Book Review: Hoodoo for Everyone
How do you conjure up empowerment and reclaim agency when you have no power? These questions are the origin story of hoodoo, a folk magic created hundreds of years ago by enslaved Africans in the southern United States.
Hoodoo’s roots are entangled with the slave trade. The practices were created by people living with nothing but still bearing human impulses: love, revenge, faith. Hoodoo calls for coffee, tobacco, salt, sugar, spit, and vinegar for spellwork and conjure. Above all, the Bible—often the only available book—is the main source of protection and charms, curse and conjure.
Modern life means today’s conjurers have more tools at hand. The author’s version of modern hoodoo is also linked with political activism, racial justice, and fighting against social inequalities and bias. Shone assures the reader that all you need is “intention, faith, and direction” to be a hoodoo worker. Your method, faith, race, or history does not matter if you respect yourself and honor hoodoo’s roots. Shone offers hoodoo ethics; an extensive index of useful Bible verses; a glossary of spices, herbs, and roots; and versatile chants, prayers, offerings, and blessings to help equip the new practitioner.
Shone’s gift is to be expansive, earthy, and inclusive. The expansive voice veers casual, though, digressing into asides and mentioning tidbits from just pages earlier. The book often feels like a chatty workshop. This could be an accident of the writing style, but it also is a reminder that hoodoo is mostly an oral tradition, passed down through practice, not in writing.