That dangerous goofer dust

Goofer dust is a powder used to jinx enemies that’s a part of the old hoodoo tradition of foot track magic–spells put down where a person is likely to walk.

According to Wikipedia, The word Goofer comes from the Kikongo word “Kufwa”, which means “To die”. Among older Hoodoo practitioners, this derivation is very clear, because “Goofer” is not only used as an adjective modifying “dust” but also a verb (“He goofered that man”) and a noun (“She put a goofer on him”). As late as the 1930s, goofering was a regional synonym for hoodooing, and in North Carolina at least, the meaning of the term was broadened beyond spells of damage, illness, and death to include love spells cast with dominating intent.

Strange as it may seem, there are numerous websites that sell goofer dust, including Madam Yaya on Amazon.

cat yronwode writes that “When a victim is goofered, a number of things can happen. The victim may start having bad luck, lose his or her job, suffer from sexual impotence or mental confusion, or develop a chronic disease such as tuberculosis, diabetes, angina, gout, or high blood pressure. Of all of these problems, the relationship between goofering and diabetes is the clearest and most direct: the symptoms of poisoning through the feet are identical with those of diabetic edema and diabetic neuropathy.” She warns that death might result if the victim isn’t cured by a root doctor, prospectively including ritual bathing.

The Urban Dictionary incorrectly states that goofer dust is simply dust from a grave. Nope. It’s worse than that and is the kind of magic that, if not justified, might not even work or, if it does, can bounce back (karma-wise) on the practitioner even though almost everyone who sells it states that it’s being sold only as a curio. (Ha.)

There are multiple opinions about how goofer dust is made. Some people go so far as to say it’s the same thing as D.U.M.E (death unto my enemies–pronounced “doom”) powder or oil. I don’t think so. In general, goofer dust is a mix of graveyard dirt, powdered sulfur, ground rattlesnake skin, red and black pepper, magnetic sand, mullen, and sage. Some people add ground-up insects. Some people omit the magnetic sand which, actually, is a substitute for the dust off a working anvil that’s rather hard to find now.

Working root doctors will know how to protect themselves while making this and how to counteract the laying down of a goofer dust trick. Otherwise, this post is primarily intended for those writing novels and short stories that include references to hoodoo. If you’re determined to tinker with this, read this first.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and the three subsequent novels in the Florida Folk Magic Series.

Author: Malcolm R. Campbell

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of "Sarabande," "The Sun Singer," "At Sea," "Conjure Woman's Cat," "Eulalie and Washerwoman," and "Lena."