Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) below prior to contacting us to see if we may have the answer here for you already. If not, or if you still have questions, feel free to contact us with any additional questions you may have.
How long do I have to complete a course? Once signed up for a course you will have six months to complete it. If you have not completed the course by the end of the semester, you will need to pay for the class again and start over. If you have extenuating circumstances, you must speak to the financial department to discuss your situation.
I’ve been told that you can’t certify anyone to be a rootworker that it is an oral tradition only. How can I become a rootworker through Crossroads University if this is the case? Great question! And as it really is two questions, it will be treated as such. First, the internet is a vast community and the past didn’t look like the present . As a result, the rules have expanded. There are practitioners all over the internet. Rootwork is an activity that is hands-on; hence, our largely experiential component. We state from the beginning you have to dig up roots and learn to work roots in order to be a rootworker. But it is much more than that. Even if you know the technicalities, if your roots (which incidentally, refers to more than just an actual root itself) don’t work, can you call yourself a rootworker? Being a rootworker or conjure worker is something that is acknowledged through community. In the past, people gained a reputation for being a rootworker through familial associations, apprenticeship, and most importantly, by virtue of their work. Crossroads University will teach you what we were taught through the now ever-expanded methods of communication - internet, telephone, video, email and chat - that was not available in the past. If it were available, people would have used it just as they do today. Is chat a form of oral communication if it is a real time conversation? How about telephone? Is speaking to someone on the phone a form of oral communication? How about Skype? These are some of the questions raised from the issue of the oral transmission of knowledge. Oral communication has expanded; we acknowledge we are living in a different time and we take advantage of all the forms of communication we can in an effort to preserve the tradition that we were taught. If that means making the information available through a variety of communication methods, then that’s what we do.
How can I become a rootworker through Crossroads University if this is the case? Our certification only certifies that you have been taught the foundation skills for performing rootwork. We can’t make you a rootworker - only you can do that. And, you do that by applying the knowledge you are given to your practice. When you have become certified through Crossroads University, you will have dug up many roots, performed many works by gathering and identifying your own ingredients, you will have stood in a graveyard more than once and learned proper protocol for doing so safely. You will have created bottle spells, understand gris gris as a magic system - separate from but related to - other forms of conjure. You will have learned how to set lights, including how to divine flames and wax remains. You will have been introduced to and taught how to work with a variety of spirits and saints. You will have learned about New Orleans Voudou’s connection to Hoodoo. You will have stood at the crossroads and spoken to the Black Man, who we identify as Legba. You will have been introduced to the influence of Christianity on modern day conjure, and you will be introduced to conjure that is not Christian-based, but is African-based or Native American-based, pagan-based or a combination of any and all of the above. You will have learned about the historical context in which Southern Hoodoo and Conjure has evolved. You will understand the difference between commercialized Hoodoo and traditional Hoodoo. You will have been exposed to a number of different expressions of conjure, none of which we claim is the only way but merely one of many ways. Our certification will give your prospective clients confidence that you have been through some sort of formal training in an effort to utilize the skills you possess. Furthermore, we do not operate in a vacuum. We have a consulting board of initiated elders of color who endorse and approve of our program. They realize that a program like ours has become necessary in order to preserve our cultural traditions. They realize, as we do, that learning Southern conjure from Southern conjurers makes sense. They have observed, as we have observed, that what is being touted as Hoodoo today is largely a reinterpretation of indigenous traditional religiomagical systems by outsiders, the result of a complex sociopolitical history dominated by colonial re-historians.
