Granny Witches

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diane

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Not exactly, but I have read rattlesnake bites were treated by killing a chicken and wrapping the warm body around the bite to draw the poison out. I'm not sure how well that worked. :frown: And I agree with @Nathanb1, Sharyn McCrumb's novels are terrific!

@risha , I'm not sure I welcomed you aboard when you joined. I'm so glad you found the Mid-19th Century forum! :smile:
There was a Gunsmoke episode about Doc getting snake bit and Festus doing exactly that!

 

Waterloo50

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Cool stuff, all of it. Thanks for posting! IMO it can't be an accident we've gotten so far away from natural healing to the point where those who practice as the Granny witches did are considered kooky. Tell you what- son's TBI resulted in these crazy handfuls of pills/chemicals. It was insane. Poor kid gained a gazillion pounds, was zoned out and had no energy whatsoever. He began researching. I'm not ( not ) saying ' don't listen to your doc ' but I will say he ended up pitching most of the pills in favor of the herbals. He's a vegan, lost the nearly 50 pounds all those pills helped pack on, does a ton of physical work. I'm sure a little sold on naturals.

Amazing how many of us are familiar with dowsing. Dad did it- Appalachian grandmother taught him. He found water for people, I think the rods were copper? Anyone remember having a shot at it? It's so odd. Those poles really do move, cross and re-cross as you walk.

Funniest part was he was a Lutheran minister. No one seemed to feel it was weird to come get the minister to find where to dig a well.
I don’t know how or why dowsing works but it definitely works. I’ve tried it myself and the rods would repeatedly cross at the same spot, if it only worked a couple of times then people could argue that it’s was a coincidence or fluke but my results were always the same.
 
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I don’t know how or why dowsing works but it definitely works.
There is a theory that particularly sensitive people react to the difference in the earth's magnetic field that indicates a water vein. The resulting tiny muscle movements that stay below the perception margin are made visible by these wooden or metal rods, which also act like antennas and intensify the difference. Certainly no witchcraft, but not yet fully understood either.
 
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diane

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Cool stuff, all of it. Thanks for posting! IMO it can't be an accident we've gotten so far away from natural healing to the point where those who practice as the Granny witches did are considered kooky. Tell you what- son's TBI resulted in these crazy handfuls of pills/chemicals. It was insane. Poor kid gained a gazillion pounds, was zoned out and had no energy whatsoever. He began researching. I'm not ( not ) saying ' don't listen to your doc ' but I will say he ended up pitching most of the pills in favor of the herbals. He's a vegan, lost the nearly 50 pounds all those pills helped pack on, does a ton of physical work. I'm sure a little sold on naturals.

Amazing how many of us are familiar with dowsing. Dad did it- Appalachian grandmother taught him. He found water for people, I think the rods were copper? Anyone remember having a shot at it? It's so odd. Those poles really do move, cross and re-cross as you walk.

Funniest part was he was a Lutheran minister. No one seemed to feel it was weird to come get the minister to find where to dig a well.
It's interesting indeed. My dad was a Baptist deacon and auntie was Four-square - they saw no conflict. (Actually, she was an Indian Shaker. That is a blend of Pentecostal and Native...they make the snake handlers look tame!)
 

Waterloo50

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There is a theory that particularly sensitive people react to the difference in the earth's magnetic field that indicates a water vein. The resulting tiny muscle movements that stay below the perception margin are made visible by these wooden or metal rods, which also act like antennas and intensify the difference. Certainly no witchcraft, but not yet fully understood either.
I’ve used dowsing to find buried electric cable and I was successful, I think you’re right, it has something to do with the magnetic field and our physical reaction to it. I have also seen people use dowsing rods to help them find gold and lost objects. The weirdest thing that I’ve seen is people using maps and pendants to find missing people. I guess that it’s similar to dowsing but I’ve no idea how that works.
 

James N.

