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Spiritual Terminology

Anointing- A term used to describe rubbing a condition oil on an individual. It is sometimes used interchangeably with dressing.


ADR- An acronym for African Diaspora Religion


African Diaspora Religion- A religion which evolved from traditional African practices in the Americas, as a direct result of the importation of African peoples into the Americas.


African Traditional Religion- A religion of African origin, as practiced in Africa by African people.


Altar - A sacred place that honors spirits, ancestors, loved ones, or even the self.

Amulet - A piece of jewelry that is symbolic and protective.

Ash-Catcher- Alternative term for any time of incense holder. As the name implies, the ashes from burning incense collects on the ash-catcher to protect the surface on which the incense is burning.

Banishing - A trick to get rid of something negative.

Bath- In context, a spiritual bath. Not a soak in the tub to clean the body, but a mixture of herbs, colognes, waters, etc. which is poured onto the body for spiritual benefit.


Blessing- A type of spell or prayer intended to spiritually cleanse a person, place or thing while infusing it with the positive energy of the divine and one’s hopes.


Bokor - Generally believed in Louisiana today to be the Haitian equivalent to the hoodoo practitioner. Some bokors are said to be uninitiated specialists in malevolent magic.

Botanica- A retail store that sells spiritual goods such as herbs, oils, statuary, etc...


Bottle tree - Making wishes and placing cobalt blue bottles onto branches of a tree to make a bottle tree that functions as a talisman.

Briquette Incense- Incense made from pressing a mixture of charcoal powder and saltpeter into a small brick-like form and then scenting the resulting dried briquette with essential oils.


Butting- A term used in candle-magick to describe the act of cutting the tip off a candle, turning it upside down and digging a new tip out of the bottom. Symbolically this is said to reverse people and conditions as symbolized by the color of the candle or the words carved upon it. Sometimes also referred to as Flipping.


Candle Worker - A person who mainly only sets lights or works with candles.


Caul - The covering on the eye of a newborn that usually predicts psychic ability.

Censer- A vessel in which incense is burned. It is often suspended from a chain so that it may be swung about to distribute smoke in a given area.


Chant - Repetitive statement used to enhance the magical aspect of a ritual, spell, or ceremony.


Charging - Energizing or strengthening

Charms - A collection of symbolic objects designed for a specific purpose, such as luck, love, protection.

Coil Incense- Incense made from placing powdered sandalwood onto a thin bamboo or fiber core twisted into a spiral shape. It is then allowed to dry and then scented with essential oils.


Cold Reading- A type of technique used by disreputable psychics, mediums, and fortune-tellers which utilizes general statements to determine details about a person. By gauging the individual’s reaction to these general statements, an experienced fortune-teller can extrapolate more information about the subject giving the appearance of having true psychic ability. This technique is also used in the entertainment industry by mentalist, illusionist, and stage-magicians. Compare to Hot Reading.


Condition- A term found in the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition to describe an oil or powder blend, eg. ‘condition oil’.


Condition Oil- A term used to describe oils which have been designed to address a specific issue or bring about a specific condition. Examples include, Cast Off Evil Oil, Follow Me Boy, and Money Drawing Oil.


Conjure – This is a traditional magick system that originated in the southern United States. It is a mystical art founded in botanical knowledge passed on hereditarily through the family, but it may also be practiced by solitaries. It is also the added aspect of “conjuring”, to draw magic, spirits, or energy. Contact with ancestors or other spirits of the dead is an important practice within the conjure tradition, and the recitation of Psalms from the Bible is also considered magically effective. It is not a religion. See also Hoodoo, JuJu and Rootwork.

Cone Incense- Incense made by a process of combining sandalwood with other woods, gum and pressing it into cone-shaped mold. It is allowed to dry and then scented with oils.


Crossing – Spiritual works that cause harm or bad luck.

Crossroads- Crossroads - A place where two roads connect forming an X. Crossroads are places of spiritual power where magickal items are often disposed of and rituals pacts are formed. A mystical place steeped in magic where four roads intersect and where deals are made; a location where two realms touch, a place between worlds where supernatural spirits can be contacted and paranormal events take place.

Crossroads magic - Prevalent in conjure, rootwork, and hoodoo.

