appalachian-folk

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.

Day 75: Cures and Remedies: from Arthritis to Croup

Harley Carpenter holds a yellowroot plant he has just pulled up from a stream bank near his home.

Here’s the first part of some traditional Appalachian cures and remedies listed in “Foxfire One”. NOTE that all cures and remedies using turpentine, kerosene, pokeweed, and sulfur are not recommended as these items are toxic.

ARTHRITIS
Drink a mixture of honey, vinegar, and moonshine.
Make a tea from either the seeds or leaves of alfalfa.
Drink powdered rhubarb dissolved in white whiskey.
A magnet draws it out of the body.

ASTHMA
In one pint of gin, place several pieces of the heartwood of a pine tree. Leave them in the gin until they turn brown. Then take one teaspoonful of the mixture twice a day.
Suck salty water up your nose.
Smoke or sniff rabbit tobacco.
Swallow a handful of spider webs rolled into a ball.
Keep a Chihuahua dog around the house.
Smoke strong tobacco until you choke.
Drill a hole in a black oak or sourwood tree just above the head of the victim, and put a lock of his hair in the hole. When he passes that spot in height, he will be cured. (Another person told us that if the person died, the tree would also.)
Drink a mixture of honey, lemon juice, and whiskey, using about a tablespoon of each.
Gather leaves from ginseng, dry and powder them. Put the powder in a pan, place a hot coal on top of it, and inhale the smoke.

Harv Reid with one of the ginseng plants from the patch near his home.

BLEEDING
Place a spider web across the wound.
Apply a poultice of spirit turpentine and brown sugar to the wound.
Apply lamp black directly to the wound.
Use a mixture of soot from the chimney and lard.
If the cut is small, wet a cigarette paper and place this over it.
Use kerosene oil, but be careful not to add too much or it will blister the skin.
Use pine resin.

BLOOD—BUILDERS
When the sap is up, take the green bark of the wild cherry and boil it to make tea.
Take leaves of the lady’s slipper, dry them, and beat them to a powder (you can wrap them in a rag to do this). Put this powder into a can, add water, let sit, and then give a spoonful three times a day.
Take the young leaves of the poke plant, parboil them, season, fry, and then eat several “messes.”
Make sassafras tea, using the roots of the plant.
Put some yellowroot in a quart can of whiskey, and let the root soak it up. Add some cherry bark for flavor.

BROKEN ARM
Make a mixture of red clay and water. Put splints on each side of the arm and plaster it up with the clay. When the clay dries, put the arm in a sling.

BURNS
Put hot coals on the burned place and pour water over them. The steam will draw the fire out.
Powder hot coals and put this warm powder on the burn.
Boil chestnut leaves and place the resulting ooze on the burn.
Take table salt and dissolve it in warm water. Wrap the burn in gauze and keep it constantly warm and moist with applications of the salt water.
Bind castor oil and egg whites around the wound with a clean cloth.
The scrapings of a raw white potato will draw the fire.
Linseed oil will draw the fire out.
Scrape the inside of a white potato. Put the scrapings on the burn and leave them there until they turn black and the sore turns white.
Then add a salve made of talcum powder and Vaseline.
If the person has never seen his father, he can draw the fire by blowing on the burn.
Use lard and flour.
Use a mixure of Sloan’s salve and Japanese oil and petroleum jelly.
Put axle grease on the burned area.

CHEST CONGESTION
Make a poultice of kerosene, turpentine, and pure lard (the latter prevents blistering). Use wool cloth soaked with the mixture. Place cheesecloth on chest for protection, and then add the wool poultice.
Heat mutton tallow and apply it directly to chest.
Place a large quantity of rock candy in a little white whiskey to make a thick syrup. Take a few spoonfuls of this several times a day.
Apply a mixture of camphor, mutton tallow, soot, pine tar, turpentine, and lard to chest.
Make an onion poultice by roasting an onion, then wrapping it in spun-wool rags and beating it so that the onion juice soaks the rags well. Apply these rags to chest.
Eat raw honey.
Render the fat of a polecat. Eat two or three spoonfuls. This brings up the phlegm.
Mix up hog lard, turpentine, and kerosene. Rub it on chest.
Rub groundhog oil and goose oil on chest. Then cover with a hot flannel cloth.
Wear a flannel shirt with turpentine and lard on it all winter.

