Appalachian conjure is a form of folk magic practiced in the Appalachian region of the United States. There are many other forms of folk magic such as hoodoo, voodoo, and Santeria. Conjure is also known as Appalachian granny magic and it mostly focuses on healing.
Although, there are a few superstitions, too. My granny always threw salt over her shoulder, held her breath while going by a cemetery, knocked on wood, and planted her crops according to the phases of the moon. I wonder if I get my interest in lunar energy from her.
A few Disclaimers
While I grew up in northern Ohio, my mother is from Tennessee and my father is from West Virginia, so this culture was alive and well in my household. My paternal grandmother was the one who practiced conjure. In my experience it’s a combination of witchcraft and Christianity. Although she would be horrified by the very notion she practiced witchcraft because my granny was an extremely devout Southern Baptist. She wouldn’t even allow us to drink root beer, because the word “beer” was on the bottle. And Lord help you if you wanted to listen to rock music. That put you on the express train to hell, as far as she was concerned.
It’s also important to know that I practice modern witchcraft for the most part. I’m not an Appalachian conjure expert by any means, even though I grew up around it. In this post, I’m just going to relate my experiences with it. I find that I’m drawn to folk magic though, hoodoo in particular. So you might see more posts about that brand of witchcraft.
As I said above, there is a primary focus on healing. This is probably for practical reasons. My father’s family grew up on the mountain and the nearest doctor was nearly an hour away, so my grandmother treated most minor injuries and illnesses. She learned how to use roots, herbs, and other plants to create tinctures, poultices, and healing teas. I have to admit I’m a little skeptical about Big Pharma myself. And I’m a fan of using natural supplements.
Three of my aunts fell ill one spring. They took the girls to the doctor, and they weren’t getting any better. So, my grandmother sent my granddad up the mountain to see “the old witch woman.” While my grandmother practiced some witchery, she wasn’t as well-versed as some. This “witch woman” instructed my grandfather to make a tea from several different herbs. Two of the girls recovered, but the third died. I happen to look a lot like this particular aunt and it put a strain on my relationship with my granny. I think seeing me haunted her.
When my mother was pregnant with my younger sister, my mom was hospitalized because her blood pressure was through the roof. She had preeclampsia and the doctors were worried she wouldn’t be able to carry the baby to full term. My grandmother gathered some herbs, lit a candle and said a prayer. She did this for two days, praying periodically and keeping the candle burning for hours at a time. My mom’s BP returned to normal, she was released from the hospital, and the rest of her pregnancy was uneventful.
My granny made a special venison stew when there’d been lots of disagreements and fights among family members, using a dizzying amount of herbs. I loved to watch her cook. It always seemed to work, too. Unfortunately, she didn’t write her recipes or botanical knowledge down. My granny knew the this information by heart. I wish I’d thought to ask her these things when she was still alive.
Appalachian Conjure Resources
Backwoods Witchcraft is a good resource book. Old Style Conjure has a few references to Granny Magic, but most of it is Hoodoo. Granny magic resources are hard to come by. This folk magic tradition is slowly dying out, which is a real shame.
My grandmother died when I was in middle school, but some of her traditions live on. I hold my breath when I pass a cemetery so a spirit won’t enter my body. My father will only plant during the new moon. We’ve been out in the garden until all hours of the night putting seeds in the ground. My dad will talk to the plants, telling them to grow strong and healthy, which is a little bit of green witchery, too.
Have you ever practiced folk magic? Or do you want to? Tell me in the comments.