voodoo ritual including divination books and crystal ball
What is the difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo?

Practitioners or those interested in the realms of witchcraft and magic are likely familiar with the terms Voodoo and Hoodoo.

Many believe that Voodoo and Hoodoo are interchangeable words for the same thing – that they are the same practice by a different name, or that there are merely superficial differences between the two – not enough for a distinction. But that isn’t true!

Although they share surface similarities, Voodoo and Hoodoo are very different. 

Voodoo is an actual religion, with an organizational structure, faith leaders, and even distinct branches (after all, every good faith needs a schism). Hoodoo by contrast is practiced by individuals referred to as root doctors or root healers, and there are no specific gods or goddesses in Hoodoo.

But what are the historical origins of both, and why do so many mix them up?


Voodoo originally arose in Haiti, but really took off in the American South amongst enslaved peoples.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, can trace its origins back to mainland Africa, but is similarly intertwined with the spiritual culture of slaves in the Southern United States from the 17th to 19th century.

Beliefs in Voodoo

Believers in Voodoo follow a god named Bondye. Bondye’s name has French origins, a variations of the phrase "Bon Dieu" or “Good God.”

Per Voodoo belief, Bondye created the universe and everything in it, but Bondye doesn’t actually interfere directly in our lives; Rather, Voodoo priests and priestesses can conduct services to call upon spirits who work for Bondye, called Loa.

Loa are a sort of intermediary between human beings and Bondye, and each is in charge of different aspects of human life. You might compare them to saints in the Catholic tradition. Services conducted by priests or priestesses to interact with the Loa are often conducted in the Haitian/French dialect of Creole.

There are different kinds of Loa, but three of the most prominent families are the Rada, Petro, and Gede.

Rada Loa are kindly, Petro are hot-headed, and Gede deal with death and the dead. Gede spirits are often undead, but not in the sinister sense Western pop culture has ascribed them.

In Voodoo, zombies aren’t flesh eating monsters, but victims. They are enslaved to a living master and must follow their every order. They are not violent, and certainly have no interest in eating the brains of the living.

Rather, many scholars and anthropologists believe that the idea of “zombies” as defined by Voodoo was a way to express the pain – the “deadness” – of being enslaved. In short, it arose as a way for enslaved people to process their pain.

Beliefs in Hoodoo

By contrast, Hoodoo is not an organized religion in the way that Voodoo is. It draws direct influence from spiritual practices of many African cultures, but was largely practiced by enslaved Africans in the Antebellum South. 

Slaves were rarely allowed to practice traditions from Africa, and many were forcibly Christianized. Many believe that over time, the melding of African folk traditions and Christianity resulted in this unique spiritual practice.

Because of this, Hoodoo practitioners are often believers in both Catholicism and the gods of Africa, and a Hoodoo ritual might call upon both the Catholic saints and deities from African folk traditions. Hoodoo magick often uses roots, herbs, candles, and even bodily fluids in its conjurations and rituals, which are often the casting of healing or protection spells.

Because Hoodoo is not a religion but an individualistic form of folk magic, traditions may vary quite a bit, and there is no formal text to follow. Instead, Hoodoo tradition was often passed down orally from generation to generation.

Both Voodoo and Hoodoo are still commonly practiced today. There are many believers in Voodoo around the world, and many practitioners of Hoodoo as well. But many, many more people still conflate the two.

Simply put, Voodoo is a formal religion whose practitioners often use ritual to heal; Hodoo is an individualistic divination practice with few formal rules.

Unfortunately, many still believe that Voodoo and Hoodoo are one in the same (if they are aware of Hoodoo at all), and may look on them with a skeptical eye.

However, they both have strong legacies of faith in providing spiritual comfort, and individuals from all walks of life still practice to this day.


  1. Rev. Dr. G. Waldron's Avatar Rev. Dr. G. Waldron

    Thanks for this informative article.

  1. Joy's Avatar Joy

    I really love these types of articles. Thank you very much.

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    This is a wonderful explanation on the origins and spread of religious beliefs as well as who believes in the religion. It’s the same story for the Christian or Mormon religions.

    In order for religion to work you have to use the element of fear and keep your followers uneducated as in slaves and peasants. Then you have to promise them a better life if only they do what they are told and give things of value/money to the religious leaders.

    Just look at the Mormons who were just busted for not reporting they have over $200 Billion dollars in stocks, bonds and real estate they kept secret for over 25 years. Ad some of this $200 Billion Dollars are your tax dollars.

    As Mark Twain said… Religion began when the first conman meet the first sucker. And Voltaire, Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.

    For religion to succeed, people need to remain uneducated.

