What is Voodoo, and What is Hoodoo? How are They different?

What is Voodoo, and What is Hoodoo? How are They different?

Though voodoo and hoodoo often get confused as the same practice, they are distinct in origin, purpose, and execution. Voodoo originated in Haiti and is a religion that combines West African beliefs with Catholicism. Conversely, Hoodoo is an American form of folk magic based on knowledge from Native Americans, Europe, and Africa. Both voodoo and hoodoo involve connecting with spiritual realms to manipulate situations to one’s advantage; however, the methods used vary significantly between these two traditions.


Followers of Voodoo recognize an omniscient, supreme being known as Bondye. The name is derived from the French “Bon Dieu” meaning "Good God." According to their theology, he created all that exists but does not intervene in our lives; instead, Loa spirits act as intercessors for humans and carry out his will. Each spirit presides over a different aspect of human life - much like saints do in Catholic tradition - with services held by priests or priestesses conducted using Haitian Creole dialects.


The Loas (or voodoo gods) are invoked and asked to help with specific issues. Rituals such as drumming and dancing can be used to connect with these Loa to gain assistance. Offerings may also be sacrificed so that the Loa will favorably respond to requests made.


Voodoo has three prominent Loas, each with its unique characteristics. The Rada is known for being gentle and kind-hearted spirits; the Petro is said to be very temperamental and passionate; while the Gede often represents death or life beyond the afterlife - but they’re not necessarily seen as sinister forces like in Western media portrayals of zombies. In traditional voodoo culture, ‘zombies’ were victims who had been enslaved by a living master, symbolizing captivity rather than violence against others. It was thought this concept arose from African slaves' struggles to understand their oppression – it gave them something tangible around which they could process their pain without judgment from those more powerful than them


In hoodoo, on the other hand, the practitioner does not interact directly with the spirit realms. Instead, various techniques are used, such as herbs, roots, stones, candles, etc., for spell work or hexes to bring about the desired change. This practice focuses more on manipulating energy than interacting directly with spiritual entities.


Hoodoo is an extraordinary spiritual practice with roots in the Antebellum South. It emerged from a unique mixture of African folk traditions and Catholicism, which were forced upon many enslaved Africans who rarely had access to their own cultures. This remarkable tradition often involves conjurations with roots, herbs, candles, and bodily fluids! A combination of Catholic saints and deities from African folklore is also invoked for powerful rituals steeped in history.


Another difference between voodoo and hoodoo is their use of symbols. Voodoo practitioners use vévés, symbolic designs drawn on the floor with flour, ash, or cornmeal for different ceremonies and rituals. Hoodoo does not have a set of symbols like voodoo; instead, it draws from various sources such as the Bible and astrology to create its unique system of symbolism.


Finally, voodoo is usually practiced in an organized religion, while hoodoo is more individualistic and flexible. While voodoo follows specific rules and regulations established by its adherents, hoodoo can be adapted by each practitioner to meet their spiritual needs.


Overall, voodoo and hoodoo offer two distinct paths to achieve one’s goals through spiritual means. Understanding the differences between voodoo and hoodoo is essential to make an informed decision about which path is right for you.

Back to blog

Leave a comment