Everyday hoodoo: Washes, mojo bags, and simple charms

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Cinnamon, photo by Theo CrazzolaraWorking your spiritual and magical practice into your everyday life is something that many people struggle with. The books we read and the things we learn tend to be focused on ritual and special ceremonies, and less on how we incorporate these practices into our lives. In this article, I’ll share tips on how to work hoodoo into your everyday life.

Although this piece is about hoodoo, even if that’s not your practice, I encourage you to read this article anyway, as there will be things that you can apply to your own belief systems. As always, these are just suggestions, so feel free to make changes to incorporate them into your own life and practices.

A word about hoodoo

Hoodoo, also known as conjure or root work, is an areligious practice, which is to say that it is not aligned with any formal tenants of religion. There are no gods or goddess, there are no feast days: it is not a religion. It is a form of sympathetic magick that can be practiced alongside a formal religion or not.

It originated in African American (Black) culture and is sometimes referred to as “folk magic.” As such, it is practiced slightly differently depending on what region of the United States you’re in, and where the practitioner’s family hailed from. Which is to say, there are many ways to practice hoodoo. The practice is also related to Black folklore and tales which informs the work that is done.

First and foremost, the practice is about using what you have, and although you may need to purchase an item every now and then, it was cultivated by folx who didn’t have much of anything, and the practice reflects that. It makes use of herbs and roots that can be sourced from kitchen cabinets and empty city lots, common household items that can be found in many stores, and so on. Although there are many rituals and specific works that are done in hoodoo, much of the practice can be woven into your life to work as you live.

RelatedHoodoo container work: Three ways to get started, by Donyae Coles

RelatedHoodoo candle magick primer, by Donyae Coles

RelatedBlack witch resources: Getting started, by Donyae Coles

Mop, photo by Ben Lelis

Everybody’s gotta wash

No matter who are you are, chances are you wash your body and your home at least every now and then. No judgement about how often, but it is something that we generally do. Well, spiritual baths are a big thing in a hoodoo practice. This is a bath that includes soaking in different herbs and roots for a variety of reasons, such as protection, good health, attraction, luck, and so on.

We don’t all have the time (or space) to take a bath every day. Instead, you can use soaps that include different herbs to achieve the same goals, and this can be a really simple way to practice hoodoo everyday. You know what you want to get out of life, so purchase some soap blends that mirror those desires. You can buy them from sellers like The 9 Minds, who make soap that will help carry between more involved ritual baths, while still keeping you connected to your practice.1

You can also do work while cleaning you home, so instead of just warding of germs and funkiness, you can get a bit of spiritual protection in there too. As long as you’re using non-bleach cleaners, adding a bit of ammonia and vinegar to the cleaning wash will help protect your home from negative energy and harm — just by mopping your floor! In fact, a floor wash is a traditional hoodoo practice.

RelatedMagical cleansing basics: How to get started, by Donyae Coles

RelatedA Book of Sacred Baths, reviewed by Haley Houseman

RelatedA Mystic Guide to Cleansing and Clearing, reviewed by Donyae Coles

RelatedA spell of awe and protection: The Washing Verse, by Vincent Ongkowidjojo

RelatedFour fall cleansing rituals for mind, body, and spirit, by Donyae Coles

Mojo bag, photo by Talia Felix

Get your mojo (bag)

Mojo bags are small pouches that contain a number of curios (small objects), herbs, and powders to attract or protect against things. They’re generally made for each person individually, not mass produced. You can make your own or purchase one from a trusted seller such as Big Liz Conjure.2

They are traditionally made from red flannel, but these days they can be made from any colour fabric. If you are making your own, you will want to keep it small, so that you can carry it with you, as mojo bags are made to be carried.

What goes in the bag depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If you want to stop gossip at your work, then put some alum, slippery elm, and a bit of graveyard dirt in there. If you want to protect yourself from danger, then include some boneset, basil, and the amulet of a protective deity.

Then just wear it: keep it on your person when you venture out into the world. No need to do anything else to it after it’s been assembled. In fact, you shouldn’t. Once they’ve been sealed, they should stay that way.