COLDS
Make a tea from the leaves of boneset. Drink the tea when it has cooled. It will make you sick if taken hot. Leaves of this plant may also be cured out and saved for use in teas during the winter months.
Make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger roots.
Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water and drink. Add honey and whiskey, if desired.
Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.
Take as much powdered quinine as will stay on the blade of a knife, add to water, and drink.
Parch red pepper in front of a fire. Powder it, cook it in a tea, and add pure white corn liquor.
Put goose-grease salve on chest.
Drink lamb’s tongue and whiskey tea.
Drink whiskey and honey mixed.
Drink red pepper tea.
Eat onions roasted in ashes (good for children).
Eat a mixture of honey and vinegar.
Make a tea by putting some pine top needles and boneset in boiling water. You can sweeten it with honey or syrup.
Drink tea made from wintergreen fern.
Make a combination tea from boneset leaves and horsemint leaves.
Take a three-pound can of pine twigs and rabbit tobacco. Boil together and strain. Drink some every three hours, taking no more than one full juice glass within a twelve-hour period.
Drink some of the brine from kraut put up in churn jars. It makes you thirsty, and you drink lots of water.

COLIC
Tie an asafetida bag around a baby’s neck for six months to keep away six months’ colic.
Take one pinch of soda in a spoon of water.
Drink Sampson’s snake root tea.
Feed the baby breast milk with one drop of kerosene or one drop of asafetida in it.
Chew some camel root and swallow the juice.
Massage stomach lightly with warm towels or warm castor oil.
Chew ginseng root.
Drink some asafetida and whiskey mixed in milk or water.
Boil two or three roots of ginseng in a pint of water, then strain and drink.

CONSTIPATION
Gather the roots of mayapple, cut out the joints, and dry the middle of the root. Place in a cloth and beat to a powder. Add a few drops of castor oil and roll into pills. They keep very well. You can also put a pinch of powder in food, or put in some syrup.

COUGH
Mix one teaspoon of white whiskey with a pinch of sugar, heat over a fire, and drink.
Eat a mixture of honey and vinegar.
Put some ground ginger from the store in a saucer and add a little sugar. Put it on the tongue just before bedtime. It burns the throat and most of the time will stop coughs.
Take some rock candy with tea.
Take a teacup of roots and stems of red horsemint, boil in a pint of water for two or three minutes, strain, and drink.
Dissolve four sticks of horehound candy in a pint of whiskey and take a couple of spoonfuls a day. This is also good for TB.
Boil one cup of wild cherry bark in a pint of water. Add some syrup and cook until it gets thick.
Make a cough syrup using the roots of about six lion’s-tongue plants. Boil them in about a teacup of water, sweeten with syrup, then simmer until thick. Take a spoonful a few times a day until your cough is gone.
Boil a handful of mullen roots and leaves in a pint of water to make a light tea. Add sugar or syrup to sweeten. Take only a spoonful at a time.
Parch leaves of rat’s vein and grind them to a powder. Put a pinch on your hand and snort it.
Make a cough syrup by boiling a handful each of wild cherry bark, black gum bark, and whole rat’s vein plants in a half a gallon of water. Simmer for one to two hours; strain, add one pint of sugar, and boil again until it makes a thin syrup.

CRAMPS
To cure cramps in the feet, turn your shoes upside down before going to bed.