Hoodoo is just a magic system and has nothing to do with religion. Why then, does Crossroads University teach about Voudou, Santeria or Palo, or any religion, for that matter? Hoodoo was not always “just a magical system.” Nor is Crossroads University simply about Hoodoo. Most practitioners express their conjure through their religions. For example, an old style southern conjure man who is Christian will use the Bible in many of his works. He will likely use biblical references in all of his works. A New Orleans Voudou practitioner will likely engage in the use of herbs and roots in their every day practice. They will likely refer to the “black man” at the crossroads as Legba, the guardian of the Crossroads in the New Orleans Voudou religion. In Louisiana particularly, you will find many hoodoo practitioners who are also Catholic. In fact, you will find many New Orleans Voudouists to be Catholic and conjure workers. Some Protestants may invoke the assistance of the prophets in their work. It is very difficult to tease out religion from modern conjure, as it is a very personal, variable, and individual expression of folk magic. That said, we do not teach that Hoodoo is a religion. Religion is an organized set of practices related to how one views the world. It typically consists of some sort of hierarchy of clergy and a set dogma that defines it. Religion gives a specific view of the nature of the Universe - a cosmological explanation for the origin of humanity and of the universe itself. When analyzed critically, one can see vestiges of religion in Hoodoo such as a common belief in the supernatural, in spirits, ancestor reverence and rituals - each of these reflecting a lifestyle. But, without a designated Godhead(s), some sort of formal creed, sacred text, or distinct guidelines governing moral behavior, it cannot be classified as a religion. It can, however, be classified as a spiritual tradition, given its practices are based in the realm of Spirit. It should also be noted however, that there are those who view Hoodoo was a religion at one time, the result of the melding of three or more distinct African religious traditions brought to the new World via the slave trade (see Hazzard-Donald, 2011 and 2012 for a more detailed discussion of the religious origins of Hoodoo). We present this view in our curriculum, and allow our students to form their own conclusions.
How do I know you are the “real deal” and not just trying to make money off of me? We are a couple of humble Southerners who grew up with exposure to certain traditions that are consistent with practices identified as Hoodoo and conjure. We teach from our personal experiences, as well as from a scholarly perspective. We believe this gives our curriculum both authenticity and credibility. We do not make any absolute claims of our way being the only way, not do we fabricate information about ourselves and our personal knowledge. We believe in transparency; you know our names and where to find us. Students have our personal phone numbers and are welcome to our homes. We share where we learned what we teach and we admit when there are things we do not know. We know our limitations and regularly acknowledge them. We surround ourselves with a consulting board of initiated elders with whom we consult on a variety of issues on a regular basis. We stay up to date with an increasing database of research and scholarly writings, stay open to new ideas and perspectives. Everything we do is based on this philosophy. The amount of money we make from the courses is minimal at most, given the amount of time we invest into the creation and teaching of the materials, the cost of our websites and personal investment in our scholarships. There are plenty of places that charge up to four times or more what we charge per course, and you are welcome to explore other, more expensive options.
Listen to what our students say:
There is already a certification course available. Why reinvent the wheel? Sometimes, the wheel needs to be reinvented. If you do not have access to a variety of perspectives then you only have a very narrow view of a huge collection of traditions. Most of our students, including those already graduated from other courses, have never heard of a swamper, traiteur, plantation conjure or the Louisiana Black Code. Why not? These practitioners and practices are integral to Southern conjure as a collective whole. To have gone through a course on Hoodoo and Rootwork without ever hearing about the Code Noir - the Louisiana Black Code - and how it influenced the very transformation and evolution of modern day conjure is just a shame, not to mention a disservice to our collective ancestors whose ingenuity - despite tremendous suffering and sacrifice - allows us to have courses and conversations like this today in the first place.
Why does Crossroads University concern itself so much with ancestor work? I’m not interested in genealogy! At the core of both African and Native American-based religious and spiritual traditions is ancestor reverence. Without a solid foundation in ancestor work, it is our opinion that you are not learning or practicing traditional Hoodoo and conjure; rather, you are learning the reinvented, commercialized Hoodoo.
What makes you qualified to teach me? Again, we teach what we know. We teach based on our experiences as initiates in various traditions, including formal academic studies. Each of us brings something unique to the table. You can learn more about our individual qualifications by visiting our Instructors and Consulting Board page on the Crossroads University website.
How long will it take before I become certified? Initially we believed that the certification could be completed within 2 to 3 years. Realistically, it is taking longer, more like 3 years. This may seem to be somewhat wishy washy, but it is based on the traditional means of evaluating student readiness: students are ready when the time is right. When they can demonstrate they have the knowledge required to function independently as a rootworker if they so desire. Anyone raised in any of the Southern conjure traditions knows knowledge of conjure is acquired over a lifetime - years, in fact - and it is not something that can be learned in 12 short months or simply by reading a book or two. You will be Certified in Professional Rootwork when all of the necessary requirements are completed - no sooner and no later. That means completing 14 core courses, 120 face to face hours with approved practitioners and passing a comprehensive final exam.
If you have any questions about our philosophy or any of our courses or the program in general, please contact us and someone will get back to you.