick and the

    supernatural makes it easier for practitioners of both systems to help clients who come to

    them since the clients are also likely to be Christian.  It gives each person a common, recognizable base from which to work and resolve a problem.[7]

       The stregone approach to cleansing and protecting one’s home and person are very similar to hoodoo but differ in an important aspect: it can be done by the client without requiring the intervention of the stregone practitioner.  The client simply burns purifying incense and calls upon Divine Light to fill the room or house in order to rid it of negative energy.  This method allows for the client’s personal beliefs to come into play rather than interjecting the practitioner’s own system into the cleansing process.[8]

       Italian pagan belief includes the folletti, or fairies, which can be quite mischievous. They tend to break things due to their dislike for technology so Italians, even Catholic ones, will create and maintain relationships with their gadgets since this is the best way to prevent the folletti from going on a rampage.  However, these fey folk are helpful for a different sort of task than cleansing, if one knows how to obtain it and needs to enlist it: they will find lost items.   The ritualized process is the same as the one used with St. Anthony.  Stand in the room where you last knew the item to be, then look around and as you do so say out loud nine times, “Where is my ~lost item~.”  Then go out of the room and ask the folletti (out loud) to find the item and show you where it is.[9] I advise showing appreciation, after you regain the item, by putting a spoonful of honey on a small ceramic plate and leave it out in your garden or under a tree.  Fairies love sweets and it certainly will help establish a good working relationship with them by providing their favorite treat.


    [1] Catherine Yronwode, Hoodoo in Theory and Practice, http://www.luckymojoshop.com/blog.  Retrieved Dec. 6, 2013.

    2 Ibid.

    3 http://www.facebook.com/groups/AmericanHoodooandConjure.  Retrieved Dec. 4, 2013.

    4 Ibid.

    5 Ibid.

    6 http://www.stregonerablogspot.com, Rev. Vincent Russo, Strega in Sicily.  Retrieved Nov. 26, 2013.

    7 Ibid.

    8 Ibid, cleansing/protection spellwork, © 2008 Rev. Vincent Russo.  Used with permission.

    9  http://www.ladywinterwolf.fcpages.come/strega.html.  Retrieved Dec. 5, 2013.

    10 http://www.webnik.com/coven/strega/magick.html.  Retrieved Dec. 5, 2013.





       Lady Eva Michenet is a High Priestess of the Old Craft.  She lives in Colorado with

    some houseplants and a cat.  Besides writing she likes reading, hiking, and making

     things.  She hosts a local pagan-themed radio program two times a month.


    [1] Catherine Yronwode, Hoodoo in Theory and Practice, http://www.luckymojoshop.com/blog.  Retrieved Dec. 6, 2013.

    [2] Ibid.

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Ibid.

    [6] http://www.stregonerablogspot.com, Rev. Vincent Russo, Strega in Sicily.  Retrieved Nov. 26, 2013.

    [7] Ibid.

    [8] Ibid, cleansing/protection spellwork, © 2008 Rev. Vincent Russo.  Used with permission

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