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Granny Women - Healing and Magic in Appalachia

Updated on December 10, 2016
Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis has long known about the healing properties of herbs. She has studied herbalism for many years and makes her own healing products.

Appalachian Families Depended on Granny Women

Faust Family, 1910
Faust Family, 1910 | Source
Noah Garland Family, Kentucky, 1940
Noah Garland Family, Kentucky, 1940 | Source

Self Reliant People

In the old days, people living deep in the Appalachian Mountains had to be very self-reliant. Granny women are the ones people went to for healing and magic in Appalachia.

It was not easy to get to a doctor and rarely could a doctor reach anyone in time to help them get through an illness. Accidents happened and doctors were nowhere around in emergencies -- but, there was always a Granny close enough to fetch for help.

Granny women knew the way of herbs and home remedies and also used witchcraft methods.

It was not the modern Wiccan type magic, but the magic of the Old World witchcraft passed down for generations by elders teaching their daughters and granddaughters.

It was the healing magic that came from Ireland and Scotland with the early settlers.

Granny Women Grew Most of Their Own Herbs

Rosemary
Rosemary | Source

Healing With Herbs

Every village or community in the mountains had at least one Granny Woman to run to for help and healing.

These women knew exactly which plant, herb, root, or bark would heal each malady or injury that came up.

When the Irish and Scotch people began immigrating to America in the 1700's they brought with them their own culture and traditions. Some of these traditions were from the Ancient Ones of northern Ireland.

They knew the healing powers of herbs, roots, bark, and other plant parts -- and they knew which combinations of herbs would be the best remedy for each treatment.

Plantation of Ulster

Most of these immigrants were descended from Scottish and English families who colonized Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster (an organized colonization) in the 17th century. They are referred to as Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish.

During the 1700s over 200,000 people from the province of Ulster in northern Ireland immigrated to America. Another 100,000 arrived between the years 1783 and 1812, in the years following the American Revolution. Throughout the 1800s more Scots-Irish, over one million, continued to arrive.

Ulster Province in Northern Ireland

Ulster is the Colored Areas.
Ulster is the Colored Areas. | Source

Herbs and Witchcraft

Among the immigrants were the women who knew the ways of the Old World witchcraft and herbalism. Many of the immigrants settled in Southern Appalachia and the Ozark Mountains. The women were healers and midwives and often the only practitioners of health care for the poor living in rural areas. They did not take payments for their healing. As with other settlers, they shared what they had -- gratitude for help and knowledge was often in the form of food, quilts, or other needed items, but it was not expected.

These women became known as "Granny Women". They relied heavily on herbal medicine. For instance, a regular remedy for whooping cough was made and bottled to give to the caretaker of the ill one. The Granny would boil one ounce of fresh red clover blossoms in one pint of water, strain, then add one cup honey. This was to be given to the child, one teaspoon twice a day until the cough cleared up.

Herbs Have Been Used for Healing for 1000s of Years

Mint
Mint | Source

Midwifery and Birthin' Babies

Women who had children of their own were often called upon for "Birthin' Babies". Since they had gone through the process of giving birth, they were expected to be able to help other women in labor. These lay-midwives had no formal training. Over time, the midwives became more experienced and were of great assistance and need.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Granny Women and their midwifery skills were the main help for about half the births in Southern Appalachia. Childbirth was a great concern and a dangerous time in the old days and it was the Granny Woman who played an integral role in seeing that the babe and the mother survived.

Babes Were Birthed at Home With the Help of Midwives

Old Farmhouse Bedroom
Old Farmhouse Bedroom | Source

Fetch Granny !

When someone was sent to "fetch granny", the Granny Woman would grab her bag, get on a mule or horse and leave her own family, often for days, to care for the woman in labor. She often stayed for a few days after the child was born to make sure mother and babe were "gettin' on okay". The Granny had her herb remedies in her bag and her rituals to perform to ensure a safe birth.

One common ritual of a Granny Woman when attending a birth, was to put an axe under the bed of the mother during labor. This was symbolic of "cutting the pain". Also, if all the windows were opened during labor, that was symbolic of opening the birth canal for easier delivery. Spells and charms were not looked on as odd or strange and the settlers trusted their Granny.

It was not until 1923 that the first professional training for midwives was established in Kentucky by Mary Carson Breckinridge. The Frontier Nursing Service, which Breckinridge established, is still in existence today.


Contact With Cherokee People

When the settlers came in contact with the Cherokee people a bond of respect and support was created. One of the most beneficial methods they shared was herbalism and healing.

