Here’s a cautionary tale for those seeking teachers, especially over the internet.
A former housemate, whom I’ll call “Janet,” became very interested in hoodoo and southern conjure. She stumbled across a guy on You Tube who had a number of videos on this topic. He described himself as one of the few hoodoo teachers available today who is “authentic” and qualified to pass on knowledge. Indeed, in his videos, he did come off as knowledgeable, confident and eager to preserve spiritual and magical traditions that are unique to America. We’ll call him “Bubba.”
Bubba taught root work and southern conjure through private internet groups, chat rooms and private Facebook pages in addition to phone and email contact. His initial fee for new students seemed reasonable so Janet signed on. Things seemed copasetic, at least for a while.
Bubba had promised that he’d make private You Tube videos for his students that would demonstrate hoodoo altar work, mojo bags, jar spells and other work. During the several months that Janet remained involved, these never materialized. In the internet groups there were not many active students and those who were active posted mostly about Mexican Folk magic, Palo and Santeria—which have nothing to do with Hoodoo.
Bubba gave a book list and very basic instructions for hoodoo practices. Students were pretty much on their own and instructed to report the success or failure of their work back to Bubba. Since there was very little guidance or instruction from Bubba and not much interaction between the students it wasn’t long before Janet realized there was nothing for her to learn from Bubba that she could not have gleaned from her own research.
During her time as a student, she’d approached Bubba for divination and advice in private matters and at least in this regard he did seem to have some natural talent. However, trusting a relative stranger with personal information can be a mistake, as we shall see as the story moves on.
Janet decided to cut her losses and end her association with Bubba to find a more knowledgeable teacher. She is not one to hurt someone’s feelings if it can be avoided so she told Bubba that Hoodoo was not what she expected and she was moving on to explore other avenues. She didn’t insult him in any way and was polite and kind in how she handled it. Things seemed to go well, with both promising to remain in touch.
Janet had a full-time job in a retail setting and also sold spiritual crafts on eBay and Etsy in addition to taking college classes. She had also been a tarot reader for ten years and offered readings at local events. A few days after ending things with Bubba, she was called into the office at work. A customer supposedly called and complained that Janet had been rude to them. She was given a verbal warning to be polite with customers and to watch her language out on the floor. Janet hadn’t had any altercations with customers that she could recall and thought this was some sort of mistake.
The following week, she received negative feedback on both her Etsy and eBay accounts which ruined the perfect scores she had on those sites. Right after that, she was called into the office at work AGAIN over a customer complaint and this time she was given a written warning. The weeks went by with periodic complaints at work and negative feedback on her Etsy and eBay accounts until FINALLY the light came on and she realized that it might have something to do with Bubba – but by then it was too late.
When seeking divination and advice from Bubba, Janet had divulged health problems that her boyfriend had which affected his ability to function intimately. She also made the mistake of mentioning him by name and revealing all manner of personal info. Bubba, it seems, was still her friend on Facebook and it didn’t take him long to figure out which “friend” was her boyfriend.
Bubba sent her boyfriend private messages detailing everything he knew about the man’s personal issues and taunted and ridiculed him in the worst ways possible. Janet’s boyfriend felt so betrayed by her having shared his intimacy problems that he broke up with her.
Janet unfriended Bubba on all social media and attempted to sever all connections but the damage was done. Ebay shut down her seller’s account over negative feedback left by Bubba and his cronies and her boyfriend would not speak to her. She was fired from her job over repeated complaints and the icing on the cake was that Bubba and his friends filed false reports on her as a tarot reader on the Rip-off and fraud websites.
Janet had not been unkind to Bubba in any way, shape or form. There was no logical reason for him to perceive her as an enemy or to feel that revenge was warranted. Janet’s only “crimes” were failing to qualify a perspective teacher in advance and in divulging too much personal info to a stranger.
After the fact, we did some research on Bubba and found that his relationships with people and groups always become adversarial eventually—-usually sooner rather than later. He was banned from numerous chat rooms and online groups over his abusive behavior. Not one, but two of the top authors on the subject of Hoodoo have publicly outed him for plagiarizing their work. The list goes on and on.
Use caution in dealing with online readers and teachers! Bubba’s You Tube account has been closed and his blog and websites are gone. I heard he is operating under a new name now! Be careful, good people. Take your time and get to know whom you’re dealing with before any commitments are made.