Glossary of Hoodoo


Folk medicine is practiced by a great number of persons. On the "jobs," that is, in the sawmill camps, the turpentine stills, mining camps and among the lowly generally, doctors are not generally called to prescribe for illnesses, certainly, nor for the social diseases. Nearly all of the conjure doctors practice "roots," but some of the root doctors are not hoodoo doctors. One of these latter at Bogaloosa, Louisiana, and one at Bartow, Florida, enjoy a hug patronage. They make medicine only, and white and colored swarm about them claiming cures.

The following are some prescriptions gathered here and there in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana:


a. Fifty cents of iodide potash in two quarts of water. Boil down to one quart. Add two teaspoons of Epsom salts. Take a big swallow three times a day.

b. Fifty cents iodide potash to one quart sarsaparilla. Take three teaspoons three times a day in water.

c. A good handful of May pop roots; one pint ribbon canc syrup; one?half plug of Brown's Mule tobacco cut up. Add fifty cents iodide potash. Take this three times a day as a tonic.

d. Parch egg shells and drink the tea.

e. For Running Range (Claps): Take blackberry root, sheep weed, boil together. Put a little blueing in (a pinch) and a pinch of laundry soap. Put all this in a quart of water. Take one?half glass three times a day and drink one?half glass of water behind it.

f. One quart water, one handful of blackberry root, one pinch of alum, one pinch of yellow soap. Boil together. Put in last nine drops of turpentine. Drink it for water until it goes through the bladder.


a. Ashes of one good cigar, fifteen cents worth of blue ointment. Mix and put on the sores.

b. Get the heart of a rotten log and powder it fine. Tic it up in a muslin cloth. Wash the sores with good castile soap and powder them with the wood dust.

C. When there are blue-balls (buboes), smear the swellings with mashed up granddaddies (daddy-long-legs) and it will bring them to a head.

d. Take a gum ball, cigar, soda and rice. Burn the gum ball and cigar and parch the rice. Powder it and sift and mix with vaseline. It is ready for use.

e. Boil red oak bark, palmetto root, fig root, two pinches of alum, nine drops of turpentine, two quarts of water together to one quart. Take one?half cup at a time. (Use no other water.)


One pint of boiling water, two tablespoons of flaxseed, two tablespoons of cream of tartar. Drink one?half glass in the morning and one?half at night.


Sweet gum bark and mullen cooked down with lard. Make a salve.


Take mullen leaves (five or six) and steep in one quart of water. Drink three to four wine glasses a day.


Oil of white rose (fifteen cents), oil of lavender (fifteen cents), Jockey Club (fifteen cents), Japanese honeysuckle (fifteen cents). Rub.


a. Slate dust and pulverized sugar. Blow it in the eyes. (it must be finely pulverized to remove film.)

b. Get somebody to catch a catfish. Get the gall and put it in a bottle. Drop one drop in each eye. Cut the skin off. It gives the sight a free took.


Draw out the nail. Beat the wound and squeeze out all the a. blood possible. Then take a piece of fat bacon, some tobacco and a penny and tic it on the wound.

b. Draw out the nail and drive it in a green tree on the sunrise side, and the place will heal. 266 MULES AND MEN


One grated nutmeg, pinch of alum in a quart of water (cooked). Take one?half glass three times daily.


Make a tea of parched rice and bay leaves (six). Give a cup at a time. Drink no other water.


Take a silver quarter with a woman's head on it. Stand her on her head and file it in one?half cup of sweet milk. Add nine parts of garlic. Boil and give to drink after straining.


Jack of War tea, one tablespoon to a cup of water with a pinch of soda after it is ready to drink.


Sheep weed leaves, bay leaf, sarsaparilla root. Take the bark and cut it all up fine. Make a tea. Take one tablespoon and put in two cups of water and strain and sweeten. You drink some and give some to patient.

Put a fig leaf and poison oak in shoe. (Get fig leaves off a tree that hasn't home fruit. Stem them so that nobody mill know.)


One quart of wine, three pinches of raw rice, three dusts of cinnamon (about one heaping teaspoon), five small pieces of the hull of pomegranate about the size of a fingernail, five tablespoons of sugar. Let it come to a boil, set one?half hour and strain. Dose: one tablespoon. (When the pomegranate is in season, gather all the hulls you can for use at other times in the year.)


There are few instances of actual poisoning. When a conjure doctor tells one of his patients, "Youse poisoned nearly to death," he does not necessarily mean that poison has been swallowed. He might mean that, but the instances are rare. He names that something hasbeen put down for the patient. He may be: (i) "buried in the graveyard"; (2) "throwed in de river"; (3) "nailed up in a tree",? (4) Put into a snake, rabbit, frog or chicken; (5) just buried in his own yard; (6) or hung up and punished. Juice of the nightshade, extract of polk root, and juice of the milkweed have been used as vegetable poisons, and poisonous spiders and powdered worms and insects arc used as animal poisons. I have heard of one case of the poison sac of the rattlesnake being placed in the water pail of an enemy. But this sort of poisoning is rare.

It is firmly held in such cases that doctor's medicine can do the patient no good. What he needs is a "two-headed" doctor, that is, the conjure man. In some cases the hoodoo man does effect a cure where the physician fails because he has faith working with him. Often the patient is organically sound. He is afraid that he has been "fixed," and there is nothing that a medical doctor can do to remove that fear. Besides, some poisons of a low order, like decomposed reptiles and the like, are not listed in the American Pharmacopoeia. The doctor would never suspect their presence and would not be prepared to treat the patient if he did.