Appalachian Superstitions and Wives-Tales II

Photo: Jake Richards, Deer Tracks in Clay

Read the first part of this series here for more superstitions and doings of the mountaineer.

  • To cure worms in people and animals, finely cut up some hair from a white horse and feed it to the ill in some cornbread.
  • Feed a dog gunpowder in cornbread and they’ll be a good guard dog.
  • If a mother ends up marking her child through pregnancy with a birth mark in the shape of what frightened her or scared her, she can lick the mark for nine mornings in a row and it will disappear as the child grows.
  • To ease nursing for a new mother, she can apply a paste of charcoal and yeast to her breast to ease the soreness afterwards.
  • If a dog crawls with its belly on the ground while moaning, he is measuring his master’s grave.
  • Never marry when the fish aren’t bitting and never marry on a Saturday.
  • A shucked cob with the lost teeth of children stuck into it guards against bad spirits.
  • Sweep on Friday and your bread won’t rise for a week.
  • If a cow bellows after dark, someone’s dying and you should pray for them.
  • Butcher animals during a waxing moon or the meat with spoil quickly.
  • Cats clean their face when they’re conjuring rain storms.
  • If a rooster crows after sunset it is a sign of death.
  • To bring a good lover to you, toss salt into the fire every morning for nine days.
  • To dream of a future lover, spread your bed sheet onto the mattress while reciting: “there are four corners to my bed, on which I now this cover spread. My I this night in trouble be, and the man I’ll wed come rescue me.” If you dream your in trouble, the person who gets you out of the rut is your future love.
  • When taking a lamp outside, stick three pins in the wic and the wind can’t blow it out.
  • During labor, the after birth can be brought quickly by having the mother blow into a jug or to have her smell snuff jammed into the stem of a turkey feather. Don’t wash the baby until it comes.
  • If the walnuts have thin shells, it foretells a light winter; thick shells mean a hard winter ahead.
  • Trees felled during a new moon can’t fold a flame. Wood should be felled and chopped during a waning moon.
  • If a baby smiles while sleeping, they’re being entertained by angels.
  • If you look at someone through a broken window, you’ll argue with them soon.
  • If a girl steps over a fallen broom, she will become a mother before becoming a bride.
  • To prevent horses from miscarrying colts, have them in the same pasture as a black donkey.
  • If someone’s chair stutters or gets upset as they get up from a dinner table, they’ve told a lie while at the table.
  • To ward off sickness in newborns, give them a piece of fat from deer meat to suck on.
  • Place a woman’s menstrual cloth in a bird’s nest and she’ll go mad and crazy.
  • If you drop a comb, have someone else pick it up to undo the bad luck entailed.

A part three may be coming soon. Share this post and follow the blog below!


Author: Jake Richards

Jake (Dr. Henny) follows family practice as a Yarb Doctor and Conjure man in the Appalachian Folk Magic tradition. He follows the legacy of his mother (a seventh daughter), that left behind by his grandfather, a baptist preacher who was a blood stopper, wort doctor, and thrush doctor; his grandmother, who was a knowledgeable woman in these works before Alzheimer’s set in; his great, great grandfather who witched for water in Washington County and his great grandmother who taught and worked from her roost at the foot of Devil’s Nest Mountain. Jake is the author of Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia, available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound. When he's not writing, blogging, reading the bones or trying for clients: he is either traveling, gardening, sewing, book binding, reading, or sculpting. For questions, readings, recommendations for future posts, interviews and the like, you are welcome to email him below:

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