Not long ago, I have started learning and practicing rootwork and conjure. It is a practice that fulfils my soul. At first, I couldn’t understand why, but as I went deeper and deeper in the practice, I realised why this is the case.
Before I continue, let’s reiterate what hoodoo, conjure and rootwork is. It is the practice born from the Africans who were kidnapped and taken to America to become slaves. They were not allowed to take anything with them. As we know, they were also not allowed to practice their religion and so they were forced to become Christians.
All their material possessions may have been stripped from them, and they were brought down to their knees but they didn’t kneel. They were not only smarter than that, but they were also cunning enough to mask their spirituality with the one they were forced to practice. So it may have seemed that they were Christians but everything they practised was a metaphor for what they really believed and practised. And so they created a folk practice that incorporated what they had available at hand and what they could do given the oppression they were going through.
And so they used the roots and tools available to them in this foreign land, they masked the spirits they believed in with the Christian Saints and used the bible as a spellbook. Over the years, the practice was evolved, whether practitioners work with the African spirits or whether they work with the Christian elements for what they are.
In my case, I work with the Christian elements as they are and the ancestors, whether they are my ancestors by blood or collective ancestors.
In case you are not aware, I am originally from Cyprus. An island situated just over Egypt and below Turkey. I recently published a blog post about the hoodoo influences in Cypriot folk magic (Visit: Cyprus Folk Magic – Part 1: Religious Customs/Hoodoo Influences). In this post, I have explained practices that we do on a daily basis and how they are common with hoodoo practices. The ones I mentioned there are but a few points of the many.
The community in Cyprus is extremely religious. Whether being witch or not, Christianity is a massive part of our lives. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this as well. If you are not Christian you are, to this day, shut out from the community. It doesn’t matter if you are practicing witchcraft or not, you’re either on their side or you are not. It is only natural that witches hide within the community’s customs and take on Christianity as their religion. But witches will do what witches do best – adapt.
And so witchcraft in Cyprus is practised by massively incorporating Christianity. We use the bible as a spellbook, and in particular the Psalms of David, we honour the ancestors and the saints creating shrines for them, we smoke cleanse our homes and many many more customs!
Regardless of the customs, practitioners of folk magic – and I don’t mean the daily customs everyday folk use in the community – need to keep a low-key profile. We may never have had witch trials in this country, but being shut out of the community can be just as bad when done in such an extent. And therefore, there are no sources whatsoever out there to learn the folk practice of this island. None whatsoever. You only learn these by being born in a family of witches or finding yourself a teacher and then again whether those stick to tradition might be debatable.
And this is where the title of this blog comes from. When I was introduced to hoodoo by my teacher/mama, it immediately touched home for me. It’s ironic how I had to learn a path born and practised at the other side of the world to get closer to my own roots, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this, which is why I will always approach it with respect and honour for those who came before me.