This is the continuation of a very insightful and educational interview with Stephanie Rose Bird on her new book Sticks, Stones, Roots, and Bones. In this section, She talks about the differences between Hoodoo and Voodoo. Be sure to check back for Parts I, III, and IV!
4. Sometimes you see the words Hoodoo and Voodoo used interchangeably. Are they indeed one in the same?
No. Voodoo is derived from the word Vodoun, a well-developed belief system that began in West Africa and evolved in the New World, particularly strongly in Haiti and in New Orleans. There are priests of Vodoun and an in-depth ordination process. There are also deities lending it a religious tone that doesn’t exist in Hoodoo. There are commonalities between Vodoun and Hoodoo yet they are not one in the same. Just like Hoodoo is not Santeria, Obeah, or Candomble although there are certainly some crossovers.
5. So, are you saying Hoodoo is not a religion?
Absolutely not! Hoodoo is practiced by an eclectic group of people. In the past most of the practitioners were involved with the Protestant church as Baptist’s, Methodists and Pentecostals, while a few were African Moslems. Today, Hoodoo continues to attract an eclectic group of people regardless of their religious affiliations. There are Hoodoos who lean toward African traditional faiths like Ifa of the Yoruba people like myself; Khametian practices of the ancient Egyptians, Wiccans, Witches, Pagans, Shaman and many others.
6. You say you are trying to lead people to understand modern or contemporary applications of Hoodoo. What does that mean?
In the past many more Americans were rural people than there are today. Hunting, fishing and farming were prevalent activities. Today, we need to be mindful of natural resources, particularly regarding the use of roots of endangered or fragile plants that were once plentiful and popular in Hoodoo. Since fewer people actually hunt animals that are thought of as magical, like raccoons and alligators for example, I offer alternatives to using animal parts in Hoodoo practices. I do this because I believe in the rights of animals and I would not like to see them farmed or harmed just to provide Hoodoo practitioners with magical amulets. As our population continues to grow and expand I think it is very important to be mindful of plants, animals and the environment as we make magic and conduct ceremonies. I offer healthful alternatives for incense burning because some of the traditional ways challenge the lungs. I discuss ways of conserving resources. In addition, within Hoodoo there is an important foundation of aromatherapy, (using natural scents to produce healing or magickal results) which I call attention to. As a practicing aromatherapist with my own line of aromatherapeutic products I include a great deal of hands-on recipes for combining modern techniques with traditional Hoodoo. Moreover, Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones , looks towards the future not just towards the past like the traditional Hoodoo books. I believe every tradition needs to evolve, grow and if necessary change with the times to survive. You won’t find any recipes for boiling black cats for example, in Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones !
Check back next week for the continuation of this insightful interview!