CROUP
Squeeze the juice out of a roasted onion and drink.
Render out some mutton tallow, add beeswax to this, and place it on the back underneath the victim’s shirt.
Add a little vinegar, lemon, or onion to honey and eat.
Put a drop of turpentine in a spoonful of sugar and eat.
Drink a thick syrup made of onion juice and honey.
For a baby pour a mixture of turpentine and white whiskey into a saucer and set it afire. Hold the baby over the smoke until he breathes it deeply. This loosens him up.
Take homemade lard, turpentine, and kerosene and make a poultice which is bound in a wool cloth over the chest and around the neck.
Put some groundhog oil on some hot flannel rags and place the rags on the child’s chest.
Boil an onion, some turpentine, and some lard together. Pour the juice on a cloth and put it on the chest.
Get a pine knot, split it up fine, and light it. Hold fat meat over the fire. Take the resin and fat to cure the cough.

Witches Salt

Witches Salt, or Black Salt, is a very cheap and powerful ingredient in protection spells. It has independent origins in Hoodoo, Western Alchemy, Appalachian Folk Magic and European folk magic, and is made of ingredients friendly to even the tightest budget. 

Combine coarse salt (purifying), black pepper (protection from bad people), cast iron scrapings (protection from bad spirits/Faeries), campfire/wood ashes (concealing and protecting) and ground-up charcoal (filters bad magic), in varying measures until you have a nice, black salt. 

Tip: Add a protective sigil to the container you keep it in. 

Try using it for things like:

-Draw lines across your windows and doorways to keep out bad magics/people 
-Mix it in water and pour it over your car tires to protect your car
-Put it in a sachet along with other protective herbs, and hang it somewhere to protect that area
-Pour a pile under your bed to protect you from nightmares/bad spirits

Another Holler Folk Magic Story: Markin’

My family loves that old time religion (serious Freewill Baptists on my dad’s side and holy-rollin’, tongues-speakin’ Pentecostals on mama’s) but that doesn’t mean they don’t indulge in good, creepy, magical stories and traditions well outside the realm of Christianity. Most of their cautionary tales revolve around pregnancy and reproduction for some reason, and my favorite by far is what they call markin’.

Pregnant women, according to both my mamaws, have special powers. They wouldn’t phrase it that way, it sounds too pagan, but that’s essentially what they mean. For example, if a pregnant woman becomes obsessed with something, if she loves it too much or reacts to it with any emotion too strong while she’s pregnant, she can mark her baby to have features or characteristics that reflect the impact that object, person, idea, etc. made on her.

Keep reading

virginia valley gothic
  • a shifting in the treeline makes you think you are being followed. somewhere, someone dons their camouflage jacket. 
  • you cut through the mountains to go home, but you never feel your car climb at all. it seems like a straight shot even as the air around you begins to thin.
  • when it rains, the air fills with the stench of raw meat, of fresh manure, of a can of dog food being popped open and held under a fan. the locals say you’ll get used to it.
  • some of the farms have no animals on them, no crops in sight, but rows and rows of storage units. you wonder what they could be storing so much of. 
  • the side of the barn has been blown out from the inside, but by who– or what– you don’t know.
  • a lonely confederate flag hangs above a rickety porch door; around the corner, a handwritten sign preaches god’s hatred of man. 
  • in the distance, further south, you hear the low groan of a house’s foundation slowly retreating into the swampy earth.
  • the train crawls slowly along the tracks, blaring its horn, and as you wait to cross you feel eyes watching you from the dark inside the open train cars.
  • downtown, bluegrass and appalachian folk songs blast from every shop, every car radio, every open mouth. the deafening cry is raised to the heavens and as time goes on, you can’t help but find yourself joining in.
  • at your rival school, everyone whispers jefferson’s name under their breath, silent as a prayer. they fervently believe he’ll return for them one day.
  • you’ve begun to be able to tell the difference between towns as you drive; or at least, that’s what you tell yourself. 
  • you’ve never seen the peak of the mountain. always, clouds or mist get in your way. you think one day you’ll climb up there and discover it for yourself.
Day 212: Healing with Stumpwater

Stumpwater, that is water that has collected in the hollow bowl of a tree stump, is an interesting part of folk materia medica. Its use can be found throughout the Ozarks and the Appalachians, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other cultures were to use the mystical substance as well. Stumpwater is mostly connected to the healing of certain dermatological issues like warts, rashes, and sometimes even freckles. But the water has also been used in the making of herbal infusions. The idea being that the stumpwater has more power than regular water because it is elevated above the rest of the land.

