In my neck of the woods, somewhere within the Blue Ridge Mountains, we have in our history those who made more than their fair mark, who we call, Granny Women, or what many now days call, Granny Witches. Also known as, Midwives, Folk Healers, and Elders.
These ladies were the roots of their communities especially during a time when Doctors were scarce or there were none at all. They were the Healers, the Midwives and perhaps the Peacekeepers of the mountains they lived and roamed. And they roamed within the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains.
If someone had a problem with a neighbor, they may go to her, the Elder of those Hills, to have it settled. If someone was ill, then the Granny Woman knew what root and herb would heal them. If a girl wanted to catch the eye of her future Bo, a Granny Woman could work up a trinket for her to carry that just might do the trick.
- Carry a piece of Oak Tree, any piece, will attract good luck.
- Sleep with the root of a Daisy flower beneath your pillow at night, and an ex-lover may find themselves drawn back to you.
- Raspberry Leaves will stimulate the uterus and aid in labor but a pregnant woman should never use it until the time comes for it can also induce labor.
- Dandelion Tea is good for cleaning up the liver and kidneys. Its a blood purifier.
- Pack ground Clove on a bad tooth to help numb the pain.
In my opinion, these remarkable Women carried with them the secrets of the Old World, of their Pagan Ancestors. And they learned how to keep them safely hidden among the various superstitions that seem silly to most of us now.
Were these superstitions as ridiculous as fairy-tales or did truth live within them?
Remedies, Magic or Warnings…traditions that can be linked to times far beyond the Middle Ages, that was the knowledge of these Granny Women.
But why hide these things in silly little tales? Unfortunately, the Dark Ages were horrifically, deadly times for Women who held such knowledge. Midwives were hunted down and murdered as Witches.Witches turned into a frightening label of broomstick riding fat, old crones who hunkered down with the Devil while smearing their bodies in unbaptized, baby fat.
The early Church waged a war on any Woman having Knowledge to Heal that was originally passed down from Generation to Generation, from Goddess to Priestess, from Ancient World to Dark Age. What these Women knew, was not written down in books. It was taught from woman to woman. Maybe to help the next generation to remember them, they cloaked the truth in some catchy little rhyme or fabricated superstition.
Either way, because of an ongoing war to silence and stop them, my generation may lose what these Women knew forever.
And what a shame because these Women helped their people survive harsh winters and unforgiving summers of a brutal new land that had yet to be forged into their very own vision of a new life. Without them, many would have died from infection, child birth, or who knows what else.
That is, until the 19th Century, when Congress passed laws that would forbid these women from practicing Medicine any further. And so the war set upon them during the Dark Ages would rear it’s ugly head once again, in the United States.
In honor of those who were of my bloodline, and those who were of yours, I hope to write a Monthly (with extras) Column dedicated to the knowledge of these Women. I hope to include their Superstitions, link Healing Methods to them, and whatever other wonders I can dig up. I may dig something up from as far back as the Ancient World, (hence the part of the titled called, Women), or it may be something from the Mountains I call home.
Please read full article: Women, Healing & Lore
Since today’s Ancient Calendar marks the season of the Holly King, (Read Here), I thought, what could be a better opportunity than right here and now to delve deeper into the folk medicine and lore of something we are all somewhat familiar with.
Holly actually has quite a few nicknames. For the Celtic Tree Month, we know it by Tinne, but it is also called, Christ’s Thorn, Bat’s Wings, Holm Chaste, Hulver Bush, Aquifolius and Hulm. It’s proper name would be quite the tongue twister, Ilex aquifolium or I. Opaca.
Here in the mountains, we know it as Holly and it’s something that stretches as far as landscaping to the table and wreaths inside our homes. And while today, most of us are oblivious to it’s true history or purpose, not so long ago, those dead and gone from these mountains, knew it all quite well.
While present day Pagans might plant Holly by the front door for protection, it wasn’t much different in times of old. Not only did people believe that Holy warded off evil spirits but they also believed it kept them safe from lightning, dark sorcery and poison.
People used to make something called, Holly Water. Was this the origins of “Holy Water”? They would make Holly Water by infusing water with Holly. This was used to protect babies, especially when they were first born, by sprinkling a few drops of the water upon their heads, much like baptism.
Holly was deemed so powerful, when thrown at wild animals, people believed it made them lie down and grow silent.
It was carried by people for luck – especially by men– and hung around the home at Yule for an extra dose of something special.
According to, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Herbs, there was even a special ritual surrounding Holly. It had to be done on a Friday after Midnight, but if someone gathered nine Holly Leaves (from a smooth plant) and wrapped them in a white cloth created nine knots, then they could sleep with it under their pillow– making their dreams come true.
