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Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

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ridge_girl1
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by ridge_girl1 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:05 pm

miss cat,

It has been suggested that hoodoo derives from the [still extant] Hausa word hu'du'ba, meaning "to exact retribution, stir up resentment."

Any thoughts?

Ann Wheeler
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(Hausa is a minority language -- a tiny minority anguag) among the Africans brought to the USA as slaves, and other words in English that come from African usage are generally of other tribes and languages. That's the main thing that is most against that theory. --cat)

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by ridge_girl1 » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:01 pm

miss cat,

According to P.D. Curtin, "Atlantic Slave Trade" (www.AfricanAmericans.com), of the French and English slave traders having identifiable origin, 14.5% came from the Bight of Benin, and 25.1% from the Bight of Biafra, both part of what is now Nigeria (Niger and Nigeria being where Hausa is mostly spoken). 39.6% doesn't seem like a tiny minority. ?

Ann Wheeler
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(We're talking apples and oranges here. You are talking about the origination ports from which French and English slave trader ships set sail; i am talking about the origin points of the captive people who were onboard those ships. Obviously no ships set sail from inland Africa, yet people from non-coastal areas were captured, taken to the West coast of Africa, and put aboard slave ships. Most of the loan-words we have in American English that can be traced back to African languages seem to be from Bantu / Kongo languages. I wish dear old Dr. Eoghan Ballard were here to give you more information, but he never did his homework, then became an inactive student, and thus no longer posts here. I miss him and hope he will someday return here! In the meantime, try reading "Flash of the Spirit" by Robert Ferris Thompson. --cat)

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by Susan Diamond » Tue Nov 27, 2007 3:41 pm

Greetings all!
I've been listening to the Lucky Mojo radio shows of the past and you can still capture some of Dr. Eoghan Ballard's wisdom on those shows. I am not certain that any specifically address this issue but he gives a pretty extensive history and he's real easy to listen to!

Many Blessings,
Susan Diamond (#1184)
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(That's so true -- Eoghan's two shows on Congo Magic History are available via the podcasts. Go to
http://www.luckymojo.com/radioshow.html
and click on the link that'll take you to where you can browse and buy. --cat)

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by cognitivedissonance » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:04 am

The Mojoceratops -- a dinosaur with mojo.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/connec ... beat_name/
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:08 pm

cognitivedissonance --

Thanks for the Mojoceratops post -- that was fun!
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by Devi Spring » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:56 am

cognitivedissonance,

Thanks for the Mojoceratops. That's really cool! And it's Canadian to boot! ;)
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Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by EcleckticMama » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:06 pm

I was reading this today. Cat wrote it:
Alternaive American names for the mojo bag include hand, mojo hand, conjure hand, lucky hand, conjure bag, trick bag, root bag, toby, jomo, and gris-gris bag. In the Memphis region, a special kind of mojo, worn only by women, is called a nation sack. A mojo used for divination, somehwat like a pendulum, is called a Jack, Jack bag, or Jack ball.
That's when the old song (1913), Balling the Jack, came to mind.

"First you put your two knees close up tight
Then you sway them to the left, then you sway them to the right
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
Then you twist around and twist around with all your might,
Stretch your loving arms straight out into space,
Then you do the Eagle Rock with style and grace.
Swing your foot way 'round then bring it back.
Now that's what I call Ballin' the Jack."

There is some discussion about meanings, but I cannot help but see description of a pendulum swinging about in a dance.

"Two knees close up tight" -- drawstrings?

The Eagle Rock dance movement has some discussion too. The stories about eagles swaying just add to the pendulum sway imagery for me.

Does anybody else see the metaphor? Or could this "dance song" actually have been describing jack bag divination and people created a dance out of it? Could that be why it drove people down in Georgia " 'bout insane"? Because it's describing a hoodoo divination pendulum bag dancing about?

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:08 pm

EcleckticMama ,

That is an interesting idea, but not realistic. A dance song that describes "legs" and "arms" and "twisting" is just that. It is not a cryptic reference to drawstrings on a bag -- especially since many mojo bags are sewn or folded, not wrapped or tied with string. Furthermore, if you are speaking of a jack ball, it is essentially made of string, and is not a bag with drawstrings.

This is what is called "folk etymology," by the way -- trying to connect two similar words based on metaphor, with no other reason than that one reminds you of the other.

In this case the word "jack" could also refer to the child's game of "jacks" or function as a nickname for John, as in John the Conquer Root.

