Hoodoo is an African American folk magic tradition that was developed over several centuries in the Southern United States from the cultural convergence of African, Native American, European, and Near Eastern spiritual and magical practices.

It is known by various regional names like “conjure,” “rootwork,” “root doctoring,” “working roots,” “tricking,” “helping yourself,” “using that stuff,” and “doing the work.”

With the movement of emancipated African Americans north during the late 19th and early 20th centuries — a period known as “The Great Northern Migration” — hoodoo practices spread throughout the United States and, through cross-cultural mixing, acquired and adapted concepts and methodologies adapted from the magical traditions of other minority cultures within America.

Hoodoo is now found wherever African Americans live, and it is practiced, with a greater or lesser degree of authenticity and respect for its roots, by a variety of Americans of other ethnicities.

While strongly aligned with a number of other African diasporic traditions, hoodoo is not a religion, nor is it a purely African form of belief, but rather it is a spiritual and magical practice.

Most root doctors — like most African Americans — follow the Protestant faith. The combination of the culturally mingled magical traditions of African Americans with Protestant Christianity leads hoodoo to be seen as a form of African American Christian spiritual practice.

Hoodoo covers a variety of divination and spell-casting practices and traditions that have been passed down through family lines and from teacher to student. Although hoodoo varies slightly in style from region to region and family to family, there are common practices among the traditions.

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