Voodoo & Hoodoo – What are they really all about?

Voodoo in Benin
Voodoo in Benin

In the west, commonly when someone mentions Voodoo, it evokes ideas of black magic, devil worship, scary sorcery, and films tend to depict Voodoo as originating in Haiti.

But in fact this scary reputation mainly comes from Europeans and Christians from the past who sought to quash and dehumanise the people of Africa and their religions.


Where does Voodoo come from?

Some people believe that Voodoo is the world’s oldest religion.

The religion of Voodoo, (or Vodoun as it is also known, particularly by those who practice it), is thought by many to originate from Benin, a country in West Africa, but is also practiced on the West coast, including people from Togo, Angola, Nigeria and so on.  The slave trade in 16th-18th century meant that many Africans were shipped to places such as Cuba, Haiti, Brazil and the USA, spreading the religion.

However the religious aspects were often changed and lost in these places and much of Voodoo became Hoodoo, which is generally thought not to be a religion, instead mainly focused on the magic and medicinal aspects of Voodoo. I’ll be explaining more about Hoodoo in my next article.  The word Voodoo actually comes from Vodou, which is the name of the spirits that the people worship.

For many years Voodoo had to be practiced in secret, until 1996, January 10th which is now Nation Voodoo Day in Benin, and people celebrate with song, dance and sacrifices.  This suppression was due to the European colonial influence and also the zealous Christians, who generally tried to quash local religions, perhaps believing this was a good way to control people, and in colonial times fines, torture and death could be imposed upon people found to be practicing Voodoo. Today there are an estimated 50 million worshippers around the world.

So what is Voodoo all about?

Voodoo is an animistic religion, which means that the followers believe that god is in everything from the leaves of trees, to the wind that blows.  It’s a Polytheistic religion, like Paganism, meaning that there are many gods, and again similar to Paganism is the idea of revering nature.  Ancestor worship is also another very important aspect.

Ceremonies and Rituals of Vodoun

There are complex ceremonies and rituals in which the aim is usually to make contact with a spirit (the Vodou), perhaps an ancestor, or one of their lesser deities (called the Loa).  People try to gain their favour by offering animal sacrifices and gifts, in order to get help such as better health, luck or abundance.  The humans and the Loa are co-dependant in this way, with the Loa giving protection and good fortune and the people giving gifts.

Rituals are also held to celebrate lucky or important events, such to give thanks for rain, for marriages, births and deaths, and for healing.

Ceremonies often last all night and are an exciting affair, with singing, drumming and chanting.

The Sakpata Guardian Ritual

Let’s follow one girl – Ianthe (meaning violet flower) into her initiation and receiving of her guardian

First the oracles are consulted to see which divinity she will align with, who will become her supernatural guardian?  The god Sakpata is revealed – god of disease and protection.  He is at once feared and respected for his power.  To become his initiate is a long process.

For nine whole months Ianthe stays in a special temple where she learns the esoteric knowledge of Sakpata, including secret dances, words and language, and the secret name of Sakpata.  Her cheeks are scarified (ritual scarring) to indicate the change and knowledge she has received.

The initiation day

Today Ianthe is wearing a white bonnet, with a cowrie shell necklace, a bright print dress that looks like small pox!  Why? Because Sakpata is also the God of pox.

There is excitement in the air and everybody is anticipating the great feast to come, as well as a whole day and night of celebration and ceremony.  Everyone is dressed in fine clothes and jewellery. There are people with strange costumes.

We can hear the atmospheric shaking of rattles and rhythmic beating of drums.  The village is filled with the chanting and dancing of the priests, priestesses and students.

The dancing and chanting builds in intensity, with women cartwheeling and shimmying low to the ground, until one dancer becomes possessed by Sakpata. She flails and convulses until the god takes full control. This dancer now embodies the god and is treated with the respect that a god commands.

At this point an animal is sacrificed to the Sakpata, and he initiates Ianthe and then leaves.  Soon after the feast begins and people enthusiastically begin to eat and celebrate.

Ianthe is now a fully fledged initiate and will have to follow certain rules and laws in her life (specific to her new guardian Sakpata), for instance she may not eat gineau fowl or have sex on market day.

The ritual and process has been very costly to her family, but to not have such a ritual would be unthinkable, as everybody must have a spiritual guardian that they can call on for help.

Take a look at part of a Vodoun ceremony here. This is a ritual to honour one of the gods.




The Magick of Voodoo

So I’ve written a lot about the rituals and ceremonies, but does Voodoo use magic?  Yes, and this is most obvious to visitors of Benin at the Fetish Markets, where items of power and potions can be bought, such as parts from dead animals, love and money potions.  Part of the scary reputation of Voodoo may come from these markets where things like cured apes heads can be bought (said to aid memory) or dead owls and vultures which are used to counter a curse.

Some people argue that all religions have a dark and a light side, and others say that the bad stuff you can buy at these fetish markets is not actually Voodoo but Bokors (sorcerer) items.