And in the song, "balling" could refer to the high-balling of a train, running it fast with no stops, where "giving the high ball" meant signaling with a circular disc, globe, or hand movement that there was clear track ahead. And, of course, "balling" also refers to males having sex, as the testicles are commonly called "balls,"

I always think of the Eagle Rock dance, and similarly named dances such as the Turkey Trot and the Buzzard Lope, which refer to American bird species, as being somehow a remnant of Native American dance influences in the African American community.
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by cognitivedissonance » Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:24 am

I always thought "balling the jack" was a sexual reference until now, thanks LM... :-D

It didn't help that Dom Deluise and Gene Wilder sang it in an old movie, where it was definitely used as a sexual reference.
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:51 pm

Here is a link to where you can purchase seeds for the Hearts of Gold a.k.a. Hoodoo Melon, first offered for sale in 1890:

http://rareseeds.com/hearts-of-gold-melon-hoodoo.html

And yes, Miss Michaele -- this one's for you!
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by nana664 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:10 pm

The Hoodoo Melon looks just like a cantaloupe
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:45 pm

nana664 --

Yes, that's right -- The Hoodoo Melon is a variety of muskmelon, also known as rockmelon, cantaloupe, or Persian melon.
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by MissMichaele » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:25 am

The Hoodoo Melon. Yet another reason to go ahead with our little greenhouse project -- thanks, Miss Cat :)

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:07 pm

The Hoodoo Melon -- One of my all time favorite melons. Too delicious....and that link is too cool! Thank you! :)
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by TwoOfCups » Sun May 26, 2013 6:18 pm

Couldn't help but make the connection that in Hoodoo spells are called 'tricks' and customers of prostitutes, who often used Hoodoo to gain customers and money back in the depression era, are also called 'tricks'. Could the two be related?

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sun May 26, 2013 6:53 pm

TwoOfCups --

No.

I mean sure, Louise Bogan composed and recorded a song called "Tricks Ain't Walking" (which her record label released under the bowdlerized title "They Ain't Walking") -- but she was a prostitute when she sang it. It's not about hoodoo, either -- it's a lament for the demise of street walking as a profession, now that "the Cadillac squad" had replaced pedestrian traffic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QOr805dgDM

But that would not explain why the Black / Native slaves of Mary Alicia Owen's family called their mojo hands "tricker bags" in the pre-Civil War era in Missouri. I mean, they were not in any way, shape, or form street walkers.

http://www.southern-spirits.com/owen-ho ... balls.html

And it would not explain Earl King's 1961 song "trick bag" either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ7IkhdXb7U

Nor would it explain why stage magicians, circus ponies, and acrobats all perform tricks and no one ever confuses them with sex workers:

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you


-- Bob Dylan

So, no, i think this is your misconception, and it may derive from a less than accurate image of Black American social mores. That is, unless you seriously believe that African Americans are all engaged in the sex trade.

I think it comes from literal translations of Native American language -- trickster, trick, tricking.
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by Doctor Hob » Sun May 26, 2013 7:02 pm

Miss cat --

Bonus for the Dylan quote...
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by GoldenRule » Fri Sep 16, 2022 11:56 pm

Do you, cat or siva know which episodes of the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour deal with etymology? Do you have any guidance on which year to search through?

I’ve wondered what would happen if I commented on a very old post.. :-)
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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by JayDee » Sat Sep 17, 2022 6:01 am

GoldenRule,

The last post by Miss Cat on this thread was from 2007, She states Eoghan has not been on or posting, I would look prior to 2007 shows for the information you are seeking.

Posting old topics is wonderful, it helps revitalize those conversations and create dialogue about them again. The particular area you are posting in is called the "unsorted" a section of old post that go back to the Lucky Mojo Yahoo Group days. Weekly Miss Cat and I are working though these post and properly categorizing them where they belong on the forum.

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Re: Queries about Etymology, the Origins of Words Used in Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sat Sep 17, 2022 10:19 am

That 2007 post reflected on the early shows from 2004 -2006m which Dr. Kioni and i co-hosted and which he was selling on CD discs (see Susan Diamond's comment "click on the link that'll take you to where you can browse and buy."

After Dr. Kioni left the show, he removed all access to the earlier shows, and he no longer sells them. They are inaccessible to us as well -- according to our agreement with him. We only have shows from the new series available, and they are all free.

To go back to Dr. Eoghan Ballard's linguistic theories, however:

The earliest written use of the word hoodoo to identify an African-American practitioner of rootwork was in 1861. Prior to that the word "goopher / goofer" was used, and it persisted in this generic sense even after Emancipation

Eoghan never came down on behalf of any ONE origin for the word hoodoo, but he noted these theories that had been proposed by others:

* Hu'du'ba, pronounced hoo-doo-ba -- Hausa, meaning "to exact retribution, to stir up resentment."

* Judio , pronounced hoo-dee-oh -- Spanish, meaning "Jewish"; a term used to describe non-Christian sorcery in Cuba, not specifically referring to Jewish magic but to any magical system that is not Catholic.

* Uath Dubh, pronounced h-uo doo or hoo doo, meaning the spirit of a Hawthorn tree, a dark entity, an evil phantom, a malevolent spiky ghost -- Gaelic, a term that has been applied to spikylooking "ghost ships" with no sails on the masts and yardarms and to wind-eroded sandstone columns in North America. As early as the 1850s, American ships that were found abandoned on the high seas, or on which diseases had broken out, or which were otherwise unlucky or jinxed or cursed, were called hoodoo ships. Many enslaved people of African origin or African descent served as sailors and cabin staff among Scottish and Irish sailors before and after Emancipation. In this sense hoodoo means "uncanny," "paranormal" or "deathly." It is interesting to note that Scots-Irish Americans still tend to spell hoodoo as two words (Hoo Doo or HooDoo) to this day.

I hope that helps.
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