Woodpecker Woman

Once there was an old woman living up on the mountain, who kept to herself mostly. The folks down in town all called her "Red Cap" because of the little crimson hat she wore. Some people visited her when they were sick because everyone around knew she could work the plants and heal any disease.... Continue Reading →

Ozark Encyclopedia – B – Balmony

Balmony, Balmonia, White Turtlehead - Chelone glabra Parts used: root, leaf, flower Traditional uses: Infusion of roots and cedar bark used as a medicinal tea. Infusion of blooms taken for worms, fever, and as a laxative. Used for sores or skin eruptions. “The leaves have anti-bilious, anthelmintic, tonic and detergent properties, with a peculiar action on... Continue Reading →

285: Witch Animals

Witches have long had associations with certain animals. In the Ozarks we inherited a folk tradition from European, African, and Native sources, so when we talk about witch animals we have a wide variety to mention. First we can talk about white and black animals and their supernatural associations. Often black animals, like crows, ravens,... Continue Reading →

284: Ozark Taboos

There are a great many taboos in the Ozarks, inherited mostly from European traditions but with a few indigenous beliefs scattered in. The world of the Ozark hill person was a constant battle against nature, sickness, and the forces of evil. A simple misstep could potentially cause great strife to one’s family and home. The... Continue Reading →

283: Tobacco, part 2

This is an addendum to my other post on tobacco, and lists some more traditional uses of tobacco in Ozark medicine and magic: Thrown in river before journey – “I once knew a man near Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who threw little pieces of tobacco into the river whenever he was about to start on a... Continue Reading →

281: Circumlocutory Language

Circumlocutory and euphemistic language are both often very important within the context of certain folk traditions. It’s the idea that a certain “thing” can’t be called by its actual name, whether out of fear or respect, so instead another word or phrase, often descriptive, is employed. One theory links the use of this language back... Continue Reading →

280: Black Draught

Black Draught, famed laxative known throughout the Appalachians and Ozarks during the late 19th early 20th century. My grandpa mentioned having it in the cabin when he was growing up. Dolly Parton even sang a jingle about the medicine: Smile from the inside out, Smile from the inside out, Black Draught makes you Smile from... Continue Reading →

279: Fingernails

Fingernails have long been used in folk traditions for both healing and magical purposes. The fingernail, much like hair which is often used in a similar way, is a symbolic connection between the healer and the patient. Through the manipulation of the fingernail the patient is thereby manipulated as well, for good or bad depending... Continue Reading →

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