The Granny Women brought Old World healing methods and the Cherokee provided extensive knowledge of herbs and their own methods of healing. The sharing, training of each other, and trading knowledge was extremely beneficial to both sides.

Between the Cherokee and the Scotch-Irish was also some strong similarities with the wee folk. The Granny Women worked closely with the Faerie Folk that followed them from the Old World to the Appalachians. The Cherokee had always worked with their kindhearted spirits, The Little People.

Both group of peoples often left 'offerings' for the little ones who helped them. This could be a bowl of cream sat on the back porch, berries, small pieces of cake or cornbread. This was believed to appease and delight the Faeries or the Little People.

Divination

The Granny also practiced divination, such as reading tea leaves, watching for signs in the clouds and several other methods.

Scrying, with a bowl of water was another method of divination. These methods are still done today by many people, like the Wiccan, Pagan, and witches of the Old Order.

Witchcraft as it was practiced in the old way by the Ancients still exists in the Appalachian Mountains. It is passed down from generation to generation -- and the Granny knows instinctively which member of her family is the next healer, so encourages that child to learn.

The healing powers of witchcraft is not a thing to shun or fear. It is a true and greatly beneficial method of healing.

The folks of Appalachia in the early days, and many of today, still turn to a Granny for help with healing, or have learned the old ways themselves.

Some people are born with the gift of healing and in time become aware of this as their knowledge just naturally comes out.

Many think of witchcraft as something bad to stay away from -- yet it was the witchcraft and knowledge of the Granny Women who saved many, many lives in the early days of the settlers, and brought the new babes into the world. True witchcraft from the Old World was based on the healing arts.

Reading Tea Leaves is Still Used for Divination

Tea Leaves.
Tea Leaves. | Source

A Story About Granny Magic

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 5 weeks ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Susan. Thank you so much for sharing your story - I love to hear from folks in Appalachia. Life experiences in your area are so interesting. I recently wrote a story about a man who was a seventh son of a seventh son and was thinking about writing another one about him, so I am glad you reminded me about that. Thank you for visiting and sharing.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 5 weeks ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Kim. How exciting to find that and signed by a Granny Valentine. I bet she was relied on by many folks in her time. Thank you for sharing that. And thank you for reading.

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      Susan 5 weeks ago

      I have lived here all my life. A midwife came when my two baby sisters were born. I remember going and telling a neighbor it was time one night. I was very young and didn't even know what that meant at the time. We also had a neighbor who was the seventh son of a seventh son. I got thrash when I was a young girl and my Dad took me over for Him to blow in my mouth. I was very unhappy about it and thought his breath would make me sick. I was very surprised when it was like crisp cool wind and my thrash was gone the next day. I still didn't understand it but I can not deny it happened. Any way Thank you for your article I found it very interesting.

    • KimBied profile image

      KimBied 5 weeks ago

      I recently found a birth record for my great aunt. It was signed by Granny Valentine. Jone's Cove, TN.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 7 weeks ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Arielle. Thank you so much for reading. I enjoyed reading your comment. Have a great day.

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      Arielle 8 weeks ago

      Thank you for the article. It does remind me of home. My great grandmother was a lay midwife and knew womens arts. We know the grannies and grandpas as folk magic practitioners, or people touched by God. Bless their heart, and bless you for writing it. Also I will note that witches by name don't get ran off around here. Everybody and their brother practices something in one way or another, so nobody can even say anything about another lol. You can be a Christian and be a witch or a granny or folk magic practitioner or whatever you wanna call it. Its all the same workings. We are the dark horses of Appalachia ;) Love us, hate us.. but centuries later we still around lol.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 8 weeks ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you, Diana, for reading and commenting.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 8 weeks ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you, Sandria

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      Diana 8 weeks ago

      I know there is something stronger than what we can just except in our society there is so much more it's only open our hearts and our minds we would be filled with so much knowledge and joy yes so many will not see

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      Sandria 2 months ago

      This is wonderful and exactly what I have been looking for I am looking to learn the herbal and wildcrafting to help my family.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Karine. Nice to meet you. I am glad you like the article and thank you for commenting. I appreciate your kind praise. Yes, it is a beautiful tradition of healing and more people are rediscovering the amazing benefits of herbs. Thanks again.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 3 months ago from Upstate New York

      Wonderful Hub! Such a beautiful tradition of healing.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 7 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Dick. I think you misunderstand. I did not intend to give the impression that what Grannys did was witchcraft, nor that they were witches. They were healers and helpers to their community. Some of the Grannys used harmless witchcraft methods like tea leaf reading and card reading. One of the superstitious beliefs was to put an axe or knife under the bed of a woman in labor, to cut the pain. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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      Dick baker 8 months ago

      It was not witchcraft and in these mountains if said to be a witch they would have run off. Grannys where very religious and very superstitious

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 8 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Donna. Your grandmother was a special woman, I would love to hear more about her. I appreciate you sharing that family history, and for reading my article. Thank you so much.

