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Unveiling the Legacy: Exploring the Roots of Black Hoodoo Ancestors

In the rich tapestry of African American spirituality, the practice of Hoodoo stands as a testament to the resilience, ingenuity, and cultural heritage of Black communities. Rooted in African traditions and infused with elements of Indigenous, European, and Christian spirituality, Hoodoo represents a unique blend of folk magic, herbalism, and spiritual practices passed down through generations. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey to explore the roots of Black Hoodoo ancestors, uncovering their wisdom, contributions, and enduring legacy.


Mary Middleton - "Granny Mid"

Mary Middleton, also known as "Granny Mid," was a renowned Hoodoo practitioner and healer who lived in the rural South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born into slavery, Mary Middleton inherited a rich tradition of African spiritual practices from her ancestors. She was revered in her community for her healing abilities, knowledge of herbal remedies, and spiritual insight. Mary Middleton's legacy continues to inspire generations of Hoodoo practitioners, embodying the resilience and strength of Black spiritual traditions.

Mary Middleton physically weakened a slaveholder from conjure who beat one his slaves badly. The slave he beat went to Mary who made the slaveholder weak by sunset. Middleton said, "As soon as the sun was down, he was down too, he down yet. De witch done dat."


Julie Brown - "Old Julie"

Old Julie, often referred to as "Julie the Conjure Woman," was a powerful Hoodoo practitioner who lived in the Louisiana bayous during the late 19th and early 20th century. Revered as a powerful conjure woman and diviner, Julia Brown was believed to possess supernatural abilities, including the power to summon spirits and cast potent spells. She was feared and respected by those who crossed her path, and her prophetic visions were sought after by people from all walks of life. Old Julie was sought out by people from far and wide for her magical remedies and spiritual guidance. Old Julie's mysterious aura and potent magic left an indelible mark on the folklore of the Deep South.

Old Julie conjured so much death, her slaveholder sold her away to stop her from killing people on the plantation with conjure. Her enslaver put her on a steamboat to take her to her new slaveholder in the Deep South. According to the stories of freed men after the Civil War, Old Julie used her conjure powers to turn the steamboat around back to where the boat was docked, which forced her slaveholder who tried to sell her away to keep her.


Sandy Jenkins - "Dr. Buzzard"

Sandy Jenkins, also known as "Dr. Buzzard," was a legendary Hoodoo doctor and root-worker who operated in the Low-country region of South Carolina during the mid-20th century. Revered for his supernatural powers and expertise in Hoodoo magic, Dr. Buzzard was renowned for his ability to heal the sick, dispel curses, and provide spiritual protection. He gained a reputation as a formidable adversary to those who crossed him and a trusted ally to those in need of his services. Dr. Buzzard's legacy endures as a testament to the potency and mystique of Hoodoo traditions in the American South.


Frederick Douglass, a former slave, an abolitionist and author, wrote in his autobiography that he sought spiritual assistance from an enslaved conjurer named Sandy Jenkins. Sandy told Douglass to follow him into the woods where they found a root that Sandy told Douglass to carry in his right pocket to prevent any white man from whipping him. Douglass carried the root on his right side instructed by Sandy and hoped the root would work when he returned to the plantation. The cruel slave-breaker Mr. Covey told Douglass to do some work, but as Mr. Covey approached Douglass, Douglass had the strength and courage to resist Mr. Covey and defeated him after they fought. Covey never bothered Douglass again. In his autobiography, Douglass believed the root given to him by Sandy prevented him from being whipped by Mr. Cove


Charles Hall - "Uncle Charles"

On a plantation in Georgia there was an enslaved Hoodoo man named Uncle Charles Hall who prescribed herbs and charms for slaves to protect themselves from white people. Hall instructed the slaves to anoint roots three times daily and chew and spit roots towards their enslavers for their protection.


Uncle Charles Hall was a kind of hoodoo. He could prevent the white folks from mistreating you, hence those of us who could believe in such would visit him and have him "fix" us. He would make us "jacks" and direct us where to get certain kinds of roots to chew and to anoint with three times daily.


Mattie Sampson - "Aunt Mattie"

Mattie Sampson, also known as "Aunt Mattie," was a beloved Hoodoo matriarch and community leader who resided in the Appalachian Mountains during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With her vast knowledge of herbal remedies, folk magic, and spiritual traditions, Aunt Mattie served as a healer, midwife, and counselor to her neighbors. She was revered for her wisdom, generosity, and unwavering commitment to helping others navigate life's challenges. Aunt Mattie's legacy lives on through the oral traditions and folk practices of the Appalachian region, embodying the resilience and resourcefulness of Black Hoodoo ancestors.


Mattie believed that the “possession” or ability to wield charms for the benefit of yourself and others provide individual practitioners of Hoodoo with the body of both knowledge and materials they require to expand their power, without the necessary reliance on a Conjure doctor or advisor to help guide you in the practice and material selection.


Benjamin Rucker - "Black Herman"

Benjamin Rucker was born in Virginia in 1892. Rucker learned stage magic and conjure from an African American named Prince Herman (Alonzo Moore). After Prince Herman's death, Rucker changed his name in honor of his teacher to Black Herman. Black Herman traveled between the North and South and provided conjure services in black communities, such as card readings, crafting health tonics, and other services. However, Jim Crow laws pushed Black Herman to Harlem, New York's black community where he operated his own Hoodoo business and provided root-work services to his clients.


Black Herman was an ingenious entertainer who skillfully incorporated secular magic techniques into his performances. At the same time, he offered a reinterpretation of the expansive universe in which African American spiritual traditions had flourished. Within his repertoire, he seamlessly integrated conjure healing, divination, and Hoodoo practices, showcasing a multifaceted blend of mysticism and showmanship.


The legacy of Black Hoodoo ancestors is a testament to the resilience, wisdom, and spiritual ingenuity of African American communities throughout history. From the swamps of Louisiana to the mountains of Appalachia, Hoodoo practitioners have preserved and passed down sacred traditions that continue to inspire reverence and respect today. Through their healing abilities, mystical insights, and unwavering dedication to their craft, Black Hoodoo ancestors have left an indelible mark on the spiritual landscape of America, embodying the enduring power and resilience of the human spirit. Let us honor their legacy and draw inspiration from their wisdom as we continue to explore the depths of Hoodoo tradition.


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