    1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

      Douglas Robert Spindler would you please find a better hobby then trolling this board. Thank you

      1. Johnnie Roberte Lambert's Avatar Johnnie Roberte Lambert

        Douglas Robert Spindler, You are absolutely correct. I firmly believe as a Black American, that if these religions had not been forced upon us, we would not be having these conversations. Catholicism was forced upon African people and other indigenous people by the French and Spanish, followed by the colonizers. Christianity is a name that means nothing to me anymore as I see what my fellow "Christians" are doing to the weakest and most vulnerable of us. Instead of being a kind and loving religion, it is being wielded as a weapon, and "Christian Values" forced down the throats of the rest of us who do not believe the same way as you do. I have read the bible many times, and the Christian right is not following it. It is not trolling to speak your truth, especially in this forum.

        1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

          @Johnnie Roberte Lambert Thank you for your post and honest words.

      2. Warren Calvin Wall's Avatar Warren Calvin Wall

        You do understand that ULC is a Universalist fellowship that accepts all (or none) belief systems. Not just Christianity. There are many ordained ministers that are atheistic. There are a great many that follow other non-Christian beliefs. The fact that someone does not adhere to your particular belief does not make them a "troll". An Orc, maybe but, not a troll. What makes a person a "troll" is chastising another for not following their own particular belief system.

        1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

          @Warren Calvin Wall Notice how Christians always attack Reverends who don't agree with them?

          I use the title Professor Reverends as I am a college professor and a minister. I preach the objective truth to my congregation of students about religion and science. Young people today are tired of the lies Christians tell like this one.


      3. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @ Matthew Mastrogiovanni I take it you are NOT Christian as this is not what Jesus and the Bible teacher. If you are Christian not doing a very good job of following the teaching of Jesus and the Bible. Try reading it, and she what it says about treating your fellow man.

      4. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @Matthew Mastrogiovanni

        Are these you words in this video?


    2. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

      Douglas Robert Spindler so sorry you feel that way. I am a Christian and I hear no fear being preached at my church. The congregation is highly educated and quite loving. Don't lump all religions into one pile.

      1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @Colleen McAllister Not lumping all religions into one pile, just Christians. They are the ones who are promoting hate against their fellow humans in the news and in social media. They are also trying have control over other peoples lives.

        So no I don't lump all religions into one pile, just Christians as do so many young people today.

        Colleen since you attend a church with a highly educated loving congregation can could you answer a question for me? Why is when Christians lie and deceive people about the world we live. I can give hundreds of examples but the two I will use in Intelligent Design and Evolution. ALL of the arguments demonstrating there is such a think as Intelligent Design have been shown to be false and flat out lies many times yet Christians keep saying Intelligent Design is real and is science.

        And when it comes to evolution Christians just tell lies about that as well.

        If Christians as you say are loving, why do they lie. I can't name one other religion that tells so many lies to get people to join.

        And just one more example of hateful lies Christians are spreading. The Christians in the US congress are saying Jews have Space lasers and have been using them to start wildfires in California, Arizona, Oregon and New Mexico. And that the Jews are trying to create a world wide food shortage by starting fires at over 20 food processing plants.

        Why do loving Christians spread these hatful lies? Young people hear theses lies and just want nothing to do with Christians, Jesus or God. It's all just one big lie.

    3. Gregory B. Gregory's Avatar Gregory B. Gregory

      Douglas Robert Spindler, if you're going to make an outrageous claim and put into Mark Twain's mouth words he never spoke, you'll have to try harder: First, note that "con man" is a two-word phrase, not one word; Secondly, in Twain's time, the term "con man" hadn't been coined yet~~they were termed "confidence tricksters." Lastly, show a single shred of credible evidence to back your claim and I'll eat my words. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, trolling a respectable website where people have confidence in tricksters like you.

      1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @Gregory B. Gregory Is it an outrageous claim or an objective truth?

        Looks like you'll be eating your words. Look in the dictionary and you will find it is acceptable to spell con man as two words or as one word as conman. And since you seem to be familiar with Twain's quote about religion, looks like what you don't know is that Twain was just restating Voltaire's claim about religion.

        Since you are asking for more proof of the lies Christians tell and are too lazy to do you own research. Take a look in the official congressional record to see of the Congress person from Georgia told Congress "Jews have space lasers and are starting forest fires in California and at food processing plants to cause a world wide food shortage."

        I take it you are NOT a Christian by the last sentence in your post or you are NOT a follower of Jesus and the Bible. What you stated does NOT follow the teaching of Jesus or the Bible.

      2. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @Gregory B. Gregory Need another meal? Here are more words for you to eat.


    4. Takaya Kovani Sweeney's Avatar Takaya Kovani Sweeney

      Yes, I agree, miseducation is a huge component but also so are half-truths told by the victors.

