Staubs and Ditchwater

F42EF0B0-0C22-4A14-BC0A-917652C04608This part memoir and part instructional primer is an entertaining introduction to southern Appalachian folk magic.

Link to purchase here:

http://www.myvillagewitch.com/product/staubs-and-ditchwater/

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Southern Appalachian Culture, an Annotated Bibliography…

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The following bibliography identifies and briefly encapsulates in an annotation the content of articles, chapters, books, and other publications concerned with some aspect of the English of southern and central Appalachia from West Virginia south to Georgia. The emphasis is on academic and research-based works, but many popular items are also included, especially ones dealing with vocabulary and names, when not appearing in newspapers. Since many annotations indicate the state(s) on which the study is based, readers are encouraged to conduct on-screen searches for locales and terms such as grammatical features, pronunciation patterns, and others that will show up in either the reference or annotation. Because so many items span multiple categories, this listing is not organized by subject matter.

  • Abney, Lisa Jo. 1988. “Preterites and Past Participles in the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaire.” College Station, TX: Texas A&M University M.A. thesis. Categorizes verb forms in questionnaires returned by 52 veterans from East Tennessee, finding that “standard” forms occur 91% of the time.
    Abney, Lisa. 1989. “Preterites in Early Southern White English.” SECOL Review 13: 180-93.
  • Adams, Frazier B. 1970. “Colloquial Speech Forms.” Appalachia Revisited: How People Lived Fifty Years Ago, pp. 47-49. Ashland, KY: Economy. Brief presentation of archaisms. Review: C. S. Guthrie. 1970. Kentucky Folklore Record 16.81.
  • Adams, Henry J. 1976. “Speech Patterns.” Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 41: 70-71. 104 figures of speech from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
  • Alderman, Pat. 1972. “Mountain Hollerin.” In the Shadow of Big Bald: About the Appalachians and Their People, p. 64. Jonesboro, TN: Tri-Cities Press.

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Blog Post 28 – Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign…

New World Witchery - the Search for American Traditional Witchcraft

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:

News Bees

“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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The Shirting Needle & Other Appalachian Tales of Bewitchment

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Granny Witch. Artist unknown. See signatures at bottom of etching. (Pinterest)

The Old Cap-Woman

The following stories come down from American ethnologist, Frances Albert Doughty, who recorded them in his journal in 1899, and later published them in an article called “Folklore of the Alleghenies”. Doughty credited the source of the story to “one of the oldest residents of Monroe County” who claimed the bewitching events took place duringthe 1840’s:

Not so long ago, in Monroe County, there was a woman who lived down near the sweet springs who was always seen with an old-fashioned bonnet cap on her head; nobody ever saw her without the cap. She was a hard, grim-lookin’ monster. During the rare instance when anybody was watchin’ to see her untie her cap strings, and remove the cap, it was said. they never could see anything underneath it, her very likeness disappearing, until she’d put the cap back on her head.

The Strange Calf

When the old cap-woman first came to Monroe County from somewhere over in Botetourt County it was said, she lived over a small forested hill from a man and his wife who’s two children walked to and from a nearby school every morning and afternoon.

The story goes that an odd calf began to follow the children along the route to school, and had been in the habit of “attackin’ ‘em and bitin’ ‘em, when they was walkin’ to school”. When the children became too afraid to walk to school, their father decided to investigate. One day, about the same time the children would’ve been passing the location where the attacks seemed most often to occur, the father concealed himself one day and was watchin’ to catch the calf. On that occasion it come out and attacked the children on a bridge across a little stream of water. The father chased and caught the calf and cut off its ears with a knife.

Folks in Botetourt County had believed for some time that the old woman was a witch, possessed of some uncommon art. They said she could turn herself into a calf, and had been known to do so on numerous occasions. Interestingly enough, the next time the old woman was seen around town, a crowd mobbed her, and pulled off her cap. As was expected, she was missing both ears!

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Manitou Man—An Anthology of Stories by Graham Masterton, TOC

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Table of Contents

9 • Introduction (Manitou Man: The Worlds of Graham Masterton) • (1998) • essay by Matt Williams and Ray Clark
11 • Foreword (Manitou Man: The Worlds of Graham Masterton) • (1998) • essay by Peter James
13 • Myths and Legends (Manitou Man: The Worlds of Graham Masterton) • (1998) • essay by Ray Clark and Matt Williams
23 • Spirit-Jump • [Manitou / Harry Erksine] • (1996) • novelette by Graham Masterton
49 • Jack Be Quick • (1996) • novelette by Graham Masterton
61 • Fantasy Worlds & Parallel Existences (Manitou Man: The Worlds of Graham Masterton) • (1998) • essay by Ray Clark and Matt Williams
71 • Evidence of Angels • (1995) • novelette by Graham Masterton

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“Witch-Compass”, a Horror Story by Graham Masterton … an Excerpt

AE89A34A-46D8-4738-A3A5-AE02E1D1B8DEOn his last night in Libreville, Paul went for a long aimless walk through the market. A heavy rainstorm had just passed over and the air was almost intolerably humid. He felt as if he had a hot Turkish towel wrapped around his head, and his shirt clung to his back. There were many things he would miss about Gabon, but the climate wasn’t one of them, and neither was the musty smell of tropical mold.

