Give me a Hell to the Yeah! y’all! because after every setback imaginable, the premiere issue is on the way. We will have them by the 15th and shipped to you as soon as we get them.
Indeed, a new day is rising…
There was a time when a journal about the subject of hoodoo and conjure could not have been published. Not because there was any law against it, but because the social climate regarding African derived traditions and indigenous religions and spiritual practices was not the subject of mainstream media outside of fantastic stories about voodoo dolls and ritual murders. That attitude still prevails today, evidenced by the recent so-called Voodoo Sex Fire, described elsewhere as “Woman dies after candle knocked over in voodoo sex ritual”. The media just can’t get enough of sensationalizing events linked to Voodoo and hoodoo that have nothing to do with Voodoo and hoodoo in reality. They persist in the negative stereotyping and insist on perpetuating false information. In my news feed today alone, there were references to “voodoo economics” (yawn…can’t we come up with a better descriptor? really it is so old), ” this is not voodoo accounting” (describing the antithesis of a simple mathematical formula to boost return on investments), “legal voodoo” (describing Amazon.com’s sales tax fight), “Voodoo House Mystery” (what the hell is that?), “The Dummies Guide to Zombies” (here we go again), “Voodoo Viral Marketing System ( not at all exploitative), and others too ridiculous to mention. One link that may have had some actual relevance about the psychological healing of Haitians published by Psychiatric News was a dead link. Damn. It’s another day in the news of the world related to hoodoo, Voodoo, and conjure – NOTHING.
Sure, the headlines get traffic, and it even sells products (when its convenient). But for folks who want to read about folk magic and Spiritualism, hoodoo and conjure, and a practitioner’s view of New Orleans Voodoo (not the tourist-kind – and there is a big difference), they have to go to blogs and books. And the information is scanty at best, about real New Orleans Voodoo, and authentic southern hoodoo as viewed by people who live it and breathe it. There are a couple of authors who are from Louisiana and are practitioners who have authored books, like Ray Malbrough’s Hoodoo Mysteries: Folk Magic, Mysticism & Rituals which has gotten mostly poor reviews, and Luisah Teish’s Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals, which has gotten mostly good reviews, and my own books which have gotten mostly good reviews and some fair criticisms and a couple of ridiculous criticisms, but I digress. The information just isn’t out there much, and the understanding of New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo is sorely lacking.
For example, New Orleans is a place where multiple converged and so the influences on its religions and spiritual practices reflect that convergence of cultures. New Orleans Voodoo, which has been for years referred to as Voodoo Hoodoo, is as unique as the city in which it is derived. It is not the same as Haitian Vodou, though there are elements of Haitian Vodou found in New Orleans Voodoo. For many practitioners, New Orleans Voodoo does include hoodoo, so you will find people that do rootwork also serve the loas and orishas (yes, both may be present in New Orleans Voodoo, as are Catholic saints). There are African influences, and so those same people who serve the loas may well also serve the orishas. In fact, the major Spirit of New Orleans Voodoo, Li Grande Zombi (aka Damballah Wedo), is a direct holdover from the African religion. And alongside the snake (Li Grande Zombi), could be Black Hawk and Annie Christmas, the female version of Ogun in New Orleans Voodoo religion. Most of the criticisms about the unique aspects of New Orleans Voodoo hoodoo comes from outsiders, people who were not born and raised there, who maybe took a class or two and read a few books, and all of a sudden are experts with the gall to attempt to correct those of us who were born and raised in the culture and traditions. Really, I’m tired of it.
The thing is, there are many differences in the way individual practitioners do rootwork and how they practice the religion of New Orleans Voodoo. There are guidelines of course; Joe Feray doesn’t get offered pink champagne or seaweed. Likewise, la Sirene doesn’t like iron and tools. But, Papa Legba is the first to be invoked in a ritual, though when going to the crossroads, it may be Exu that is petitioned. Exu is a Spirit that comes from Brazilian traditions of Umbanda and Candomble, but he ended up in the New Orleans Voodoo pantheon. There’s even San Simon in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual temple, sharing sacred space with Papa Guede, Li Grand Zombi, and Chango, the orisha.
As with many religions, spiritual and magickal traditions, Voodoo and hoodoo in Louisiana is fluid and adaptable. It had to be. When all of the slaves and Native Americans were forced together, joined by European indentured servants, and forced into Catholicism, it resulted in aspects of each of those cultures (of which there are many cultures within those groups) to be absorbed into the religion.
That doesn’t mean all New Orleans Voodooists work with Black Hawk and Annie Christmas. It just means that each of these spirits are present as a result of the convergence of the cultures. When Voodoo was forced to go underground in the mid 1800s, there was a natural rise in individual practitioners as opposed to community ceremonies. This accounts for much of the variance in style of worship and magicospiritual traditions between practitioners.
New Orleans Voodoo and hoodoo are still evolving. The publication of Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly intends to reflect this evolution. We also keep to the roots, however. We have struck a delicate balance in content and contributors. Most are practitioners of a related tradition, some of us are also scholars and attempt to provide factual and historical information, while at the same time, we provide the ever sought after magickal tutorials.
We are victorious. We have been to the crossroads and brought back the dawning of a new day with the blessings of the spirits. It is a day where the publication of a journal about hoodoo and conjure is not only possible, it is a reality. Today, we can write about buying cemetery dirt and tell the story of a Baptist Deacon turned Mojo Man. We can discuss what is “real” hoodoo and at the same time present gnostic conjure. We can share secrets of sex magick and talk about how to use dirt dauber nests in conjure. And we can write about the return of psalm magic, share with you a gris gris for protection, and celebrate the conjure artists who are inspired by Spirit. And haunted New Orleans folklore? We’ve got it covered with the legend of the Devil Baby of New Orleans.