In earlier times a "hoodoo ship" was a term applied to a "ghost ship," that is, one found drifting with no crew.From there it became a more general term meaning a cursed or bad-luck ship.
(It is "spiky" because Uath -- hooh -- is, additionally, the Gaelic name for the spiky Hawthorn or May tree.) A Gaelic origin for the word hoodoo would also explain why a certain type of eerie geological rock formation across the Americas is similarly called a hoodoo -- Irish trappers and traders saw these weird objects as personified demons.
A Gaelic origin for the word hoodoo does, believe it or not, make sense in terms of African American history, for a large percentage of American sailors during the 19th century, especially before the Civil War, were African Americans, and they mingled freely with Irish sailors in the Atlantic shipping trade and in seaports from New York to New Orleans.
The "doctor" he describes was both an herbalist and folk-magician.
A remarkable blues song in which the word hoodoo is used as a noun, as an adjective, AND as a verb is "Hoodoo Lady Blues" by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, recorded in October 1947 for Victor Records.
This lengthy article has been subdivided into several sections: HOODOO, CONJURE, ROOTWORK: Definition of Terms: How I Define Hoodoo WHAT HOODOO IS: An African-American Folk-Magic Tradition WHAT HOODOO IS NOT: Voodoo, Santeria, Palo, Brujeria, etc.
ADMIXTURES: European, Spiritist, and Kabbalist Influences on Hoodoo ADMIXTURES: Asian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist Influences on Hoodoo RESPECT: What It Is Hoodoo, Conjure, Rootwork, and similar terms refer to the practice of African American folk magic.
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(The transcription is by Gorgen Antonsson, [email protected], and Alan Balfour, [email protected]): "HOODOO LADY BLUES" Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Believe I'll drop down in Louisiana, just to see a dear old friend of mine Believe I'll drop down in Louisiana, just to see a dear old friend of mine You know, maybe she can help me, durn my hard, hard time.
You know they tell me in Louisiana, there's hoodoos all over there You know they tell me in Louisiana, there's hoodoos all over there You know they'll do anything for the money, man, in the world, I declare.
However, its earliest usage in America is connected with Irish and Scottish sailors, not African slaves.