A collection of ConjureMan Ali's thoughts about magic, the occult, and spirituality.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Year of the Rootworker

In a recent radio show, Miss cat made mention of "the year of the rootworker." This was based on a conversation Miss cat and I had in which we made some observations about the sudden springing up of dozen and dozensof people either claiming to be rootworkers or trying to become professional rootworkers. It is a phenomenon that needs addressing and one that is certainly interesting. 

In the past two years there has been a surge of people attempting to get into the field of rootwork. These individuals generally are very new to the tradition, having taken a year or two of courses in it, and do some work here or there for friends and family. Generally, they do have some skill in the field and have success in what they do and from this success they feel confident enough to go on to being a professional rootworker. In my opinion this can be troublesome.

While these individuals have some skill, they are no where near to being an effective professional rootworker. Whether their intent is to make money (stupid reason, rootwork isn't that lucrative), or to help people they lack that essential element that makes a person a real professional rootworker: a calling from Spirit. I am not talking about feeling like you should get into this field or thinking that you'd be a great rootworker, I am talking about a powerful compulsion from Spirit itself, one that can be objectively confirmed by a neutral third party reader.

Usually these people make medicore rootworkers at best and even business-wise they'll find themselves starting out extremely sluggish. In my opinion this is a sign from Spirit. Rootworkers that are called to this work start right off the bat with secure practices, not necessarily a huge client base, but one that starts smoothly as an indication that they are anointed for this work with those they are suppose to help finding them. 

While the intentions of these individuals are relatively well-meaning as they simply want to be able to help people with rootwork and make a living at it, their presence is nothing short of irresponsible. Their grasp of rootwork is rarely hands on and usually limited to online learning here or there. They lack the indepth experience that an authentic rootworker has gained by studying with real professionals. As a result, they lack the experience and insight to really help clients. This is evidenced by the fact that they generally know work that they picked up from a book or online. They may for example find themselves using one or two conjures for a variety situations, lacking the true knowledge necessary to apply the right technique to the right situation.

This is further complicated because clients will leave without having their situation resolved, without feeling like they were truly helped, and worse they allow for an influx of scammers. With the rise of the wannabe rootworker there is a rise of the scammer. The sheer number of these individuals allows for scammers to take root amongst the community and prey on those in desperation.

In my humble opinion, the number of *real* rootworkers are far more limited than people think. The community of real practitioners who are truly anointed for this type of work don't get into this because it is the latest fad, or because it is "cool" to be a professional "spell-caster", but are deeply spiritual individuals who were raised in this tradition, called to it, and  fulfill a specific societal and communal function as spiritual counselor and link to the spirit world.

For those seeking true spiritual and magical aid, I suggest you seriously examine who you hire to be your rootworker and limit yourself to those individuals who are established rootworkers with a strong reputation, demonstrate deep knowledge and skill, and who connect to this community more than simply going to a botanica here or there or being online.

For the rootworker wannabes, I suggest you seriously consider whether you are gifted for this type of work, set your own desires and ego aside, for you are taking on the responsbility of another person's life. There is nothing wrong with practing for yourself and family, not everyone is a professional rootworker. Should you jump the gun and try your hand at professional work without having that spiritual calling, you'll find quickly that not only will your spiritual practice suffer, but that the spirits of rootworker's past may not be so gentle in their judgement of your skill.


Unknown said...

Great post, Brother!

There is a difference between a root-doctor and a conjurer, and I feel that many people new to Hoodoo don't understand this. At least, there is in the community I came from. The Root-doctor has Responsibility; they're part of the fabric of a community. The Root-Doctor has a calling, just as you say. Whether it be from Spirit or from older relatives connected to Spirit who decide that this is for you. The Conjurer mostly works for him or her self, laying tricks on enemies and burning lights for his circle of family and friends. Sometimes the conjurer grows into a Root-Doctor after years of work, but you ain't picking up Mrs.Yronwolde's Herbs and Root magic (fine tome that it is), and then setting up practice! Client work is serious business...it requires discernment, which is a gift of Spirit, that the Conjurer may not have, but that the Root-Doctor absolutely must.

I've always been careful to call myself a conjurer, and not a root-doctor for this very reason. I feel called by Spirit, but don't have a community context to work within at the moment. Although things have been happening lately--people outside of my circle coming to me for help with court-cases, marraige problems. Maybe I need to take a closer look, pray on it. I've done much to connect folk with the healing power of rootwork, perhaps I should be doing more.

Very thought-provoking. Thank you for an excellent post, brother!

ConjureMan Ali said...

Thank you for your sagacious thoughts, as always, Frater.

You make very good points that highlight the difference between a professional root doctor and a person practicing for themeslves, friends, and family while also illustraing the community responsiblity tied to this distinction.

The Unlikely Mage said...

This reminds me of a recent experience I had with a client. I do geomancy divination and my client wanted to post my contact information on a forum that rates 'casters'.

My client was from the UK and I'm in the US, so I wasn't familiar with the connotation. I had to tell my client clearly that I do not do any sort of professional spell work. I told my girlfriend about this and she thought it may have been time for me to start.

This post clearly defines my discomfort for taking that next step. I don't feel ready, and I may have a completely different calling! Thanks for giving me something that I can give to others if this comes up again.

Unknown said...

Can I get a link to the podcast .. to be honest this elicited fairly mixed feelings from me but I would like to listen to the show itself before commenting.

ConjureMan Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ConjureMan Ali said...

Nothing wrong with not being a professional reader or spellcaster, UM, we all have different callings.

ConjureMan Ali said...

Here is the link to the podcast: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/luckymojohoodoorootworkhour

She makes brief mention of it during the 7/24 show. However it refers back to a conversation cat and I had regarding the issue and is explained fully in this post.

Witch Moon said...

ConjureMan - A good post, as usual. I think another common mistake people make is to take a "zero-sum" approach to learning traditional forms of magic. They're not commodities you can purchase. A spirit-led tradition is an initiatory path, requiring self-understanding from the very beginning. You can't buy this like a book. You can't just "get it" and be done learning.

Rev. Sister Pixie Snakes said...

Another thank you! I wonder if people think there's some kind of glamor in being a magician for hire, as if us amateurs have no power. I am definitely called to be a healer and I use a lot of folk remedies in my practice, including folk magic, but it takes a really special person to cast spells for other people. It would be nice to make a living from it one day, but I'm not holding my breath. I certainly feel weird about casting spells for random strangers or people I barely know.

Balthazar said...

Excellent post Ali! I must agree, even though I have been working for people within the context of this tradition and have gained some experience doing so, I am still reluctant to grab at the title "root doctor". I made decision a few months back to simply refer to my self as professional folk-magician out of respect for people who have been living hoodoo as a way of life for decades. In many ways I am just a simple student and lover of the tradition. Perhaps some day people will think if me as a true root doctor but in the mean time "folk-magician" is a perfectly good description too.

ConjureMan Ali said...

Thank you good, Balthazar. To me you are very much a root doctor, emersing yourself in the beauty of this tradition as well as various others.

And I wouldn't doubt that you too have a strong calling for this work.

AmesHall said...

I'm pretty fascinated by this post and it gives me yet another layer to think about in my own journey. I feel I have always had a calling to magical work and hoodoo rings true for me. I also feel like I'm called to help people, but I'm not sure that my gifts lie entirely with rootwork. Even so, within rootwork there seem to be people who are called only to do certain types of work and are not for other types.

I guess I'm just interested in where the path is to figure all this out...