Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Review: Pagan Portals- Hoodoo

Pagan Portals-Hoodoo

(link to amazon)

I have had the great pleasure of knowing a friend who works within the Conjure umbrella, and even before he shared what he does with me, I have found Hoodoo fascinating. I think there is a lot of confusion between Hoodoo, Voodoo, Conjure and other practices with roots in Africa.

This book primarily focuses on Hoodoo: the folk magic tradition that grew in the Mississipi area but is rooted in practices brought over from Africa and combined with local faith and traditions. Often, Hoodoo is used by people who practice a religion based in similar areas, but the practice of Hoodoo itself is one of magic and not faith.

While there are many practices that are going to be familiar to magical practitioners such as candle magic and incense blending, there are others that many might not know about. Some are so misrepresented in popular media, such as the voodoo doll, that the wider usage (making poppets for healing) are completely overlooked. This book examines a wide variety of practices.

One thing I really enjoyed is that the author clearly states that these are her interpretations of the practices. She has taken the common practices, and not only shared more traditional recipes, but her way of doing things, which includes substitutions for things that aren't so common to access. Since my personal path involves a lot of fusion and using what I have on hand (instead of always buying or acquiring specialty ingredients), I found it really great to have practical advice that was immediately useful. I also find that when authors explain how and why they use substitutions, it makes it easier for me, as a reader, to learn how to make my own substitutions in ways that work.

Also included in the book is a selection of deities that share roots with Hoodoo. I was at least passingly familiar with a lot of them, thanks to my own friends who work with many of these same deities and their generous sharing of their experiences with me, but some were completely new to me. If this is an area that you are interested in, there are good descriptions to get you started and so that you can decide which deities you might be interested in learning more about.

I have always found the terminology of Hoodoo to be very poetic. I love that workings are referred to as laying tricks. There are wonderful names for different things, like hot foot powder (to burn the feet of those who cross it), four thieves vinegar (to protect, as legend says it protected the thieves from the plague) and Honey jars (to sweeten people toward you). The imagery behind crossing (jinxing) and uncrossing (removing a jinx) works very well in my mind.

I also found the sections on foot track magic to be wonderful. I have always loved the idea of using footprints in magic, and laying magic across a place for someone to walk over is a great tool to have in one's toolbox. There are so many ways to use the information given in this book!

Feeding is something that is very necessary in a lot of practices related to Hoodoo. It is not something that I see used a lot in other practices, or at least not given as much importance. I have always wondered why, because to me, it makes a lot of sense. If you are doing any kind of long term workings, then there needs to be energy put into them in order for them to keep putting out energy. There are a lot of methods for 'feeding' workings, and this book covers a large variety of them, including recipes for powders or liquids used to feed mojo bags, jar spells and other ongoing tricks.

I definitely enjoyed this book. It lived up to it's purpose, I felt it was a great introduction to the topic of Hoodoo. I think it explained the basics in a way that was easy to understand and made a lot of techniques available to the reader. It also gave a lot of information to point you in the right direction if you decide you want to study the subject further. I think this is a really ideal book for anyone seeking to expand their current practice with Hoodoo techniques as it embraces the idea of fusion.

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