Thursday, June 14, 2012

Staubs and Ditchwater


Staubs and Ditchwater is a sweet little handbook on Appalachian magic by H. Byron Ballard -- Asheville's Village Witch. This is the 'kitchen magic' handed down in families, the wise woman or granny magic of the type my Miss Birdie practices. Small wonder, as Byron herself answered lots of questions for me when I was writing The Day of Small Things and Under the Skin. 

 Unlike me, Byron is 'from here' and inherited this knowledge from her mother's family.  Reading the book is like sitting on the porch with a friend -- albeit a friend who has some rather special knowledge to share.

The book includes simple charms for good luck -- easily come by odds and ends wrapped up in a tiny brown paper packet and called a sachet ( pronounced sash-et.) You carry in in your pocket (so much nicer than a rabbit's foot, especially for the rabbit.)
 There are infusions and tinctures...

And a fair amount of herb and root work.
 (Maybe Byron can suggest something for me to do with my clary sage...)


The uses of various types of water (including the ditchwater of the title) are explained.  Remember 'stumpwater' or 'spunk water ' from Tom Sawyer?
I wonder if  there might be a use for rosemary water...

 This charming little book also contains essays about growing up in the mountains and some very good observations on how our mountains are changing. (One of these is a paper Byron read in a colloquium at Harvard.)

If you're a practitioner of Magick or a seeker or a fan of Appalachian culture, this book should speak directly to you. But I suspect that many others will be charmed by this book --whether you believe in 'hoo doo' or not, Byron's practice is all about paying attention -- something most of us need to do.

Plus, there's a receipt for rue oil -- I'd been wondering what to do with all that rue in my herb garden. And there's a wonderful working involving an egg and some yarn that I may just have to try . . . here in this election year...
 
There's more info/ ordering info HERE. 
And for those of you in the Asheville area, Byron will be speaking at 
Accent on Books this Friday night at 6 . . .

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12 comments:

Thérèse said...

Quite a nice program compared to the election one! :-)

Ms. A said...

Do you happen to know if the charms work? If they do, I might need to get this book!

Kath said...

How fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

Brian Miller said...

this is pretty cool stuff, whether i believe in hoodoo or not, its rather fascinating to hear about it from one that does...

Mamabug said...

That's pretty interesting! I think we could all use a charm or too!

Barbara Rogers said...

Hi Vicki. A great review of this lovely and informative little book, which I have yet to get. Maybe I'll have to go Fri. night to Byron's talk. I have followed her creation of this publication on her blog for the last year or so. It does sound interesting, and probably will help my grandkids know things they would never learn about in FL schools! (nor here for that matter!) Byron does write (and talk) in a humorous and intelligent vein!

NCmountainwoman said...

Interesting indeed. BTW: you've lived in the mountains long enough to officially call yourself "from here." I grant you permission. Assuming, of course, that you don't call yourself "native."

Star said...

I wonder if I have room on my bookshelf for another magic book Vicki? This one looks truly interesting. When I am in Knoxville, I seek out Appalachian culture and wish that I was a little nearer to Asheville. It is so fascinating and akin to what I am used to over here in England. Thank you for the nudge and for the wonderful pictures. I have sachets and dangly things all over my house. See my Blog. I have news.

Martin said...

I'm intrigued.

Friko said...

I'm very fond of witches, hoo doo or voodoo oriented.

Actually, isn't rue poisonous? Not to be ingested? I am not altogether sure but seem to recall something to that effect.

Inger said...

I'm sure there's a lot of wisdom in that book.

Vicki Lane said...

Friko -- I believe that rue oil is used as a charm to keep bad influences away -- a thin line of it across the threshold...