Rotting Meat and Greasy Bones

I’ve seen many folk who acquire bones, skins, and other animal parts from sellers or straight off the highway with no regard to the animal’s spirit. Many today speak of sacred relationships with our four-legged, winged and swimming brothers and sisters, but then they just buy some bones or skins to use in crafts to make a wand or some other shit with no regard to the animals consent to it nor how they were treated in life. They just want the aesthetic.

Let’s face it: animal husbandry is a horrid practice today. Animals are kept in pins like product and “packaged” in machines that slit their throats, drain them, and then render their flesh. Totally impersonal and inhumane. Rabbits are struck to the floor to break their necks and sheep are practically skinned alive by sheering. While their are some folks who do this work ethically and treat their animals right, we have to face it that the majority does not.

Animals are hunted for furs, mounted trophies, and a good buck from the buyers. In my relations with the furred, feathered, and scaled kin, I follow as the Cherokee taught. An animal that is killed without offering its self to the Hunter becomes vengeful and will bring disease to their killer.

The Cherokee followed a belief in reincarnation but not for humans as is explained in the tale of Coyote going to save the dead. Another tale relates putting leaves over the blood spilt when an animal is killed and later on that animal will rise again from the pile of leaves. This is how they believed the game returned. They also placed a portion of the animal in the fire as thanks.

I recently received two raccoon skulls (pictured above). Many of the teeth are missing and one has a broken eye socket, I suspect from being hit by a car. The other I have no clue about. Keeping the bones of animals like this can be an emotional burden. You know you cannot change the pain they went through, naturally or by man. Here in your hands your hold the last piece of a being that couldn’t been beaten to death or left to die alone.

The Natives always treated the animal with the utmost respect, pre and postmortem. And I set to do the same in my work. In Appalachia, most people still hold the belief that all the animals are our kin. While there are some macho-hunters who will spend all day trying to convince you of a deer’s lack of intelligence, ask a woman. They’ll always tell you about God and the animals. Maybe it’s that wisdom that pushed the Cherokee to a matriarchy in the first place: where they consulted woman regarding trade and war because they had the closest hearts to the earth.

As Appalachians, we are a people who always mourn the past and the good ol’ days. Even to the smallest thing.

Them old granny women knew about kindness. Though their temper usually arrives before they do, their hearts were gold. They respected the spirits that aided them, spiritually and physically in the form of food. Though this changed drastically when the Industrial Age began and factories began moving into Appalachia, making the dollar bill greater. Or maybe it changed when the Natives traded the skins of their brothers to the settlers for their guns and foreign treasures. Who knows?

Within the past few years, a large pagan community has come to flourish in Appalachia. New faith on old ground. The problem is no one knows its history. No one sees their furry neighbors as much since the largest population lives in cities. The best way to work with our kith and kin of the hills is to learn about them. Hogs, coyotes, turkeys, doves, snakes, turtles, salamanders etc.

They are not just props or ingredients possible for use in your craft, whatever you practice. They live as you do. Whenever you wish to use an animal’s part, do so with respect and permission. As modern witches we have knowledge of spiritual natures. We speak to spirits daily. For you to go around taking as you please is plainly rude as shit to the spirits of that animal. Even animals want peace after death sometimes.

Do this when you find bones or whatever you wish to use.

•firstly, ask before you take. I usually get a bad feeling in my gut if it’s a no, and a deep peace if it’s a yes. Leave something behind. Whether some tobacco, pocket change etc. Give as you take.

•clean the bones up, rend the meat off if need be. Keep what you will use and bury the rest after following the next step.

•speak to the spirit. Ask it what it needs. This may take some time before you get a reply. Animals usually express their wants and needs to us in dreams but divination will suffice.

•if the spirit agrees to work with you personally, treat it with care. I have a coyote pelt from which I work with a coyote spirit I have name Ol Blue. Every time I leave the house, I rub the pelt just like I would a living dog. Right behind the ears 😉. Give them attention as you would any friend.