All along the Marché Rouge there were stalls heaped with bananas and plantains and cassava; as well as food-stands selling curried goat and thick maize porridge and spicy fish. The stalls were lit by an elaborate spider’s-web of electric cables, with naked bulbs dangling from them. Each stall was like a small, brightly colored theater, with the sweaty black faces of its actors wreathed in theatrical steam and smoke.

Paul passed them by, a tall rangy white man with short-cropped hair and round Oliver Goldsmith glasses, and already he was beginning to feel like a spectator, like somebody who no longer belonged here.

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House of John Proctor, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692, by Wm. P. Upham

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John Proctor House, Peabody, Massachusetts. (Public Domain)

House of John Proctor, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692

Wm. P. Upham

Peabody: Press of C. H. Shepard, 1904

[A paper read by William P. Upham at a meeting of the Peabody Historical Society at the Needham house, West Peabody, September 2nd., 1903.]

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Map showing the location of the John Proctor House used in Upham’s book. (Public Domain)

Note on John Proctor:

John Proctor was the first male accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. He was accused in April of 1692 during his wife Elizabeth Proctor’s examination. At the time, the Proctor family was living on this farm, where Proctor also ran a tavern called the Proctor Tavern, in what was then the outskirts of Salem Village. After Proctor’s arrest, Sheriff George Corwin raided the farm and confiscated all of the beer, food and valuables on the property.

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John Proctor was found guilty on August 5 and executed on August 19, 1692 at or near Gallows Hill. Proctor’s family reportedly retrieved his body from the execution site and buried it on the northeast corner of the family farm. The farm was later passed down to Proctor’s son, Benjamin, and it remained in the family until the late 1800s. It is not known what happened to Proctor’s original house but there is another house still standing on the property that is often referred to as the John Proctor house despite the fact that historians believe it was built in the 1700s by Proctor’s son Thorndike Proctor. The house and the farm are privately owned.

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Transcriber’s Note: Sections of this text have been quoted from historical documents written with great variability in spelling and punctuation. These inconsistencies have been retained. A list of corrections made to the 1904 portions of this text can be found following this text.

It is now nearly forty years since I assisted my father, the late Charles W. Upham, in the preparation of his work on Salem Village and the Witchcraft tragedy of 1692, by collecting what information could be obtained from the records as to the people and their homes in that locality. In doing this I was enabled to construct a map showing the bounds of the grants and farms at that time. On that map is represented quite accurately the Downing Farm, so called, owned, in 1638, by Emanuel Downing, father of Sir George Downing, and occupied as tenant, in 1692, by John Procter, the victim of the witchcraft delusion. When I made the map I knew that John Procter at his death owned, as appears by the inventory of his estate, fifteen acres of land in Salem, but I was not able then to locate it with exactness. Lately, in making a more complete study of the records relating to the Downing farm and the surrounding lands I have learned the exact situation of the fifteen acre lot owned by him, and also that he had a house upon it as early as 1682 and until his death in 1692. It appears that this lot is the place where he was buried, according to the family tradition, although the knowledge as to its being once owned by him seems to have passed out of the neighborhood for more than a century.

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“Thirst” a Horror Story by Gerald W. Page, an Excerpt…

‘“Hush,” said his mother. “A child your age shouldn’t even know about such a thing. They shouldn’t even let you see those picture shows and horror movies…”

The boy’s grandfather stopped eating and looked up at his daughter, the fork poised in mid-air above the beans that were his supper. “He ought to know. A boy lives this close to Overhill Mountain ought to know about the things that go on up there.”

“He won’t live here all his life,” she said. “He’ll get an education… You’ll see. He’ll go North to live.”

“But it’s daylight, Ma,” the boy said, courage bolstered by his grandfather’s words. “Everybody knows they crumbles up in daylight. I saw a movie where—”

“They don’t die in sunlight,” said the grandfather. “Sunlight robs their strength. They’re things of the night and have no strength in the day—but it doesn’t kill them if they aren’t exposed too long. How long, depends on how strong they are to begin with. But they do hate the sun. I think the reason they’re scared of crosses is that the holy things shine like the sun to them—”

“I don’t want my boy to know about them, Daddy.”

The old man went on, ignoring her. “They do have to go back to their grave, like in the movies, but it don’t kill them to spend a day away from it. It’s the need for that grave, though, that’s strong in them. That and the fear of the sunlight. Those are strong in them and only thing that’s any stronger is the Thirst.”’

– Gerald W. Page, “Thirst”—from The Year’s Best Horror Stories, Series II, ed. Richard Davis (Daw 1972)

The Spell of a Hundred Vanished Springs

Gathered Nettles: Two Sisters Obsessing over YA Lit

At Dawn by John Bauer At Dawn by John Bauer

An April Night
by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The moon comes up o’er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;

And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.

Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o’-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.

The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear,
Akin to all eerie and elfin things,
Who weaves about us in meadow and mere
The spell of a hundred vanished Springs.

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