On the way back from a trip to PA we drove by this amazing road cut. I got so excited my SO stopped so we could get out and look. This is an amazing example of a synclinal fold in the basin and range Province of the Appalachians. I learned that this location is Sideling Hill and it was used as an educational site for a while until it lost funding. One of my cohort told me they went their during their sedimentology and stratigraphy field work course! I’m super jealous. There is a coal seam in their somewhere too, but it was too cloudy for me to even see the top of the structure. 

Appalachian Folklore, Wives Tales, and Superstitions

Brought to you mostly by my grandparents, but also by my family at large. These are all things I heard growing up in the northern region of Appalachia and wanted to share with y'all. The lore and sayings may vary based on location, family tradition, and other factors, but this is just what I’m sharing from my experiences!

• Give the first pinch of a freshly baked loaf of bread to the Good Men to keep them happy.
• Deaths and births always come in threes.
• Spin around in a circle three times before you walk in the front door to confuse any spirits that are following you.
• Don’t throw your hair out! If a bird builds a nest with it, you’ll have migraines.
• “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.”
• If the leaves on trees are flipped over with their backsides showing, rain’s coming.
• If you hear a dog howl at night, death is coming.
• If you’re giving someone a wallet or purse as a present, put money in it to ensure they’ll never financially struggle.
• Spirits can’t cross running water.
• Cats and dogs won’t enter a room where spirits are present.
• Carry an acorn in your pocket for good luck, a penny for prosperity, and a nail for protection.
• If you’re having nightmares, put a Bible under your pillow. They’ll go away.
• Take a spoonful of honey to keep your words sweet.
• Keeping a pot of coffee on ensures a happy home.
• It’s bad luck to walk over a grave.
• A horseshoe hung above a door ensures good luck.
• A horseshoe in the bedroom staves away nightmares.
• If your right hand itches, you’ll soon be receiving money. If the left itches, you’ll be paying it.
• Wishing on a star works. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.”
• When you have a random shiver, someone just walked over your grave.
• If smoke from a fire rises, expect clear skies. If it rolls along the ground, expect storms.
• Rosemary near the door provides protection. Lavender provides peace.
• “A ring around the sun or moon, rain or snow is coming soon.”
• Wind chimes and bells keep spirits away.
• Seeing a cardinal means unexpected company.
• For that matter, so does dropping silverware.
• Rubbing a bit of potato on a wart helps it to go away.
• If the soles of your feet itch, you will soon walk on strange grounds.
• Black eyed peas, greens, and/or pork and sauerkraut should be eaten on New Year’s Day to welcome good luck and good fortune.
• Driving a nail into a bedframe or crib will drive away curses.
• If your ears are burning, someone’s talking about you.
• If you dream of fish, you are or will soon be pregnant.
• Listen to the wisdom of children, they see and know more than we think.
• To dream of death means birth, to dream of birth means death.
• To cure a headache, crush some mint leaves in your hands, cup them over your mouth and nose, and breathe in a few times. It should help.
• Placing a fern or ivy on the front porch protects against curses.
• In a vegetable garden, never plant the same plants in the same spot two years in a row. Rotate where they are, and you’ll save your soil. (Note: this is a real thing called crop rotation, and is actually kind of important)
• A black bird (Raven or crow, doesn’t matter) on the roof or a windowsill is an omen for death. To avoid it, you have to scare it away without using your voice before it caws.
• Say a prayer when you pass a coal mine for the lost souls still in the mine.
• Thank the land and the Lord with every successful hunt or harvest you have, for nothing is guaranteed.

These are a few of the folklores, wives’ tales, superstitions, and sayings that I’ve heard growing up (and still living in) in Appalachia! I encourage other Appalachian witches, cunning folk, and general inhabitants of the Appalachian region (and just the mountain range at large) to share whatever bits you’ve heard over the years! I just wanted to share a bit with y'all to give you an insight into some Appalachian lore, my own practice, and maybe give you some things to research and incorporate into your own practice! 🌿✨

At mamaw’s funeral this week, my daddy (her son-in-law), read selections of her notes she’d write in the margins of her Bible as she read it every year. This is a very old folk magic belief she had written in the opening flap: Ezekiel 16:5 stops bleeding. Many of the older generation believe if you pray over someone who’s bleeding and recite this verse the bleeding will stop.


Stream cascades over Appalachian Sediments, Watkins Glen State Park, New York

I am a child of the mountain. She taught me to love the clear, cold rivers and say fuck it when I hesitate to dip my toes in because of the chill. I learned to appreciate the scent of pine and the sweetness and tartness of a wild blackberry picked right off the bush. Her hills made my legs stronger, her air gave me life, and her wind rippled through my hair, making it tangled and wild. I am better because she raised me.
Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia
An NPR investigation has documented dramatic spikes in complicated black lung, the most serious stage of the deadly coal miners' disease.

Branham has “never been scared of death,” he says, as he chokes back tears. “It don’t bother me a bit. It’s just not seeing my kids grow up. But if I had it to do over I would do it again, if that’s what it took to provide for my family as long as I have.”