•Some animals were dealt a hard life, often at the hands of other humans. Their souls need healing. The best way I have found in keeping bones is to sing to them and sit with them. Speak with them in a soothing voice telling them it’s all okay now. I like to sing them old folk songs like Tree in the Valley. This can take months.

•prep their “home” with what they need: bowl of water, some type of food that they would eat, flowers etc. This is establishing a relationship. Stay with it. Change the water regularly and “feed” them regularly as well.

•Now if the spirit hasn’t agreed to work with you personally, but will allow you to use its parts, then you’ll need to clean them and bless them. As my magical tradition is Appalachia Folk Magic, I always stay as traditional as I can even though Mamaw wasn’t doing this type of thing. Pray psalms 23 over it and baptize it with “living water”. Wrap it up in a white hankie and leave it out side for three nights. Bring it back in and work it how you will.

Animal spirits can be great allies to work with. Most often they will help protect you, warn you, and comfort you. They are friends. As in all friendships, it is give and take. So treat your friends kindly, especially the non-human ones.

Whispers From Watauga: What Appalachian Folk Magic Is Not

With my extensive knowledge of American Folk Magic, I often forget that others do not know the distinctions and differences between traditions like I do. So I decided to write this post to outline where traditions meet and separate, how to tell authentic Appalachian Folk Magic from the new age and “dark, witchy” add ons that folks are proposing and selling as “traditional”.

Let’s remind ourselves of the culture and the region of Appalachia. Nestled in the Southern Highlands, Appalachia was isolated for most of recorded history. It was/is populated by people of different lands and faiths: the native tribes, Germans, Irish, Ulster Scots, Scotts-Irish, African Americans (mostly from West Africa), and the British.

Appalachia is a myriad land filled with fields and forest, cool streams and foggy lakes. Nighttime is often unpleasing: filled with dark, towering trees that could be harboring any kind of critter, hills and mountains that echo the laughter of coyotes and the growls of mama bears. This made Appalachia a breeding ground for superstition and tales, many of which began before the hills were “settled”.

The Cherokee often speak of Raven Mockers flying through the night waiting for a soul to steal. They spoke of disease bringing spirits, taboos of eating animals of the water, land or air together in one meal, and the bad things come from a menstruating woman (not because of misogyny, but because if it’s “chaotic power. The Cherokee matriarchy didn’t end until Christians influenced their culture).

The Irish, British, and Scottish brought with them their own lore on witches and falling ill to enchantment. They brought tales of Little people waiting to bring ill fortune, disease, and spoiled food to those who offended them. Much like the Cherokee Yunwi Tsunsdi, they may steal children, place a spell over you to get lost, and even take you to their house to live with them forever.

The Africans brought with them their own superstitions, many regarding death and disease. They also brought teachings that reinforced the belief that a witch who has your blood, spit, urine, etc. could end you or do anything else their imagination would grant them. They also reinforced the importance of honoring our Ancestors, a practice long held across the globe, but barely remembered today. They also reinforced the belief and connection to ones land; a belief also shared across cultures, but one that quickly lost hold into the latest millenniums.

The biggest portion that has survived down family lines are practices originating in the British Isles, Ireland, Scotland etc. Not much African components remained as this location was highly Baptist so the option of merging their beliefs with the white mans religion, like with the Deep South and Catholicism, just wasn’t possible. Tokens of wisdom were passed down and soon disregarded by the children who converted to Christianity and those who no longer honored their elders, which became a rampant act of society in the 70s to the 90s.

All of these cultures merged and mixed, creating the unique social, religious, and folk structure we have today. From food to music, magic to medicine and all in between, it is a stew of magic and mystery, of sin and salvation.

Today, many people feel the urge to honor their culture, especially the magic here, but they do not wish to go speak to and learn from elders. They google and google and bing and yahoo to their hearts fullest to no avail. These websites today are have-assed, putting off simple superstitions as Appalachian Folk Magic, when it is so much more than that. There’s also the problem with outsiders who take this work and pose around as Appalachians without a lick of an accent.