    • Donna Piko-Jones profile image

      Donna Piko-Jones 8 months ago

      The term "Granny Women" is not familiar to me; but my grandmother was most certainly one. She was midwife to every woman in her rural community. She worked with herbs, wood bark, and other natural things found in the woods to heal. I could tell so many stories about this dear woman, and yes, she also used witchcraft. She passed her powers/abilities on to my mother, and she to me. Thank you for this lovely story.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 9 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Glad you like it. Thank you Witch of Stitches.

    • Witch of Stitches profile image

      Witch of Stitches 9 months ago

      Another interesting article.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 11 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Amanda. Thank you for reading, so glad you like this article. It is sad how many have lost touch with Mother Nature, but there seems to be a surge of re-connecting to her. Thanks again.

    • Amanda Marshay profile image

      Amanda Marshay 11 months ago from Utah

      This was so informative. I find it so fascinating how are culture is losing touch with Mother Nature. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 12 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you very much, SakinaNasir. So glad you enjoyed it.

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 12 months ago from Kuwait

      Great hub Phyllis! ☺ Loved reading it! Keep up the good work! God bless you!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 12 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Anita. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks. Yes, a lot of people practice natural healing methods and herbalism.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 12 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Enjoyed your hub Phyllis, healing with plants and herbs seems to becoming popular again.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 14 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Shirley. Thanks for stopping by. You might want to check Watkins Home Products for Petro-Carbo Salve. My folks used it for burns and it works well. I keep a tin of it on hand. Thanks again.

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      Shirley Adams 14 months ago

      I'm from Eastern Kentucky by Virginia state line. My mom was one of these Granny women. People would come to our home all the time to see her. She could birth babies, take warts off your hands, say secret things that done things, stop blood, thrush in a babies mouth. I fell into a wood stove at five and burned my face bad. The women wrapped all kinds of stuff in the kitchen and began to make some type of salve, mom put it on my face and neck then bandaged it up daily until I healed up. To this day I have NO SCAR AT ALL ANYWHERE. I have always wanted get the recipient for that salve but my mom's gone and I can't. Does anyone know where I can get it. It's great stuff. I love all the responses you need do more these. Thanks,shirley

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 15 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Amanda. I bet your Granny was an interesting and loving person. When someone is connected to nature like she was then life is filled with love. My

      Dad read tea leaves and I do it once in awhile. Thank you for reading my article and commenting. I really appreciate it.

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      Amanda Parker 15 months ago

      I'm from Harlan County, KY. My Granny was a Granny Witch, he mother read tea leaves. We still live by these methods today.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 18 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      H Anita.How nice to read about your grandmother and her natural ways of healing. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

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      Anita Wray-White 18 months ago

      My grandmother lived by these practices in Arkansas. When run down roots and turnip greens. When aching from arthritis or rheumatism she and all her sisters would go to Hot Springs for healing. I think they brought this from hundreds of years before in the old country. For her it all went hand and hand with praying and religion. All ways to heal and feal better. And to have that belief that you would be healed.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      How interesting. I vaguely remember the deck and Rook card now. Seems like one of my aunts had the deck. Thanks for the information, FreemanPresson.

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      FreemanPresson 19 months ago

      The Rook deck is actually still being made, and the Wikipedia article says they were specifically made for uptight Christian folk to have a card game not associated with poker or cartomancy! I had not seen a Rook deck since the 50s.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rook_(card_game)

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hello, Archie McKinney, and thank you for reading and commenting. You must be proud of your great great grandmother. What a wonderful and wise woman she must have been. Thank you for sharing her history with me. I would love to know more and write about her life. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Archie McKinney 19 months ago

      Good post. My great great grandmother was born in East Tennessee the year that General Winfield Scott began the removal to Oklahoma. She was a healer and eventually came with her family to homestead in the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri. She lived long enough to see the advent of patent medicine and the decline of demand for healers. She lived well into her 80s and continued healing for family due to,the remote location of their homesteads.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      FreemanPresson, my Dad used regular playing cards for divination and I have also. Yes, I know "evil gambling and all" was not well tolerated. Now, what are Rook cards? I don't think I have heard of those.

