The enslaved culture is not as well-documented as it should be, mainly because over 20 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas. They brought with them their religions, beliefs, and traditions. When we talk about West African religions, we must remember that we are talking about Ghana, Botswana, and Sierra Leone.
The genius of the many enslaved people of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana has been long forgotten. History has failed to do justice to them. The enslaved people developed an arcane art amid the terror. It helped ease their burden of living. Hoodoo conjure is what it was called. Other names for the post-slavery era term include tricking and rootwork. Hoodoo mustn’t be confused with Voodoo, a religion that mixes the magical practices of Western African tribes and Christianity. Unlike Orisa, Lucumi, Santeria, and Palo Mayombe, which are practiced in the Caribbean, Hoodoo is unique to America.
There is no need for one to be initiated into Hoodoo. It is not a place of worship or a religious hierarchy. Hoodoo emerged as a cure to survive. Even though the environment was completely different from the continent, enslaved people in the South learned to adapt to it. Took advantage of the magical properties of streams, soils, animals, stones, trees, and plants they came into contact with. The burial ground was left untouched as it was believed to be sacred in Africa. It was weaponized for both good and bad at the plantations. Graveyard dirt was used in the work.
The enslaved people recognized their station by understanding the Bible and rationalized their right to fight against their oppressors. They reversed the spell of subservience by invoking the very Bible the clergy told them to adhere to. Many of the Hoodoo conjurors took advantage of the verses of the Book of Matthew, the Book of Psalms, Leviticus, and the Songs of Solomon for spell work. Hoodoo conjure was born out of unspeakable horror. The conjuror was highly respected at the plantations regardless of their gender. They would cast spells for love, vengeance, and protection. The conjurors even used herbs for healing the sick. Hence, they are referred to as rootworkers. They served as the backbone of most slave rebellions.
The Underground Railroad helped free enslaved people developed by Harriet Tubman, a conjuror. She was a conjure woman who was highly gifted and used her talent to heal folks. In fact, folks in the mid-19th century believed that she possessed supernatural powers. She used to walk around the graveyard at midnight and pray while gathering herbs. Hoodoo conjurers are replete with slave culture. Casas Jack is another conjuror who purchased his freedom and planned a sweeping revolt by using the Old Testament to incite the passions of freemen and runaway enslaved people.
Hoodoo conjure is still practiced in the Deep South, especially in New Orleans. However, it is not easy to find an authentic conjuror. There is a lot of pain and suffering that went into Hoodoo conjure.