Honoring the Ancestors of Land, Tradition, and Blood

The Druid's Garden

As the world  (where I am at, at least!) gets bathed in frost, as the plants wither and die, as the trees bathe themselves in color and then drop their leaves, as the cold wind blows and as the darkness sets in, we in the druid tradition–and in any other traditions–turn to think about the ancestors. In this post, we’ll explore the global traditions surrounding honoring the dead that tie to August-October and honoring the dead to see similarities, we’ll discuss three types of ancestors the druid tradition recognizes, and then we’ll explore ways to honor the ancestors.

Food for the Ancestors! Food for the Ancestors!

Global Ancestral Traditions

When you start digging into ancestor traditions around the world, some striking similarities seem to emerge.

  • The Mexican Day of the Dead, which is a blending of European traditions and Aztec honoring of the dead, goes from Oct 31 – Nov 2. As part of…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – M – Milk

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Mother’s milk to treat sore eyes – “If a baby’s eyes are sore, the mother’s milk is regarded as the best possible lotion.” ~Randolph OMF 138

Sweet cream for eyes – “Young girls often rub sweet cream into their eyes, but I am not sure if this is a medicine or a cosmetic.” ~Randolph OMF 138

To wash off a curse – “…wash such clothing in milk and hang it out of doors over night in freezing weather; this is supposed to take the curse off somehow, so that the garments may be worn without danger.” ~Randolph OMF 292-293

Mare’s milk for whopping cough – “Cure for whooping cough. Drink mare’s milk every day and this will cure the whooping cough.” ~Parler FBA III 3879

Dreaming of milk – “It has always been good to dream of milk because it means peace and plenty.” ~Parler FBA XV 11375


Parler, Mary…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – M – Meat

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Used on boils – “Put a piece of fat pork on top of a boil.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO 28

“Fat meat will make a boil come to ‘a head’ then it will run pus.” ~Parler FBA II 1574

“To bring boils to a head lay a piece of fat sow belly on the place.” ~Parler FBA II 1575

Beef liver for low blood pressure – “Season beef liver to taste, put into a pan and let it come to medium heat, just enough to bring up the blood, eat it while it’s still warm. Let this be your daily diet.” ~Parler FBA II 1537

“Meat causes high blood pressure.” ~Parler FBA II 1539

Used on a sting – “Put lean raw meat on a bee or wasp sting. This also works on snake bites.” ~Parler FBA III 3243

Bacon rind for warts – “To get rid of a wart…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – M – Mayapple

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Mayapple, American Mandrake – Podophyllum peltatum

Parts used: root, fruit

Traditional uses: Poisonous. Root soaked in whiskey and taken for rheumatism and as a purgative. Boiled root eaten as a purgative. Powdered root used on ulcers and sores. Fruit used for food.

“Podophyllum is a medicine of most extensive service; its greatest power lies in its action upon the liver and bowels. It is a gastro-intestinal irritant, a powerful hepatic and intestinal stimulant. In congested states of the liver, it is employed with the greatest benefit, and for all hepatic complaints it is eminently suitable, and the beneficial results can hardly be exaggerated. In large doses it produces nausea and vomiting, and even inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which has been known to prove fatal. In moderate doses, it is a drastic purgative with some cholagogue action. Like many other hepatic stimulants, it does not increase the secretion…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – M – Manure

Glad my grandmother never used any of these … Though I did spend a lot of time running barefoot. LOL

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Chicken manure for pneumonia – “Some old settlers make poultices of chicken manure mixed with lard as a treatment for pneumonia; it is said that the dung of black chickens is best.” ~Randolph OMF 94

Sheep manure tea for measles – “Nanny tea, consisting of sheep manure and hot water, with a little sugar, is a very powerful medicine for measles; it is believed to make the patient ‘break out’ at once, which the yarb doctors say is desirable.” ~Randolph OMF 107

“Take sheep-ball tea to break out the measles.” ~Parler FBA III 2683

“If a child has measles and won’t break out, go to the field or house where the sheep are kept, get some sheep droppings (pills), and make a tea from them, and give to the child or person. This will make the measles break out.” ~Parler FBA III 2689