    • profile image

      FreemanPresson 19 months ago

      Thanks for the great article!

      Lots of people with the gift for divination just read playing cards. Even then, some families wouldn't have those. My Dad (b. 1907) was only allowed Rook cards because, y'know, evil gambling and all.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi FreemanPresson, I took out mention of the Tarot since it is a controversial subject. Thanks again for bringing that to my attention.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi FreemanPresson. So nice to hear from you. I believe the use of Tarot cards came much later than the ancestors of Granny Women. I will check out my out my wording and source to make sure I got that right - thanks for bringing it to my attention. What a great heritage you have. Thanks again and I will get back to you on the Tarot cards mention.

    • profile image

      FreemanPresson 19 months ago

      I'm also descended from Scots-Irish, Irish, and Cherokee people. I caught the tail end of some of those traditions ("Great-aunt Sally can take off warts and treat your colic-y horse, etc). The one thing I wasn't so sure about was Tarot cards. Have you seen anything that proves any of them had Tarot before the late 20th century?

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 19 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi wendi_w. So glad you enjoyed the article. You have a very interesting family history. Thank you for sharing that and for reading / commenting. I appreciate your visit.

    • wendi_w profile image

      wendi_w 19 months ago from Midwest

      Really great Hub, much of what you describe is true of the Midwest where German, Bohemian,Swedes, and Sioux Indians combined. My Grandmothers were of Gypsy and German descent . Both Grandfathers were water witches and my grandmothers blended there heritage with Sioux Indian medicine and planting as well as a touch of Christianity. I love reading stories like these

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Shannon. You might try watching some videos on Youtube about 'Appalachian Granny Women'. There are some videos there that could give you some ideas. Some advice is to develop your characters well so your readers get to know them. Thanks for reading and commenting on my article, I appreciate it.

    • profile image

      Shannon 20 months ago

      This is really interesting, is there anywhere that you can direct me toward further readings on this topic? I'm wanting to write a short story, and the main character has a background sort of around this topic. Please and thank you!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Shyron. So glad you loved reading about the Granny Women. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Blessings to you, too, my friend. Hugs.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 21 months ago from Texas

      Hello Phyllis, this is great, I do love reading about courageous women of the past, and the magical cures of herbs.

      Wonderful Hub

      Blessings and Hugs my friend

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Sarah. You are most welcome for those resources. I hope it helps. I think the history of those women is remarkable and very interesting. They have a strong common bond. Edain McCoy may have some books that will also help you. She wrote 'Mountain Magic' and is very knowledgeable about Appalachian folk medicine and such. Thanks for coming back again, Sarah. Keep in touch.

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      Sarah 21 months ago

      Thank you so much for the advice on further reading etc., I have never used Bing images, off to give that a try! I have her on my tree as Welch and forget her married name was Maynard, but yes- most of them lived right on the Tug Fork River, which runs between KY & WV, Sarah herself lived in Kentucky for a good part of her life. Such an interesting history these women share. Thanks again for the resources.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for your visit. How interesting about Sarah Welch and her being blind - she must have really been a good midwife. I hope you find out more about her. I can give you information on some reads. I don't know if it will help you, but a list is below. Another thought is to search 'Granny Women' on Bing Images and follow back to the original source. I found an image of the Welch family, but they were in Kentucky (maybe some relations?) Mandy, in the video, is quite an interesting person.

      Birthin' Babies: The History of Midwifery in Appalachia.

      http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED464795

      The Midwife's Tale

      by Gretchen Moran Laskas

      http://www.librarything.com/work/218522

      http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=su%3AMidwives+Mis...

      The Granny Woman of the Hills

      by Ella Ingenthron Dunn

      Mary Breckenridge

      Frontier Nursing Service

      Thanks again, Sarah. Hope you visit here again and let me know how your research is going. Take care.

    • profile image

      Sarah 21 months ago

      Thank you for sharing this information! I'm an Appalachian herbalist and descendant of a mountain midwife and have been looking for more information about her life and practices. I know from her Wayne Co. WV census (1880) that she, Sarah Welch, was still at age 80, listed as a midwife and blind to boot! Can you recommend further reading specifically about midwives in Appalaichia? Thanks again. Have to add- it is uncanny how much the woman in the video looks and sounds like my grandmother!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Lester and welcome. It is so good to hear from you. I am glad you like the article and thank you for the confirmation of the stories . You must be very proud of your mother, your whole family and your heritage. Thank you for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it. Hope you visit again.