Curse- A type of spell intended to bring harm to an individual in some form and for a variety of reasons (i.e. to punish, teach a lesson, etc...). Other related terms include: hex or jinx.


Divination- The ritual process of gaining information about the past, present, or future either with the use of tools such as Tarot Cards, Playing Cards, Sortilege etc...or without tools utilizing one’s own psychic faculties, or through the observation of signs and omens.


Dressing- A term which refers to rubbing a condition oil on an inanimate object such as a candle, a mojo bag, or a talisman. It is sometimes used interchangeable with anointing.


Dressing candles - To bring additional power to candles using herbal or mineral oils.

Feeding- The act of dressing a mojo bag with oil, or a lodestone with oil/magnetic sand to nourish it and keep it strong to work for you.


Feeding powder - Herbal or mineral substance used to charge and sustain the life of a powerful object.

Fix- In the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork tradition, refers to the practice of preparing an item for magical purposes by adding herbs, curios, personal concerns, and other material.


Fixing tricks - Doing spellwork.

Flipping - A term used in candle-magick to describe the act of cutting the tip off of a candle, turning it upside down and digging a new tip out of the bottom. Symbolically this is said to reverse people and conditions as symbolized by the color of the candle or the words carved upon it. See also Butting.

Foot track magic - A hoodoo spell that involves the physical tracks and footprints. Throwing powders and such in the path of a target who will suffer from abnormal maladies and a run of bad luck once they have walked on it. Direct or sympathetic methods.

Fumigation- The exposing of something to incense smoke for the purpose of cleansing and purifying it.

Gopher’s Dust (Goofer Dust) - A magical dust used in foot track magic that traditionally contains snakeskin or the rattle of a rattlesnake. Used to motivate and enforce changes.

Goofer Dust (Gopher’s Dust) - A magical dust used in foot track magic that traditionally contains snakeskin or the rattle of a rattlesnake. Used to motivate and enforce changes.

Graveyard dirt - Dirt taken from a graveyard. Especially potent if gathered from a grave at the crossroads.

Gris-gris - A spell, charm, or magic depending on use in sentence structure. A ritually prepared object such as a doll or a small cloth bag filled with magical ingredients, as well as the act of working the gris-gris (spell or charm).

Hand- Another word for a Mojo Bag (see also "Root")


Heat- Spiritual strength and power. Also refers to the process of magically strengthening an item (Heating).


Hex - Negative energy cast upon a victim.

Honey Jar- A type of spell which uses sweeteners such as honey, syrup, molasses, etc. in conjunction with a candle(s) and designed to compel an individual to favor your petition in business, love, or court-cases.


Hoodoo- A form of folk-magic originating in Africa which, through the process of syncretism, has absorbed beliefs and practices from other cultures such as Native American spirituality and European Grimoires.


Hot Footing- A type of spell or ritual intended to drive a person, such as an enemy or some other troublesome person, away. It is synonymous with banishing in other magickal traditions.


Hot Reading- The use of knowledge gained about an individual beforehand when performing a reading for another individual. See also cold reading.


House- The primary organizational structure of most African Diaspora Religions. A family/society group of practitioners who share the same initiatory lineage and who worship together.


Incensing- Refers to the covering of a person, place, or object with incense smoke. In the practice of magic and spells this is often performed for the purpose of cleansing and empowerment. Also known as censing or smoking.

Initiatory Tradition- A tradition where the knowledge and power needed to practice that tradition can only be gained by the process of initiation and is not shared with those who are not initiated into that tradition. All of the African Traditional Religions and African Diaspora Religions are initiatory.


Invocation - A song, poem, or chant designed to call upon the spirits or ancestors.

Job- Another term for spell. Also working.


Juju - Magic, sometimes with bad intent.

Lady Hearted- A Root-worker or spiritual practitioner who is morally opposed to bringing harm to another individual or animal through the use of spells and magick.


Laying tricks - Hoodoo term for performing spells. Also refers to concealing or disposing of magical objects by strategically placing the ingredients in certain places in order to fix the trick; in essence, to seal the deal.

Live Things In You- A term which refers to the belief that, through the use of magick, live beings such as snakes, scorpions, and/or spiders have been introduced into the human body.