This woman, she owns this place in Vegas called Haven Craft. And yes I’m calling her out because she is a fraud and does nothing but appropriate other people’s cultures. In the year I have been keeping an eye on her, she has claimed in Youtube videos as being born and raised in Appalachia, then she was Native, and the most recent is she is a Romani who traveled around with her grandmother.

Bless her god-blessed heart.

One video she spoke on her granny slathering herself in lard or some shit, and going out to meditate and meet the fairies and something about collecting fairy stones to speak with them. She also talked about creatures in hell that rise up….

So I commented and called her out on it. Her response was “Every family practices differently.” They do, I agreed with that. So I asked where she grew up. She said Roan Mountain, East Tennessee. That’s when I knew she was bullshitting because I grew up there also. Her rebuttal was that her work if a mixture of what her granny taught her among other things she’s learned. That’s fine. My issue is her selling it out as Appalachia folk magic to its fullest.

There’s another who wrote a series of books, Barbara Diva I believe her name is. She mixes in new age philosophy with it, talks about using bind runes *eyeroll* and wands. *another eyeroll*. The bind runes is absolutely false. Wands on the other hand have only recently been adopted into it by a handful of workers here, again due to the new age movement and influence from mainstream witchcraft.

Orion Foxwood is another. The majority of his book is nothing but paths for self enlightenment, cultivating ones spirit, and growing your spirit, and that’s fine. If you’re practicing Wicca or Hinduism. Transformation of the self was not known to the old folk. The closest they would be able to compare it to is a good sermon on a Sunday morning where the preacher taught exactly “what they prayed to God about.”

Not only that, it is highly influenced by the Hoodoo of the Deep South and more new age influence. The title is extremely misleading. There were but a few tidbits that were accurately Appalachian in the whole manuscript.

All of these people have one thing in common: they are selling something that is fraudulently being called Appalachian Folk Magic. For money, title, I don’t give a shit what. Then you have the other people who barely do research (or fucking talk to people from the area) and water it down to simply odd superstitions categorized as Good Luck, Bad Luck, Witches, Death Omens, etc. as if we have no form to our magic but old sayings.

I have presented plenty on this blog on how we do authentic Appalachian Folk Magic. And now I’m going to give you tips on how to see the frauds.

They firstly try to convince you they are from the area and that they were born and raised here. Notice their accent. How often to they mention their family? Too much can also be a hint. (Overselling).

They’ll talk about using any kind of crystal other than mountain quartz. I don’t even know the actual name for it, it’s what everyone calls it here.

Notice the elements employed in their “craft.” We don’t use incense, if at all. All of the old folks hated the stuff. Hell most of em had or now have COPD as it is. Seems contradictory considering most old folks smoked, but the only things considered close to incense sticks were burning herbs. Even then they were done inside only when mamaw was out.

We don’t use athemes or wands (historically anyway). We don’t seek out the Little Folk at all, it’s believed to do so will have them put you under their power and get lost. We rarely petition them and when we do, it’s when a true and fast miracle is needed. They (especially their power) is continuously reckoned with and regular offerings are left. To do otherwise is to warrant their displeasure and bad luck to befall you.

We are superstitious folk. But when you’re coming to speak with Appalachian people, be sure to pull actual Appalachian superstitions out of your arse, cause we can tell. You may also have people who study folklore often present in the group. They may correct you. Be weary if you have a fragile ego.

The old time recipes never call for frankincense, dragons blood, bats blood ink, and anything else new to America through the Wiccan and new age movement. We use what’s in the yard, barn, at the grocery store, or in the woods. We use animal blood, needles and fabric; river rocks, baking twine and salt.

We don’t use pentacles. These continue to be regarded as satanic in the major Christian area. Feel free to use it. But don’t call it traditional. Many people today are also mixing in traditional European witchcraft. While it does contain those elements, pay attention to how much they’ve mixed in. And we definitely don’t cast circles.

