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What is Hoodoo vs Voudoo

by Uneeb Khan

A spiritual religious system developed by enslaved African Americans in the United States and inspired by religious practises from Central and West Africa is hoodoo (not to be confused with Voudou). Herbal medicine, honouring African ancestors, counterclockwise circle dance (Ring Shout), submerging oneself in water, sacred music, spirit possession, divination, and wearing charms for spiritual protection from harm and conjure are some of the rituals involved. During the transatlantic slave trade, many of these religious traditions from Central and West Africa were transported to North America. When they arrived in North America as slaves, Africans were frequently coerced into becoming Christians. Hoodoo was developed among enslaved African Americans as a result of the fusion of African traditions and the Christian faith.

Slave laws prohibited mass gatherings of Black people, whether they were free or slaves, and it was illegal for African Americans to follow African customs. Afro-Christianity, often known as African American Christianity, is a distinctive subset of Christianity that fuses African traditions. As a result, some Hoodoo practises were concealed in African American churches. The Odinani religion of the Igbo people, the Yoruba and Vodun religions of the Fon and Ewe people, and a Bantu-Kongo tradition in Central Africa were all incorporated into the Hoodoo religion during the time of slavery. On slave farms, all these African religious traditions converged with Christianity, establishing a distinctive spiritual tradition that is still followed by former slaves in the United States and their descendants. Many of these African religious customs were preserved in Hoodoo after the Civil War and are still used today in African American communities.

Conjure techniques of both enslaved and free Black people were referred to as “Voudoo” and “conjure,” respectively, during the time of slavery. Former slaves who recorded their hoodoo rituals often referred to them as conjure or Voudoo. Black American occultist Paschal Beverly Randolph used the term “Hoodoo” for African American conjuring for the first time in his book Seership the Magnetic Mirror, which was published in about 1870. Because he visited Africa and researched African religions, Randolph was convinced that the word “Hoodoo” originated from an African dialect. Hoodoo is now also referred to as root work and conjure in the African American culture.

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