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Big Lucky Hoodoo

Karma Zain on hoodoo, voodoo, rootwork, and saints

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Karma Zain
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About Me

I’m a reader and rootworker raised in, trained in, and based in the Southeastern United States. I grew up in Alabama and spent a lot of time in Florida and Louisiana, where I have a ton of family. I have been studying herblore in the Southeast for over 30 years; studied art and design formally as an undergraduate; studied folklore, African diasporic religions, and philosophy formally as a graduate student; and wrote my doctoral dissertation on the human soul and its relationship to saints and angels as portrayed in medieval art and literature.

However, that’s not ultimately what’s important. What’s more important is that in between all of that, I have always studied and researched — not just in libraries, but anywhere I could get a rootworker, palm reader, spiritualist, candle-shop owner, or tea leaf reader to talk to me. And I have taken that knowledge and those conversations and turned them towards developing an ability to clearly communicate concepts, methods, and insights to my reading and rootwork clients who come from all walks of life and backgrounds.

I am irreverent, eclectic, and easily annoyed by mass-produced bullshit, particularly if it’s of the Herman Slater or fluffy bunny variety (watermelon fragrance oil, glitter, and jasmine for an attraction formula, for instance. GTFO with that crap. It might work for some folks, but it’s not hoodoo, and while there may be more than one way to skin a cat, I’m not doing that variety of cat skinning on this blog.

I study (though do not lay hereditary or initiatory claim to and am not an expert in) some strains of what you might call faith healing or folk religious magic, particularly the those of Mexico, Italy, and Cajun Louisiana. I come from a particularly Catholic-steeped folk magic background, so my hoodoo has lots of saints in it. I’ve found the conjure I grew up around to be simpler, more direct, within the reach and means of virtually anymore, and just as (if not more) effective than any ceremonial stuff I’ve been involved in, so I don’t fool with any of that anymore, but I will know what you’re talking about if you write with a situation that touches on this type of spiritual or magickal background.

Devotionally, I work in a Franco-Haitian Gnostic Voudon lineage with full consecration as a bishop in several lines of apostolic succession, and work with an active group of fellow bishops, energy workers, rootworkers, and serviteurs of the loa on a regular basis, here in the Southeastern U.S.

As of April 2020, I am not currently taking clients.


Big Lucky Hoodoo
My site’s title pays homage to the Reverend Doctor Tau Michael Bertiaux. See p. 1 of Bertiaux’s Voudon Gnostic Workbook, heading “Lesson One: Who Can Be A Big Lucky Hoodoo?” The Rev. Dr. Bertiaux responds, “Anyone can become a big lucky hoodoo.” He goes on to explain how, and what follows is a ritual from his tradition, which is not necessarily synonymous with the hoodoo that I practice, nor with traditional Haitian vodoun sevis, though he goes on to use both the terms “hoodoo” and “voodoo” in this lesson.

But the attentive will note that he is using Hoodoo almost as a category of person or a title of sorts in this phrase: in this chapter, a Hoodoo is a person who harnesses the powers under discussion and who works with the spirits of hoodoo. It is in that sense that I use the term here. I believe that nearly anyone can become a Big Lucky Hoodoo – though you do not become one simply by naming yourself one. There is a lot about Bertiaux’s system that is clear only to initiates in his system. His is not the only system. There is a lot about vodoun that is better left to initiates, and a great deal that is best left to trained serviteurs of long standing even if they are not initiates. There is even a lot about hoodoo that is best done under the guidance of someone with experience who comes from the way of life – ie, I don’t recommend your first non-funeral trip to a cemetery be to dispose of ritual remains. If you don’t come from a culture that is friendly with the dead, you need to get friendly with the dead before you go doing cemetery work.

And Hoodoo is a way of life, in my opinion, not just a “magical path” or set of spells or correspondences that would categorize you as a Wiccan on Monday when you use European herbal correspondences and a Hoodoo on Thursday when you use African-American ones. Not at all.

What Bertiaux is outlining is a method for aligning your perspective/worldview and ultimately your way of life to be “in the current” of the spirits of hoodoo *as outlined in his particular system,* which shares a lot with but is not in every aspect identical to traditional Southern conjure OR traditional Haitian sevis. THIS is what it means to be a Big Lucky Hoodoo – to live Hoodoo as a way of life, at the center of your worldview. And in this sense, anyone can become one if they are willing to put in the work — and undergo a potentially radical change in perspective, depending upon where one begins.

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