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 →

278: Wart Cures

The first post I wrote in this series was about warts, and since then I’ve discovered that wart charming and curing represents one of the largest classes of healing magic in the Ozarks. Why? Probably because it was at one time a common problem among hillfolk, one that wasn’t life threatening but a nuisance nonetheless.... Continue Reading →

271: Axes

Axes, much like knives, have been used in Ozark folk healing as a method of symbolically “cutting” maladies like fever, cramps, or birth pains. They’ve also traditionally been employed by weather conjurers to “cut” through storms and cyclones. Under bed for chills – “Some families are accustomed to treat chills-an’-fever by placing an ax under the patient's... Continue Reading →

269: The Razorback

Across the world, the wild boar and feral pig (two distinct critters though often overlapping in legend) have been scaring hunters shitless for centuries. As a fiercely aggressive animal it’s no wonder there are so many legends surrounding the beast. Ozarkers inherited much of their razorback lore from their Appalachian ancestors, who most likely their... Continue Reading →

268: Down to the River to Pray

The river is a healer. The rushing river. The gentle river. The cleansing river. Seven rivers flow down from around the Tree of Life in Heaven. Seven rivers to bless us, seven rivers to heal us. Let’s go down to the river to pray. The symbol of the river goes across cultures here in the... Continue Reading →

Ozark Jig and the Stomp Dance

“Within the Ozarks cultural exchange drastically transformed the Scotch Irish customs of song, dance, and story. I have often defined story and storytelling as the cultural and emotional core for a people. This is most evident in the intertribal realities of the Ozarks. For southeastern tribes and the Shawnee and Delaware, the stomp dance lies... Continue Reading →

267: Water

Sources: Parler, Mary Celestia – Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA) Randolph, Vance – Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF) Wilson, Charles Morrow – Backwoods America (BA) Under bed for night sweats – “For night sweats some hillfolk put a pan of water under the bed; I have known the wife of an M.D. to do this... Continue Reading →

262: Hidden Spirit Workers

There are a lot more of what we would call “spirit workers” here in the Ozarks than meets the eye. That is, folks who heal by means of some supernatural force, not necessarily just from God, but by the power of the angels or spirits they might have encountered here on the land. When folklorists went... Continue Reading →

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