A talk with faith healer Aunt Nora Garland from “Foxfire One” the first book in the Foxfire series.
Not long after our visit with the Webbs, we were told by a friend that one of the best healers in the area lived not five miles from where we were standing. We got her name, and four of us went to visit her one afternoon after school in her home just north of Clayton. She was a tall, thin, elderly woman, and she talked to us freely and with great conviction. “I can stop blood. I can draw out fire, and I can take off warts. I can’t cure thrash. My brother does that, and I’m proud of it.”
On teaching: “One person can tell one, y’see, and that other person that y’told can tell someone else. Sorta like these chain letters. My mother told me where t’find it at so I found it. And it’s somethin’ every doctor ought t’know. It’s simple, and you don’t have t’turn over far in Ezekiel to find that about bleedin’. You don’t have t’read any farther than th’ sixteenth chapter. You memorize it by heart, but don’t leave one little thing out. If you do, it won’t stop.”
She went on to talk about bleeding and how to stop it, and how important it was not to forget to say a single word of the Bible verse. “My brother one time—well, he was pretty good size; about half grown I guess—but my mother told him to go and cut some wood one afternoon. So he went, and she could stop blood. She’s th’ first’un I knew could. Anyway, he cut his heel string on this big broadaxe— you know what a broadaxe is—sharp on both sides. He cut his heel string slap in two. Just slap in two.
“Well, we thought it was goin’ t’bleed him t’death, and my mother failed t’stop it. I can remember goin’ after th’ minister; and when he came, he failed t’stop it. I don’t know whether they was scared or— listen; if y’leave one little thing out, it won’t stop. One little error. I knew she’uz excited for she’d made many a dress, and she just grabbed that dress as she sat at th’ sewin’ machine, and wrapped it around his leg. Well, it was nine months he never walked a step in th’world, and we had t’teach him t’walk just like a little baby, y’know. And he was turned down in th’ army on account of that foot. It was an awful lookin’ thing. He’s not crippled, but he was turned down in th’ army.”
Another time: “There’uz a lady—she’uz expectin’ t’go t’th’ hospital at any time. All th’ time durin’ that time, her nose had almost bled her t’death. So this man rid up inta our yard one night, and that’s been twenty year ago, I guess. And he said, ‘I want y’t’go t’my house.’ It’uz way down on Chechero. He said, ‘My wife’s nose is a’bleedin’ her t’death.’ Said, ‘I don’t believe she’d be alive ’til I get back.’
“I said, ‘Oh yes she will.’
“He said, ‘Would y’go?’
“I said, ‘No.’ It’uz after dark. I said, ‘No use in me a’goin’
down there. It’ll be ok as soon as you get back.’
“So th’ next day I seed him in town an’ asked him about her. Said,
‘It’uz stopped when I got back.’
“I don’t have t’know their name. Don’t have t’know a thing about
them. You just think about’em and say th’ verse three times… . I’ve been sent for t’Lakemont and different places t’come and stop th’ blood, and I say, ‘There’s no use in me a’comin’.’ I could do it in New York if they’uz t’call me.”
Then we asked her what doctors thought about all this. “I don’t know, but Doctor Neville thought it was wonderful. I’ll tell ya’, we’uz a’milkin’ one night. We had about sixteen cows to milk, and we’uz a’milkin’ one Sunday night, and you can see th’ scar there [pointing to her forehead]. There’s twenty-six stitches took up an’ down there, and a blood vessel bursted over here. A cow kicked me in th’ head. And Doctor Dover that was, he just didn’t know a thing in th’ world t’do. And that blood’uz a’comin’ up and spillin’ back down in my face after he got th’ other places fixed up and m’head sewed up, and he says, ‘I just can’t get that stopped t’save my life.’ And I never thought t’do it. I never thought th’ first time it hurt s’bad.
“He said, ‘Try your luck on it.’
“We tried, and it stopped right quick.”
When we asked her how fast the blood usually stopped, she snapped
her fingers and said, “About that fast.” When we asked her why she thought it worked, she said, “Well, I don’t know. I guess that’s th’ Lord’s work. Faith? I guess that has a lot t’do with it. I believe that I can stop it.” Did she take money for her services? “I don’t believe I could do it if I started chargin’ money for it. It’s from th’ heart. Doctor Neville wanted to know how t’stop blood… . He offered me twenty-five dollars in money to tell how t’stop it, but I wouldn’t.”
The conversation then turned to burns. “You know a burn—how it hurts. Ther’s fire in th’ place where y’get burnt. You know that. You blow your breath on that and th’ fire’s gone out.” Her method for drawing the fire is to pass her hand over the burn three times, blow her breath gently over it following the hand each time, and repeat the verse silently each time. Thus, unlike stopping blood, she must be present to draw fire.
As we were preparing to leave, we thanked her for being so helpful and open. She answered, “Well, it might be of some use to you when I’m gone. I believe in th’ healin’ power because the Lord has healed me. I know he has. That’s the greatest thing they is is th’ healin’ power of th’ Savior.”