Hoodoo: Background information when reading Ruby

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A Novel

by Cynthia Bond

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  • First Published:
    Apr 2014, 336 pages
    Feb 2015, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucy Rock

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To the untrained eye, the strain of magic involving animal spirits and the use of charms and powders in Cynthia Bond's novel might seem to be a branch of voodoo - a belief system that finds its origins in the Western African religion of Vodun. It is crucial to note that Ruby is, in fact, along with others in the community, a practitioner of the oft-confused hoodoo.

Also known as 'conjure' or 'rootwork', hoodoo is a term used for a certain kind of African-American folkloric practice and belief. Having made their way across the Atlantic with the slave trade, the elements of hoodoo frequently merge with European and Native American folkloric traditions and often incorporate Biblical psalms. The principal difference between the two is that voodoo is part of a religion while hoodoo is not; they do borrow from each other so it's hard to treat them as entirely distinct entities.

Hoodoo practitioners harness the power of natural herbs, and use animal sacrifice, bodily fluids and special...

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