Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Blood Stopping

Blood stopping by Bible verse, charm, or simply a look, is the realm of the Granny and Power Doctor, inherited down through a long and prestigious line from folk healers across Europe. A gesture with the hand over the wound, some mumbled phrases, and maybe a long stream of air blown from the mouth of the healer, all techniques employed in this simple but miraculous practice. It was an important service for hillfolk and rural peoples who were often secluded away from any doctor. The blood stopper was often your only help when it came to cuts and wounds, so respecting the tradition and the healer was a must, they often became quite famous in their localities. The charms and prayers are rarely shared with others, especially those of the same sex as the healer. It’s often the case that this power is passed on later in life, always male to female, female to male, and sometimes only older to younger. Many healers choose to only pass the gift through members of their family, although others seek out other recipients especially in cases where children and grandchildren are uninterested in the folk practice. This is, unfortunately, all too often the case.

Using bible verse to stop blood – “There used to be a woman at West Plains, Missouri, who had a great reputation as a ‘blood stopper.’ A wounded man was brought to her home in a wagon. The whole wagon bed seemed to be covered with blood, and the man’s friends were unable to stop the bleeding from two deep knife cuts. The woman looked at the patient, then walked out to the barn alone, with a Bible under her arm. In about three minutes the bleeding stopped, and the healer returned to her house. She would take no money for ‘blood stopping,’ and she would not discuss the method. She was not a religious woman, and rarely looked at the Bible except when she was asked to stop the flow of blood. The old woman confided to a friend that she had already imparted the secret to three persons, and that if she ever told a fourth the ‘power’ would be taken from her.” ~Randolph OMF 122-123

“‘About this blood-stopping charm, it really works,” wrote Otto Ernest Rayburn, of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. “We had a neighbor at Caddo Gap, who could do it. Our eleven-year-old son had a severe case of bleeding, and we were unable to stop it by ordinary methods. We told our neighbor and he asked the boy’s full name, then went out into the yard and repeated a few words we couldn’t hear them. And lo and behold, the bleeding stopped! I do not know how to explain such things, but they do happen.’ Later on Rayburn reports his encounter with another power doctor who stops bleeding; this man ‘repeats a certain verse from the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel. He walks toward the East while repeating the lines….A man who has the power may tell the secret to three women; a woman may tell three men. Some think they will lose the power if they tell the secret to the third person.” ~Randolph OMF 123

“Mrs. Anna L. Coffman, of Marshfield, Missouri, says that to stop bleeding you repeat the sixth verse, sixteenth chapter, of Ezekiel: ‘And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.’” ~Randolph OMF 123

“Mrs. Callie Brake, Seymour, Missouri, used the same verse, adding: ‘You call the person by name and the wound by name and walk toward the sunrise repeating God’s Word and the bleeding will stop. My daddy always kept that chapter at hand so he could find it right quick. He would read it if we cut ourselves dangerously and the great God of Israel would stop the bleeding. There is no “charm” about this stopping blood, it is God’s own words.’” ~Randolph OMF 123

“Used Ezel. 16:6 from the Bible as a reference. Mr. Bill Hembree, an 80 year old man who lives on Old Wire Road about 4 miles west of Greenland told me that his dad Mr. A. J. Hembree who lived around Farmington, had the power to stop bleeding by using Ezekiel 16:6. He said he remembered one time a neighbor coming to get his dad to come to stop his little boy’s nose bleed. His dad told them he wouldn’t have to go but when they got home, the child’s nose wouldn’t be bleeding. (It worked.) Mr. Hembree couldn’t tell any of his relations the secret of his power.” ~Parler FBA II 1490

“To stop blood: Call the individual’s name (in your mind of course) and say: As I passed by thee, I saw thee bathed in thine own blood. Again call the individual’s name and say, you will live, blood from the nose or from an injury will stop.” ~Parler FBA II 1492

“This is a remedy people used for bleeding. They would walk by the bleeding person and read the bible verse on the back of this card. Ezekiel 16 Chapter – 6 Verse, And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea I said unto thee when thou wast in they blood, Live.” ~Parler FBA II 1493

“I knew a guy who could stop bleeding by quoting a certain verse of scripture. He was called a bloodstoper.” ~Parler FBA II 1495

“My grandmother could stop bleeding by placing her hand on the person’s head and reading a verse from the Bible.” ~Parler FBA II 1498

“The practice of stopping blood by charm was widely used in the old Ozarks and it is still practiced in some sections today. The person who has the power to perform this act walks toward the sun, calls out the name of the patient, and repeats a verse of scripture from the book of Ezekiel. It is a secret formula and never written down. A woman may tell it to three men; a man to three women.” ~Rayburn BO 213

Using other verbal charms – “Another old woman, perhaps the best blood stopper in McDonald county, Missouri, simply held up both hands and cried:

Upon Christ’s grave three roses bloom,

Stop, blood, stop!” ~Randolph OMF 123

“When I was teaching school in an Arkansas village in 1940, our eleven-year-old son had a severe case of nose bleeding. We told a neighbor of his condition and she said she could stop it. She asked the boy’s full name and then went out into the yard and repeated a few words-we couldn’t hear them. The bleeding stopped immediately. Perhaps the bleeding had run its course and was ready to stop anyway; perhaps not. This is the “old science” and may have more meaning than we moderns think.” ~Rayburn BO 214

About passing the charm – “An old gentleman who told a girl reporter the secret of blood stopping cautioned her never to write it down or publish it, as in that case the charm would lose its efficacy. Several blood stoppers tell me that the secret can only be passed to a person of the opposite sex, and one said that he could tell it to three persons, and no more. He had already told two women, and was saving the third telling for his little granddaughter.” ~Randolph OMF 124

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Rayburn, Otto Ernest Bloodstoppers in the Ozarks (BO)

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