Vance Randolph mentions stumpwater several times in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore,” here are a few quotes:

“The skin disease called tetter is treated with spunk water or stump water simply rain water which happens to be retained in a hollow stump.”

“When a hillman tries to remove warts by applying stump water he repeats this formula: Stump water, stump water, Kill these — warts! The dash represents the number of warts that the patient has, and it is essential to state this number correctly. If a man says six when he has only five warts, the warts will not be cured, and another one will appear in a few days.”

“Most of the old-timers believe that a woman should never be bathed ‘all over,’ or her bedding completely changed, for nine days after the child is born. Some say that the palms of a child’s hands should not be washed until the child is three days old to do so washes away the infant’s luck, particularly in financial matters. It is always best to bathe a new baby’s head with stump water; if ordinary water is used, the child is likely to be prematurely bald when it grows up.”

One can say that most of the lore behind stumpwater likely came into the Ozarks from the Appalachian people. A similar wart-cure can be found in the book “A Tennessee Folklore Sampler” by Ted Olson and Anthony P. Cavender:

“To remove a wart go to an old hollow stump that contains water and wash the hands or warts in the stump water. After doing this, walk home without looking back and the wart will go away.”

A few more Appalachian uses of stumpwater come from the wonderful book “Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia” by Anthony Cavender:

“To treat and prevent pimples and blackheads, the face was washed with buttermilk, a solution of Epsom salts or soda, human urine, stumpwater (water collected in a tree cavity or stump, also called ‘spunkwater’), a decoction made from witch hazel or ratsbane leaves, or dew of the first day in May.”

“Stumpwater, buttermilk, dew of the first fay in May, and a cow manure facial also were used to remove freckles.”

“Southern Appalachian folk medicine is abundant with beliefs about contracting and removing warts. Some of the more frequently mentioned naturalistic remedies were rubbing warts with castor oil, a chicken gizzard, a slice of Irish potato, bean leaves, or stumpwater and inserting a hot needle into the warts.”

In my last post on the interactions between white and Native medicines I mentioned the use of stumpwater as a practice shared by both the white and Cherokee communities. Who gave the practice to whom is still debatable, but the fact remains that both communities considered stumpwater as an important part of the materia medica. Frans M. Olbrechts, in “The Swimmer Manuscript” mentions a Cherokee medicine man who only used water in healing:

“Spencer Bird, an old medicine man, now dead, used to rely on the sole purifying power of water. The informant who told me this vaguely hinted at the probability of the water being some ‘special water,’ such as that scooped out of a stump (‘stump water’) or even out of the stump of a lightning-struck tree.”

The use of stumpwater bears some semblance to other folk medicines such as the use of certain “flying” plants, meaning plants that are growing out of trees, or rock faces, that have never touched the ground. The power here is that the “flying” plant has some mystical connection to the sky, and is therefore given an added potency as a medicine or magical item. A common example of this idea is the mistletoe plant, which has been considered a mystical or magical plat partially because it hangs in the air without touching the ground. There’s a tradition throughout the Ozarks and Appalachians (and one can see the original belief throughout Europe) that the mistletoe will only be effective in protecting the home when it is cut and never allowed to touch the ground. We can see the same concept with the stumpwater, the idea here being that the water fell from the sky and hangs in the air, not touching the ground. The power of the stumpwater then isn’t in the chemical makeup of the water itself, but in the fact that it has been given a magical quality by being set apart from other puddles, creeks, and water sources.

6

The Appalachian or Mountain Dulcimer is the core instrument of Appalachia. Its origins date back to the late 1800s, but the instrument gained most of its popularity in the 1950s folk revival through the playing of Jean Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky (pictured top). 

