Appalachian Wiccan Ballard presents folk magic primer
Responding to a call for some clear writing about witchcraft and Appalachian folk medicine, Ballard produces a 130-page guide that is also part essay and memoir.
Ballard is a native Western North Carolinian, with a family that has been here for generations. She is part of a neighborhood in which she plays the role of a called-upon helper. She is also part of a cultural community--not just Wiccans, but also those concerned about Appalachian heritage, sustainability. and small farms.
She made up the term "hillfolks' hoodoo" to cover a range of practices.
"What is hillfolks' hoodoo--the kind that's practiced in the southern Highlands of Appalachia?" she writes. "It's medicine and midwifery, it's omen-reading and weather working...It's working in both the physical realm and in the psychological one, using keen observation, common sense, experience and folkways to effect change."
A "staub," she explains in a chapter subtitled, "Materials," is a word hillfolk pronounce, "stob," and is a kind of stake, usually wooden, that one plants in the ground to aid intentionality. In a later chapter, she reveals one of its applications, combining it with a war bottle.
Most of Ballard's remedies are psychological-spiritual--involving premonition, focus, and alignment. The premonition aspect is something for which certain English ancestors had had a special gift, she reports.
Ballard presents her primer at Malaprop's Bookstore Cafe, 7 p.m., Aug. 10; and at City Lights Bookstore, 6:30 p.m., Aug. 31.