      What this article and most of the history of the United States leaves out is the actual indigenous enslaved peoples who were labeled negro/African/African American/black.

      Their spiritual beliefs are grossly missing from the majority of the US historical narratives.

      1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @Takaya Kovani Sweeney Looks like you missed learning about Manifest Destiny when you learned about the United States. It was Christian belief God gave North America to the European Christians to proper under Manifest Destiny. This included eliminating the Native Americans, the slave trade and exploiting all of the natural resources. Any idea how many species of native animals were wiped out by God's Manifest Destiny.

        The reason US historical narratives do not include the spiritual beliefs on Native Americans is the belief under Manifest Destiny God wanted Native Americans eliminated. And under Manifest Destiny that is exactly what Christians did.

  1. Helen Claire -Estelle Nance's Avatar Helen Claire -Estelle Nance

    This article is about the West African religion. For other uses, see Voodoo. Part of a series on Vodun related religions called Voodoo Voodoo Beliefs Deities Practices vte Vodun (meaning spirit in the Fon, Gun and Ewe languages, pronounced [vodṹ] with a nasal high-tone u; also spelled Vodon, Vodoun, Vodou, Vudu, Voudou, Voodoo, etc.) is a religion practiced by the Aja, Ewe, and Fon peoples of Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

    Elements of the West African religion have survived slavery[1] and evolved into the current forms of religions with similar names that are found in the New World among the African diaspora in the Americas, such as Haitian Vodou; Louisiana Voodoo; Cuban Vodú; Dominican Vudú, Venezuelan Yuyu, and Brazilian Vodum (Candomblé Jejé and Tambor de Mina).

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    Hoodoo is magic, without religion. Voodoo is hoodoo with religion added. Simple.

    1. Johnnie Roberte Lambert's Avatar Johnnie Roberte Lambert

      You know nothing about traditional African beliefs, and Voudun, Voodoo, etc. You don't have the knowledge to even comment on this thread. Your intolerance is showing.

  1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

    IT ALL DEPENDs on WHO DO the VOODOO is it YOU DO the VOODOO or WHO DO ???

  1. NLilly's Avatar NLilly

    When people don't believe in the True and Living GOD, YHWH-JEHOVAH ALMIGHTY, in CHRIST JESUS, they'll follow anything! Especially out of fear, intimidation, and frustration.

    Calling To Mind: Aaron's Rod, and the rods of the magicians Pharaoh called forth. Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent; and the magicians of Egypt cast down their rods also with their enchantments, and their rods became serpents as well. / But Aaron's ROD Swallowed Up their rods. So that goes to show us all, why believe in the 'Inferior', when there is a "SUPERIOR BEING", ruling Over All! In this Life and World we live in!

    Even if 80% or more of the World's Population seeks after the inferior, because they lack Trust, Relationship, Understanding, and cannot walk and live in blind Faith of and with and in the Only True, Wise, and Living GOD of this Life and Life Eternal after this one, it does not mean that, that way is the true way to follow and live by. /Those Arts are for those who don't believe in the Blessed Holy Trinity: GOD The Father, GOD The Son JESUS CHRIST, and GOD the Holy Ghost & Holy Spirit.

    Of a Truth! Many are called, but Few are Chosen! That Remain Faithful and True unto the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY IN CHRIST JESUS! / Which takes me back to~ the GOD of ISRAEL Saying to the Prophet Elijah: Yet I have Left ME Seven Thousand (7,000) in Israel, all the Knees which have Not bowed unto Baal, and every Mouth which hath Not kissed him!/ AMEN! HALLELUYAH JESUS! AMEN! HOLY GHOST! AMEN!

    Be It KNOWN THIS DAY: Any Born Again Believer In CHRIST JESUS Who Seeks After the INFERIOR, When They Have Known And Fellowshipped With The SUPERIOR, In CHRIST JESUS, Has Become A Weakened, And Troubled, Backsliding Soul! And The TRUTH In JESUS CHRIST No Longer Resides Within You, But The Spirit Of Confusion! REPENT! AND BE MADE WHOLE! / We Cannot Mix GOD And 'men's magic'!

    If You Believe In CHRIST JESUS, Then Refuse All The Others! And Have No Fellowship With Them! Touch Not, Taste Not, and Handle Not!

    Train Yourselves to eat Healthy and To Take GOD and JESUS at Their Word! Watch And Pray Daily, and Anoint Yourselves Also, In The Name Of JESUS CHRIST And HIS Precious Blood Covering! Walking and Living By Faith, In Faith, and Through Faith in the Blessed Holy Trinity! And Live In Harmony With Your Faith, Your Words, Your Works, and What You Preach! In CHRIST JESUS Name! In Being ONE With The Blessed Holy Trinity! SELAH! AMEN LORD JESUS! ♥ ♥ ♥

    We Are Servants Of That In Which We: Believe, Trust, And Obey! AMEN!

