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Hoodoo is a Healing System


There doesn't seem to be much talk about how conjure was used most often in our recent past, and that was as a system of healing. Root doctors tend to be more affordable than Western doctors and are often willing to barter with the folk who live in their neighborhood with them, serving as a source for the healing of common ailments within the community. Especially before the advent of cheap mass-produced medicines like Aspirin. Nowadays it seems folk only talk about conjure for making hands and laying tricks; these are important aspects of the art, certainly, but they are not it's entirety. Not even it's main thrust! Folk would be far more likely to call upon the local conjurer for a cure for sore teeth, or an aid against the pain of kidney stones (or "gravel", as it used to be called) than for a hand to use against enemies, or a solution for a court-case problem. Well. That holds as long as we don't include work done for good luck in gambling. That Five-Finger Grass got quite a work-out, back in the day....

I've always found Conjure methods of healing ailments interesting in their approach.While the root doctor is often well acquainted with herbalism, many of the old tricks used to cure folk only resemble herbalism in that sometimes  plants are involved, haha. In Conjure the plant is useful for it's god-given virtue; often it is neither prepared a certain way or consumed, but is used in a talismanic fashion. We are as likely to use a plant in healing work as we are the powdered bones or organs of an animal. I find this fascinating when looking at some of the recipes we find in the Picatrix which take a similar approach in the use of virtue from the animal kingdom for spiritual effect.

The organs and bones aren't hard to find these days..the butcher at your local Safeway probably has most of what you need.

  In Hoodoo we approach healing as spiritual first. The spirit and the body aren't treated as separate things, and prayers can be as efficacious as the natural virtue of a particular plant. If the problem is in the spirit, then treating the body alone don't fix it. We find in Hoodoo much of the natural magic of old Europe; books like "Pow Wow or the Long-lost Friend" had and still have a huge effect on the root-doctor and many of our traditional cures have their roots in old Germany. This is simply a fact.

The system of healing in conjure is very sophisticated and multi-leveled; it is practical. There are cures for ailments that use only sympathetic magic, cures that rely on prayer, and cures that rely on the natural healing properties of a given substance. The root doctor has a lot of tools at his or her disposal.

What's even more interesting about many of the conjure methods of healing is that they tend to work. I've found some of the simplest cures hugely efficacious, and even simple tricks can have a huge result. That is, of course, if you're a conjurer and you know what you're about.

The ubiquity of cheap medicines like aspirin and the like have led, from what I've seen, to folk seldom relying on a root-doctor for cure. This is a shame, because the approach of the root-doctor is valuable. The root-doctor heals the spirit And the body, not just the body. Western medicine is clearly awesome, but has a huge deficiency in not treating the whole person and taking a mechanistic view of the body.

Anyway, just thought that was something worth thinking about.



  1. That's a great point, Frater. The most important role of the root doctor was being a doctor.

    Healing and cures were one of the most important things they used to do: making tinctures, teas, rubs etc.

    Thank you for bringing this up. It's a role that seems to be slowly forgotten.

  2. Excellent post Frater! This is very true indeed. I don't have the healing touch per se, but this is an area most people overlook in favour of the other more spell-oriented aspects of the tradition.

  3. @Fra Ali

    Thank you, Frater! I had forgotten myself the efficacy of using rubs, thanks for the reminder. It would be a terrible shame if this part of the art was lost; the healing portion was at the heart of conjure for a long time.

    @Fra Balthazar

    Thank you as well, Frater! I agree, people overlook this area these days, and think it unfortunate. Working the healing side of conjure lends the art a certain balance.

  4. Worth thinking about indeed, and applicable to more than Hoodoo. Historically the litmus test of almost any magician or holy man was whether he could cause the sick to be healed, or cause good things to happen to a community (good crops, etc). The other functions of these positions generally evolved later. To ignore healing (on an individual or grander scale) is to ignore the root of our tradition itself.


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