With Halloween season in full swing, conversations about magic and mysticism are at an all-time high. However, it’s important to remember the contributions Black culture has made to American magic. Travelers can find out a little for themselves by visiting destinations connected to Hoodoo history.
Hoodoo is a closed spiritual practice described as African-American magic. The practice connects spiritual conjure work with “root” practices that involve plant-based and natural remedies to treat ailments, heal diseases, and even for divination purposes. Born during American slavery, Hoodoo was a way for African slaves to hold on to spiritual practices from their homeland while simulating Christianity in the US.
Today, the term “hoodoo” includes a variety of African-American traditions. From discouraging women from sitting their purses on the ground to refusing to wash on New Year’s Day, a little bit of hoodoo can be found in nearly every Black household. You can learn more about African American magic by visiting these spellbinding destinations that uncover the history of Hoodoo in America.
New Orleans, LA
The Big Easy is usually the first place that comes to mind when someone brings up hoodoo. The practice is alive and well in New Orleans. Its history built on Catholicism and Creole culture became the perfect grounds to cultivate hoodoo spirituality. A major part of NOLA history is legendary hoodoo spiritualist and healer Marie Laveau. The subject of many films and shows, travelers still visit Laveau’s grave when in New Orleans on a guided tour. Beyond Laveau, New Orleans has deep magic seemingly unfound in other destinations.
Chesapeake Bay, MD
Some hoodoo practitioners who work with plants and nature are called rootworkers. One of the most famous stories of root work comes from Frederick Douglas’s autobiography. In his book, Douglas ran into a slave woman in the woods of the Chesapeake Bay after escaping from his slave master. The woman was named Sandy Jenkins and she gave him a root to place in his pocket that was magical and would protect him on his journey. The Chesapeake Bay is still a mystical destination with a deep connection to hoodoo and African-American magic.
Manley’s Neck Township, NC
Dr. Jim Jordan was a licensed Black doctor in North Carolina in the early 1900s. Jordan was skilled in both traditional and natural medicine. Using his knowledge of Native American herbalism and medicine, Jordan treated patients from all over the country who traveled to Manley’s Neck Township for his remedies. He’d also learned conjuring practices from his uncle, using hoodoo to help others in his community. Dr. Jordan died in 1962 but travelers can still drive through Manley’s Neck Township to remember his legacy.
St. Louis, MO
Unbeknownst to most, St. Louis is a huge energy portal. The Midwest city sits right next to Cahokia Mounds, an ancient Native American burial site, and hoodoo has been alive in the city for ages. William Wells Brown, an enslaved man who came to St. Louis from Kentucky in the 1800s, documented slave hoodoo practices in the city extensively in his books. The books, including his autobiography, weren’t released until after he escaped from slavery. However, he documented years of stories where enslaved people snuck away in the night to practice hoodoo across the St. Louis region.
The podcast Unearthed Memphis did a deep dive into the city’s connection to hoodoo and magic. Memphis carries many nicknames but one of them is Mojo City. Seemingly hinting at the mojo bags carried by hoodoo practitioners, Memphis has a link to magic full of root workers, conjure men, and two-headed doctors. The podcast noted that the earliest artifacts of hoodoo in Memphis were found on the Hildebrand plantation from the 1800s. Today, the area is the city’s Whitehaven neighborhood. However, historians found charms, evil eyes, and coins created by enslaved people to ward off evil, heal, and protect.
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