Mountain Magick - Folk Wisdom from the Heart of Appalachia
by Edain McCoy
Review by Heather Froeschl
Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I was excited to review this title. When I learned that the author is a descendant of the famous feuding Hatfields and McCoys, I was thrilled, as I have been a friend of an eighty-something year old Hatfield descendant for some years now. Some of my favorite Appalachian tales have come from his mouth, and memory.
I have often wondered where the folklore he told me of came from originally. Many of those who settled in the eastern mountains of America had come from Scotland and Germany. Having these heritage genes running through my body I notice similarities to family history and I have often suspected that some of this heritage was responsible for certain folk healing and beliefs found in Appalachian ways. "Mountain Magick" confirmed these suspicions.
Edain McCoy has uncovered and researched a wonderful collection of "Granny" wisdom and presented it in a delightful, insightful and useful guide to folk wisdom from the heart of Appalachia. Here you'll find a wealth of information, from how to determine what your baby's future occupation will be, to how to hold a Charivari (or Chivaree: an old American tradition of making a lot of celebratory noise at the consummation of a marriage.), to home remedies for everything from asthma to yeast infections (of course, these are cautionary and are not to be a substitute for a doctors care.).
Because the Appalachian populations lived in virtual isolation from the rest of America for so long, their ways and beliefs have remained intact and practiced until the modern world intruded upon them. Edain McCoy has given us a rare glimpse into the magical world of mountainfolk. She has presented her findings, not with the comedic insinuations of Hollywood, but as a scholar and one who is proud of her heritage.
I very much enjoyed learning about the roots of folk magick in Appalachia and some of its Native American connection in folk healing. I also enjoyed the lessons on "witches", not wiccans, and Granny Women. Weather watching, removing curses, bad omens, love and romance spellcasting: it's all in this excellent guide and entertaining read.
If you ever wondered how Johnboy Walton's Granny knew so much - now you can learn what the writers might have found for their character research. In any case, you can put to rest the myths of the media and learn the truth about this large part of American culture.