Blog Archives

Folklore we shouldn’t forget

Or, our ancestors were perceptive and we shouldn’t forget the folklore that they have passed down to us.

I”m having a lovely discussion with a friend about Appalachian folklore. We both have Appalachian ancestry (for me, it’s my maternal side) and there is a whole slew of folk sayings and beliefs, weather omens, charms, ways to protect the home, protect the land, keep oneself safe that were passed down. I never thought about most of it before. These were just things tucked away in my memory, some of which I put into play in my regular life as a matter of course. Unless otherwise noted, these are Appalachian or PA Dutch (the places where my bio mom’s line is from).

I’ll give you an example. My grandmother used to keep Dannon yogurt cups of red vinegar around the house. I’d come across a cup sitting on a bookshelf, or on top of a cabinet. (That it was in Dannon yogurt cups was not important. I note it only because as a three or four year old, I drank one, thinking it was a weird kind of yogurt and got very sick). It wasn’t until I was an adult and many years into my own practice that I discovered this was a 19th century spiritualist’s trick to keep the home free form negative spirits. I realized my grandmother must have learned it from her aunt Catherine, who was known for being able to clear a home of anything malignant or foul and who was deeply ensconced in spiritualism.

I was eating out with a friend the other day and I put my keys not the table and she quietly put a napkin under them. I looked at her and she said, “it’s a Ukrainian folk custom. Putting keys directly on the table is bad luck.” ok. filed under things to remember. Keys have certain connotations in Norse practice. I won’t be putting them on the table again. I might not understand why these things came into being, but it costs nothing to be careful. Keys represent luck and wealth after all.

When walking with a friend avoid letting any post or pillar separate you. It can cut the friendship–to cure this, say to each other “Hello for a hundred years.” Similarly, if someone gives you a gift of a knife, give them coins in return or it can cut the friendship.

From my Jewish friend Hal: the first person to visit your home on New Year’s Day should, before entering, toss a handful of coins across the threshold so that your coming year will be filled with luck and wealth.

If you are traveling and just cannot find your way, and you’ve been going in circles and it almost seems like something perverse is misleading you: turn your clothes inside out. It makes you invisible to any fair folk who might be messing with you. (I’ve done this and it works).

From my Ukrainian friend again: pin safety pins on your clothes somewhere. It wards off evil. (probably functions in the same way the nails in a witch’s jar do to pierce and attack evil spirits).

Someone told me that dreaming of bees was a sign of good luck. I’ve never dreamed of bees though.

Red Sky at night: Sailor’s delight; Red sky in the morning: Sailors take warning. (No idea where I learned this).

If someone praises your baby, esp. your baby’s beauty, spit on the baby. It wards off the evil eye. (I don’t actually advocate spitting on children lol. Put an evil eye charm like a blue eye pendant or something on the kid and keep him or her away from outsiders to avoid the praising).

When drinking alcohol of any kind, pour a little bit on the ground in offering for the spirits (land, ancestors, wandering dead? doesn’t specify. It’s polite though so why not?).

Another Ukrainian one that we do in my house: put the broom bristle side up. Brings good luck/drives away bad luck

Here’s one that’s Appalachian and PA Dutch: throw salt over the left shoulder to ward off the devil (not sure WHEN you’re supposed to do this, but it’s a very popular one and salt does cleanse and protect).

If you walk between two poles that run electricity, you’ll get sick (Ukrainian).

*whew*! that’s all I can think of at the moment — I need to get going with studying–but, please please feel free to post your own folk sayings and customs here. I would love to know what practices have crept into your lineages that y’all know of or maybe even maintain.

Hey don’t give me the evil eye on my bookversary. ^_~

Today marks the two year anniversary of my book:
🧿 Combatting the Evil Eye 🧿

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Combatting the Evil Eye

The history of malocchio–the evil eye–crosses multiple cultures, and apotropaic charms and practices have persisted through to the modern day. Combatting the Evil Eye explores how to diagnose and treat this condition. It offers a range of traditional and not-so-traditional cures and a plethora of resources for this often overlooked but potentially devastating affliction.

Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NPNy84

 

So many cultures have folk traditions revolving around warding off the evil eye that in 2018 it was added as a universal emoji icon: 🧿.

For my readers, what was your biggest take-away from the book?