Working the Roots: Introduction to Rootwork

From $58.50 USD every Two Weeks (7 Payments Total)

Course Enrollment is Open!

Course Start Date: December 6th, 2021

Instructor: Rev. Dr. Aaron Davis

Online Course Length: 8 Weeks

Hoodoo. Rootwork. Conjure.

Each of these names references a remarkable and distinctly American magical system rooted in West African Congo spirituality. The original spiritual practices of the enslaved Africans were disrupted by American slavery – but not destroyed. Like the Africans themselves, the magical practices had to adapt in order to survive. Displaced Africans’ encounters with First Nation medicine-men, Appalachian conjurers and Jews caused their indigenous magical system to continually evolve and syncretize into the fascinating eclectic practice that exists today.

Many people are drawn to rootwork, but hesitate to explore it out of fear that it is “not for them,” or because they have heard that the courses available simply skim the surface without truly exploring the essence of the practice.

In Working the Roots: Introduction to Rootwork,  Rev. Dr. Aaron Davis expertly guides you into the world of hoodoo, spirit work, and folk magic, with a heavy emphasis on working with your ancestors. A rootworker of 16 years, Rev. Doc Aaron has drawn from his extensive experience to create a course of rare quality that combines hands-on practice with in-depth study, offering this work that can be truly transformative. Rev. Doc Aaron has designed a class in which EVERONE is welcome, regardless of race or spiritual persuasion. His course will help you learn to think like a rootworker and develop the adaptive consciousness so important to practicing Hoodoo.

*Course includes weekly videos, written lessons, and an optional interactive Facebook group community!

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Description

Why You Should Take this Course

The ability to adapt and resist oppression is the core impulse of this spiritual practice. This is perhaps the most important reason to practice rootwork; namely, because you need a flexible and highly-adaptable tradition that provides useful, time-tested tools to navigate life’s travails and challenges with greater ease. By the end of this class, you will have a firm grasp on what Hoodoo is, as well as how to apply it meaningfully to your existing practice.

As other teachers in the Blackthorne School have said, Hoodoo is probably not your only spiritual modality. We are all grown folk and able to discern how to incorporate Hoodoo into what we already do. That said, the class discussion forums are just the place for us to discuss and work out collectively where this may not be so clear, which sets us apart from other more individualistic Western traditions. Here in our Facebook forums, we can draw upon this community to find our way.

If you are ready to learn about a great American folk practice that can give you tools to weather the conditions of life, I warmly invite you to join me!

Course Outline

Week 1: Context, History, and Ethics

a. My Story
   i. Rootworker
   ii. Santero
   iii. PGM sorcerer
   iv. Christian minister and bishop
   v. Family roots

b. Ethics
   i. What Hoodoo is and is not
   ii. Potential objections to practicing Hoodoo
   iii. Hoodoo and energy
   iv. Hoodoo’s Christian roots and what this means for modern practitioners with issues with Christianity 

This week’s lesson establishes our baseline as a class, meaning we explore individually and collectively our social location. Central to this exploration is my belief that we all come from a place. Knowledge of that place is a potent starting point for forming our identities as rootworkers and wherever else Spirit may lead us.

I will of course lead the discussion by speaking of my own social location, as well as my awareness of how that “GPS” shapes and forms my practices, the choices I have made of spiritual traditions to follow, and how they converge to make me who I am. This will include discussion of my family of origin, my Christian faith, my explorations into African Derived Traditions and even my current studies of sorcery.

The second part of this week’s lesson explores the issue of ethics in Hoodoo. Included is clarification on what distinguishes Hoodoo from other like practices, a frank discussion on the gatekeeping Hoodoo sometimes becomes prey to, and what spiritual concepts are traditional to Hoodoo (and which ones are not!). By this week’s end, I hope that you begin to form a sense of identity based on the fusion of your social location and personal ethics.

Week 2: Hoodoo Herbal Theology and Cosmology

a. Rev. Doc’s Kitchen Tour: The use of what we already have. A showcase of herbal tools used in Rootwork
b. Hoodoo Herbal Theology and Cosmology
   i. Like animism, but deeper; not just alive but each herb is a discreet spirit
   ii. The protocols of working with herbs and roots
   iii. Herbal Correspondence lists
   iv. When herbs “fight” you—the story of my feisty Ortis root pendulum!
   v. The importance of hyssop as a worker for your toolkit

This week we will explore what I consider to be the primary foundation of Hoodoo: herbs and roots. We will begin with a tour of my kitchen. This is to make the simple point that none of us have to go on a pilgrimage to find herbs for rootwork; we can work the roots right from the spice rack in our kitchen! I will also show some of the tools I use in my work.

