Before Hoodoo Was Hoodoo

Hoodoo was Hoodoo before it had a name. It was there before the Drugstores and it was all the stronger for it. There are levels to Hoodoo then and now. Drugstores came about when it was recognised that poor black people spent a large chunk of their meagre monies on conjure, and saw a way to get some of it. I think it's that simple. "So what?" I hear you say, If people were paying for the Hoodoo anyway, why not pay the Drugstores? I'll tell you why. Payment for conjure was often needed to cover the cost of food and shelter for the Hoodoo practitioner.

Once declared a Hoodoo, that was often their only avenue to sustenance. One Georgia black man picked up a hat which had blown from another's head and handed it back to him. Within a short time the owner of the hat died. The man who picked up the hat drank from a bucket at the well. Another man followed him and shortly after died. Both these deaths were attributed to the man who picked up the hat-- men would not work around him, and he had to be discharged. He had unintentionally earned fierce reputation of being a conjurer. He could not get a place to stay or cook, and was eventually forced to live far off from his fellows and, in actuality, to follow conjuring. 1 Steiner, R., Observations on the Practice of Conjuring in Georgia, J. A. F. L., pp173-79 (1901), vol.14. Sometimes the Seeker was paying for the ingredients themselves. Extra cloth for example was not necessarily freely available during or just after slave times. And some of the spices could only be obtained by poor black people (free or enslaved ) Hoodoo's included, via trade. Now payment used to mean barter too. Many a working was paid for with, food, animals & skills or trade. After the slaves were freed, these new freedmen & women then had the ability to earn money of their own. By the thirties, business people realised they could expand their market by selling to slave descendants now new members of the economy and hence had to stock items that would be of interest to them. But merely overhearing and hence not fully understanding Hoodoo, they thought that substitutions were viable, and it was all about like for like. Any green herb is as good as another. And a cunning understanding that "what the Hoodoo says goes" allowed for the creation of "authoritative" though actually random or false formulas consisting mainly of scent, cosmetic bases, and colorants. Drugstore people realised that the most important aspect (to them anyway) of Hoodoo was that what the doctor says goes. But before they got involved, a working for 'Boss Fix' would have (aside from not having a consistent, snappy, name) most often consisted only of roots, barks, herbs etc,. no delightfully scented talc, no fools gold, no metal charms. That goes for all the fancy named formulas that abound online.

Now, I'm not saying 'Follow Me Boy' wasn't ever used cause it was. Widely. It just wasn't one specific formula. And before the intervention of the Drug Stores, it wasn't necessarily called 'Follow Me Boy' In addition to commercialising and hence homogenising Hoodoo, there were many older more awkwardly procured and produced formulas simply left out of the stock on offer. Sadly these equally important formulas and workings have nearly disappeared from the lexicon of Hoodoo. The idea of a great Avon type school of Hoodoo churning out international representatives or sales agents is disconcerting to say the least and more probably, fatal, to the preservation of actual hoodoo. For example the idea that Mullien can be substituted for goopher dust! Reported as fact on many a website!

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