Stephanie Rose Bird’s latest offering, 365 Days of Hoodoo, is the exact opposite of the “instawitch” trend. She lays a year’s labor in front of the seeker, none of it aesthetically pleasing or easy. She recommends before even gathering material that every piece that the practitioner understand every single piece used for magic. Each day the challenge of practice escalates. Day one, contemplate. Day two, gather material. Day three, locate resources. By the time the reader passes the two-month mark, a full-on practice emerges.
In addition to presenting the challenge of a one-year practice, Bird supplies needed material straight from the travesties of daily life. Spiritual care for self and community plays a major role in this book, best exemplified by Bird’s three-day practice for those who lost loves ones to murder. This ritual is so needed, and yet it’s never been seen before. Spiritual care in the face of murder is well-nigh ignored in most magical-spiritual practices. To have it in 365 Days of Hoodoo is an unflinching call out of the colonial oppression that led to the emergence of conjure and hoodoo.
Concerns about cultural appropriation hover over every non-European magickal practice from the moment it appears in English print. Some of hoodoo practitioners in recent years have vocalized objections to people outside their culture and ancestry taking up the practice. Bird states her own views in her foreword: “This practice is open to all, particularly considering we all originated in Africa, regardless of how skin color has evolved over time.” Given her book Light, Bright, and Damned Near White, it’s reasonable to believe that Bird has given nuanced thought to her position.
For those that do feel called by Hoodoo and Conjure, the only way to learn the path is to practice it. The lack of initiatory aspect does not preclude the necessity of work, dedication and study. Bird lays out a daily practice that, over the course of the year, will bring about major changes and deepen relationship with Spirit. It is not an easy read, nor is it in easy practice. For those that can stick it out, whether new to it or looking to deepen their spiritual relationships, this work will make a significant impact.
~ review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Stephanie Rose Bird
pp. 432, $19.99