Next, we will survey what I call the theology and cosmology of Hoodoo’s herbology. It is important that you understand the difference of Hoodoo’s herbology from other modalities you may be aware of or practice. Part of this discussion will be what to do about herbs that don’t agree with you (yes, it is a thing!), as well as the importance of hyssop in your toolkit.

Week 3: Baths, Waters, and Cleansings

a. Types of spiritual baths
   i. Cleansing baths: sweet and “bitter” herb baths
   ii. Fresh herb baths vs. dried herbs bath
   iii. The White Bath (not Hoodoo, but Santeria/Lucumi–powerful!)
   iv. Salt baths
   v. Suggested recipes list for baths
b. Peace Water and War Water
   i. Laying down waters for both, open and sneaky
   ii. Formulas for each Water
c. Other Cleansings
   i. Black and white candle cleansings
   ii. Egg cleansing
   iii. Fresh herb bundles cleansing
   iv. Incense/burning herbs cleansing
   v. House cleansing/blessing

The third week we will discuss different types of baths and bathing practices that are primarily but not exclusively Hoodoo. I will be drawing on my knowledge as a santero and espiritista for this week, to insure that you have an ample palette of choices with which to cleanse and refresh yourself. Included in this week’s worksheets will be some recipes from yours truly.

All up for discussion are the use of waters in Hoodoo, specifically Peace Water and War Water, how to lay them down and suggested formulas to make them. Finally, I will discuss other forms of cleansing not done with water that are important options for an aspiring rootworker to be able to take care of themselves.

Week 4: Candle & Flame Workings

a. Candle Basics
   i. How to set a light
   ii. Picking the right candle at the store
   iii. Fire proofing your space
   iv. How to fix and load candles
   v. Petition papers with candles
   vi. Color symbolism
   vii. Candle spells by condition
b. Working with Flame
   i. Florida Water and flammable colonias
   ii. Incense workings for influence or domination (beyond just burning it!)
c. Oil Lamps in Hoodoo
   i. Theology of oil lamps and why they are sometimes preferred over candles
   ii. Fixing a lamp with herbs, oils, and prayer
   iii. Vodun-style lamps with floating wick
   iv. What workings work best with an oil lamp vs. candle?

On week four we will dive into the fundamentals of candle work. Do not be fooled by the word fundamental, however, because this body of information is what all rootworkers use to construct their candle spells to good effect. This is also the week where we introduce the idea of conditions in rootwork. I will give examples of how various conditions can be addressed with Hoodoo candle work.

The second portion of this week’s lesson revolves around the use of flammable substances such as Florida Water to effect certain workings, whether they are for consecration or fiery protection. Fire safety is equally important and explored here. Finally, you will learn how to utilize one of Hoodoo’s powerful tools for long-term magical workings: the lamp.

Week 5: Oils, Sprays, Powders, & Incense

a. Condition oils: history and use
   i. Different types of oils, suggested practice 
   ii. Oil recipes, including specialized oils
   iii. Various uses of oils in workings (candles, baths, anointing, empowering objects, feeding mojos)
   iv. Creating your own condition oil 
b. Powders and Incense: history and use
   i. Powders and African foot track magic 
   ii. How powders are deployed (foot track, blowing, sprinkling)
   iii. Powders and dirts
   iv. Sample workings with powders
   v. Incense in workings—the theology of its use
   vi. The practice of using incense, and why
   vii. An example of skull candle and using smoke to influence someone

Another more modern innovation within Hoodoo is the use of condition oils. We will explore their history and use and how they came to be so central to Hoodoo practice. In this lesson will be discussion of different oils, a list of recipes and some thoughts on the various uses of oils in workings. This lesson connects directly to Week Two’s lesson on herbology. By the end of this week, you will have the knowledge you need to create your own condition oil!

We will round out this week with looking at powders and incense, and how they are deployed. This part of Hoodoo is one of the more traditional connections to the foot track magic done in Africa, so I will show how this carried over to the so-called New World, and how powders and incense connect to workings and the spirits that empower them.

