Mar 3, 2010

"What Is....?" Wednesday


Briefly, "Hoodoo" is an Afro-derived mystical system of personal and psychological empowerment, through the specialized use of roots, herbs, minerals in a beneficial or sometimes not so benificial manner to obtain a desired result...for example, protection, healing, wealth, justice and  victory over enemies. Its extensive body of esoteric knowledge, spirit of the culture, native customs, and universal folk beliefs, are traditionally passed down (usually in families) from generation to generation.

Is Hoodoo a type of magic...?  Not how the term "magic" is defined and perceived in Western culture. However, "Hoodoo" is indeed an African mystical tradition, known by various names, that is practiced all over Africa, and has been for thousands of years. It is perhaps the first tangible application of the supernatural, based upon the Africans intimate relationship with the phenomena of Spirits who taught and assisted them in surviving the powerfully rich, but yet untamed environment in which they found themselves.

For example, in the West African  Diaspora Mami Wata Vodoun tradition, the forest spirits, known as "Azzizas," were the most evolved guardians of the forest, who first presented themselves to the African hunters, and planters. They taught them the esoteric, medicinal (ahame) use and alchemical properties inherent in the abundance of herbs, trees, roots, minerals and life forms thriving in their mists.

It was the Azzizas who also taught the African how to make poisons, potions, medicines, and Gbo, "ebo"" and "boicho/bo."( known today as "mojo, amulets, talisman, ouangas"). Joined with the Azzizas, was the divinity later to be identified as "Legba," the great messenger of the gods, who also taught the Africans the use of Gbo and transported their prepared requests to the respective divinities.

The first practical and most extensive use of herbs, amulets and talismans in the forest was for protection from accidents, tropical disease, dangerous animals, repairing injuries, as well as to assure success in their hunt. However, their esoteric use was mainly for protection from jealously, envy, and death by other hunters, as well as protection from the angry spirits of those animals which were killed for food, or by accident during the course of the hunt.

 From these primary ancestors, eventually evolved a group of specialized priests and priestess known in Dahomey as Bokonons, (geomancers), Azondoto, Zokas, Garbara, Akpases (socerers), and Botonons. It was this knowledge that the Africans brought to the New World with them, and later incorporated and adapted with the indigenous Indian, and some European folklore, which came to be known as "Hoodoo".

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