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Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 001.JPG

So when exactly did witches get such a bad reputation? In the mid-19th century, nearly every mountain top and “holler” in the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina had their local witch. Known as the “Granny Witch,” she was an honored person, revered as a magical healer. They were considered a rare gem who had brought their craft from Europe to the New World. These states are filled with folklore about their “Granny Witches.”
I'm surprised no one has answered this question yet, but it gives me the excuse to share photos of a trip I took back in March, 1996 that definitely has nothing to do with the Civil War! The modest house above belonged to possibly the most famous witch in what is now the United States, Rebecca Nurse of Dedham (Salem), Massachusetts. Of course, the so-called Witch Hysteria of 1692 is the best-known example of American witchcraft and its baneful legacy.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996.JPG


The troubles began here at the site of a local clergyman named Samuel Parrish who happened to own a slave named Tituba Indian who apparently was originally from the West Indies. She lived with her husband John Indian who may have been a local native, as his name implies. Tituba was a favorite with Parrish's impressionable daughters and other neighbor girls who imbibed her tales of witchcraft and voodoo. They began to act out the supposed effects of possession, accusing their neighbors of having cursed them in what historian John Demos in his Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England suspects may have actually been a land-grab scheme on the part of Parrish and his accomplice and mastermind, one John Putnam who also had a supposedly afflicted daughter. Their initial targets were essentially inoffensive oddball women who lacked influence to protect themselves, including even Tituba herself; this changed when they accused wealthy widow and landowner Rebecca Nurse.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 007.JPG


The notorious Salem Witch Trials were actually held in neighboring Dedham in the reconstructed Meeting House above. Eventually over twenty accused "witches" and "warlocks"(male witches) were hanged; one poor man named Giles Corey was pressed to death because he wouldn't "confess" to being a witch! Pressing was a form of legal torture in which the victim was staked to the ground with progressively heavier stones piled atop him until he either confessed or died. The reason he refused to confess was that by doing so one lost all title to land and possessions, which otherwise could pass to heirs. Ironically, confessors were NOT executed, but were imprisoned under beastly conditions - many more died as accused prisoners than those who were hanged as witches - and their property confiscated.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 003.JPG


A Salem landmark is the so-called Witch House which in fact belonged not to an accused witch but to one of the notorious prosecutors.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 002.JPG

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 004.JPG
Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 005.JPG


None of those executed lie today in the picturesque Salem Cemetery because as witches they were refused Christian burial in sanctified or consecrated land; as far as I'm aware they were all buried in unmarked graves, the locations of which remain unknown. Rebecca Nurse was at least brought back to her property and buried in an unmarked grave there.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 008.JPG


So affected and guilt-ridden by the events conducted by his ancestors famous Nineteenth-Century author Nathaniel Hawthorne changed the spelling of his name from that of the leading prosecutor Judge Hathorne; his novel The House of the Seven Gables, set in the preserved structure above, is all about the legacy of the trials. The story of the trials and their aftermath is told today in the Salem Witch Museum, a waxworks inside what was once a Gothic church below, dominated by the brooding statue The Puritan.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 006.JPG
 
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This discussion reminds me of a story that I heard about the town of Frenier, Louisiana.

The rural town was wiped off of the map by a hurricane in 1915. However, before this, the area was farmed by German immigrants and their descendants. If somebody got sick, they had two options:

1.) Purchase a train ticket to visit a doctor in New Orleans; or

2.) Visit Julia Brown, the local voodoo practitioner

From what I read, a significant portion of the Frenier community depended on Julia Brown for their medical needs. I am under the impression that there were no roads into or out of the community (it was along a railroad track), which is why residents were dependent on the train for travel into New Orleans.

Unfortunately, the relationship between Julia (an African American) and the white residents of Frenier deteriorated prior to her death. Julia issued the prediction that "when I die, I'll take the whole town with me." Well, a major hurricane hit Louisiana during her funeral. Almost everybody in the town drowned in the hurricane.

This is how a ghost story began.