We don’t use prayer sticks, medicine bundles, or anything else you wish to rip off from the West Native people. The only native influences that continue to live in this work are the uses of some waters and dirts, using certain plants for such and such, basket weaving, and pottery made from the river mud.

We don’t use specialty oils often, such as Adam and Eve oil, Road Opener Oil, etc. These are adapted from Deep South Hoodoo. I personally use them and sell them in my shop as a majority of my clients practice that tradition of folk magic. We primarily just use olive oil or vegetable oil that’s been prayed over and maybe infused with a particular herb.

They’re not voodoo dolls here. They’re dollies, doll babies, nannies, beanies etc.

We don’t “charge” things. The tools we use are prayed over or just used. Remember the old folks and lay people here didn’t have thoughts and cautions on magic that we have today that stem from modern occult philosophy. We have our own thoughts and ways about us, but nothing too special or as complex as that. Things just were and they worked just as they were, no blessing or cleansing needed.

We don’t use “intentions” to heal and shoot. We use prayer, faith, and common sense. The strongest form of magic exemplified in Appalachia is that of using images to affect others, or simple symbolism to affect cures. We don’t use affirmations or follow the law of attraction. You do get what’s coming to you but just setting there thinking positive about money ain’t gonna bring a buck into the house. Work for it.

The old folks rarely used jar works like most in Deep South Hoodoo do today. Jars were expensive and primarily used for canning food for the winter. Every once in a while they may be used though. But not as extensively as in the Deep South. The most common used here were tin cans and buckets.

We don’t use crystals. I don’t know how many times I have to say that. The only “crystal” used is quartzite which is found throughout these hills, fields and forests.

We don’t work with the Goddess and God. Works are done by the power of the Holy Trinity. This also can be adapted. But when I see you doing a working with rose quartz and amazonite, calling on Hecate, don’t call it traditional, let alone Appalachian.

We do not worship Demeter, Jack Frost, Father Winter, etc. as one website claims. Lord I hate that website.

Pay attention to their “products”. Mine are homemade and each component has its purpose. 90% of my materials are Home made or locally sourced. But today we have folks running around selling anything with a feather or holy stone glued to it as magic from Appalachia. Authentic Appalachian charms mostly consist of a simple sachet bag, a penny worn about the neck, a paper packet simply bound with yarn, etc. We don’t care much for those decorations when work needs done. I understand the want to appeal to customers for them to buy your products, but don’t go all out on it. You’ll look desperate for sells then.

Saying you lived on the Qualla Boundary to justify using native practices doesn’t give you credit in the magical community. Most natives today are Christian and no longer call on the Thunder, Tsul Kalu, etc. Neither do they believe in the power of their people’s medicine. 98% now turn to western medicine for their needs. And no, it’s not a reservation. Folks who do this will call it that. That should be your number one red flag.

The old folks didn’t use tarot cards. Maybe a handful, but not so much as to remain open about it. Many, if they read the cards at all, used playing cards.

Scrying with water in a bowl is not Appalachian. It is another add-on. We do scry or “watch” the water, but it has to be living water. Water that flows.

No body gives out full traditional workings. I even don’t. It’s a belief that stems from the Cherokee. Formulas loose power as they are passed around by more people. Maybe it’s true or maybe not, but I’d rather not take the chance on something that seemed important enough to remain intact over hundreds of years. The workings that I advise to people and clients are traditional with a twist. I’ll advise you to pray a particular verse or do it towards a certain way; still all tradional beliefs and practices that I simply attach perfectly to the work.

So there’s a good list for you to use to point out the frauds that continue to visit our doorways to take what they can and leave what they don’t like. This list will likely grow over the next week or so, although it is already extensive enough.

Enough outsiders have tried selling us our own culture, they’ve tried writing about us while “putting themselves in our shoes” and they still get it wrong. They want our culture, our music, our food and our magic; but they don’t want the poverty, the underfunded education, the drug addiction, etc. They take what benefits them. As I am passionate about these folk ways, I will not stand for it.

