Sharing these practices and this beloved but fading culture has led me far afield, teaching and speaking. I’ve rambled from the bayous of Louisiana to the ruined hills of West Virginia, and from Memphis to Glastonbury in search of stories and materials and ways of doing. There are so many old ideas newly integrated into my personal practice and my teaching – enough to fill a book. And here it is. May you remember well and enjoy this next journey.
H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference and other gatherings.
She serves as elder priestess at Mother Grove Goddess Temple, a church devoted to the many faces of the Divine Feminine, where she teaches religious education, as well as leads rituals.
Her writings have appeared in print and electronic media. Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts” (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence” (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press). She blogs as Asheville’s Village Witch (myvillagewitch.wordpress.com) and as The Village Witch for Witches and Pagans Magazine (witchesandpagans.com/The-Village-Witch), where she is also a regular columnist. Her pamphlet “Back to the Garden: a Handbook for New Pagans” has been widely distributed and her first book, Staubs and Ditchwater: A Friendly and Useful Introduction to Hillfolks’ Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press), debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Gnarly Roots: Spell-Catching and the Origins of Appalachian Folk Magic, and Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet.
Link to purchase, here:
This part memoir and part instructional primer is an entertaining introduction to southern Appalachian folk magic.
Link to purchase here:
Do I date myself by referencing that song in the title of this blog post? Oh well…
I thought I’d wrap up the week with a few more examples of signs, tokens, and omens from American folklore. We’ll be up in the mountains today, both the Appalachians and the Ozarks.
From the Appalachian History blog:
“In both Appalachian and Ozarks folklore, news bees appear as omens to those wise enough to read them.”
News bees are not actually bees, but flower flies from the Syrphidae family. They are marked with bands of black and yellow, much like bees, but are harmless. They do look an awful lot like sweat bees, however, which can sting a person (though not as severely as other bees or wasps).
News bees, which also go by names like “sand hornets,” “sweat flies,” or “Russian hornets” derive their folk name from the belief that…
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