Ever woken up in the morning feeling worse than when you went to bed? Chances are a witch rode you like a human mule while you were asleep.

Occurrences like this are far from uncommon in Ozark folklore. It’s a common story trope; a witch who can use an unknowing mortal (male or female) as a vehicle to run around town or go off into the woods for a midnight Black Mass ritual. It’s a way of explaining odd sicknesses, or when people wake up feeling tired or have strange scratches and bruises on their bodies. With marks like these a witch master would be able to identify the nighttime activities of a troublesome witch.

There are many cures offered by witch masters to prevent being ridden by a witch. A common one is placing a bowl of mustard seeds next to or under the bed before you go to sleep. A witch will have to count all of the seeds before she is able to work on someone, giving you a chance to wake up and drive the witch away in the name of the Trinity. This is a pretty common preventative, and I’ve seen quite a few variations on the same theme; i.e. using different seeds, using a piece of cloth with an intricate pattern that the witch will have to follow, using a sieve instead of seeds, etc. All of these practices work on the idea that it’s very easy to distract a witch from her work.

If you’re able to wake yourself up in the middle of being ridden by a witch, which some folks have reported, simply yelling out the name of “Jesus” or the word “God” has been known to dispel the witch instantly.

And of course, you can always hang a horseshoe (always in a U shape with the prongs pointing upwards) over your door as a way of keeping witches away from your house.