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      @ NLilly When people are uneducated they will follow anything including Christianity. Thank you for proving my point.

      1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

        @ NLilly It’s sad that Christians tell lies and deceive Christians and non-Christians about the wonders and the beauty of the world God created for us. Christians lie and deceive saying there’s such a thing as Intelligent Design. There’s no such thing as evolution. When someone’s life is saved by doctors and medicals professionals God saved the persons life, not the doctors and modern medicine. That God will answer your prayers. That God needs your money. There’s scientific proof God exists. (Science NEVER proves anything. Science gives us a body of knowledge so we can use critical thinking skills to find objective truths.)

        I hope a Christian would tell me why Christians can’t tell the truth when it comes to science. God gave us the knowledge and wisdom to discover the beauty of the world/universe we live in. And it can be mind blowing which is why young people LOVE learning about science. So why do Christians lie about the beauty of what God’s provided for us?

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Douglas Spindler is quite right, NLilly. There is no demonstrable evidence any god exists, even yours. The first person to do so can claim the ever-waiting Nobel prize.

      Everyone believes their god is real. Indoctrination, usually associated geographically, is often the culprit. If you’d been born in Utah you would more than likely have been raised Mormon. In Iran, you’d be a member of the Islamic faith.


      1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

        Lionheart that's why it's called faith. Because you believe without having scientific fact.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          Yes, thank you Matthew. It’s quite amazing how many people want to believe something with no factual evidence. 🤷🏼


    3. Maximillian Martin's Avatar Maximillian Martin

      When you're delusional and accept slavery to the jews god, the demiurge, then you'll never learn what true spiritual freedom is!!! Once you break that cycle of slavery, or in my case if you've never been in it to begin with, then you'll see what created your minor archon that the jews enslave you with and truly learn what spiritual ascension is!!

      1. Mrs Jacqueline Heraty's Avatar Mrs Jacqueline Heraty

        Anti-semitic hate has no place here!

        1. Maximillian Martin's Avatar Maximillian Martin

          You clearly don't know what Semitic people are. They are ANYONE of middle eastern ancestry!! It is NOT exclusive to jews!!! Saudis, Iranians, Iraqis, and Syrians are also Semitic people. So if you're against any of them you fall into that same category!! Get an education before you start talking about things you don't understand!!

    4. Mrs Jacqueline Heraty's Avatar Mrs Jacqueline Heraty

      Stop spouting your intolerance here - not everyone here is a Christian. Not everyone here believes as you do. I feel as if you're yelling at people who don't share your views - lots of us are Pagan, humanist, atheist, agnostic... lots of other things, too...

  1. Gary Neil Soules's Avatar Gary Neil Soules

    Didn't Christianity begin with the Big Lie : " Honest , Joseph, I never ---" ?

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      This video is for ALL Christians.


  1. Thomas Denney's Avatar Thomas Denney

    NLilly, you are conflating belief and faith. I can BELIEVE in the Sacred Brown Beagles from the Planet Pluto, and that's every bit as legitimate as your belief in Jesus as a savior from sin. Belief is expending a mental energy into an idea that has no substance, but also believing that by doing so, you can cause the idea to come into existence. There is a parallel in Frankenstein, BTW. Faith, however, is that quality of life a person can experience when they can remove fear and superstition from their thoughts and actions. When fear enters, faith disappears, so it is a descriptive quality, not a substance.

    1. Gregory B. Gregory's Avatar Gregory B. Gregory

      "Sacred Brown Beagles from the Planet Pluto," pah! Get with the Pastafarians and receive Enlightment.

  1. Jennifer Perry's Avatar Jennifer Perry

    Another fascinating article! Love the variety of info shared.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Thomas, that is an hilarious post. Thank you for making me laugh, you made my day. 🤣


  1. Minister Yolanda's Avatar Minister Yolanda

    Thank you for this writing. Please consider using the term “enslaved people” instead of ‘slaves’. The former maintains the humanity of those who were enslaved.

  1. Brenda Joyce Lindsay-Earle's Avatar Brenda Joyce Lindsay-Earle

    Thank you so much for this information.

  1. Brenda Joyce Lindsay-Earle's Avatar Brenda Joyce Lindsay-Earle

    Thank you so much for this information.

  1. Christopher W Patmore's Avatar Christopher W Patmore

    Thank you for this article! As a child I thought "Hoodoo" was just a word that meant "silliness" or "just a bunch of Hoodoo." I found this very interesting, & possibly something worth looking into more. I'm glad I have a place to learn about other beliefs in a respectfull & educational manner.

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