Here is the link to a really good episode of the podcast Southern Gothic which explains the story. The transcript is also at this link.
 
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Yankee Brooke

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So, in a nutshell, here's what's going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not - and some Pagans practice witchcraft, while others choose not to. :O o:
There's even some Wiccans who don't label themselves as witches. It's an extremely diverse religion, much like Christianity, encompassing many different movements and denominations. I'm not active(not much of a scene here), but my actual set of beliefs are pretty much informally Wiccan(if that even makes sense). I'd be happy to further educate anyone who wishes, outside of the public forum.
 

Eleanor Rose

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I'm so happy to see some of you are enjoying this thread. I've especially enjoyed reading the stories folks have shared. Have any of you heard of the Foxfire series? It started as a class project at a Georgia high school — students interviewed neighbors and wrote a series of articles — and it turned into a quarterly magazine before becoming a book published in 1972. The book is available on Amazon (linked here). It's full of interesting information on snake lore, faith healing and "other affairs of plain living."

By the way, the name, Foxfire, comes from a term for a local form of bioluminescence caused by fungi on decaying wood.

Appalachian-Mountain-Road.jpg

Appalachian Country Road (Public Domain)
 
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Yankee Brooke

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View attachment 328764

I'm surprised no one has answered this question yet, but it gives me the excuse to share photos of a trip I took back in March, 1996 that definitely has nothing to do with the Civil War! The modest house above belonged to possibly the most famous witch in what is now the United States, Rebecca Nurse of Dedham (Salem), Massachusetts. Of course, the so-called Witch Hysteria of 1692 is the best-known example of American witchcraft and its baneful legacy.

View attachment 328774

The troubles began here at the site of a local clergyman named Samuel Parrish who happened to own a slave named Tituba Indian who apparently was originally from the West Indies. She lived with her husband John Indian who may have been a local native, as his name implies. Tituba was a favorite with Parrish's impressionable daughters and other neighbor girls who imbibed her tales of witchcraft and voodoo. They began to act out the supposed effects of possession, accusing their neighbors of having cursed them in what historian John Demos in his Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England suspects may have actually been a land-grab scheme on the part of Parrish and his accomplice and mastermind, one John Putnam who also had a supposedly afflicted daughter. Their initial targets were essentially inoffensive oddball women who lacked influence to protect themselves, including even Tituba herself; this changed when they accused wealthy widow and landowner Rebecca Nurse.

View attachment 328770

The notorious Salem Witch Trials were actually held in neighboring Dedham in the reconstructed Meeting House above. Eventually over twenty accused "witches" and "warlocks"(male witches) were hanged; one poor man named Giles Corey was pressed to death because he wouldn't "confess" to being a witch! Pressing was a form of legal torture in which the victim was staked to the ground with progressively heavier stones piled atop him until he either confessed or died. The reason he refused to confess was that by doing so one lost all title to land and possessions, which otherwise could pass to heirs. Ironically, confessors were NOT executed, but were imprisoned under beastly conditions - many more died as accused prisoners than those who were hanged as witches - and their property confiscated.

View attachment 328766

A Salem landmark is the so-called Witch House which in fact belonged not to an accused witch but to one of the notorious prosecutors.

View attachment 328765
View attachment 328767View attachment 328768

None of those executed lie today in the picturesque Salem Cemetery because as witches they were refused Christian burial in sanctified or consecrated land; as far as I'm aware they were all buried in unmarked graves, the locations of which remain unknown. Rebecca Nurse was at least brought back to her property and buried in an unmarked grave there.

View attachment 328771

So affected and guilt-ridden by the events conducted by his ancestors famous Nineteenth-Century author Nathaniel Hawthorne changed the spelling of his name from that of the leading prosecutor Judge Hathorne; his novel The House of the Seven Gables, set in the preserved structure above, is all about the legacy of the trials. The story of the trials and their aftermath is told today in the Salem Witch Museum, a waxworks inside what was once a Gothic church below, dominated by the brooding statue The Puritan.