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RelatedThe High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, reviewed by Freeman Presson

Write your intentions, and take them with you

Write your intentions down, speak them into the world, and carry them with you. Before you go into a meeting about a promotion, first write down what you want nine times on a piece of paper, fold it, stuff it in your bra or your shirt pocket — somewhere close to your heart — and go into your meeting.

This sort of work is akin to sigil magick in that it’s the creation of a physical talisman but lacks the process of creating a sigil.3 In hoodoo, the work is about drawing energy and focus to a specific outcome. This very simple trick can be done for a variety of things, such as protection, confidence, luck, or whatever your life needs.

You can also do this with more permanent pieces. You can crave into stone or plastic, for example, to make a talisman that can be kept with you that will last longer than a piece of paper, if that is your goal. Still, the paper trick is useful for those times where you need a quick fix. However, as these paper talismans are done quickly, the charm is a bit weaker than one that was given a full charging and ceremony, but in a pinch, it can prove worth it.

RelatedSigil magick: Down and dirty, by Donyae Coles

RelatedThe Girdle of Ishtar: Magick for activists, by Nicole Rain Sellers

RelatedSix Ways, reviewed by Frater 232

Pocket watch, photo by Peter Miller

Keep better working hours

Timing — hourly timing, not moon phases — are a classic hoodoo practice. Knowing what time to do a work is part of the practice, as some hours are seen as more auspicious than others. To that end, it is in those hours that we focus on doing any sort of work that we’re going to do. You can use this same theory to help organize your life.

Good hours are two o’clock, four to seven o’clock, nine, eleven, and twelve o’clock, both am and pm, whether you’re planning any sort of meeting, event, engagement, or just working on some project. Of course, by “work” in a hoodoo sense, we mean magical work, not everyday work, but there’s a good chance that if the event or task is important, you’ll be praying or using some charms for luck. Why not draw on more of that energy with your timing?

This simple trick can also help you in your practice as well, as you’ll be more used to avoiding the “bad” hours, so when you do go to do some specific work, you don’t accidentally try to get it done at eight o’clock.

Put your work right in your food

Hoodoo and root work are done primarily with roots and herbs, many of which are edible. In fact, many people’s spice cupboard doubles as their work supplies. To be sure, there are many roots used in this practice that cannot be ingested, but you might be surprised at how many you can sneak into your meals.

  • For protection, you can use parsley, mint, cumin, and garlic in your meals.
  • For luck, cinnamon (also good for money), beans, and peas.
  • For love, vanilla, saffron, and ginger.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you can already see the variety of options available. They can be used in a number of ways. You can eat a slice of cinnamon toast before a big day, or eat vanilla ice cream before a big date, or chew mint gum on the way home from a party. You can also cook full meals that feature some of these ingredients, or just throw a dash into the pot when you’re cooking something wouldn’t normally call for the specific herb, but you want that energy anyway.

Many of the common herbs and spices in your cabinet and local grocer have spiritual properties that can be harnessed. Cooking meals that match your intentions or simply adding a few ingredients when you need a boost is a simple and effective way to practice. For more ideas of what to use in your own cooking, check out Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.

RelatedThe Witching Herbs, reviewed by Laura Gyre

RelatedThe Book of Kitchen Witchery, reviewed by Daleth West

Related: A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food, reviewed by Susan Starr

Related: Springtime kitchen witchery: 10 herbs for protection, peace, and luck, by Donyae Coles

Use what you got, use it often

Although there are many rituals and works that are done in hoodoo that take dedicated time and space, hoodoo really is a sort of everyday magick. We can get the best results when we are using it in our everyday lives, as in this way, our practice becomes part of who we are.

Related: Witching on a budget: Magick on the cheap, by Donyae Coles

Image credits: Theo CrazzolaraBen Lelis, Talia Felix, and Peter Miller

Footnotes:

  1. The9Minds, Etsyetsy.com/shop/The9Minds. []
  2. B Conjure, Big Liz Conjure, biglizconjure.com. []
  3. For more information on classic sigils, check out “Sigil magick: Down and dirty,” by Donyae Coles. []

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