Loa (Lwa) - Also known as Mystères or the Invisibles; spirits responsible in the daily matters of life in the areas of family, love, money, happiness, wealth, and revenge. Petitioned in rituals and spellwork.

Loading- A term which refers to digging a small hole in the bottom of a candle and introducing herbs, personal concerns, oils, powders, etc… into it before resealing the hole.


Mambo - An initiated priestess in the religion of Orthodox Haitian Vodou.

Mojo Bag- A type of talisman which takes the form of a small flannel drawstring bag containing an assortment of animal, vegetable, and/or mineral curios believed to attract or dispel certain influences.


Personal Concerns- A term used to describe anything that is associated with a person’s physical body either having once been a part of it or having intimate contact to the body. Examples of personal concerns include blood, semen, hair, clothing, one’s signature, photograph, etc.


Poisoned Through the Feet- A term used to describe when a person has walked over or stepped through a magickal powder that has been laid down in their path for the purpose of affecting them in a negative way.


Poppet - A small, stuffed doll or other organic object used to represent a human. Also referred to as a voodoo doll, baby doll, dolly and doll baby.

Powdered Incense- Incense made from a blend of wood fiber, saltpeter and scent, although dried herbs can be added to the mixture. It is usually burned by shaping it into cones. It is also known as Loose or Self-Lighting incense.


Reader- A Root-worker, or spiritual practitioner, who is psychically gifted.


Root: 1) The part of a plant that attaches it to the ground 2) A spell or working 3) A mojo-hand or talisman.


Root Doctor- A person who practices the hoodoo/conjure/rootwork form of folk magic. Used to refer to a professional practitioner, as opposed to someone who does magical work for themselves.


Rootwork: Another term used to refer to the hoodoo folk magic of the American South. Also refers to the practice of working with plants within that tradition.


Root-worker- A practitioner of Hoodoo. See also Two-Headed Doctor.


Rope Incense- Incense is made by placing herbs and other plant materials on rice paper, thin fiber, or bamboo and then twisting the rice paper to form a 'rope'.


Runs- A term used by candle-workers referring to the practice of lighting a new candle for the same intention shortly before an old one has burned out until satisfactory results are achieved.


Scrying - Gazing at an object such as a flame, water, crystal ball, or mirror to see into different worlds and times.

Setting Intentions- Making a firm decision about something that you want to be, do, or have and then going about being it, doing it, or having it. Making your decision is the first step, the second step is performing a symbolic act such as a spell or ritual and then you follow up with thinking, speaking, and acting in accordance with your intention.


Setting Lights- A term which refers to the process of preparing a candle for an individual’s petition and praying over it daily until it has burned out.


Spirit Box - A box that will serve to house a spirit of the dead.

Spirit Pot - A specially prepared cast iron cauldron that serves to house the spirit of a dead person who has agreed to serve as working spirit for its owner.

Spiritual Worker (Spiritualist) - A synonym used mainly for a professional, a practitioner who takes on paying clients, but which any practitioner may also use to describe them self.

Stick Incense- Incense made by adhering powdered wood, herbs, etc... to thin sticks which are allowed to dry and then scented with essential oils. Also know as Joss Incense.


Suffumigation- The burning of incense to produce fumes as part of some magical rituals.


To Throw For- A term which refers to throwing down powders where a person will step over or walk through them. See also Poisoning Through the Feet.


Two Headed Doctor- A Root-worker, or spiritual practitioner, who is also a reader.


Uncrossing - Works that reverse a crossing (hex).

Vévé - Drawing made with cornstarch on the earth or floor to invoke the spirit of gods or goddesses in Haitian Vodou; intricate symbol of a loa, used in rituals.

Work or Working – A term that refers to a spell, also called a job.

Working by the Clock: A hoodoo rootwork term referring to using the placement of the hands on a clock: moving downwards is for reversal/removal/banishing works; moving upwards is for good/bringing works.

Tata Nkisi/Yaya Nksis – Male/Female Priest/Priestess without fundemento

Yoruba- The indigenous people of Nigeria, their customs, and religious practice.Many Yoruban people were a part of the African Diaspora, and their customs and religious traditions survive in many of the

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