Day 133: Granny Whittaker

One of my favorite witch anecdotes from Vance Randolph is about old Granny Whittaker. She falls in with many other famous Ozark Granny women like Gram French, who were both feared and sought after for cures and remedies. Here's what Randolph has to say about Whittaker: "I have met elderly folk near Marionville, Missouri, who... Continue Reading →

Day 103: Signs of the Gift

In the Ozark tradition of folk healing, or at least as I’ve learned it, there are a few different “signs” that might be on a person, showing that they have the gift for healing or spirit work. Many of these signs can be seen from birth. Children who are born with the “caul”, or a... Continue Reading →

Day 102: Ozark Initiations

I’d like to talk a little bit more about passing down healing in the Ozark tradition. Some of the information in this post comes from Vance Randolph’s “Ozark Magic and Folklore”, other bits come from my own experiences with Ozark healers. I’d like to add that the information presented here represents a tradition that has... Continue Reading →

Day 94: How the Witch Doctor Broke A Spell

Told originally by Mrs. Betty Minnick of High, Arkansas on March 20, 1951. Collected by Irene Carlisle and transcribed by Mary Celestia Parler. A recording and transcription appears in “The Ozark Folksong Collection”, a digital collection from the University of Arkansas. Well, he (her father) was in bed, and they couldn't—they’d be snakes come in... Continue Reading →

Day 81: Family Stories

My paternal grandma grew up around Ozark, AR which is down in Franklin County on the Arkansas River at the feet of the Ozark Mountains. She came from a family of sharecroppers that worked themselves to death over the the course of four generations. My grandma’s family didn’t have a car or electricity until after... Continue Reading →

Day 51: The Ordinary Healer

In the Ozarks the role of the healer has always been viewed in a mixed light, both from within the culture and outside. From those outside the culture the healer is often either seen in a very idealistic way as a sort of modern day mystic or shaman-type figure, or as a superstitious holdover from... Continue Reading →

Day 48: The Witch Master

The “witch master” is an interesting profession, or calling, in Ozark folk healing. They’re also often called “witch doctors” although that refers to the person being able to doctor the effects of witchcraft, not that the doctor is himself a witch. The witch master, along with the power doctor, are the two main users of... Continue Reading →

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