Archive for the ‘Death, Burial, and Funerals’ 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.

Telling the Bees   Leave a comment

From the June 19, 1939 edition of Life Magazine