Stolen knife for curing warts – “A prominent Arkansas lawyer tells me that in his boyhood the essential thing was to cut big notches in a stranger’s apple tree with a stolen knife, one notch for each wart to be removed. This was quite an undertaking, for knives were highly prized and hence difficult to steal. Even more serious was the fact that the people in the neighborhood were all acquainted, so that a boy had to travel a considerable distance before he could find a stranger’s apple tree.” ~Randolph OMF 130

Knife under pillow to “fetch” a male child – “Not many hillfolk practice any sort of magic to determine the sex of an unborn child, although some granny-women teach that parents may ‘fetch a boy’ by sticking a knife in the mattress…” ~Randolph OMF 196

Under pillow to prevent nightmares – “Some people are accustomed to place a knife under the dreamer’s pillow, to prevent nightmares. I once noticed a small girl, not more than ten years old, sleeping with the handle of an enormous homemade bowie knife sticking out from under her pillow. ‘Maizie used to wake up a-hollerin’,’ the mother told me, ‘but since I put that there knife under the piller, we aint had no more trouble.’” ~Randolph OMF 332

“Bad dreams are but visitations from the nightmare man. To keep him away, one should…sleep with a sharp knife under his pillow.” ~Wilson BA 52

To staunch blood – “To slop bleeding on any part of the body touch a knife blade to the bleeding portion and get some of the blood on the knife and immediately stick the blade into the ground.” ~Parler FBA II 1487

“If you have a nose bleed, let it bleed on a case knife and throw it in the creek. The nose bleed will stop immediately.” ~Parler FBA III 2819

To send away a tornado – “If you see a ‘twister’ coming, you should stick a knife in the ground with the cutting edge toward the approaching twister. This will cut and split the wind, and it will break around your house.” ~Parler FBA XI 9708


Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Wilson, Charles Morrow Backwoods America (BA)