A part of why I enjoy teaching others about the history and practices of Rootwork/Hoodoo/Conjure is that FAR too many magical practitioners have no appreciation or conception of how these folk traditions developed. Or how they have impacted the tableau of modern Western occultism and magic, particularly in the U.S.
From common forms of candle magic, to widely popular oil and incense formulas, to the use of various herbal magics and talismans, there is much of modern magical practice that has been shaped by these folk practices.
Even on a basic level of distribution and the economics of magic it has had a major impact. Let us not forget that the drug stores and candle shops that catered to a conjure clientele gave us the first examples of “branded” magic, as well as (for better or worse) the mass distribution and the commercialization of magical supplies in the United States. I dare say that the bulk of modern bookstore spellcraft exhibits at the very least some echoes of American rootwork and conjure.
Yet the history of these traditions gets lost. The reasoning behind their formation and transmission becomes lost. The contributions of African slaves, Native Americans, Jewish Mysticism, Irish and European Folklore are easily dismissed and become absorbed into this “Eclectic Pagan” soup without any respect, reference, or even a nod to their origins.
And THEN such practices become maligned by the same ignorant folks who stand upon their backs!
One of my students was recently attacked online for practicing hoodoo because it is “devil’s work”.
This may be something worth brushing off if it were coming form some evangelical family member. But it wasn’t. It came from a person is also a magical practitioner.
As I said, there are too many “magical” people who know nothing about a HUGELY important part of the history of American magic.
They confuse it with Voodoo and Vodou (which they are often equally as ignorant about), and they fear or malign it without knowing the slightest thing.
Yet these are the same people who get pissed off when people are ignorant, or spread misinformation about their pagan, new age, or occult philosophies.
I encourage all seekers to be inquisitive, to ask why, and to continue to learn. If you love something (like magic), TRULY LOVE it enough to practice it, then you should be willing to do both it, and yourself the favor of learning about its history.
And if you want people to be “tolerant” and respectful of your beliefs, you should display the same courtesy to the practices and beliefs of others. Whether you understand them or not.