I think the biggest mystery with rootwork also seems too obvious to even inquire about, so no one ever really asks about it. Afterall, when the pactice is called "Rootwork" we seem a bit sheepish asking what exactly "working with roots" entails...
Rootwork is term used for those who utilize the natural ashe' of herbs, roots, resins, bones, flowers, vines, pods, leaves, stones...anything in nature...that has an an inherent energy or purpose that we apply to life's situations. We learn what items is applicable for each situation by studying the Doctrine of Signatures, which you can read about here HERE. This term is often interchangable with "hoodoo" and "conjure". Personally, I don't think every rootworker is a conjuror. Some rootworkers simply do not work with spirits or saints. In order to "conjure" or be a "conjuror" you must call upon saints, spirits or deities.
Working with roots is to work with soul of earth around you. The graves that have been dug there, the blood spilt during battle, the clearing for agriculture and then the spirits of those who worked the land. The spirits who birthed, lived and died there. This is why we often view, and value, roots more highly than other parts of plants. Simply because they have been living in the darkness that is the earth and earth is home to all of those before us.
My husband is a carpenter. He works making furniture by hand milling his own wood and using wood planes to create the look and shape of each piece of wood. There is a love, passion and energy in each piece of wood and in each finished project because he is starting from the ground up. Literally.
It's the same with rootwork. Instead of using some factory formula called "high john root cologne" that is water, fragrance and alcohol dyed purple with a caucasion king's face on it, a rootworker will ACTUALLY USE a High John the Conqueror root. This root houses the spirit of an African king who was sold into slavery. You can read about High John the Conqueror HERE. You have to work from the ground up. Get an native plant handbook for your area and start memorizing and categorizing what plants could be useful for your practice. I started doing this at 8 years old to create my first recipe and recording books. In order to be a successful rootworker, you must know your land and it's history. The people who lived there before you will be your first guides.
Roots are tool to be involved in our practice, just like candles or incense. Except they take more time and care since we consider them to house spirits.
I had someone message me on my Facebook Business Page asking for a spell to help them connect with deity. There is no such spell. Connection with deity or spirit comes from dedication, trust, kindness and respect-just as any other relationship should be built on. Part of this connection is using your roots as a tool, a facilitator, and a generator to help you connect.
Your roots should be carefully harvested, or selected from a reputable botanica, preserved, cared for, talked to and used in your work. Similar to the use of crystals to conduct or generate energy, a root serves in a similar fashion. Most roots can be dried by placing them on a cookie sheet in a hot oven set on the lowest temperature setting for several hours. Most take at least 5-6 hours to dry, Remember, you're DRYING them, NOT cooking them. Don't use a high temperature setting!
I pray while holding my roots, I use them to help me connect to my clients, I use them to help sustain my own energy and environment here in the House of Hoodoo. All this "using" must be replenished, and we do so with care and prayer with the root. Similar to sympathetic magic practices, we want to treat our roots with respect, after all, they aid us in comminucation and obtaining blessings. Don't just put them away in a box on a dusty shelf or, surely, the spirit contained will wither away.
Keep your roots fed with oil, cologne or your own energy, as a physical act of care and attention to them. Pray with them, but from your heart and using your words only. Using a specific Psalm that corresponds with your needs should be left for the times to work the root, not during times of care and respect. It's a give and take and you will use your spirits up if you keep asking with nothing given in return. Respect is at the root of rootwork. Respect for your environment, your guides and the paths of others.
Keep your roots clean and free from grime and dust. This can be difficult when using oils to dress the roots as oil will create a sticky surface for dirt to adhere to. Personally, I do not use oil directly on my roots but on the bag that houses them. I rub my hands with oil then hold my mojo bag containing the root, and pray.
I hope this small introduction will be helpful to you and I hope you have found some inspiration to begin working the roots around you.