Welcome to the first stop on the Allure blog tour, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! One thing that I love about reading is the way it can expose you to so many different walks of life and cultures. If you’re like me and your only exposure to Hoodoo includes Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, then you’ve come to the right place to learn something new! Today, the lovely Lea Nolan, author of The Hoodoo Apprentice series, has stopped by to talk about hoodoo, the Gullah and their fascinating culture.
Thanks so much for having me here at Cuddlebuggery! It’s a true pleasure to visit.
My book, Allure, the second installment in The Hoodoo Apprentice series features three teens who use Gullah hoodoo magic to battle an ancient-soul sucking curse and a hideous monster that will stop at nothing to consume its prey. Sounds exciting, huh? Definitely. But I’ll bet you’re probably thinking, who the heck are the Gullah and what is hoodoo magic? Well, have no fear, I’m here to give you the 411.
The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans who remained on the South Carolina and Georgia sea islands when they were abandoned by white slave owners after the Civil War. They are probably most famous for their gorgeous handmade sweetgrass baskets which take hours of painstaking work to create.
In the books, Emma Guthrie apprentices herself to Miss Delia, a ninety-seven year old Gullah root worker who’s lived on St. Helena, South Carolina all her life. Miss Delia may be elderly but she’s as sharp as a blade and tougher than most people a third her age.
For hundred years, the sea islands were only accessible by boat, but the interstate highway system changed that when bridges were built in the mid-twentieth century connecting the islands to the mainland. Last May, I took a scouting trip to St. Helena and other nearby islands that lay along South Carolina’s Atlantic coast to breathe the clean salt-infused sea air and visit some of the places I’ve been writing about. This is the land of marshes, palmettos, Spanish moss, and wide sandy beaches.
Since they were so isolated, the Gullah developed their own distinct culture and language, which is also known as Gullah. Initially, early linguists assumed Gullah was just broken English, but later scholars discovered that it actually is a creole language made up of both English and African words. Though many Gullah words are traceable to English, their intonation, stress, and sentence structure resembles languages spoken in West Africa. Unfortunately both the Gullah culture and language are endangered as English encroaches and more Gullah move off the islands to seek employment and live on the mainland.
Here are some of my favorite Gullah words and their translations:
B’fo’day clean – before dawn
Binyah – someone born and raised in the lowcounty
buckruh – white person
Comeyah – person from “across the water”, newer to the area
Dark the light – sunset
Dayclean – dawn
Haint or haunt – an angry dead person who haunts the living; a restless spirit who can enter a dwelling through an opening of any size and cause a rukus to scare the inhabitants.
Middleday – noon
Middlenight – midnight
Study yuh head – think hard for the answer
Sweetmouth – flatter
Gullah words have also made their way into the English language and influence the way we speak today. For example, gumbo, yam, tote, biddy, and nanny are all Gullah words.
Finally, the Gullah are also known for their hoodoo medicine and magic which is a plant-based African-American folk magic that is used for natural healing and spells and charms. Miss Delia is a root worker which means she can cast all sorts of incantations that will protect you from jinxes, bring love or money, and even curse or hex you. If you’re interesting in learning more, here’s a great explanation of hoodoo and these are the two best books I’ve found to describe how it is practiced: Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by Catherine Yronwode and Hoodoo Medicine by Faith Mitchell.
Thanks so much for having me! I hope you’ve found this introduction to the Gullah, their culture and language as interesting as I do.
Follow the rest of the Allure blog tour!
9/30/2013- Cuddlebuggery – Guest Post
9/30/2013- Step Into Fiction– Review- Allure
10/1/2013- I am a Reader– Interview
10/1/2013- Just a Booklover– Review Conjure
10/2/2013- Candace’s Book Blog– Guest Post
10/2/2013- Endless Reading-Review- Conjure and Allure
10/3/2013- Fantasy Book Addict– Interview
10/3/2013- Bookworm in Boots– Review- Allure
10/4/2013- Fiktshun– Guest Post
10/4/2013- A Dream Within A Dream– Review- Conjure or Allure
10/7/2013- URBAN FANTASY LAND – Guest Post
10/7/2013- Fade Into Fantasy– Interview
10/8/2013- Jenuine Cupcakes– Interview
10/8/2013- Reading Rainblog– Review- Conjure or Allure
10/9/2013- The Cover Contessa– Interview
10/9/2013- Faerie Tale Books– Review Conjure or Allure
10/10/2013- Fangirlish– Guest Post
10/10/2013- BookHounds YA– Interview
10/11/2013- Mundie Moms– Guest Post
10/11/2013- vvb32 reads– Review- Conjure and Allure
Don’t forget to check out Allure, available October 1st!
Worst. Summer. Ever.
Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper’s sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.
Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Face with the horror of a soul-eating boohag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.
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