Hoodoo Print E-mail
Voodoo, the word as such, exists outside of Africa primarily in places like Louisiana and Haiti. The reason for this is that word is local to the Benin region of West Africa and it just so happened that the French had been very active in that exporting Africans to the Americas. The two primary French colonies that utilized slaves were Haiti and Louisiana. Hence, the term, Voodoo, was exported specifically to those places.

There are parallel practices throughout West Africa that use different names. Captives from these areas landed in British, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch colonies. In the southern parts of the United States these practices were simply remembered as “conjure” or “root work.”

After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 integrated these Anglicized people of African descent wit the Louisiana Creoles the word Voodoo was recognized as being the same as their root and conjure work. However, in typical American fashion of mispronouncing French words, they adopted the term as Hoodoo,
rather than Voodoo.

The classic definition of the difference between a Creole and an American, white or black, is that the Creole loves the romance of life, of food, of celebrations, of art, of music, of love above all else, while the American is practical, industrious and puts the acquisition of money above all else. 

Consequently, as the practice of Voodoo became more discrete while the curiosity for it grew greater, the business of Voodoo, called Hoodoo was born. Today, Hoodoo is generally recognized as the business of catering charms and services to the superstitious. Voodoo is the religious practice of magic using the intercession and power of spirits.  The objects or incantations used in Voodoo and Hoodoo may be identical. They are separated by the beliefs in how they work.

There is one source that identifies the origin of the work Hoodoo to the African word “hudu “used by the Ewe people of Togoland immediately adjacent to Benin. In this context, the word is used as a noun only, meaning it refers to the magical object only, not the spirits (which is the meaning of Voodoo). Also, this supports the practice of it being primarily associated with the practice of root work and conjures, rather that the interaction of spirits.

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