Medically, the leaves, berries and bark is used. The berries are actually harmful to people. Animals, however, love the Holly Bush. Deer eat them during winter. Birds feast on the berries and for those who keep rabbits, a stick placed in a rabbit hut, will give them something to gnaw in order to restore their appetites. A tonic, if you will.
In olden times, Holly was used to treat smallpox, pleurisy, fevers, rheumatism, and catarrh. It’s leaves were used in tea and because of it’s tannins, it is known as a good blood purifier, diuretic and was also, highly revered as a diaphoetic (which made it good for fevers and such).
You maybe wondering, why an article about Adam and Eve or the origins of the Apple? What does this have to do with Women, Healing & Lore?
It has everything to do with it. Not only do I want to throw light on the Mountain Women who helped shape the New World, but I also wanted to show a historical account of how Religion has, well, tried to destroy a Gender.
We all know the story of Adam and Eve. Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit that God told her not to touch. After doing so, she tempted Adam and led him away from God’s love. This resulted in, let’s say, the rose-colored glasses being ripped off their eyes– WOMAN damned us all– and got us cast out of the Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, this version began with Christianity….the jaded untruth of it.
Eve’s fruit of knowledge used to be the Goddess’s sacred heart of immortality all over Indo-European civilizations. Many of the Goddess’s western paradises had the Apple right in it, growing by the many.
The Garden of Eden was thought to be the same as Avalon known by the Celts. “Apple Land” was a country ruled by Morgan, the Queen of the dead. Back in days of old, kings would receive the Goddess’s apples holding within its fruit, the gift of Immortality. Then, they would go to live with her in Avalon, just as King Arthur was taken to live with her…delivered to her by three fairy queens representing the triple Goddess.
Scandinavians would put tons of apples by the graves because they believed them to be essential for resurrection. In the west, the Norse Goddess Idun kept under her care the apple Land of the west, where the Gods would go to receive the fruit in which kept them deathless.
Apples were also believed to carry souls from one body to the next. In certain festivities such as Yule, an apple was roasted in the mouth of a pig to serve as a heart in the next life.
Greeks claimed that Hera kept the apple Garden in the west where the sacred tree of life was guarded by her sacred serpent. Now think about that…and think about the story of Eve. It isn’t quite as negative when pondering its origins eh?
Graves points out that this is where the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent originated from in a very horribly misinterpreted way. In fact he points out that it was deliberately done so. Icons show the Great Goddess offering life to her worshipper, in the form of an apple with the tree and its serpent in the background.
Romans named their apple mother Pomona which was probably gotten from the Estruscaris.
Now here’s a bit of fact for ya…
Cut an apple transversely, as the gypsies and the witches of days of old were known to do. Hidden in the apples core is the magic pentacle or sign of Kore (Core). Just as Kore the virgin was hidden in the heart of the mother earth (Demeter) and represented the World Soul, so her pentacle was hidden in the apple.
The pentacle in a circle was also the Egyptian Hieroglyph for the underworld womb where resurrection was brought about by the mother-heart of transformations.
In Celtic Paganism , the apple meant a sacred marriage and journey to the land of death.
The poisoned apple was created by Christian men in regards to Hel or Hecate who was viewed as Virgin and Mother. In competition with the Goddess/apple lore, Christian men told people that a witch would cause demonic possession through her gift of an apple unto her victim. (insert Snow White here?) Old women were actually slain if caught giving an apple to a child or adult. Suddenly when this happened the people who took the apple and ate it became troubled with fits.
The story of Adam and Eve…Eve being tempted by the serpent to take the apple was nothing more than a plight to steer fear towards the Goddess and her knowledge and immortality. The serpent became something viewed as evil as one bite from an apple, damned all women and all of the world.
It became the cause of women’s suffering and pain– claiming she deserved it because of what Eve did. What it was, in truth, was one of the very first steps taken in discrediting women and their knowledge of things. Knowledge of healing and of the Great Mother Earth.
MEDICINAL: Apples are used to treat constipation. The pectin in fresh apples can help to lower cholesterol levels, an aid in treating heart disease. Crushed apple leaves can be rubbed on a fresh wound to prevent infection.
MAGICKAL: Apple blossoms are used in love and healing incenses. An apple should be given to a lover as a present – you should eat one half, the lover the other. It is given as an offering on Samhain to the dead, since it is a symbol of immortality. Apple wood is used to make magickal wands. Pouring apple cider on the ground in your garden before you plant gives the earth life.