Archive for the ‘Superstitions’ Category

Sin Eaters   Leave a comment

This subject came up in conversation between a few friends of mine; and seeing as it’s a major theme in a new book that a woman wrote, centered in the Ozarks, I thought I’d say a bit about it.

Most folks, who even know the term, attribute the practice to Ireland, Wales, or the Appalachia, not being aware that the practice also happened in the Ozarks.  This is to be expected, as the people in the Ozarks came here by way of Appalachia, and from Appalachia, a large number were Scottish and Irish, with a sizable German population as well. So it would only be expect, especially with so much shared folk lore between the Ozarks and Appalachia, that Sin Eating would also be carried here.

Here’s a link on Sin-eating in Scotland

And here’s one about Sin Eaters in Appalachia

I was asked if I had any personal experience with Sin Eaters and the answer is yes, in fact I’ve performed sin eating myself and will describe one particular incident, without divulging anything that would break confidentiality.

I had a relative who was, on and off for years suffering from leukemia. To spare the details, his final trip was quite bleak, and he was out of it for quite some time. A preacher from a sect that isn’t the norm for our family was called in, to make his ministrations and prayers.

This relative suffered long and heard, being unable to let go, and knowing a bit about the person’s life, it was assumed that he feared for his soul and that kept the individual hanging on. So in the presence of his wife, I performed the ceremony of sin-eating. His labored breath ceased and a distinct calm came over him. He slept in a calm for the night and the next morning passed.

This is by no means to say that sin eating is still a common practice here. Like a lot of our old traditions, they’re dying and seldom made use of by anyone anymore. But dying doesn’t mean dead, and it still is practiced.

That’s all I’ll say for now, I may continue this subject later, should folks be interested.

Book Review: Signs, Cures, and Witchery   1 comment

For a Girl to get back her Lover   2 comments

From “Ozark Magic and Folklore” by Vance Randolph


“If a girl has quarreled with her lover, she may get him back by taking a needle and drawing a little blood from the third finger of her left hand. Using the needle as a pen, she writes her initials and his in blood on an ironwood chip, draws three circles around the letters, and buries the chip in the ground. The recreant boy friend will be hangin’ round again in three days, or less.”

Pawpaw Bottoms   2 comments

Pawpaw Bottoms, Oklahoma, which no longer exists, – the ruins of a few old buildings remain, the Church and houses long gone, is a place familiar to me, as most of my sister’s paternal family are buried in the cemetery. Up until recent years, the cemetery was surrounded by trees and swamp-like land and accessible only by a one land trail barely large enough for a car. It gave the whole area quite a mystique until the trees were hacked down, the old wrought iron fence removed, and the whole area turned into farm land. Since this was done, there has been a lot of desecration in the graveyards, especially since the family moved away.

My sister’s father is buried there, who died under questionable circumstances, and I’ve been in the habit of always accompanying my sister to his grave, for reasons that safety’s sake and length I can’t explain. Just about any given night out there, individuals are cooking dope, and I have been stopped and hassled by one policeman who definitely seemed under the effects of aforementioned substance.

But to get to the point of the whole matter – even when my sister’s father was alive, folks always came home before sunset. Dangers were never spelled out, but were understood to be normal and paranormal. Individuals have been seen conducting rituals out in the bottoms (I’ve done my fair share, but of a vastly different type), reckless youths go out to shoot random animals and objects and raise all kinds of hell, and full body apparitions have been seen on numerous occasions. I can state that I have never been to the area, especially around the cemetery, and not have had some sort of experience.

Take into account a long gone town, the cemetery, and the bodies over the year that have been dumped there, or even buried, and occult rituals; it makes for a particularly unusual place for paranormal activity.

The link at the top of this post gives a short history of the town of Pawpaw, which some of you might find of interest.


Telling the Bees   Leave a comment

From the June 19, 1939 edition of Life Magazine

Chicken Bone Love Charm   Leave a comment

Another clip from June 19, 1939 Life Magazine

Skull and Bible Altar   2 comments

ImageThis particular image comes from the 1939 edition of the Life Magazine; the particular image was set up by Vance Randolph, who spent many years studying and documenting our local folklore.

The set up was an exact production of a ritual Mr. Randolph reportedly saw, that was done by a girl who was witchin’ the girl who stole her man. A real human skull was placed on top of a Bible, and before it were placed two dolls – one to represent her husband and the other to represent the girl. The poppet used to represent the girl had four big nails driven into it’s back.

Ozark Howler in the News   Leave a comment

The nature of spoken charms and cunjures   2 comments

Here in the Ozarks there have been numerous spoken incantations for stopping blood, removing fever, easy the pain of burns (called “drawin’ out farr – “fire”), wart removal, etc.

Certain of these charms come from verses in the Bible, which hold only that an individual must be a Christian to use them. However there are numerous other spoken charms, that do not come from out of the Book, which carry a taboo upon them.

The taboos often mention that a man can teach a woman, and a woman can teach a man – that the charm must cross sexes.

Another states that the charm may be taught only once, and then the power to do the charm is lost, and taken over by the individual to whom you taught the charm. Other’s state that the charm may be taught three times, and the third person to learn takes the charm. Others state it can safely be taught three times, but any more and the individual loses the charm.

You’ll notice similarities here in the spoken charm belief to Pennsylvania Dutch Braucherei, which makes total since seeing that some of our spoken charms are almost identical to those used by the Brauchers.

Any of the charms posted here will not be tabooed charms. Most will either come straight from the Bible itself, or have been previously published.  All charms here will strictly deal with those used in the Ozark regions of Missouri and Arkansas.

Turkey Bone Love Charms   Leave a comment

Here in the Ozarks, it has been a long held belief by those of us who know things, that a girl can dry and preserve turkey bones and hide them in the bedroom or car (at previous times, the carriage) of a man she fancies. The belief states that this will charm the man to become attracted only to the girl.

In the old days, a hundred years ago or so, if a man accidentally happened upon turkey bones anywhere near his property, the man would suspect a woman was trying to “cunjure” him.

So for all you love sick women, save up all the turkey bones you can come thanksgiving.