Is Voodoo Cruel to Animals?

I don’t know whether these animals are dead already before they are changed to fetish items, but I have mentioned a lot about animal sacrifice.  It’s important to remember that the sacrificed animals are always eaten, and that the conditions animals are kept in are far preferable to those found in the mass farming of the west.


The morals of Voodoo focus on love and support of your family and community, and it is highly valued to be able to protect yourself and those around you when needed.  Dishonour and greed are highly frowned upon.

Find out more about Voodoo and Hoodoo around the world, in part 2 of this article, coming soon!

Image Credit: Vodoun.fr

Bird Magick – Bring Nature into your Spells, Healing & Rituals – Part 1

Bird Magic
Bird Magic

Paganism is usually thought of as a nature religion, but for many Pagans who live in a town or city, and even for those in the countryside, it can be difficult to know how to incorporate nature into your rituals and spells.  Elsewhere I suggest finding things from nature and putting them on your altar or using them in spells and rituals, but here I will describe another way of interweaving nature with your life and beliefs!

Since birds vary so much in physical characteristics (from big to small, from many coloured to plain) and in character (eg some birds being hunters, other singers, others more family orientated, and many a combination), we can use them as symbolic forces to aid in healing, balancing our weaknesses, and nurturing our strengths.  Through the wisdom and power of bird medicine we can life up our spirits and strengthen our sense of clarity and balance.


Bird Magick – The realm of air and sky

The skies have long been associated with a freedom far removed from everyday life.  When we feel depressed or unable to act, bogged down in everyday life, we can look up at the birds for inspiration to leave the mundane world and life ourselves through the air by potent magical ritual.

Just as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians among others revered many birds, such as Osiris or the Phoenix, so in Western religious lore through Angels can we see a link between birds and holiness.  Birds link us to this realm of the sky by at once living on earth but being able to fly high.

The realm of air is connected to oxygen and breath.  One of the best things you can do for a calm mind is to take deep slow breaths and draw energy into all parts of your body, this is at once relaxing and enlivening.  Thinking about birds can help to remind us to slow down and truly draw in and appreciate the air element, and the way in which it can bring us pleasure and calmness.

Bird Medicine

As with any aspect of Paganism and Wicca, your imagination is in a way your only limit to the way you practice both life and magic, but here are some suggestions of ways to connect with bird medicine.


Watch and Learn – First step

Birds make amazing entertainers if watched regularly.  You will soon learn to know their habits and routines and see many quirky things they do.  Get some binoculars to really get close to them, and see their markings and behaviour clearly.  By practising bird watching you can improve your skills of patience and observation and enjoy nature in an engaging way, as well as gain a deeper understanding of these mystical creatures.


Study and Draw – Second step

You can study natural history books and draw them in a sketchbook that you keep specifically for this purpose.  This will really help you to understand their abilities and special powers and characteristics, and from there you will begin to realise how to incorporate these traits into your own life.


Feather Healing – Third step

When you’ve found a bird that you feel a particular affinity to, try and get a feather of it.  Feathers contain the energetic properties of the bird, and to make the connection between you strong, it’s important to either find or be given the feather. Be careful though as some feathers are actually illegal to own, such as the eagle feather, unless you are classed as a native american.

By placing the feather on your altar or sacred space, it will help you to remember and connect with the bird’s healing medicine.  You can honour the feather in your rituals and prayers, why not say it’s characteristics and strengths out loud?  You should make offerings to the spirit of the bird – what you offer is up to you, you may wish to offer your own hair to cement the bond, or gather acorns, nuts, herbs or other natural things.

Coming Soon – Part 2 – Birds and Their Healing Properties – Discover the powerful characteristics of the crow, heron, eagle and more!


Thanks to Jonathan Keyes for the inspiration for this article

Fellow witches, can you help me with a question about some left hand path magick?

Question by The Doors of Perception: Fellow witches, can you help me with a question about some left hand path magick?
Fellow witches, what do you think of using sex in magick and rituals? If you send the positive energy from sex and love into the universe won’t it effect the universe positively? I am not talking about using women as alters or disgusting things like that. Just two people in love.

“Blake said that the body was the soul’s prison unless the five senses are fully developed and open. He considered the senses the ‘windows of the soul.’ When sex involves all the senses intensely, it can be like a mystical experience.” – Jim Morrison

Best answer:

Answer by DesireE
It is the Lord’s privilege to give the Holy Ghost to whom he will, and it is not for us to question him in his right, power, and privilege – in the extent of his doings. He blesses the human family; he raises up nations, kingdoms, and governments, and controls in the armies of the world. He rules in the heavens, and makes the wrath of man praise him, and gives his Spirit when and to whom he pleases. Shall I say that he has given it to his Saints all the day long? Yes; for I know that he has. Have they enjoyed the light of the Spirit of revelation? Yes; and so, more or less,

Give your answer to this question below!