So brave yourself should you ever think to pose things falsely as Appalachian Folk Magic. Because I’ll know and I won’t be afraid to call you out on it.

Love Doesn’t Stop at the Grave: Ancestor Veneration in Appalachia

DNA is a tricky and confusing thing. It’s also very powerful. You contain the DNA of millions of Ancestors. No one has the same DNA as you do, but there is still a continuous Living River running through your veins, connecting you to every individual, living and dead.

In today’s age, the majority of people do not hear from their extended family, especially their grandparents much, unless it’s a holiday, birthday, wedding, funeral. And when they do, it’s through FaceTime, Skype, or Facebook. Most of the people I’ve done Bone Readings for can’t name their Ancestors past their great grandparents, if that far. Everybody’s so busy running around getting the latest bullshit and making money, eyes glued to their phones, and their hands tied to the wheel of a car to see the glorious thing that is family. No one sits and talks anymore over coffee with their mamaw, or breaks beans with papaw.

Most suggest meditation to contact your Ancestors, but I don’t meditate much. I do what the I call pondering. It’s an odd word, but I’ve found most of my answers just sitting outside thinking. Which I guess is a form of meditation. The Grannies did this often. It strengthens the mind, and when the mind is strong so is our ability to open to the Spirits at will. I’m probably rambling and making no sense, but it sounds logical to me. Letting the mind wonder, in my thought, is a way of untangling it. Cause how else do we explain the thoughts that fly by behind our eye balls?

It’s never to late to fix what was broken.

Some people who come to me are either afraid of what their Ancestors will say or have no idea who it is that comes through. Some have bad family history often filled with addictions, abuse, and absence. But Love doesn’t stop at the grave. And neither does healing. I’ve also had many adopted clients wonder on who came through, and with each one there was a mixture of biological and adoptive ancestors that came.

So first thing you need to do, to build a relationship with your Ancestors, is to first remember and connect with the ones you knew in life (this is what is termed your Beloved Dead), from there you will be introduced over time. Learn the stories of your Ancestors, as far back and you can go.

For generations, Appalachians held a tradition of preparing the dead for burial. As they weren’t able to be embalmed due to the isolation in the mountains, they were buried either the next day or the day after that. If it was winter and the ground was too hard to dig, the body was placed in a box outside to keep until spring. The body (if being buried) was placed flat on the body board, which was passed down in the family and held the body of each person in the family who’d passed. Bones may need to be broken to lay it flat, or some parts soaked in warm water to ease them down.

Four handfuls of salt were placed in a bowl on the chest to keep them from having spasms or jerking up. The chest and feet were tied to the board and keep the same from happening. The body was covered in wildflowers, herbs and weeds to honor them and also cover the smell. Then the saining too place, done by the oldest woman in the home. A candle is passed out the body three times with prayers and songs.

Saining/body boards were often used to honor the Ancestors, since all of them had “slept” upon it. You’d sit next to the board with a candle and just talk to them. This was back when folks live in small shacks and didn’t have room for altars. Not even sure if they’d know what it was. They only knew that this board was a connection to those before them. That’s all they needed. My family’s saining board is long gone, last I saw it used was when I was real little. Maybe about four.

So do your best to keep with tradition. They are ties to the past years and the past hands that saw them through as well. Song that gospel song mamaw loved. Doesn’t matter if your Christian or not. Mamaw loved it, and therefore it’s a connection to her. A big favorite in my family is the song “Down to the River to Pray.” Veneration doesn’t have to be a chore, it shouldn’t be. Make it fun and filling for you and them. This will also help you remember how they were more.