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      Lester 21 months ago

      These are my people , both sides of my family, Cherokee and Irish, love the stories, they're very true . My Mother was a granny way before she was a granny. My aunt could stop bleeding,my Father could witch a well .thank you for sharing blessed be .

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 21 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Dixiecuz. Your statement is not quite true. Holistic medicine is used along with conventional medicine. The holistic approach is to treat the whole person, (physical, emotional, and spiritual).

      Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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      Dixiecuz72 21 months ago

      This would be the equivalent to holistic medicine today.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi sparkster. I will go read your hub. Sounds interesting. Thanks.

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      Sparkster Publishing 22 months ago from United Kingdom

      I have already written a hub about alternative medicine which goes into detail about Hoxsey Therapy. I published that a while ago. It's also about how such medicines have been suppressed, in addition to new energy technologies.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi TT. Thank you so much for reading and sharing about the Alaska natives. I am sure that causes a lot of consternation for the doctors. Herbal medicine can do wonders and so can doctors - it is too bad both sides cannot find a way to work together. Thanks again for reading and commenting. Take care

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 22 months ago from California

      Very interesting read . Truly believe in herbal medicine, but know doctors in Alaska who run into native healers who scare the people and cause great harm because they don't believe in modern medicine. Read Christi when I was in junior high. The people of Appalachia have fascinated me ever since. Again an very interesting article. TT

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Sharon Turnwall. Thanks for the visit and comment. Since you do have an interest in the wisdom and skills of your great-grandmother you just may pick up the knowledge. I am a strong believer that inherent attributes are within us (like a genetic memory) and can be developed spiritually. I think your intuition and desire will promote and enhance the learning.

      Thanks again.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi sparkster - good to hear from you. I bet that was "an enlightening experience". How interesting your comment is. I was recently reading about shaminism, fascinating! Many cultures around the world have their Shamans and history of that belief system. I do not recall the "Hoxsey Therapy" cure. Maybe you can write a hub about it.

      Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

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      Sharon Turnwall 22 months ago

      Very interesting read. My great-grandmother was born and raised in Kentucky and was a mid-wife. She "birthed" over 2,500 babies during her lifetime. She always used some sort of plant to heal anything from a cut toe to a stomach ache. No one in the family knows when or where she learned all she knew and unfortunately all of her knowledge went to her grave with her. I seem to be the only one in the family who has any interest in her abilities and knowledge, unfortunately she is no longer here to teach me.

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 22 months ago from United Kingdom

      Great information. This hub reminds me of a couple of things. First, some research I did into herbs used for the "Hoxsey Therapy" cure which was a natural cure for cancer. Labelled by authorities as pseudoscience but recent research backs it up. Also, a shamanic spiritual cleansing that was done on me recently by a woman who is part Cherokee. That was certainly an enlightening experience.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Seafarer Mama. Thanks for the visit. I love gardening, too. I learned a lot about gardening and herbs from my father. The books I recommend are very helpful. Your grandmother still is very special to you and that is great. Maybe she knows it is safe now to teach you and her spirit will guide you.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Tabitha. Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a great day.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 22 months ago from New England

      Loved reading this article, Phyllis. I am drawn to gardening and herbal knowledge and am eager to learn more. The women in my family learned shame for being women and women's knowledge, so if they possessed such knowledge at all, they suppressed it when they came to the "new world." I have always been the odd one, much to my mother's frustration - not taking "authorities" at their word about what to think, believe, etc. Though I grew up Catholic, I am now primarily Unitarian Universalist.

      I loved gardening with my grandmother. She did have quite a "green thumb." It was definitely a bonding time between us and I sometime think she is one of my Spirit Guides. I wonder if there was herbal knowledge that she held but felt it was unsafe to teach me. Grew up in NY but now live in MA. I feel like I belong here in some way. Grew up Catholic, which probably explains lots about the shame part, but now I have a chance to guide my daughter to love herself and have confidence.

      The word "Witch" is very interesting. I know a bunch of women who self-identify as "witches." It is only a negative term if the person who uses it labels another with disdain. I do like the word healer better, though, because it is more descriptive and accurate for who those Granny Women were. It is very sad that in the 1690's, those who benefited from their knowledge and service turned them in to be hanged or burned at the stake.