Second, Jean Schilling, well-known Dulcimer player and producer of the first Dulcimer festival, The Cosby Dulcimer Convention, in Cosby Tennessee.

Third, Elaine Irwin Meter with “the most beautiful dulcimer ever viewed.”

Fourth, George Allen Johnson (front), dulcimer maker and player.

Fifth, Mrs. Carrico with the family dulcimer (that has no fingerboard).

Last, Earl Mullins playing his mother Dora’s dulcimer with a mule-tail bow. 

It’s true. The popular conception that country music is a primarily white genre is, well, a white lie. Country is a combination of Appalachian folk music and blues. Some of the very first artists to build out the country appellation were black artists, such as DeFord Bailey, a black harmonica player and Grand Ol’ Opry star, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Charley Pride, who became RCA’s best-selling artist since Elvis in the ‘70s. Then there’s the little-known history of the banjo — it’s not as white as you think.

follow @the-movemnt

Day 99: Exorcism in the Ozarks

To understand the place of spirit possession and exorcism within the context of Ozark folk beliefs, we first have to explore where this belief in the spirit world comes from. Now, before I continue I want to clarify some possible misunderstandings about folk traditions like this. These are not to be considered “pagan” or “witchcraft” traditions, because, from the context of the people who belong to this tradition these words would be considered heretical and directly against their orthodox religious beliefs. While it could be said that these folk beliefs represent remnants of much more ancient pagan practices, from the standpoint of studying a living folkloric tradition we must use the vocabulary given to us by the people who are from within this tradition.

Therefore, this worldview in relation to spirits and the spirit world is completely within the context of Christian, specifically Protestant Christian, values and doctrine. That’s to say that the “spirits” are divided into the categories of angels, demons (which includes the Devil, or “Old Scratch” as he’s sometimes called), or ghosts (also called “haints”, which often represent long dead relatives).

The settler families in the Ozark Mountains were mostly descendants from Appalachian Mountain folk who were descendants of Scots-Irish and German immigrants, with a few exceptions of families of immigrants who mixed with either the Native American populations or with Africans brought over in the slave trade, or some combination thereof. My own family is of mixed racial heritage. This means that for the Ozarks there is a uniquely rich folkloric heritage that can be claimed by several different traditions, that’s to say that there are many different sources for beliefs on the spirit world, all of which have added their own ingredients to the common folklore stock.

For people in the Ozarks (at least for the old timers) the world of spirit and this world were uniquely intertwined with one another, so that in certain places, or at certain times of the day/year, the veil between the spirit world and this world is a little bit thinner. Much of this belief system was influenced by Irish and Scottish beliefs in the otherworld and the “Fair Folk” or “People of the Hills”. Still to this day, in many of the more rural places in the Ozarks, Halloween is seen as a time of the year when spirit activity is more active and certain precautions, such as leaving out food for passing ghosts, or lighting a candle in the front window, are taken as a way of not offending the spirits of the land.

Remedies against this spirit work can be seen in the use of herb packets, charms, or other ingredients that are placed inside the sole of your shoe as a way of safeguarding against any tricks that are laid down. There’s also an important tradition of keeping a watchful eye on the landscape when walking or hiking. Certain trees or rocks that seem out of place or ominous might contain a spirit that if angered could cause harm to anyone near it. I’ve seen old timers wear various charms to safeguard from spirits like this, and on more than one occasion I’ve seen farmers refuse to cut a lone tree in their fields for fear of causing any harm to its spirit.

But as we see, these are just preventatives of spirit work or spirit possession. What can we do when the harm has already been done to us?

This is where exorcism or spirit healing would come into play. Now, I will reiterate what I said earlier on, that we must use the vocabulary of the people within this tradition. Here I am using the word exorcism, when in fact that word is very rarely used in this folkloric tradition, mostly because of its connection to Catholicism, which was often condemned by Protestant hillfolk. Many of the Ozark families still pass on stories of their Protestant ancestors who were arrested, killed, or driven out of their homelands by the established Church. I myself have ancestors who were Huguenots, Dunkards, Quakers, and Brethren, all of whom immigrated because of religious persecution. So, when talking about this subject it’s perhaps more appropriate to approach it from the standpoint of spirit healing or faith healing, rather than exorcism.