No one wants to be forgotten

My mamaw Hopson was married by the age of 13, had four girls and two boys, one of which was stillborn. She was raised in the mountains of North Carolina, she’d go to “May day dances” on May 1st in these hills, and she spent her last few years on Mount Mitchell. She was the sweetest soul, always giving something to those who visited her, making biscuits from scratch: she’d already have a batch started by the time we pulled into to her trailers drive way on the mountain. She’d tell us old family stories like Lick Paw, Lick Paw, Come in Tom; or Shinny Eyes and Bloody Bones. I may share them sometime with you. Maybe at the end of this post. We’ll see.

The land at my mamaw Hopson’s. The willow is ancient; standing tall long before I was born

My papaw Trivett was a stubborn, good hearted, baptist preacher. Unlike other men around here, he was able to dream true and had the Sight. It was mostly the women who inherited these gifts; the men were mostly healers. And he could heal alright. He healed fevers and sickness with eggs, could wipe a wort off with a rag and a prayer. He could draw the fire from a burn, as the old saying says a man who never met his father could do just that.

His daddy, Gerny Trivett, was a bad alcoholic. He passed away when my papaw was a toddler. Family stories say he was hit by a train after he passed out on some tracks. I recently found his death certificate via and it says he had a heart attack. Still a mystery. Come to find out, my papaw’s father was buried in the cemetery on the other side of the trees that spread about my papaw’s backyard. He didn’t even know it. He was that close to his father he never met.

The family stories keep their characters alive. I have a few great aunts (long gone) who were, well, prostitutes as the stories go. Another was schizophrenic and left by her children to die in a home. I haven’t braved myself to venture towards her.

Appalachians tend the stories, the graves, and the blood.

In Appalachia, there’s a cultural tradition to visit the graves of the Ancestors once a year, to mow the grass, pull the weeds and decorate it. Folks leave offerings of liquor, cigarettes/cigars, beer, toys for the children who passed, American flags, and even plates of food from the potluck held before hand.

The best time is during the summer and fall. Go to any graveyard in the south and you’ll see the majority of the graves are tended to, some yards more flamboyant with flowers than others. My family tends to each grave, ancestor or not. If we have flowers left over, we’ll place them on the graves with weather-worn headstones with no name. We’ll stand their and wonder: “Who were they? What did they achieve? Who did they leave behind?” And we’ll pray for them.

This was the best time to talk to the Beloved Dead, although we do it almost every day. We always remember our roots. Before this current generation gap, listening and learning the family stories and legends wasn’t that hard. But now, very few people have elders to talk to in order to record this information. The stories of my papaw Pritchard having the trouble with a witch will definitely be passed down, as well as the tale of Shiny eyes and Bloody bones.

Most people don’t know the first step in honoring the dead, which is simple: remember them. Speak their names. Whether you feel them or not, call their names out and say you remember. No one wants to die and have the world forget them. Their world was their family and is still through their descendants. Just the simple act of calling their name and wondering with an empty heart what they were like honors them. I never knew my ancestors, but I still hold them within me. I don’t know their character, but I can feel their strength gather in my bones. I have the temper of my Irish Grannies, the stubbornness of my German grandfathers, the strength and pride of my Cherokee people, and the fight-and-might of my African Ancestors.

Set a place. Mark your life with their names. Follow their traditions.

The most simple act of remembering our roots is to start with what you know. Make an altar to your Ancestors and Beloved Dead, beginning with the latter. The altar can be a bookshelf, side table, or a whole wall complete with tables and wall-pictures of them.

Although traditions vary, in Appalachia it’s pretty simple. White table cloth (I prefer doilies when I use a table top), glasses of water, candles, and a bible (if most of them were religious). Since most of my grannies and some grandfathers practiced these magics, I have dried rosemary, yarrow, lavender, etc. on the altar. I have items and photos of theirs, old wallets, jewelry, half used cologne/perfume bottles they wore, etc.

One thing I was always taught is to never have photos of the living, or items from a living person, on the altar. No photos of the whole family, of you and papaw etc. Only photos of the dead. It’s believed to do so will draw you closer to that realm and may lead you to death. While I’m skeptical of it, I was raised in a superstitious household, so I rather not tempt it. Ya know. Just in case.

