365 Days of HooDoo: Daily Rootwork, Mojo & Conjuration, by Stephanie Rose Bird
Llewellyn Publications, 9780738747842, 432 pp., 2018
Hoodoo, who knew? I love a daily book. For years I read A Spell-A-Day by Sterline Ethos and found much pleasure in the daily invitation to engage in a little magick. Sure, some days magick is easier than others, but I like having the information accessible to me when I have the time and inclination to do spell work.
365 Days of Hoodoo: Daily Rootwork, Mojo & Conjuring by Stephanie Rose Bird had such an enticing title that I was excited to review it. It arrived in record time from Llewellyn, beating a Canadian partial postal strike, and magically appearing on my doorstep days before Christmas.
I loved the heft of the 432 page book, and the grey cover graced with white and black illustrations of magical ingredients and the pale yellow and red lettering of the title and author information. But that is where the magick, and the love, ended.
Numbered from one to 365, the entries vary in length from a third of a page to two full pages. Organized into three larger sections, section one entitled “Hoodoo’s Fixin’s: Key Components of Your Hoodoo Spells & Tricks” contains five chapters; section two, “Tricks of the Hoodoo’s Trade: Spells, Rites & More,” contains four chapters; and section three, “Disturb Me Knot: Shielding, Noticing & Undoing Negativity,” contains three chapters. Each chapter has its own title and is assigned a number of days. For example, chapter three, “Fire, Candle & Incense Rites,” covers days 63-94, and chapter 10 is titled “Protection Magick,” and covers days 278-306,
In the introduction, Stephanie Rose Bird assured the reader that that “365 Days of Hoodoo is a return to basics and a solid introduction to Hoodoo for the beginner.”1 I felt relieved. While I have been a Pagan for more than 30 years, my background is in the Reclaiming Tradition, with some Celtic Goddess Path influences and a lot of solo kitchen witch practices. My interest in hoodoo has been limited to reading the likes of Zora Neal Hurston and Louise Teish, but I was interested in learning about “a practice for the everyday person dealing with real-life issues.”2
After an overview of how the book is organized, I jumped in, and read a few different days at random:
For example, the entry for day five, “Hunting and Gathering Materials” invited me to “go to an undisturbed location,” “walk mindfully for 30 minutes,” and collect objects “like those found in African sculptures and bags.”3 While it took some planning to clear time for myself for 30 minutes, and awhile to find an undisturbed location, the most difficult part was to find the objects and materials I was supposed to be hunting and gathering, to be kept to be used later in my “personal mojo bag.”4
I walked mindfully and searched, but I was perplexed by what would be in an African sculpture or bag. I’ve seen African sculptures of Masai warriors, giraffes and spears, but found none in my local conservation area.
Another example, from day 55 titled “Pine Floor Wash” suggested I gather eight ingredients together to make this “pleasing” floor wash.5 Sadly, I didn’t have a clue where to get pine shoots, white pine essential oil, spruce essential oil, or ocean pine essential oil. I figured I could possibly get some rainwater, if it rained some day soon, and maybe I could get spring water in a bottle at the grocery store, but by then I was overwhelmed with the demands of the ingredients list, and gave up.
I flipped quickly to day 244, “Peaceful Home Spell.” Yes, I could use some peace after feeling the anxiety of not having the correct ingredients. Sadly, it called for “three chicken feathers, and sulphur powder.”6 Ummmm, nope.
That was it. I closed 365 Days of Hoodoo after day one. And while I have gone back to it twice since for the purpose of trying to review it, each time I encountered the same barriers: so-called simple practices that start with a very specific and hard to find shopping list, and the anxiety that arose within me when I realized I had few of the ingredients. Realistically, 365 Days of Hoodoo is not “a practice for the everyday person dealing with real-life issues.”7