Historical Background of Conjure Oils, Hoodoo Oils, Ritual Oils, Dressing Oils and Anointing Oils


Magic oils, generally called conjure oils, ritual oils, hoodoo oil, dressing oils, and anointing oils, have been a part of  hoodoo rootwork practice for as far back as oral histories and written records exist. It is very likely that their use combines African traditions of healing, Native American plant lore, and information derived from medieval European herbals, grimoires, and "books of wonders" such as those attributed to Albertus Magnus.

Some of the occult symbolism in the old herbals is based on the so-called doctrine of signatures, whereby the shape, texture, or colour of a plant is a sign of its occult uses. Other magical ascriptions are extensions of the ways that certain herbs are used in folk medicine. Thus Violet Leaves, which look like hearts, are worn in the shoe because they are alleged to attract a new lover, while Angelica Root, which contains phyto-estrogens and is a standard folk remedy for women's reproductive health problems, is carried in a conjure bag or woman's nation sack to protect mother and child from harm.

Hoodoo root doctors traditionally name magical oil compounds for the conditions they are believed to cause or to cure. Thus Crossing Oil is thought to bring about crossed conditions and Uncrossing Oil to set matters right again. Likewise, Essence of Bend-Over bends someone to the will of another, while Reconciliation heals rifts between estranged lovers. This is quite unlike the naming conventions followed by potion-makers in the European-American tradition. Among ceremonial magicians and neo-pagans, ritual oils are often given Zodiacal and celestial titles such as Scorpio Oil and Moon Drops, or they bear the names of deities like Artemis, Jupiter, and Pan. Yet despite the differences in terminology, the intentions behind ritual oils and conjure oils are similar in both traditions. Jupiter, for instance, is said to grant wealth, as is Money Drawing Oil, while Pan promotes lust, just like Kiss Me Now!. In many cases, the herbs and scents in a hoodoo oils are similar to those in neo-pagan potions created for the same purpose; in other cases, such as Hot Foot, which drives away enemies by "poisoning them in the feet," the African origins of the formula are so dominant that there are no corresponding European-style formula.