For my final post this week, I’m putting up my idea of what a beginning rootworker might want to have on hand. Think of it as a sort of “first aid kit” for getting your hands dirty in hoodoo. This is only my opinion, by the way, so your mileage may vary according to different conjure practices. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or to add a comment to this blog page and I’ll do my best to answer them. Now, onto the kit!
Candles – I keep lots of these on hand, in several different sizes. They’re good for doing most types of simple jobs where all that’s required is a quick dressing and a little time to burn them. You can use color correspondences, if you like, but I find plain white (or beeswax candles with a golden tint to them) work just fine for me.
Candlesticks/Holders (at least two) – I say at least two because you never know when you’ll need to burn for two things at the same time (say a separation working and then a protection one to help a woman in a bad relationship get out safely and stay safe). There are some candle burnings, too, where progressively moving the candles closer together or further apart is part of the job being done.
High John root(s) and/or oil – This is the quintessential hoodoo root. It’s small, brown, and not very impressive to look at, but man it packs a punch. Anything that needs extra potency can benefit from High John. There are plenty of folks who simply carry one in their pocket, feeding it regularly with whiskey or oil, to help them always be performing at their best, whatever they do.
Small assortment of condition oils – If I’m being really 100% honest, you don’t need these the way you might need other things on this list. And you can certainly make your own versions of them rather than buying them from a store. I like to have some of the basics on hand (especially Van Van and Fiery Wall) because it’s easy to dress a candle with them and do a quick burning, or to dress a mojo bag with them quickly.
Uncrossing – This one’s great for removing hexes and jinxes.
Attraction – Can draw love, money, luck, and other positive things into your life.
Van Van – This oil is a general use oil, good at removing obstacles, increasing luck, finding love, and many other things.
Compelling/Commanding – If you intend to do this kind of work, these are good to have. Compelling makes your target do what they say they will do, and Commanding makes them do what you want.
Blessing – This one is important for cleansing and blessing homes, marriages, children, etc.
Fiery Wall of Protection – A vital oil if you want really good protection for a person or place.
Whiskey (or other alcohol) – When you feed your mojos or other work, the typical offering is whiskey. It’s also a good offering for working with ancestors and spirits (though some Native American spirits do NOT like it, apparently). Some who do not use alcohol in their magic will use oils or holy water instead.
Salt – Good for setting protective barriers, for use in spiritual baths (especially to remove harmful influences), and adding to certain jobs where you are trying to neutralize someone else’s work.
Pepper (black and red) – Both are used to make things “hot” for a target, and also in the Hot Foot jobs a rootworker may be called upon to do. They can be used in other work, as well, particularly if you’re trying to make things “fiery” for any reason (protection, sex, etc.).
Four Theives Vinegar – This is a centuries-old formula and there’s no need to buy it. Just take good quality cider vinegar (or wine vinegar if you prefer) and add black and red pepper, garlic, and mustard seeds, then let it sit in a dark place, shaking it daily. After about two weeks, voila!, Four Thieves Vinegar. There are variations on the recipe (I use rue in mine), so find one that works for you. It’s good for protection and hexing jobs, and it tastes delicious on a salad!
Honey/Molasses/Sugar/etc. – This is for any kind of sweetening work you do. You can also add it to certain spiritual baths to help make things sweeter for you in general. Choose a sweetener that is regionally appropriate—molasses is good in the South, while in Vermont maple syrup would be good.
Red cloth squares – For making mojo hands. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Flannel and linen are fairly traditional, but whatever is available in your local fabric store’s remnant bin will probably be just fine. Or cut up an old red t-shirt. In a pinch, white cloth can be used for most jobs, too.
Bottles/jars – Keep these on hand for doing Honey Jars or Vinegar Jars, as well as making protective bottle spells (like Witch Bottles) or even just as a back-up candle holder. I save old baby food jars for this kind of work. If you have a Sharpie, you can even draw or write on the glass, if you feel so inclined.
Envelopes/plastic baggies/etc. – For collecting ingredients or gathering spent spell materials for proper deployment (at a crossroads, in running water, etc.). I will also confess I usually keep little paper envelopes on hand so that if I’m visiting someone that will be a target for a job and I use their bathroom…well, let’s just say most people leave things like hairbrushes pretty much out in the open…
Bible or other holy book – I’m not saying you have to thump it, sell it, buy it, preach it, or even believe in all of it, but the precedent for using Scripture in hoodoo is long-standing. I’m not Christian but I use the Psalms in my work fairly often. If you have a vehement dislike of Christian religion, and the Bible in particular, find another holy book that does work for you, such as the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, or the poems of Rumi. My only admonition here is that if the book isn’t spiritual in nature, I would avoid using it in rootwork. There seems to be something very profoundly sacred about the relationship between a holy book and a magic spell, something that the spirits on the other side respond to. That’s just my opinion, of course, so if you don’t believe me, I can live with that.
So that’s it for this week’s Introduction to Hoodoo! I hope you’ve been enjoying this series. We’ll be doing plenty more with rootwork in the future, including having a guest on our next podcast who is a professional rootworker! That episode should be out next week, and hopefully we’ll have a couple of other neat treats for you then, too.
Thanks for reading!