Meeting took place on Tuesday 10th November
This meeting was supposed to have taken place in September, but Leithin Cluan was busy with her PHD work, and so it was rescheduled for this month instead. And it was worth the wait. Not only did we get to spend time with our distant sister, but she brought a talk on Hoodoo with her.
Hoodoo is a wonderful mish-mash of ceremony and folk magic coming from the West Indies and America. What made it even more fascinating was that this is a magical system from Black American culture, being a part of their lore, history and even music. So as well as giving us a glimpse of that world, Hoodoo seems to take influences from traditional African folk practice, Native American themes and there are even parallels to British folk magic (the use of poppetts and herbs). Some writers have even gone as so far to claim that some of Hoodoo’s practices were originally Celtic in origin, but Leithin was quick to point out this is debatable at best and Western arrogance at worst. I am paraphrasing, of course.
I’m sure we all took something from the talk, but what really stuck with me was that Hoodoo had similarities to animistic ceremony and Chaos Magic. One of the practices consisted of what was called a ‘Mojo Bag’. The idea being that you carry a bag filled with items (say coins, tokens, roots of certain plants- roots are a big thing in hoodoo) to help you with a particular thing. A spirit is invited to enter the bag and help you, you carry the bag with you wherever you go and keep it fed with alcohol. So, by making a Mojo Bag, you treat it as alive to keep it going. This sort of echoes the personal totems that Native Americans were said to use (any verification on this would be most welcome). And why is it like Chaos Magic? Because Chaos Magicians believe they can draw magic from anywhere, anything and use any image as a focus.
Hoodoo is also great for using any bits from your kitchen, even your own body if necessary (hair, nails, menstrual blood, semen, etc). There is a great reverence for the dead and links to the ancestors. Should grave dirt be used for any working, then payment must be given.
There was a workshoppy bit, inviting us to have a go at making ‘Honey Jars’: Writing our intent and name on paper then keeping it in a small jar of honey or sugar. The spell isn’t activated until the candle on top of the jar is lit over a course of days or nights.
Leithin showed us a few photographs of some Hoodoo candle altars, and they are a thing to behold! Sometimes there are many different candles lit for many different spells at any one time.
One thing I will echo Leithin on is if you want to really learn about Hoodoo, go and contact a Black Southern State practitioner, because it’s from their culture and background; you will find things that our Western White perspectives will not fully understand.
This was also the very first meeting we met our Newcomer, and I hope he joins us again in future.
Photo by Murphy Hunter.