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Hoodoo Heritage Month: Conjuring, Culture and Community

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Source: IMAGE COURTESY OF MADAME OMI KONGO / PINTEREST

October is Hoodoo Heritage Month! Hoodoo is an umbrella term to describe Black American conjuring, culture, and community. It is often considered a black spiritual tradition that focuses on nature and ancestral respect.

Hoodoo Heritage Month began in 2019 when Hoodoo and Pre-Elder Mom Street shared an article about African American Spirituality on Facebook and proposed a Hoodoo Heritage Day. The Walking the Dikenga collective extended the idea from one day to one month, and Hoodoo Heritage Month was born. What was originally a weekend event filled with teaching and classes is now a social media and community celebration of all things Hoodoo.

Hess Love, Hoodoo Historian, Archivist, and Environmental Activist says October is the perfect month because it correlates with the thinning of the veil between our physical world and the spiritual world. For them, Hoodoo Heritage Month is “a wonderful month of celebration, exploration, history lessons and connections and also people learning how pragmatic and dynamic this tradition is at the same time”.

If you search for the #HoodooHeritageMonth hashtag on social media, you’re sure to find plenty of resources aimed at educating Black Americans about Hoodoo. The Walking the Dikenga collective has created certain dates to commemorate the great Hoodoo ancestors:

October 2: Nat Turner Day

October 6: Fannie Lou Hamer Day

October 21: Father’s Day

October 23: Our Children’s Day

October 25: Mother’s Day

Third Thursday: Day of John the Conqueror

October 31: Carrefour Day

Mama Rue spoke with MADAMENOIR on the importance of sharing information about these ancestors. For the day of John the Conqueror, she said,

“Whitewashed Hoodoo doesn’t even recognize John the Conqueror so much because he’s been whitewashed to be the type of Spirit that helps men with their manhood, helps men have wives, helps gamers to be lucky, and he is much more than that, and you will learn the truth about this Spirit and what this Spirit means to us and our people.

This whitewashing extended to other Hoodoo spirits such as the Spirit of the Crossroads. While regionally and culturally the Spirit is treated differently, the mainstream media has equated this spirit with a demonic force that grants wishes in exchange for your soul, such as with Robert Johnson. The Crossroads Spirit is actually a spirit that operates at the crossroads between the physical and spiritual realms.

Fortunately, Mama Rue, Hess Love and other Hoodoos are sharing the truth of our tradition with other black people on social media.

Around the creation of Hoodoo Heritage Month, Mama Rue felt called by her spirits to speak out against the culture of half-truths, misconceptions and cultural appropriation surrounding Hoodoo. She says, “Hoodoo is often seen as the bastard son-in-law of the ATRs (African Traditional Religions). People with this lens tend to say, “Hoodoo, that’s just stuff.” There is no spirit involved and there is no initiation.'”

Hoodoo Heritage Month seeks to set the record straight.

Hoodoo, as a tradition, has had its ups and downs in visibility in the United States. Mama Rue explains,

“During slavery, our ancestors were not allowed to express any kind of traditional African practices. There were repercussions. Our ancestors being so smart and being geniuses that they were thought, ‘We can always do our work and work at this crossroads because we didn’t and they can’t punish us for walking around there, and honoring our ancestors and honoring the spirits that our ancestors worship. in our practice without anyone watching or really being aware of what was going on.

These practices were hidden in various parts of black culture, including the black church, but in recent years black people have turned away from the black church.

Mom Rue shares,

“A lot of us were leaving our churches and talking about abuse in church. Different types: financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse. »

She says this mass exodus left many people feeling like spiritual orphans because they had a strong spiritual need with no way to channel it outside of the church structure.

While our ancestors had to hide their African spirituality, we have seen a change over the past decade. black celebrities like Beyonce and solangewriters like Tracy Deon and Neighborhood Jesmyn and even Nap Bishop herself, Tricia Hersey openly celebrate black spirituality in their work. This artistic movement coupled with the mass exodus from the church led to a widespread recovery of Hoodoo.

Mama Rue and Hess Love say that Hoodoo, and by extension, Hoodoo Heritage Month, is for descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States and descendants of free blacks during the time of slavery. While many black people have walked away from church, Mama Rue reminds us that black people who go to church remain one of Hoodoo’s biggest preservers and are therefore still welcome in the tradition.

Hess goes further and tells MN,

“It’s for black people who live and love and want to be part of an intentional black community and don’t run away from each other either. There are black people who have no desire or intention to be in community with black people in any particular way. It’s for black people who love other black people. It’s for black people who love their ancestors. It’s for black people who may be displaced in their community but have some sort of ally with the land and the air.

Hoodoo Heritage Month is now a celebration of many black people returning to the tradition of our ancestors. This is a time for black people to honor our ancestors, our community, the the environment, and ourselves.

Mom Rue says,

“Now is the time for us to get in touch with the things that our ancestors brought to this land that have been broken, fragmented, lied to, etc. It is our way of advancing towards complete liberation. It is our way of righting certain wrongs, especially in the practice of respecting ancestors.

Ancestor veneration is based on the belief that our ancestors continue to exist long after their death. As spirits, we can honor them by learning and sharing their stories, building an altar, giving them offerings, or simply talking with them. Through this relationship, the ancestors can help improve our lives, whether spiritually, emotionally, financially or according to our needs.

For black people interested in Hoodoo, suggests Hess,

“If something interests you and it piques your interest, ask yourself why does it pique your interest? If you see a Hoodoo talking about a particular ancestor, dig deeper. If you see someone talking about the use of plants and herbs and you still feel called, if you have childhood memories of talking to trees, dive into it.

It is through this exploratory process that we can begin to understand the work our ancestors called us to do.

During this fourth annual Hoodoo Heritage Month, Mama Rue shares,

“I’m so proud of what young people are doing with this information. I’m so proud of the journeys that they had the courage to put their feet down and start taking those steps and manifesting and creating the life they want for themselves, their families and their community.

In this Hoodoo Heritage Month, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to practice Hoodoo. While different families and regions practice differently, Hoodoo embraces all of our differences. Hoodoo is in our blood. This is how we live and it reminds us that we need our ancestors, our community and the Earth to truly thrive.

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