Discovering – Hoodoo & Voodoo

Hoodoo and voodoo are often used interchangeably thanks to modern media.  Both have a rich history and heavy cultural influence in Haiti and in the southern U.S., primarily Louisiana.
Both have their roots in West Africa, but there is a distinct line between the two.  Hoodoo is a spiritual and magickal system.  Voodoo (Vodou or Vodoun) is a religion.
Discovering Hoodoo and Voodoo

Hoodoo:

Most practitioners of hoodoo are actually of Protestant faith. After the forced conversion of slaves into the United States, many held onto their spiritual practices but utilized the Christian Bible and Psalms as part of their workings.
The practice has evolved to include Jewish, German, Santeria, and other religions as practitioners migrated further north after the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is much like witchcraft in that its practices can be layered within almost any religious or spiritual faith.
It encompasses many tools and practices – divination, spell-casting, and specific traditions that have been passed down from person to person. Because of its ability to be utilized with varying paths, its practices can vary from person to person.

Voodoo [Vodou/Voudon]:

In her 1996 publication, Dr. Leslie Desmangles, a Haitian professor at Hartford Trinity College wrote this regarding the practice of voudon:

It refers to “a whole assortment of cultural elements: personal creeds and practices, including an elaborate system of folk medical practices; a system of ethics transmitted across generations [including] proverbs, stories, songs, and folklore… voudon is more than belief; it is a way of life.”

She specifically references the Haitian voudon path, but it is also applicable to Louisiana vodou. The paths originate from West Africa, with modern day Benin considered its most likely origin. However it’s evolution stems from the inhumane slave trade practiced from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Upon arrival in Haiti, slaves were forced to convert to Christianity by law.  While many converted as a means of survival, they held onto their culture’s practices and beliefs.  These were their connection back to their culture and ancestors in a time when they faced unimaginable suffering.
Through generations of conversion to Christianity, families passed down beliefs and practices that melded the two closer together. Iwas, spirits, were identified with their Catholic counterparts.
Haitian voudon still maintains that Bondye, “The Good God” is the creator god.  Iwas function as guides to direct the needs of day to day life.  Both are respected and considered sacred, but ritual and ceremonies call to the associated Iwa for their assistance.  Louisiana vodou has taken on slightly more Catholic influence, with its creator god being the Christian God. Saints are called for assistance within sacred ritual more often than the traditional Iwa.
It should be noted that voudon gave hope to the slaves suffering in Haiti.  It was through voudon that they found the inspiration and strength to rise and revolt against the French colonists that sought to keep them enslaved.  It is through this uprising that voudon was brought to the Americas when the French fled. Voudon has remained a powerful influence in Haiti as the people reclaim their communities. They still struggle to overcome the damage created by the slave trade and racist perspectives held against them.
Vodou in Louisiana would not be as influential for quite some time, until the rise of voodoo queens, most noteably Marie Laveau. Voodoo queens held much political influence in their neighborhoods. Politicians, lawyers, businessmen and other influential men often sought the guidance of these women in their decision making. The rise in power of these women was remarkable as they lived in communities that upheld oppressive practices and a strong separation of freedom between the white and black population. Even today, Marie Laveau is considered the Voodoo Queen of the south.
Being that I am from the south, I honestly thought that I would have been taught or… been at least a little more knowledgeable on this subject.  Yet, I know that my extended family has likely never had a legitimate interaction with someone that practices these paths.  It baffles me that we can be so closed off to a practice that could be happening literally right next door. There is so much misunderstanding perpetuated by the media in regards to Voodoo, Hoodoo, and Santeria.  It breeds a culture of fear regarding anything “other.”
I believe it is our duty as we seek education to calm this fear.  To take the opportunity to educate those around us, even if they have no interest in witchcraft or spiritual paths.  It is only in this way that we can begin to destigmatize these paths and create closer bonds within our communities.
Check out the full recommended reading list here
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Spiritual & Religious Paths