How to magickally charge your jewellery & talismans

I’m sometimes asked if my pendants are magickally charged. Whilst I believe that symbols that have been used for a long time, gather significance, and a magick of their own, the pendants do not come precharged by a person.

So in this blog post I’m going to tell you how to magickally charge your own Pagan, Wiccan, Buddhist or other alternative jewellery and symbols.

  1. Mermaid and Dolphin for Harmony and Happiness

    First, think about what it is you want the talisman to help you with. For instance, if you have the Mermaid and Dolphin for Harmony and Happiness you may just want overall happiness and harmony, or perhaps you have a particular situation that you want happiness and harmony to come to, such as your family life

  2. Think of a positive way to state your intention, for general happiness you could say:
    “This pendant brings harmony and happiness into my life.”
  3. For a particular situation such as family life, you could say:
    “This pendant brings harmony and happiness to my family life.”
  4. Next, find out the magickal correspondances that match your desire – ie the best day of the week to do the spell, the correct colours and so on.
    In this case you would pick:

    Friday, as it is associated with family, harmony and friendship
    The Waxing Moon: Because you want to attract harmonious energies
    Lilac: as it is associated with inner healing, calmness and tranquility OR
    Light Blue
    : for its associations with peace and harmony
  5. High Celtic Cross Charm for Guidance and Protection

    Get a spell candle in your chosen colour.

  6. Make or get some blessed water to cleanse and purify the pendant, leaving it ready for you to imprint your magickal charge.
  7. You may wish to get herbs to add extra power to the spell, in this case Aniseed, Jasmine Flowers or Meadowsweet would work well.
  8. I highly recommend getting or making some incense as fragrances have a very powerful effect on our subconscious.  Jasmine, Lavender, Rose and Orange are all connected with happiness and peace. Vanilla is for granting wishes and promotes a positive vibe


Ok, now you have all the equipment and preparation you need to magickally charge your pendant. Now it’s time to begin.


  1. Light your candle and incense.
    Step 2 is optional, but something I find really helps to add power to spells.
  2. Wheel of Taranis Charm for Strength and Courage

    To raise magickal energy I like to cast a sacred circle, then stand in the middle, taking deep breaths and imagining my self rooting into the ground like a tree.  Then I stretch my hands upwards and imagine they are reaching up to the sky.  Hopefully you will begin to feel energy flowing through you, but don’t worry if you don’t.  You can then imagine a circle of swirling energy growing in strength between your outstreched arms.

  3. Now that you have raised your energy, get your blessed water.  If you have some herbs you can mix them into the water.
  4. Sprinkle some of your blessed water on the talisman and say three times

    “I cleanse, bless and consecrate this pendant”
  5. Take your jewellery in your hand and stare at your candle, repeating your intention.  Imagine the positive energy flowing into your pendant.  Try to visualise the successful achievement of your pendant helping you, whether that is having happy times with your family, generally enjoying life or whatever
  6. Keep doing this until you feel the pendant is charged.
  7. Finally say:
    ‘An it harm none, so mote it be!’
  8. Close your sacred circle if you opened one, and now you are done!


Your pendant is now magickally charged, all you have to do now is wear it regularly, the more you wear it the more attuned to you, and thus the stronger it will become.

I hope you enjoyed this article, as with everything, these are just suggestions, so if you feel like changing something or doing something differently, then give it a go!

Let me know how it goes and please leave your comments below!

StormJewel x

Anne Stokes Dragon Love for Brave & Tranquil Heart
Elf Heart for Happiness and Love
Pagani Pentagram to Increase Psychic Ability



How to do Candle Magick

Candle Magick (like most spells) can be as simple or as complex as you like.  Whilst putting a lot of effort into your spells is a good way to make them poewrful and successful, there is also a benefit to quick and easy spells, especially if you repeat them frequently say once a day for a specific length of time or maybe once a week for a particular length of time.  This might be useful if you are working with a particular day of the week – for instance Friday for love, passion and fertility spells.

The key points for candle magick are as follows:

  1. The colour of the candle.
  2. Any oil that you may use to anoint the candle.
  3. The magickcal symbols and sigils that you carve into the candle (such as the pentagram, triqetra etc).
  4. The god, goddess or other type of divinity (eg air, earth, water and fire spirits, angels, fairies etc) that you invoke or call when lighting the candle.
  5. Herbs that you sprinkle around the candle and into the flame (only a tiny bit into the flame don’t start a fire! :o)  You can also carve a hole in the bottom of the candle to put in herbs as well.
  6. The words you choose to say whilst meditating upon the candle
  7. The day of the week you do the spell on.
mixed bag of coloured spell candles
mixed bag of coloured spell candles

As with all magick it is pretty much all up to you, although choosing the right colour spell candles is essential.  However if you want to do a spell and find you do not have the right candle you can always use a white one as white is all purpose.  Alternatively why not stock up on an inexpensicve bag of mixed candles so you always have the right one handy!

Whichever way you choose to do your candle magick make sure you have fun and it feel right to you!


StormJewel x