In the Ozark folk magic tradition there are many categories of healers or folk magicians. Some of these are the “yarb doctors” who mostly work with plant based cures and charms, “power doctors” or “goomer doctors” who heal with the use of prayers, verbal charms, and physical talismans or amulets, and “witch doctors” who specifically focus on the healing of certain bewitched or “goomered” conditions. It should be noted that in no case do hillfolk themselves call these people witches, magicians, shamans, sorcerers, or any other term that may be wrongfully applied to them today. You may occasionally hear people refer to “white witches” in the case of healers, or “water witches” who are able to find water sources deep below the ground, and sometimes “conjurer” will be used, but these are rarities.

The faith healer or local pastor and the power doctor were often one in the same, and it shouldn’t be thought that there was always a distinction between the two occupations. In the Ozarks the healer is usually always seen as a person of strong faith, and oftentimes the pastor or preacher is sought in cases of healing where herbal remedies are not working or there’s a powerful spiritual dimension to the sickness. There are a variety of ways that this spiritual healing might happen. I always like to say that the folk magic tradition has as many practices as there are healers, but one practice of particular interest to me is the use of animal products in spirit healing.

Three examples of these animal products are: skulls, eggs, and chicken/bird feet. Skulls are used mostly in the case of mental illness or severe head pains/wounds. This form of sympathetic magic works on the principle that a magical animal skull is used to draw out a malicious spirit (sometimes referred to as poison) from a person’s head, and then the skull is cleansed in water or other liquids or sometimes set on fire as a way of destroying the sickness of the patient.  Eggs (specifically eggs laid by black hens) are used much in the same way, where the egg is drawn along a patient’s body, drawing in all evil spirits or poisons, and then the egg is either buried or cracked open, thereby releasing the illness and healing the patient. There are variants of the egg cure in cultures all over the world, but one living tradition that still heals with eggs is Curanderismo. A black chicken’s foot (or black bird’s foot in general) can be used to scratch out an evil spirit from inside someone’s body. This is more sympathetic magic, the idea being that a bird that scratches out in the yard, is going to be good at scratching up evil from out of a person’s body.

There’s an interesting folk disease that probably deserves its own article, called “live things” or sometimes just “things” and it can be seen in the Ozarks as well as in a lot of different traditions from around the world. It involves a person who feels like they have living reptiles, insects, or sometimes small mammals, inside their body. These critters were put there by a witch who fed the person some part of the animal, or made them step on it. The goomer or power doctors are able to exorcize these spirits through various different ways, most of which involve a strong purgative.

The Ozark folklore tradition is rich with stories and practices relating to the spirit world. There’s no way that one article can fully explain the significance of these spirit beliefs to the people who hold this worldview. I can only hope to give a small glimpse of these beliefs to people who might not have otherwise known they existed, and in my own way I hope to change the view many people have of the Ozarks and its peoples.

folk music is just too much fun

I’ve talked round here before about how much I love folklore in the form of tales and myths and traditions, and that same love very much extends to folk music. Part of that is simply aesthetic, yeah. But one of my FAVORITE things about traditional music in general is how sometimes I can hear a song for the very first time and yet instantly pick out which other songs it’s related to.

Recently, I’ve started listening to Jean Ritchie, who began recording Appalachian folk in the ‘50s. I put her on Spotify today and have just been letting it go in the background. But amidst all these songs that I have never heard before, familiar things keep catching my ear.

Like in “Jubilee”: “If I had me a needle and thread, fine as I could sew, / I’d sew my true love to my side, and down this creek I’d go.” The tune and the rest of the lyrics are totally unfamiliar to me, but that line is nearly verbatim from another Appalachian ballad, “Shady Grove” (which Ritchie also did a lovely version of and which descends, even though it’s changed a LOT, from the older British ballad “Matty Groves,” one of my very favorite murder ballads). In my favorite version of “Shady Grove,” the line goes, “Wish I had a piece of thread, as fine as I could sew, / I’d sew my true love to my side, and down the road I’d go.” Interestingly, Ritchie’s version seems to leave those lines out.