There are larger religious paths that I see floating through the witchi-sphere that always catch my eye.  This is likely because these paths are often taught as if they are dead in schools. I have always been fascinated by non-Christian religions because Christianity is what is what (because who are we kidding…) US culture is based on.  Our laws, morals and ethics, behavior, everything was shaped through a Christian perspective.
Spiritual and Religious Paths
Old world religions are taught as nothing but history, that their gods and practices have entirely died out.  That any practice devoted to them is long gone
Who wants to guess how tired I am of this perspective? To combat this, below are some of the most common I see mentioned in pagan circles.
Kemeticism
Modern revival of the Ancient Egyptian religion. The worship of Egyptian gods can have many different traditions from modern/eclectic to traditional.  Eclectic worshippers often try to connect with their gods through more modern means with technology or supplies available to them.  Traditionalists often try to practice ritual worship as closely to the ancient tradition as possible. This can be seen in any religion that includes god/goddess worship.
Hellenism
Encompasses the worship of the Greek pantheon, primarily the Twelve Olympians.
Old Norse
The worship of traditional religious practices from the pre-Christian era, primarily from Scandinavia/Germanic peoples .  It is a folk religion most associated with the Vikings.
Voodoo
Afro-American folk religion stemming from the slave population brought to Haiti and North Americas after undergoing forced conversion to Christianity.  Learn more about this religious practice here.
Santeria [or Lucumi]
Afro-American religion developed from the Caribbean peoples folk religion after occupation of the Spanish Empire.  Also associated with Voodoo, due to the origin of the West African peoples brought to the Caribbean islands. Learn more about this religious practice here.
Christian witch
There is often much conflict surrounding the blending of Christian faith with witchcraft.  Not only internal conflict for a person choosing to do so, but also throughout the external witchcraft community. Witchcraft has been labeled as a sin, and yet many resonate with the true teachings of love and forgiveness of Christianity.  It is an interesting dilemma that I am not quite prepared to dive into fully.
If you have thoughts, questions, or new discoveries on any of the religious/spiritual paths mentions, please leave them below in the comment section!  I would love to be able to come back to this and add more detail and perspective on each.
Check out the full recommended reading list here!
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Keep an eye on our shop – new product and updates to come!
Join the Magickal Mavens facebook group!  It’s full of amazingly supportive practitioners that get it. Each week, I provide a live stream of the tarot forecast (and sometimes free short readings) and you’ll get access to special discount codes, promo teasers and future giveaways!
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Defining Practice & Craftwork

There are numerous paths in which you can focus your practice. It all depends on what speaks to you and makes you feel most connected to your power. Of course, you are not required to identify with any one in particular.  Labeling things is a human reaction to making sense of a world that we still don’t understand. Which explains why we check boxes our entire lives even if we don’t really fit within them just right.
Defining Practice and Craftwork

Below are the most common paths I’ve come across:

Solitary – a witch who practices alone.  This one often annoys me when I see it.  So many of us practice alone and it tells you about as much about a person’s path as just saying “I’m a witch.”
Green or Earth Magick – often utilizes herbalism and nature-based practices.  They have also been known to incorporate fae or nature spirits into their work.
Ceremonial/High magick – practices are highly ritualistic and formalized, often pulled from historical grimoires that have been discovered.
Hedge witchcraft – refers to “crossing the hedge” or “crossing the veil”.  Hedge witches work closely with spirits and often utilize herbs to alter their state of conscious to assist with crossings.
Left-hand path – traditionally associated with black magick, but this term is often rejected by those within pagan circles.  There is nothing inherently evil or bad about this path, it simply utilizes different energy and workings to achieve the intended goal. Many who work this path are seeking spiritual freedom and often employ workings seen as “taboo”, ie sex magick or Santanic imagery.
White magick – left-hand path’s counterpart, this path focuses specifically on a moral code and belief in some form of judgement.  That may be karma, the Threefold Law, or some other retribution for certain actions taken within one’s life.
Eclectic witch – Also a vague label, haha, but also once that I tend to use as I have no idea what I’m doing other than pulling inspiration from various books and resources that have resonated with me.  Which is exactly what this is referencing.
Kitchen witch – also referred to as a cottage witch, this practice infuses magick into everyday, mundane tasks. Meals are made with intention and are often focused on fostering love, protection, and healing for others. Cleaning is also a part of spiritual cleansing and building protection for the home.
Hereditary witch – Practices, traditions and familial folklore ae carried on through the generations.
Elemental witch – practice and ritual is fueled by the strength of the elements.  These witches are also connected to their many forms