Week 6: Divination and the Bible

a. Part One: Divination
   i. The theology behind divination as a prelude to doing work
   ii. Playing cards
     • Reading with cards
     • Working with cards
     • Strengths and weaknesses
   iii. Pendulums
     • How to make one
     • How to read with a jack ball/pendulum and a spirit board
     • How to assist with workings with the Jack ball
     • Strengths and weaknesses
   iv. Throwing bones
     • How to collect and start a bone set
     • How to bless and consecrate them with ancestors
     • Doing readings
     • Strengths and weaknesses of this tool
   v. Coins
     • One, two and four coin readings
     • How to bless and consecrate the coins for divination
     • How to divine with coins 
     • Strengths and weaknesses of this tool

b. Part Two: The Bible
   i. How the Bible is understood in Hoodoo as a replacement for what was lost of indigenous spirituality during American slavery
   ii. The importance of the Psalms in workings and their connection to older pagan cults
   iii. How the Bible is used in workings and understood as a tool of power
   iv. Bibliomancy
     • Using the Bible as a divination tool
     • Using the Bible for investigative divination in workings

Week Six is going to be complex yet fascinating to many of you as you explore with me the numerous options and tools the Hoodoo tradition uses for its divinatory arts. Unlike other systems of magic, Hoodoo follows a particular prescriptive pattern that includes not only diagnosing what the problem is, but how to address it.
We will look at playing cards, pendulums and jack balls, bone reading and bibliomancy with the Holy Bible (yes, you heard that right!). With each I will also discuss what I see as strengths and weakness, so you can better decide for yourself which tool(s) will suit you best.

Week 7: The Spirits of Hoodoo

a. General Hoodoo protocols for approaching and working with spirits
b. Animal bones and the animal spirits inside them
d. The Ancestors – primary spirits of the tradition
e. Saints and Catholic Hoodoo (actually there are Protestant ones too!)
f. The cultural heroes of Hoodoo: e.g., High John the Conker, Carolina Dye, Harriet Tubman, Big Mommas
g. Graveyard spirits (babies, soldier, police, fireman, unbaptized people, untimely dead, murderers, famous people, etc.) – who to go to for what?

The penultimate lessons of this course will be a deep dive into the numerous spirits rootworkers choose to work with in their practice. It is centrally important here for all of you to understand the protocols for approaching and working with spirits in Hoodoo. Not all of this is traditional, but rather comes from my own experience and in some cases, experimentation with certain spirits to ascertain best practices.

This is a broad and wide-ranging subject area, so this is a week, perhaps more so than others, where I encourage you to take your time, use your divinatory skills and find the right “fit” of spirit allies to enhance and empower your work! Aside from the survey of spirits, this week’s primary aim is to give you the means to figure out how to connect and kick-start your practice with the help of spirits.

Week 8: Putting It All Together

a. How do you pull together all the things learned in the past 7 weeks into a coherent practice?
b. How do you utilize these weeks’ lessons to address conditions in your life or others’ lives? Do you even want to?
c. Will give 5 examples of generalized workings that can be adapted for specific situations
   i. Love/Reconciliation Working
   ii. Legal Working
   iii. Prosperity Working
   iv. A Protective Working
   v. A House Blessing Working
d. This class begins to give a foundation, but you’re not yet a full-fledged rootworker. There’s other pieces to learn to round out your practice.
e. You can choose to be a rootworker for different reasons:
   i. To run a spiritual business
   ii. To work for the protection and uplift of your family
   iii. Strictly for yourself and your own well-being
   iv. A desire to benefit and uplift community and become a community servant

Our final week’s lesson is where I invite us to consider the important question of how to pull together all the things learned the past seven weeks into a coherent practice. To begin to discuss and answer this, we will return to the idea of conditions as a way to focus our approaches. Case studies will be pivotal to apprehending how conditions get addressed. We will finally look at where to go from this class, namely whether you want to practice for yourself, others around you, or even as a professional rootworker. There may also be a surprise for you all at the end of this week that will help you with clarity on this very next step!

Course Information

The course will take place over eight weeks and include video presentations and detailed text documents.  In addition, students will receive private consultations with Rev. Dr. Aaron Davis through FaceBook and/or email.

After registering for the course, the week before the start date we will add you to a private FaceBook group along with the other students in this course.  We’ve found this is a great way to share your journey in this course together.

Course Prerequisites

None required. Please contact us if you have questions as to the appropriateness of fit of the course for you.

In addition, you will need a FaceBook account to be added to the private FaceBook group if you wish to participate, however, the course can also be taken as an independent study if desired.

Instructor Bio

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What Former Students Have Said About Rev. Doc’s Teaching

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