Always refresh your offerings to them. If you come from poverty like I do, they will understand that two pieces of bread can make the difference between you eating and not. In these cases, water and candles lit are good enough. I honor my Ancestors every Sunday, so this is when I change out old offerings and, if I can, replace them. I also change the water or liquor I left out the previous week. I also leave them Coca-Cola.

When you refresh the water, wash the glasses as well. And the dish that served the food. If you wouldn’t eat or drink out of it then, neither would they. This is also when I give the smokers their cigars and cigarettes. This is also the time that you speak with them. Tell them your troubles, your achievements, tell them about work and the kids.

There’s no more need to sit silently and miss them cause they’re gone. Because they’re not. They are more active in our lives then we think they are, often telling us to “take a different way to work” or “don’t go to that store today”. And more often than not, it’s because something bad is going to happen on that road or in that shop that’ll make the news that night. You could be robbed, shot, hit, anything.

So talk to them. Remember where they are, that they’re dead and not coming back (well to you anyway). Do not try to use this to replace them actually being here. Because they’re gone for a reason.

One thing I do want to address: They are not simply there to help you in Hoodoo. Too many people today are using Ancestors like the New Age movement “uses” gods. They want this or that, often getting needs mixed with wants, thinking if they give granddaddy a shot of brandy and a cigarette he’ll bring you someone to love. SHIT DONT WORK LIEK THAT. This is not like petitioning a saint or other form of spirit. It’s not “business” or a trade deal. This is your family. If you wouldn’t treat your mama like that, don’t do them that way.

Remember they were from a different time where children with attitude, those who “expected” handouts and help without giving back or showing respect got their asses whooped. Just cause they dead don’t mean they can’t get mad at you and punish you somehow. “Mamaw wouldn’t do that”. You wana bet? Didn’t think so. So don’t come into this relationship with one goal in mind of getting help with your works. If that’s all you’re after, go on somewhere else.

I love my Ancestors to the moon and back. I feel them in my blood and bones, and it’s that pride that helps me stand strong and brace anything life throws my way. I could talk about them for hours, because it’s not just history or stories. It’s my stories and history literally swimming in my blood and etched into the grain of my bones. It knocks around my skull and sleeps in my heart.

Remember to have protection when doing this as well. Some spirits will gladly impersonate as one of your kin just to get offerings and taste from the living world. Call them on by the god of your family. As the majority of mine are baptists, I call up my Ancestors in the Name of the Most High God. I command that only those that lived in the blood and bones of my family may come to me. Consecrate their altar with these commands so only those rightful Ancestors may partake at the altar.

Build the Temple of your Blood

So build them an altar, one all their own, and begin your relationship. This is where you will meet them and speak with them, worship with them and pray for them. Work with them to heal generational wounds and addictions that you have in yourself, known or unknown. For more on that read When Your Ancestors Are A**holes by Mat Auryn. I would address it myself, but this post is extensive as it is already.

Keep these things in mind: be respectful, remember them, and do it for the right reasons. Set a certain day each week to honor them, honor them on birthdays and passing days, on days they came to America, or graduated college. Keep them in your heart not as a memory, but as the company you keep in your blood, in the living river of your veins. Follow the land they walked on, visit their childhood homes, learn about the times they lived in. Walk where they walked as well. It’s interesting to know that a hundred years ago, one of my great grandparents walked the same streets downtown as I do. And theirs before that. And so on before the buildings were stood and the trees cut and the land leveled.

Ancestor Veneration is a powerful thing in Appalachia. As human beings our number one natural need is community. Family. The second is Tradition and Familiarity. But unknown to most and ignored by some, Love doesn’t stop at the grave. And neither do ass whoopin’s for that matter so mind your mouth and be respectful. Ha!

After months of honoring them, you will see a change in your life, in your dealings with the immediate family and other relatives. This is your history book. They began it, you must continue it. I highly recommend you make an account on You’ll be surprised at how close your Ancestors really are.