Others I’ve seen in passing:

Chaos magick – 
Chaos magick is… weird? So of course I dove on in to try to make sense of it.  Learn more about it here, because a little blurb just won’t do it justice.
Alchemy
At its core, alchemy is the practice of adding value to an unrefined material. It is the basis of most scientific discoveries in chemistry and medicine. For example, practices such as ore refining, development of inks and dyes, and glass working were discovered through alchemic processes of attempting to transform their base components. Today, many at home herbal medicines are created through alchemical practices, which when properly layered with witchcraft can produce a powerful remedy.
Theoretical physics is a great example of the metaphysical implications of alchemy.  It seeks to solve a problem with formula, even if completely untestable due to current technology.
Appalachian or Granny magick – 
Often considered as part of hereditary magick, Granny magick is an old practiced traced back to the original settlers of the Appalachian mountains. These settlers were primarily Scottish and Irish immigrants who crossed over in the 1700’s.  They brought with them their cultural practices and were eventually blended with some traditions from surrounding Cherokee tribes. You can read more about the history and practices of this path here.
Tantric/Sex magick
Often controversial, sex magick is often viewed as part of the left-hand path.  However, as the modern feminist/witchcraft community grows, so does our claim back to the power of our sexuality and how we wield it. Interestingly, in traditional Wiccan practices, sex during ritual was very common.

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What path do you feel most drawn to?  Or are you called into another direction entirely!?  Is there a craft type you would love to add to your practice?  Tell me below in the comment section!
Check out the full recommended reading list here
 

Discovering Path & Practice

Humans like to categorize things. We like to check off boxes, fit things together in our attempt to make sense of the world. We break things down in an attempt to provide context in every aspect of our lives.  Ambiguity is not our friend. Ambiguity causes chaos.
Even our craft and spirituality have been broken down to help ease this ‘box-checking’ obsession of ours.
Discovering Path & Practice
Why can’t we just be?  Younger generations are tired of ticking boxes that no longer serve a clear purpose. We may be data-driven, but we’ve grown tired of those data points being this or that. One or Two. Male or Female. Blue or Red
A lot of assumptions are made because of this habit.
So, this month I’m going to try to tackle some spiritual and religious paths and craftwork types. You can find literally a million and one books on Wicca. So, I won’t waste my time, haha. If you want to know more about Wicca, I highly suggest you pick up Raymond Buckland’s big blue book.  It has everything you need to begin pursuing a Wiccan practice.
There a few very important things I want to say before you dive in.

  1. I am not part of any of the following cultures that I researched, nor do I practice any of the religious paths mentioned.  I have tried my hardest to represent them in a respectful, supportive way but there is always the chance the my own bias or misunderstanding of these cultures has snuck in.  If you do see something and feel it needs my attention, please do not hesitate to let me know.
  2. Closed cultures & closed practices. There is a lot of discussion happening concerning racism and cultural appropriation – spiritual practices are not exempt from these conversations. It is imperative that as practitioners seeking information and education that we recognize our privilege in studying these practices. Many paths reflect the suffering and pain of the people that they developed from.  Being expressly invited to practice a closed faith is one thing, taking it on simply because it calls to you is another.

