Voodoo is a religion of magic powers to turn people into goats and dance with snakes and play really good music and generally have a good time all the time. It is used to harness paranormal or supernatural powers in the physical realm. It is most often used to control powers of success or luck over love, money, health, fame or career. Humans are granted such fantastic abilities by specific Loa spirits and Strange Gods of Vodun.
Practictioners of voodoo can be either good or evil (those claiming that all are only evil are probably Christian dogmatic propagandists). But the black arts of voodoo are very deadly, and can cause blight, disease and other curses, communication with the dead, as well as steal souls and reanimate dead bodies to do evil bidding -- to such an extent that there are laws on the books forbidding the practice.
Hoodoo is a related ancient concept, harkening back to Moses, 'the finest Hoodoo man' to have ever lived. While Voodoo is a set of religious beliefs, hoodoo is a system of magical practices. These beliefs are not monolithic, culled from various other traditions, and vary by region and followers.
It has influences in African, Native American, French and South American tradition.
These occult sciences are practiced by little old ladies in swamp cottages and snazzy dudes who may or may not be James Bond villains. There are many International Houses of Voodoo where one can procure rare elements, juju charms, potions, enchantments, powders, and artifacts like amulets or gris-gris, necklaces of eyeballs and rubber chickens. (These various 'tricks' may be combined in a 'mojo bag' for portability.) Hotspots of Voodoo activity include Haiti, West Africa, New Orleans, the Caribbean and parts of Brazil.
They also earn an income by administering charms, amulets, and magical powders guaranteed to cure ailments, grant desires, and confound or destroy one's enemies. Most noted for her achievements as the Voodoo queen of New Orleans in the 1830s was Marie Laveau. Once the news of her powers spread, she overthrew the other Voodoo leaders of New Orleans.
Voodoo doctors, or "jazz funeral chasers", often don skeleton makeup and trick local tourists into meeting them in cemetaries at night, never to be heard from again. Their pacts with spiritual forces from beyond are not to be reckoned with by mortal minds.
Spells and incantations must be done with extreme care with the proper ingredients, or else an attempt to reanimate the dead may, say, result in them only reanimating when music is playing.
Traditional voodoo chant:
- I'm not the one who's so far away
- when I feel the snakebite enter my ve-eins
- Never did I wanna be here again
- and I don't remember why I came
A popular myth about voodoo is that dolls of your enemies can be created to slowly curse and destroy them over time while you laugh and drain their power. While true, it is much more complicated than that. First of all, most voodoo dolls are beneficial, and are used to confer special buffs to people, such as income boosters, creative bursts, and defensive wards. Also, the pins sticking into the dolls are strictly metaphorical, and only 'damage' the recipient in barely perceptible and complex ways, so that it is indistinguishible from random happenstance or coincidence (and never traceable to the voodoo practicioner, of course). Additionally, the 'effigy' concept is not West African in origin, but combined into the folklore from European roots.
Finally, in order to construct a proper voodoo doll, it need not look like the person (though this is a bonus) but must consist of something of the Thread, something of the Head, something of the Body, and something of the Dead. You will find that many aspects of voodoo culture involve coffins, above-ground graves, and spooky forces from the other side.
One must be very careful when meddling in the affairs of the underworld, as you can lose your home, your soul, your life, or even your precious mojo.
Voodoo Rain was a powerful and unique line of herbally enhanced beverages that combined herbs, great tasting flavors and a little magic.
Voodoo, hoodoo, and mojo all continue to be celebrated and immortalized by blues icons and weird teenagers the world over.
Voodoo was used to overthrow many plantation owners during American slavery, and may have been part of the success of the Haitian revolt and Toussaint Louverture (though he would later discourage its use).
Western Christian Imperialists are usually weirded out by all things Voodoo due to its inherent nature dealing with ancient dead family members, dessecated animal corpses, the feminine goddess-head, sex, the physical embodiment of death, menstruation, serpents, and black people. Uptight Christian prudes.