View attachment 328769
There's a series that aired a few years ago on WGN America(I believe), called Salem, which covers this time period. It's historically accurate as much as a fantasy/horror series could possibly be. Tituba is a main character(and ACTUAL witch), and they talk about Giles Corey's execution by pressing, although it occurred off screen shortly before the series began. They threw the bodies in the woods, so as not to desecrate the graveyard, which I suppose is in line with the reality. Like I said, it gets a lot right, but also has all the artistic license, historical domain characters, and fantasy elements to go along with the history, but it's worth checking out if you haven't already.

Also Marilyn Manson wrote and performed the theme song.
 

Waterloo50

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There's even some Wiccans who don't label themselves as witches. It's an extremely diverse religion, much like Christianity, encompassing many different movements and denominations. I'm not active(not much of a scene here), but my actual set of beliefs are pretty much informally Wiccan(if that even makes sense). I'd be happy to further educate anyone who wishes, outside of the public forum.
I think it’s estimated that there are about 57,000 Pagans in the Uk and around 1.2 Million in the USA, that includes every type of spiritual belief. I think I’m right in saying that Wicca is a fairly modern idea but it seems to be quite popular here, there was a time when I didn’t know anyone that described themselves as Wicca but I now know a few people that practice Wicca rituals. The problem is that many people assume that Wicca means occult and that somehow Wiccan witches are into weird stuff but the people that I know just respect nature and life. Without wishing to stray to far from the O/P, it seems to me that we’ve always had people like granny witches that simply understood how to use natural herbs and remedies for curing all sorts of ailments and in order to enhance those natural remedies there were a few things that needed to be done first (rituals). If you look at a lot of aboriginal cultures they did pretty much the same thing, there’s a right way and wrong way to give thanks to nature. In a nutshell, there was never anything negative attached to paganism until it came into conflict with Christianity.
 

Yankee Brooke

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I think it’s estimated that there are about 57,000 Pagans in the Uk and around 1.2 Million in the USA, that includes every type of spiritual belief. I think I’m right in saying that Wicca is a fairly modern idea but it seems to be quite popular here, there was a time when I didn’t know anyone that described themselves as Wicca but I now know a few people that practice Wicca rituals. The problem is that many people assume that Wicca means occult and that somehow Wiccan witches are into weird stuff but the people that I know just respect nature and life. Without wishing to stray to far from the O/P, it seems to me that we’ve always had people like granny witches that simply understood how to use natural herbs and remedies for curing all sorts of ailments and in order to enhance those natural remedies there were a few things that needed to be done first (rituals). If you look at a lot of aboriginal cultures they did pretty much the same thing, there’s a right way and wrong way to give thanks to nature. In a nutshell, there was never anything negative attached to paganism until it came into conflict with Christianity.
Wicca itself is VERY new, only being brought forward as a concept in the early 20th century. It originated in England. However it is something that was being practiced, or at least something very like it was, throughout history.

At it's base it is a duo-theistic religion. The Goddess, who is essentially "Mother Nature," and The Horned God, who is mostly regarded as the god of the hunt, and are usually considered complimentary. It has NOTHING at all to do with Satan or The Devil, the confusion is primarily caused by the appearance of The Horned God, as his appearance is very similar to the typical depiction of the Christian Devil. He is however the polar opposite in almost every way, it's the appearance that gets him lumped there. The God himself is actually ancient(ie NOT a Wiccan invention) and his likeness was appropriated by Christians during Roman times along with many other Pagan traditions(Christmas, Halloween, etc) and used as a representation of Satan.

It appears the Granny Witches are very similar to a lot of modern Pagans in many respects. Of course I would have been hesitant to label myself as such in 19th century Appalachia... we've seen already by that point how quickly the towns people can turn on someone that just yesterday they were celebrating. It seems they probably WERE actually Pagan, but simply kept it under wraps in favor of being considered some kind of "faith healer," if I'm not mistaken?
 
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