People are always asking about “learning Rootwork the ‘Old School’ way” from someone who grew up in the tradition. You are going to be hard pressed to find those people. The problem is that our generation (I am 47.) missed out because of the abundance of Black people who became hard core Christians. These people were primarily in the generation before us. The early Black church was full of Rootwork/Conjure in the North and South, but when the Great Migration occurred, you saw Black people abandon the “Old Ways” which were considered country.
One way to really tap into the history and the culture is to read narratives, folk tales, almanacs, and believe it or not, works of fiction/literature (e.g. Charles Chestnut’s “The Conjure Woman” and “The Book of Negro Folklore” by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps.) They were collecting stories when people were still actively practicing and only a generation out of slavery. My masters degree is in literature with a concentration in Black Literature. None of the works I studied (with the exception of Hurston) dwell on the word “Hoodoo.” Instead, they present Rootwork as a way of LIFE. Gloria Naylor’s “Mama Day” is a prime example. So, finding someone who learned old school is a challenge, but reading the works of our own artists and historians is not. They will lead you to information that you never imagined, and Spirit will do the rest.
That is another thing, from the people who grew up in Rootwork, it was not something that was “taught.” For example, I throw down in the kitchen, but nobody ever “taught” me to cook. I watched my grandmother and mother, and I eventually assisted them in the kitchen. From the people I speak to who’ve grown up in the tradition, it was the same way for them when they learned Rootwork.
Rootwork was part of LIFE, and it should be if you are a worker today. You learned through observation. Remember, in the old days, children should be “seen and not heard,” so we picked up a lot of things by observation. My grandmother was not a worker, but she went to one. I sat quietly while she got readings and things to take home with her. Other than a candle or some incense, I never saw what she did with the things she was given by her worker, and I knew better than to ask about them. One thing is for sure, my grandparents NEVER went to church.
I had a client bring her mother for a reading. The mother and I got to chatting, and she knew about EVERYTHING I was talking to her about. (I felt kinda good too because she did not have to correct me about any of it.) Her daughter asked, “how come you didn’t teach me any of this?”
The mother said, “you simply were not paying attention.”