Rootwork & Conjure

"Rootwork" is a term which refers to a wide body of knowledge which includes African-American folklore, Native American plant knowledge and European traditions. When Africans were brought to this country they soon discovered the plants they used in their folk magic were not to be found here. They asked the Native Americans about the magical properties of American plants and made substitutions. Over time this system of African folk magic absorbed some of the Christian, Jewish, and pagan folklore of European immigrants and became known as rootwork or hoodoo.

Rootwork, although it’s always been practiced by whites and Native Americans as well as blacks, is generally defined as African-American folk magic. Like most folk magic, Rootwork attributes magical properties to plants, roots, minerals, animal relics, and the personal possessions of people. 

Other terms for Rootwork are conjure and hoodoo. Hoodoo is not the same as Voodoo, but this is the topic of another discussion.

Some of the things a Rootworker might do:

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