Hog manure on string worn for the…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – M – Madstone

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

For treating rabies – “The madstone treatment for rabies was once popular in many parts of the United States and is still well known in the Ozarks. The madstones I have seen are porous and resemble some sort of volcanic ash, but the natives all claim that they were taken from the entrails of deer. These stones are rare now, and they are handed down from father to son, never sold. No charge is made for using the stone, although the patient may make the owner a present if he likes. I have never seen the madstone in actual use, but they tell me that if the dog was really mad the stone sticks fast to the wound and draws the ‘pizen’ out. After awhile the stone falls off, and is placed in a vessel of warm milk, which immediately turns green. The stone is then applied to the wound…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – L – Lightning Wood

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Toothpicks – “I know several families who always keep a supply of toothpicks made from a lightnin’-struck tree; the use of these splinters is believed to stop the teeth from aching, and prevent decay.” ~Randolph OMF 144

“Take a splinter from a tree that has been struck by lightening and pick the tooth until it bleeds and then stick the splinter back into the tree. Then walk away and don’t look back and your toothache will disappear.” ~Parler FBA III 3429

Keeping away insects – “Moths which destroy the honeycomb are driven away by scattering splinters from a ‘lightnin’-struck’ tree over the hives, and I am told that the same treatment will rid a cabin of fleas and bedbugs…” ~Randolph OMF 44

Worn for protection – “When my brother-in-law went to war, he wore the piece of tree that had been struck by lightning his father whittled for him around…

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Did You Know?

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Good Witches Homestead

During the period beginning on the first Friday in October until the second day of November, the veils separating spiritual realms are extremely sheer.

History of Spirit Keeping

Spirit Keeping, in the sense of how you keep spirits today, is nothing as it was even 120 years ago. Modern-Day Spirit Keeping is the by-product of the marriage between spirit conjuration and para-technology. Spirit Keeping, in its origin, is quite different. While those who were considered sages, psychics, or medicine men, would contact spirits for information, they were often sought for counsel through specific rituals performed to gain information for a specific person, or for personal awareness. Often times the person who had the ability to conjure the spirit was the only one allowed to converse with the spirit. The person coming forward to ask for guidance, or to ask for…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – L – Lady’s Slipper

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Lady’s Slipper – Cypripedium

Parts used: root

Traditional uses: Roots used for menstrual disorders. Infusion of roots used for stomachaches and kidney disorders. Roots used for spasms and fits. Infusion of root taken for colds and hot infusion of root taken for flu. Sedative and nervine.

“American Valerian is one of the names given to the Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium). The roots of several varieties, the principal being Cypripedium pubescens and Cyprepedium parviflorum, are employed in hysteria, being a gentle, nervous stimulant and antispasmodic, less powerful than Valerian.” ~Grieve MH

As a nerve medicine – “Lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium) roots are boiled in milk to make some sort of ‘nerve medicine.’” ~Randolph OMF 114

“Mrs. Landry says that a herb grown around there known as Lady Slipper…cures nerves and nervousness she says to dig up its roots and boil them down and take a tablespoon full as needed.” ~Parler…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – K – Knives

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Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Stolen knife for curing warts – “A prominent Arkansas lawyer tells me that in his boyhood the essential thing was to cut big notches in a stranger’s apple tree with a stolen knife, one notch for each wart to be removed. This was quite an undertaking, for knives were highly prized and hence difficult to steal. Even more serious was the fact that the people in the neighborhood were all acquainted, so that a boy had to travel a considerable distance before he could find a stranger’s apple tree.” ~Randolph OMF 130

Knife under pillow to “fetch” a male child – “Not many hillfolk practice any sort of magic to determine the sex of an unborn child, although some granny-women teach that parents may ‘fetch a boy’ by sticking a knife in the mattress…” ~Randolph OMF 196

Under pillow to prevent nightmares – “Some people are accustomed to place a…

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