Friday, June 24, 2011

Defining Rootwork & Who or What a Rootworker Is

Defining Rootwork and Who or What a Rootworker Is

While a description may be relatively easy, as defined below, the actuality of who a rootworker is, can be very difficult. First, we'll start with the historical and (relatively) clinical definition:

This African-American Folk Magick system (also referred to as Hoodoo or JuJu) 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. The goal of rootwork is to allow people access to spiritual forces to influence their daily lives. Rootwork is an informal system that draws its influences from Appalachian, traditional African practices, Native American folklore and some elements of Christian, Jewish and European folk practices. It is not a religion and it is not to be confused with Voodoo, or more correctly, Vodun.

One who practices rootwork, a form of American Folk Magic. Other names, depending on geographical area, include: Uncle, Auntie, Granny, Witch Doctor, Granny Woman, or Witch.

Historically, she is the "old hag" of northern & western Europe, the "granny witch" of the Appalachia's, the "conjurer" of the Hoodoo in the southern United States. There are various "types" who practice specific works according to geographic location. The conjurer's work is influenced mainly by the French, Haitian, and southern Black slaves. Melding into a style all their own. The granny witch of the Appalachia's has strong European (English, Welsh, Scots, Germanic) influences, including that of the Black slaves that lived among them after they were freed. The herbs & roots they use are all very much the same, but in many instances their application may be different or in some cases other plants may be used.

For example, the Louisiana Voodoo doll is shaped from moss from the trees (maybe 2 crossed twigs for arms & legs), herbs may be wrapped inside with pretty fabric, and then tied. The Appalachia dollbaby is a cloth, generically human shaped doll that is stuffed with what ever is available; fiberfill stuffing, herbs, scrap material, etc.. These are very general descriptions, but the basic idea is obvious....each has their own style.

Ok, with that out of the way - WHO or WHAT is a rootworker?

The rootworker is a rare find. They are usually not one to advertise their presence. With the internet, there are younger rootworkers now online, but the old "down in the holler" Granny Witch certainly won't be! She lives a fairly solitary life, maybe married, often widowed. She works in her garden, gathers specific roots & plant parts in the woods, collects "odd" things while on her walks; stones, feathers, bones, bark, flowers, what ever catches her eye. Each having a purpose, whether known or unknown at that moment.

A rootworker blends potions for medicinal purposes, as well as for spiritual works. She may be called upon for matters of the heart or matters of the stomach. Regardless of which, she'll always have something to help you out with. You may be given an amulet to carry with you, or a potion to drink, or a dust or powder to sprinkle around for what ever purpose necessary. Make sure to be respectful and to pay for her services. This may be monetary if she so asks, or it may be an action returned in kind.

If you find one nearby, don't be afraid to speak with her. Develop a rapport and a relationship. She may just decide you're worth teaching. And what she knows will be far greater than what you'll find only in books! Practical knowledge beats book knowledge every time.


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