Updated: Aug 3, 2018
Urban Hoodoo: Using What Ya Got
The modern urban dwelling hoodoo practitioner does not have easy access to the plethora of herbs and roots described in historical sources. Many old-school rootworkers and hoodoos lived in rural areas in the American Southeast where those roots and herbs were easily found by those who knew what to look for. Poke root, mullein, black snakeroot and many others grow abundantly in the wild out here. I am fortunate to be blessed by living out in the NC mountains where these roots and many more grow all over our land.
Don’t fret- there are a Lot of things available for the urban hoodoo to work with. There are ways around this for those folks who are city-dwellers. The most obvious one is the powerful resource of the internet. There are a plethora of shops that sell herbs and roots online. High John the Conqueror is pretty easy to find that way. But there are some drawbacks to this too. One example is the “Jezebel Root” I often see sold online. It basically looks like mulch or bark in a bag, and that is not what real Jezebel looks like. Real Jezebel is Louisiana Iris root with a very distinctive appearance. It’s always best to do a little research before you buy.
One great way to practice the work is to take walks and keep your eyes open for things to work with and places to do work. Construction sites and abandoned lots can sometimes have useful things in them. One time I remember finding some nearly decayed red brick chunks in a lot near my work in town. I left an offering of tobacco and gathered enough up to make brick dust powder. A little work with a hammer and a sieve and voila!
Mullein often grows in abandoned areas as does a plethora of other herbs. Mugwort, poke root, datura, and cinquefoil can often be found across the southeastern United States in "waste" areas that have the right climate zones. Mullein in particular is all over the eastern half of the United States. It is originally a European plant that has become naturalized here.
Another one: the Pine tree, one of my favorite trees. Many parks across the country (and other countries) have pine trees in them. The pine tree is very useful in hoodoo. A fresh branch can be used to asperge a dwelling or person with washes, teas, or herbal colognes for a powerful cleansing effect. Pine needle tea can be used in cleansing baths. The sap makes a great cleansing incense on charcoal. The list goes on.
I’ve also found other things on walks. Once I saw two crows having a fight in a park and the feathers were literally flying. After they flew off I thanked them, said a little prayer for their well being and gathered a few of the loose feathers up and later used them in a work designed to break up something. I have found empty snail shells also on a walk. Crushed snail shell is used in making certain things like Goofer dust and works designed to "slow" things down. And for "live things in ya" works but that's another topic entirely.
Sometimes old sites have square-cut nails, or the occasional loose railroad spike by the train tracks. Spiderwebs used to ensnare your enemies or to hold things fast can be found usually. Of course, you should always be respectful and leave something if you take something and obey the law of course.
Your local drugstore, grocery, or health food store is also a good resource. Salt is used for a lot of things and is available there. The spice section in your grocery store is sure to have cayenne, pepper, and a lot of other herbs around. If you are blessed to have a health food store around so much the better! They often have a goodly stock of herbs. Most drugstores will have mineral oil, epsom salts, and sulfur.
Hardware and garden stores are another great resource. Devil’s shoestring root is a powerful repellent of evil. It is basically Viburnum root, and they can often be found at garden supply stores. The same goes for Queen Elizabeth root, Iris Germanica. You can easily dry them yourself in an oven at low heat or by hanging them up once they are clean. In short, you have to use what ya got, as the saying goes. Folks in the old days made do with what they had and modern times are no different. It’s all in how you think and see things. Happy Hoodooing!