The Hoodoo Altar

Before you begin any hoodoo work, you will need a place to do your rituals. This means you will need a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and a surface such as a table, box, chest, or even a large flat stone. Some people set aside a portion of the floor to use as an altar, or they use a dresser top, with ritual supplies stored underneath. You will need basic items and some extra items to personalize your altar.

Cover your altar with a white cloth, and place two white candles at the back on either end. Figures or pictures of saints or other religious images should be placed at the back, between the two white candles. Place your incense burner in front of the image and in the middle of the altar, and to the right of that keep some holy water or a bowl of water that you have blessed. These are the basics of the hoodoo altar.

You can add fresh-cut flowers, special stones, a dish of salt, and a small dish of graveyard dirt, if you wish. The important thing is to not place anything on your altar that doesn’t belong there. Altars can range from the very basic to the extremely elaborate.

Your altar and everything on it should be blessed or consecrated. Your candles should be blessed and dressed. All of the bowls and other containers should be washed with salt water, conjure water, Florida water, or Holy water.

As you become familiar with working with the various spirits, you will learn how to set up altars for each spirit or family of spirits. For individual magickal works, however, the altar will be as individual as the work is itself.

Source: The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook

Poppet (Voodoo Doll)

As portrayed in modern media, the idea of a Voodoo doll is simply a doll or a figurine representing a person in one’s life. It is then created by using personal objects with attachments to said person (for example, hair) and then using the doll to enact all kinds of spiritual acts. The most popular acts that people associate with Voodoo dolls are that of vengeance and mayhem.

In western media, it’s often shown that people with hate towards another person create the doll to hurt and curse people instead of what the dolls are initially intended for. Once a staple of West African traditionalism and Haitian beliefs, it is now reduced to nothing more than a tourist novelty. Voodoo Dolls have a terrible reputation. It is always depicted in popular media as a small, stitched-up doll that you imbue with your enemy’s essence. It then uses a needle prick, causing pain and inconvenience. And while it’s not unheard of that the dolls are used for curses, it’s doubtful that they are commonly used for this purpose.

The process of making the dolls has nothing to do with stitches and stuffing. Instead, the dolls are customarily made from sticks, straws, or any personal and organic material of the people that you’d like represented in the image of the figurine. As with West African spirituality, they are physical representations of the spiritual realm around people. Taking place on altars and surrounded by objects of interest. These physical conduits to family, friends, and loved ones are there to bring connection with that of the Lwa and to leave prayers and petitions of goodwill unto those that people are close to.

Source: Marie Laveau: Life of a Voodoo Queen. Monique Joiner Siedlak

Voodoo Hoodoo in New Orleans

The term Voodoo hoodoo is commonly used by Louisiana locals to describe our unique brand of New Orleans Creole Voodoo. It refers to a blending of religious and magickal elements. Voodoo is widely believed by those outside of the New Orleans Voodoo tradition to be separate from hoodoo magick. However, the separation of religion from magick did not occur in New Orleans as it did in other areas of the country. The magick is part of the religion; the charms are medicine and spiritual tools that hold the inherent healing mechanisms of the traditional religion and culture. Voodoo in New Orleans is a way of life for those who believe.

Still, there are those who separate Voodoo and hoodoo. Some hoodoo practitioners integrate elements of Voodoo, and some do not. Some incorporate elements of Catholicism or other Christian religious thought into their practice, while others do not. How much of the original religion a person decides to believe in and practice is left up to the individual. Some people don’t consider what they do religion at all, preferring to call it a spiritual tradition or African American folk magic. The term Voodoo hoodoo is in reference to the blend of the two aspects of the original religion as found in New Orleans Voodoo and as a way of life. A fellow New Orleans native and contemporary gris gris man Dr. John explains it this way:

In New Orleans, in religion, as in food or race or music, you can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other—Catholic saint worship with gris gris spirits, evangelical tent meetings with spiritual church ceremonies—until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one fonky gumbo. That is why it is important to understand that in New Orleans the idea of Voodoo—or as we call it gris gris—is less a distinct religion than a way of life.

~ Dr. John

Source: The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook

Hares As Familiars

According to “The Country Justice”, that was responsible for the legal aspect of witchcraft prosecutions in the New England colonies, owning a hare could be seen as a witch mark for hares were considered magical familiars.*

* Based upon European folklore of the medieval and early modern periods, familiars (sometimes referred to as familiar spirits) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.

Faerie Flowers

Specific flowers, such as buddleia, attract butterflies and fairies alike. Wild flowers that are bell-shaped, such as foxgloves and bluebells, work in much the same way. Planting certain flowers will encourage fairies to come in their droves and bring an extra sparkle of magic to your back yard:

  • Bluebell: The indigo hue attracts fairies. They love to dance on bluebell-carpeted woodland.
  • Buttercup: The golden cup brings confidence and awareness of your own abilities.
  • Clover: Three- or four-leaved clover can be carried as a protective charm.
  • Cowslip: Thought to be a portal into the fairy dimension.
  • Daffodil: This yellow trumpet ushers in the spring and brings clarity and new beginnings.
  • Daisy: Holds both the strong male energy of the sun and the soft feminine energy of the moon.
  • Heather: Perfect for fairies to feed from.
  • Honeysuckle: Its potent fragrance evokes old memories and buried feelings.
  • Lavender: Its therapeutic fragrance soothes, cleanses and calms and induces sleep.
  • Marigold: Connected to the warmth of the sun, it has magical potency at noon.
  • Poppy: Bringer of dreams and visions, inspiration and creativity – when used carefully.
  • Primrose: Portal to the fairy realm. Protects the household from harm.
  • Rose: Bringer of love, healer of the heart and feminine energy.
  • Snapdragon: Repels negativity and reveals hidden truths.
  • Tulip: Shaped like a chalice, this ‘cup of love’ assists with feeling the blessings of nature.”

Sources: Connecting with the Fairies Made Easy

Heka & Akhu: Ancient Egyptian Magic

Heka (magic) was already at the heart of Egyptian beliefs by 4000 BCE. Creator deities such as Nu (the watery abyss) were said to have used heka to bring the world into existence from primordial chaos. In doing so, they subdued the forces of chaos, but the forces constantly sought to return and could only be stopped by heka. For the ancient Egyptians, it was not just the gods that handled magic. Lesser supernatural beings, pharaohs, and the dead were thought to possess an element of heka, which they could channel through the use of spells to deflect the attention of malevolent spirits.

The ancient Egyptians also believed in another form of magic power called akhu, which was malign and closely associated with beings of the underworld. To protect against akhu magical practitioners such as priests, scribes in the “Houses of Life”—which held the manuscript collections of Egyptian temples—sunu (doctors), and sau (amulet-makers) employed heka spells, rituals, and magical objects. Indeed, faith in heka was so widespread that ancient Egyptians used it in all aspects of life from matters of state to the delivery of oracles and more mundane village affairs, such as love matches, protection during childbirth, and curing minor illnesses. As well as being an abstract force, there was a god called Heka who personified magic. Heka helped ensure the harmony of the cosmos and acted as a conduit through whom worshippers could seek divine favors. He had a female counterpart, Weret-hekau (Great of Magic), who was depicted in the form of a cobra. It is thought that the snake-headed staffs often used by ancient Egyptian magicians may have represented her.

Sources: A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult