Gullahs practice a unique blend of Christianity, herbalism (herbal medicine), and black magic. They believe, for instance, in both conjuration and Christianity. Black magic is often considered to be another word for voodoo, but not all voodoo is the same. What the Gullahs practice is not the same as the hard-core voodoo performed in Haiti and New Orleans. While it is difficult for most of us to reconcile Christianity with sorcery, it is important to recognize that Gullahs are Christians who have blended their African heritage with their lives here in America. Voodoo is not a religion (according to many experts), as some might believe, but more like a series of steps for getting in touch with the spirit world. It’s interesting to note that in Haiti, most of the population is Catholic and most practice voodoo, despite the fact that the Church denounces it.

The Gullahs believe that illness originates from spiritual evil, so medicine alone cannot cure those afflicted. This is why black magic is used. Those who perform these rituals are called witch doctors or conjurers or sorcerers. Since those terms carry negative connotations nowadays in law enforcement, the medical community, and mainstream religious sects, conjurers have begun calling themselves “root doctors.” There is no law prohibiting the casting or removing of spells; however, dispensing medicines such as potions, oils, and gris-gris bags is illegal.

—Lowcountry Voodoo 9781561644551