Jake Richards
AUTHOR

Jake Richards

My name is Jake, but some folks call me Old Buck. I’ve been studying and practicing Appalachian Folk Magic for over a decade now. I began looking further into it after my elders started passing away and I’ve been on this road ever since. My grandfather on my mother's side was an old time Baptist preacher who had never met his father so he could cure warts, take fever out with an egg, and stop the flow of blood among other things. He had the Sight as do most of my grandmother's and my mother, who is a seventh daughter and has the healing touch. She would cure us of anything growing up simply by rubbing our bellies a certain way. Other times, her and my grandmother used every remedy they'd learned until one worked; and they'd still swear by every one of them 'cause remedies are like medicine; some don't work for certain folks while others will. We have stories of witches in our family turning into hogs, shacks filled plum full of black phantom cats, and devils who stomp into a home where the Bible is placed on the floor. We grew up dirt poor. The charms and tidbits my family utilized helped keep us off of hard-times financially and medically. I spent a lot of my childhood at the homes of my elders, which was always in the country: either in the ridges of western North Carolina on Devils Nest Mountain in the Big Ridge, the foot of the Unicoi mountains near Lost Cove, or in the pastures outside Greenville, or at the foot of Buffalo, Embreeville, and Roan Mountains . I was always either standing ankle-deep in a cow pattie or waist high in the big eddies of the creeks. Jonesborough, Tennessee is known as the storytelling capitol of the world, and it shows in the culture here. Every day we was told some type of story, and we loved it, even if we'd heard it before from someone else cause each story teller adds their own flavor, color, smell, and character into the yarns they unravel. We were also told of stories about folks in our family being Cherokee: one of my families biggest prides, although we now know we come from the Melungeons, not cherokee. We headed down whenever an elder teller was in from the Eastern Band, so I grew up on Cherokee tales as well and today can speak a little bit of the language. Other young folks don’t care for it anymore because “it’s no longer needed.” They didn't listen to their elders about things: keeping house, cooking, hunting or fishing. They especially disregard the "superstitions." But for many folks that I help here in East Tennessee it is still very potent in helping us survive the trials of life. Which is the reason for my writing: to share it, keep it alive in its most untained, unchanged state, so we can pass it on to the next heirs of Appalachia. I also run a blog called Holy Stones & Iron Bones which is frequently updated with info on Appalachian folklore, magic, and medicine.

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