Hoo Doo and High Magic

I’m developing a strong interest in Hoodoo, the American folk magic. Some of the things I find interesting about it are

  • It’s about very quotidian, everyday things, like getting and keeping luck, finding money, having physical and emotional relationships. I like that because much of the western magical tradition (typically called “high magic”) is about internal changes that are invisible to the outside world. There’s something appealing about magic that fits so tightly into the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s magic that’s about living life rather than thinking about life.
  • It’s about giving power to the powerless. It was often practiced by those placed, as a result of America’s odd history, in a position of submission and sometimes humiliation to others. It’s got a rebelliousness that appeals to the punk rock fan in me.
  • Despite its apparent difference from the western mystery tradition, it still obeys the same principles: namely, the laws of similarity and contagion. A Golden Dawn magician might use a blue candle because it represents Khesed and therefore wealth and so forth, and a Hoodoo Doctor might use a piece of High John root, but for the same reasons. Both are symbols pointing to uncertain signifieds. How can I not adore that?

What I would like to do is study with an actual practitioner. But they’re a little thin on the ground around here. Although I do recall driving into Chicago, and going to the famous Occult Bookstore there and seeing a big jar marked “Goofer Dust.” It was practically empty with just a thin ring of yellow powder in the bottom. Which makes me wonder, especially since Goofer Dust is used in curses and blasting. Who, in good ol’ Chitown, was buying all that Goofer Dust?


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