Most people who have seen the old television comedy “The Beverly Hillbillies” have no idea about some of the little grains of truth in the show. The show’s creator, Paul Henning, was a native Missourian who was clearly very familiar with the area and the people of the Ozark Mountain region. On the show, the Clampetts make visits to such locations as Silver Dollar City, Springfield and Joplin, Missouri.
What most people who have watched the show never guess is that Granny was more than just Elly May’s grandmother. Granny, who once says she comes from Taney County, which is the southwestern Missouri county where Branson is located, is a “granny woman” which is an old Ozark term for conjure woman. The word “medicine” is another word for potion among old-timers.
The term “hillbilly” is perceived by some a pejorative term and probably to others it seems like a joke. The rest of the world probably can’t imagine what the area is still like – even today. It’s probably especially hard for city-folk to imagine that there are such people as those who live in the hills outside of beautiful, modern Branson, Missouri. They’ve have always been secretive and distrusting of outsiders and for years nobody knew much at all about them until a folk researcher named Vance Randolph married an Ozarker and spent decades trying to ingratiate himself into their culture (impossible for anyone who wasn’t born among them).
In the 1940s he published several books, but arguably the best one is “Ozark Mountain Magic and Folklore.” The ancestors of the original Ozark Mountain settlers came from England and Scotland by way of Appalachia. And, as is alluded to in a two-part episode where the hillbillies go back to England to find their noble ancestors, their ancestors were probably among the earliest American arrivals and were made of a rough, tough stock of people who could survive even the worst adversity.
The Ozark Mountains is still very rough terrain, but 100 years ago, it was only a special breed of people with strong survival skills who were able to live there. The winters are hard and the people live in relative isolation from each other in the hills and “hollers.” Before recent modernization of the highways and literally cutting through the rocks of mountains made travel easier, they were isolated from the outside world and often from each other. They had to rely on what they knew about the environment, animals, insects, plants and herbs and the practice of witchcraft, which grew and thrived among them.
They had magic for all the important aspects of life, but love and courtships was very important, especially for young women. Although, young men, also, practiced love magic. Girls conducted a variety of spells to see their future husbands or to know his name. They used charms and potions to induce love and lust and to dominate their boyfriends and husband.
The following are just a few love spells collected by Randolph in the Missouri Ozarks.
Beltane, the 1st day of May, is a very important day for those who want to know the identity of their future husbands.
If you would like to see your future husband, you must go to a well at noon on May Day and hold a mirror in such a way that it reflects the daylight into the darkness. Then, look into the water and you should see the face of your future mate. But, if you happen to see yourself lying in a coffin, you will die before the next May Day. If you see nothing, you’ll probably be an old maid.
A variation on this procedure requires you to have a glass of water, a gold ring and a mirror. Place the glass in front of the mirror and gaze fixedly at the reflection of the ring in the water.
If you want to see the face of your future husband, rise very early on May 1st and go to the well carrying a guinea egg and a glass. Once at the well, break the egg into the cup and gaze into the water. There you should see the initials of your husband to be reflected in the water of the well.
Similarly, if you wake early on May 1st and look into the reflection of a mirror, you should see the reflection of your future husband’s face or his initials
If you would like to dream about your future mate, look at the new moon over your right shoulder at night and repeat the following incantation:
“New moon, new moon, do tell me
Who my own true lover will be,
The color of his hair, the clothes that he will wear
And the happy day he will wed me.”
Love Attraction and Lover Return Spells
Wear a yellow garter to attract a man and keep him faithful.
Carry a wasps nest to attract men. If you attach it to the aforementioned garter, so much the better.
The following love charm will probably only be practical if you work in a morgue or have legal access to dead bodies. You must obtain a needle that has been stuck into a dead body. Cover it with dirt in which a corpse has been laid. Then wrap the whole thing in a piece of cloth cut from the shroud that has covered a dead body. Keep this charm with you to make any woman fall in love with you.
If you take the needle from the above charm and stick into the footprint in your own yard where your lover has stepped, he will have to stay with you whether he wants to or not. If he leaves you, he will get sick and if he stays away very long he will die.
Use the following spell if your lover has been away from you for a while and you want to see him. This spell is said to work regardless of circumstances and is most effective on married men or those otherwise engaged or involved.
Arrange your shoes in a “T” shape. As you do so recite the following incantation:
“When my true love I want to see, I place my shoes in the shape of a ‘T’.”
If you have quarreled with your true love and want to make up, prick the middle finger of your left hand with a needle. Write your initials on an ironwood chip and bury it. He’ll be back within three days.
If you want to inspire desire and lust in your lover, keep dried turkey bones in the room or car where the two of you will meet. This will put him or her in an amorous mood.
The dried tongue of a turtle dove, likewise concealed, will render a girl unable to resist your advances.
There are many more spells and customs among the people of the Ozarks, but it’s difficult to know how many people still practicing such things. The area, especially around Branson and the Lakes has become the new home for a lot of fundamentalist Christians who believe that theirs is the only history. And, they are very fearful of anything that seems to them to be witchcraft. So, witches in the area are very much in the closet.