And the inclusion of those identical lines doesn’t necessarily mean that “Jubilee” and “Shady Grove” are truly related in any meaningful way. Lines and themes and story motifs in folk traditions aren’t always descended from parent song/story to child; they get borrowed horizontally as well. Just as they do in modern storytelling. Every once in a while, you hear the same refrains pop up in songs that otherwise have nothing in common, sometimes just because it’s a catchy nonsense line that fits in well to a lot of different meters.

Right now, “Fair Annie of Lochroyan” is playing (my first time hearing it). Especially in the latter half, it’s basically a gender-flipped version of “The Drowned Lovers,” aka “Clyde Water” aka “The Mother’s Malison” aka the Decemberists album The Hazards of Love. Just, instead of William going to Margaret’s bower, getting turned away by her mother, and then drowning before she wakes, we’ve got … Annie going to Gregory’s bower, getting turned away by Gregory’s mother, etc.

Anyway. There’s not really a point here, and I realize I’ve not been terribly academic or thorough or revelatory. Everybody knows that Things influence other Things, after all, and none of this is any grand act of scholarship on my part; Wikipedia echoes pretty much everything I’ve said here. My point, such as it is, is simply that I love how I am always stumbling upon more and more of these variants and descendants and distant cousins. It makes me look like an idiot, sure, when a version of a familiar song with a just slightly different tune or lyrics than I’m used to comes on and I utterly fuck up trying to sing along, but that’s part of the fun. 

And I guess that’s what it boils down to for me – that noticing these little connections is just so FUN. Even if I didn’t simply love the sound of folk so much, I don’t think I’d ever get tired of those little moments of discovering in noticing how all these disparate traditions weave together, separated by centuries and oceans and yet bonded, still, by a lyric here, a motif there, the same story with different names.

7

Here are just a few publishers that bring us many of the amazing books out there…and maybe some not so good ones. A wide spectrum of occult topics and genres from New Age, Eastern Spirituality, Traditional witchcraft, Luciferianism, Satanism, Shamanism, Wicca, neo-paganism, Druidism and the list goes on.

Top Left we begin with Xoanon, one of my favorites. THE publisher of the cultus sabbati, and Three Hands Press their American Branch. They deal in exquisite special edition prints that are beautifully bound and embossed.

Top Right: Inner Traditions, publishes a wide spectrum of literature from the scholarly works of Claude Lecouteaux and the well researched work by academic Thomas Hastis, who is an expert in the Entheogens of medieval witchcraft. They have everything from books on Reiki and alternative healing methods; and even some great books about lost civilizations and other conspiracies.

Second from top: Weiser Books, feature some great authors such as Orion Foxwood, who has a very unique perspective on Appalachian Folk Magic and Souther Conjure. He is an experienced root worker and is very down to earth.

Dark Moon Press: This is an occult publishing company that was actually started by a local from my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA; ironically. The cohesive theme here is the darker side of the occult; vampirism, demonaltry, erotic fiction, and the darkest schools of magic. Definitely some very insightful works by up coming authors that remain in the shadows.

Three Hands Press, as previously mentioned is the daughter company of Xoanon, publishers of the Cultus Sabbati. Based in Hercules, California, USA.

Ixaxaar: Another darksome publishing company, many of the books here focus on Satanism, Luciferianism, Quimbanda, and the darkest of sorceries. They also are the publishers of Clavicula Nox, an awesome periodical of anthologies on various topics by witches such as Sarah Anne Lawless and Gemma Gary.

Troy Books is a publishing company affiliated with the previously mentioned Gemma Gary who has written some of my favorite books on Traditional Witchcraft specifically The Black Toad and other works West Country Witchcraft in Cornwall.