I need to be very clear. The Obeah (obi) practitioner and Hoodoo Root Worker have two entirely different approaches to magic. Granted, they do share some similarities such as the inclusion of European Grimoirés and the Ancient Kabbalah manuscripts related specifically to the King of Solomon. They were both also influenced by the L.W. De Laurence, who authored a number of occult books, the most famous being “The Great Book of Magical Art.” However, this is a rather recent attribute to the practice of Obeah. Prior to the exportation of slaves to the Americas, Obeah was based on a long oral teaching tradition and was and continues to be a religious practice. Hoodoo does have strong African roots largely influenced by the Yoruba, Ewe, and Fon tribes imported during the slave trade off the Gold Coast of Africa. However, it is not a religion nor does is prescribe to one particular approach.
The primary difference between Hoodoo and Obeah is the methodology. Hoodoo incorporates a number of methodologies. Some of these are European, Native American, Jewish and, yes Christian such as the inclusion of psalms and petitions to saints. Obeah, on the other hand, deals directly with spirits, both whom are reputed as benevolent and others that are less so and has a religious back drop to its practice. When I speak of spirits, I am not referring to one’s ancestors or the dead. I am referring to spiritual deities, both good and negative.
The Obeah witch has been around long before the slave trade. Some suggest Obeah originates from ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and Sumerians. Needless to say, it is old. Obeah is from the Ashanti region of West Coast Africa. Some scholars claim that Obeah comes from the Igbo tribe also located in Southern Nigeria. In either case, Obeah is distinct even though it does have a striking resemblance to Voodoo or (Vodoun). This is not surprising as they are neighbors to the Fon tribal region in Africa that includes parts of Southern Nigeria (Benin to be exact).
Obeah spread to the West Indies, Barbados, the Caribbean, Jamaica and the surrounding areas during the slave trade. It has evolved into a form of folk magic, largely based on the power of the spirit world. An Obeah practitioner, for example has the ability to work with good and bad spirits in order to accomplish a task. The goal of the Obeah practitioner is to develop a harmonizing relationship between the good and the bad spirits in order to send the spirits out to do their bidding. The Obeah works with both sides of a coin, the yin and the yang, the dark and the light. It is both a science and methodology.
Hoodoo can prove to be as equally powerful. But that really depends upon the person your work with. Here’s where I need to make a clear distinction. Most contemporary Hoodoo practitioners rely on what has been orally passed down to them. Many of the rituals they include in their repertoires do have many African undertones to it, but certainly not all of them. And many root workers have long forgotten the sources of their own methodologies. In other words, they may prescribe a certain herb, oil or ritual to perform but they may not necessarily know where the source originally came from. Although Obeah has also incorporated some European and Jewish mysticism, it is undoubtedly African in origin.
If you are scared of the spirit world, than Obeah is most likely not for you. If you would prefer some solid rituals to help you accomplish your goals without treading to deeply, than Hoodoo is most likely your ticket. To really get the most out of your money, you need to carefully pick the right practitioner. One that you can trust and one that has the resources to help you accomplish your goals.