So what are we going to be breaking down?  Let’s start with some of the most common we see within the United States – Hoodoo, Voodoo and Santeria.  I am on the hunt to expand this, but this seemed a fitting place to begin.
Spiritual and Religious Paths
Hoodoo and Voodoo
Santeria
Defining Practice and Craftwork
 
There is only one type of craftwork I’ve come across that seems to throw all caution to the wind and focus more on just “doing”, rather than fitting into a specific box. Chaos magick is intriguing.
Chaos Magick

Recommended Reading
 
 

Recommended Reading

Below is a compilation of books, documents, and other resources I’ve come across during research for Making a Maven. This is really more a personal list for me to come back too later, but I thought I would share it with all of you as well! I’ve split things up by MaM monthly topics, but it’s entirely possible some of these works may overlap. Happy reading witches!
Recommended Reading
 

History & Influence of Witchcraft

The Wild Hunt – Modern Pagan News & Commentary
People of Wicca
The Well-Read WitchCarl McColma
The Witch’s Hammer, full translation
Papal Bull of Pope Innocent VIII
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, Barbara Ehrenreich
Witches & Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700-1100  (Secret History of Witches), Max Dashu
Power in the Name: The Origin and Meaning of the Word “Witch
Bone, Eleanor     Brief biography
Buckland, Raymond     Brief biography   2016 Interview with The Wild Hunt     Buckland’s Youtube Channel
Clutterbuck, Dorothy     Brief biography
Crowley, Aleister     Wickedest Man in the World, (free BBC documentary)     Ordo Templi Orientis US Grand Lodge     Breakdown of Crowley’s developed religion Thelema 
Hermeticism
Crowther, Patricia     Brief biography
Article featured in Sheffield Star (30th October 1965)
Article regarding the The Eyes of the Witch Goddess, Prediction (June 1966)
Recording of Crowther singing Lord of the Dance
Gardner, Gerald
Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival, Philip Heselton
Gerald Gardner and The Cauldron of Inspiration, Philip Heselton
Online Compilation Resource for Gerald Gardner
Opinion blog piece *warning, writer is not a fan of the man
Leek, Sybil      BBC brief biography (includes names of other prominent witches)
Part 1 of three part interview, parts 2 & 3 in auto-playlist
Leland, Charles     Brief Biography
Aradia, or the Gospel of Witches, Charles Leland
Weaving Ourselves into the Land: Charles Godfrey Leland, “Indians” and the Study of Native American Religions, Parkhill Thomas (1997)
Sanders, Alex & Maxine     Brief Biography
Alexandrian Wicca
Article with Alex Sanders with The Men Only

Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, Maxine Sanders

Valiente, Doreen      Brief biography, with links to her published works
Interviews with EarthSpirit, 1991
Doreen Valiente Youtube Channel (operated by the Doreen Valiente Foundation)
Wilson, Monique     Brief biography     Monique Wilson and the Gardner Estate, Morgan Davis
Woodford-Grimes, Edith     Brief biography

 

Path & Practice

Witchcraftsy Podcast, Episode 11: Craft of Conjure
Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure, by Catherine Yronwode
The Conjure Workbook Volume 1: Working the Root, by Starr Casas 
Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou by Los Angeles Fowler Museum of Cultural history University of California (Author),‎ Donald J. Cosentino (Editor)
Association of Independent Readers & Rootworkers – Hoodoo
Voodoo vs. Vodou
Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art & Philosphy by Robert Farris Thompson
Four New Worlds Yoruba Rituals by John Mason
Finding Soul on the Path of Orisa: A West African Spiritual Tradition Kindle Edition by Tobe Melora Correal
Appalachian/Granny magick
Top 5 Facts about Chaos Magick – video
Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magick by Peter Carroll

Holidays & Altars

Raymond Buckland’s Big Blue Book
Wheel of the Year overview
Samhain Rituals and Ceremonies
Pagan Rituals for Yule
Imbolc Rituals and Ceremonies
Ostara Rites and Rituals
Beltane Rites and Rituals
Litha Customs, Traditions, and Folklore
Lammas Rites and Rituals
All About Mabon: The Autumn Equinox
 
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Also, please feel free to drop more suggestions in the comment section!  I cannot wait to see what you discover.