      I think that Homeopathy is a modern movement that takes from the herbal practices of the old ways. I know at least 2 women who practice and I have great respect for their knowledge.

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      Tabitha Canady 22 months ago

      Great article! So many do not know the real history of these awesome healers.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image
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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Karen, you are most welcome. So much history of folk medicine from Ulster. I love redclover, I wish it grew here. We just have white. I need to pay a visit to my herbal shop soon and see if he has some. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Karen 22 months ago

      Thanks for sharing your article Im a ustler decendent..picking redclovers living in Aotearoa New Zealand

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you very much, Terra.

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      Terra 22 months ago

      A fantastic informative read, thank you.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you sumon.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Alexis. You are most welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

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      sumon 22 months ago

      This is a nice article. It is really helpful.

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      Ashley Cogdill 22 months ago from Indiana/Chicagoland

      Sounds beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us. :)

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Rochelle. Yep, they had a whole passel of young'uns. LOL

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it.

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      Rochelle Frank 22 months ago from California Gold Country

      Beautiful Hub Phyllis! very interesting and evocative of the time. Them Garlands sure had a bunch of young'uns. They must have been strong people.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Darcy. Yes, their stories and the women themselves were fascinating. How fortunate you are to have such ancestors. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Darcy 22 months ago

      Those women were my great great grandmothers both Cherokee and Welsh women. Their stories and remedies are fascinating --lucky me.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Mary. Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I love peppermint - it is beneficial for many maladies and it smells so good. Thanks again.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Rose. Thank you very much for reading and sharing your story and interesting history. I appreciate it.

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      Mary 22 months ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      Growing up my grandmother always gave us herbs to help cure our ailments. I used to love drinking her catnip tea, and the way she would always rub peppermint oil on our backs when we were congested. Great hub, very informative!!!

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      Rose Villa 22 months ago

      Am Blackfoot/Cree woman, we originate in Alberta, Canada & Montana, US. Have understanding of 'Our' medicine/healing properties. Colonialists referenced 'Our' healers as witches! Labeling the Holy Healers as witches, caused us to go underground with ceremony & healing. I am pulled to learn about all Indigenous healing. This is 'Our' way, needs to be passed on to grandchildren and on and on down the lines...Thank you for sharing the Aboriginal healers...

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi chezchazz. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I highly recommend the books I refer to in my article - maybe they will help. Edain McCoy is very knowledgeable of the ways of healing. Sometimes the old ways of healing will skip a generation and a new healer comes forth, so there is hope.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Tami Jude. You are most welcome. I love reading all these wonderful stories of family history and the healers. Your great grandmother must have journeyed far and wide to help people. I do not think of the healers as witches and they did not call themselves a witch. They just knew the Old World way of healing, as a real witch does - so sometimes their methods are similar. You have a right to be proud of who you are and your heritage. I am glad to hear that.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your family history - keep it alive.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Debbie Stewart. It is so exciting to know this article has helped you find what you were seeking - I am very happy about that. It is great you know who the next healer is in your family. I hope that person gets lots of guidance to carry on the tradition from your great grandma. I am still researching to write more about Granny Women and I am hoping a lot of others will come forth and write their stories.

      Thank you so much Debbie, for reading and commenting. Take care and keep in touch.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Brenda. What an interesting family history you have. The Doyle name goes far back in Irish history to the Vikings and Danes. I have been studying the Acadians and their history. If you are a writer I would love to read more about your family history and the history of healers in your region. I hope you keep in touch. You can contact me by going to my profile page and click on the send an email to author.

      I am very happy you enjoyed my article. Thank you for reading and your interesting history. Thanks for sharing, too.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi moonlake. So many people can remember about their grandmothers and great grandmothers being Granny Women - this is wonderful. I am so happy to hear about this and glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you very much.

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      Chazz 22 months ago from New York

      Great article - I wish I knew more of the "secrets" of earlier generations of my family who were quite knowledgable in natural healing ways although neither Appalachian or Native American. My wife has been fortunate to have inherited some of her grandparent's traditional wisdom but alas, the next generation has not shown any interest in learning it. Maybe if we ever have grandchildren...

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      Tami Jude 22 months ago

      My great grandmother who was born in the mid 1800's carried meat with her to feed to the mountain lions as she went ginsenging, and would catch and switch rattlesnakes and copperhead then turn them loose. This kept them from harming her or coming near her. My grandfather, born in the late 1800's used blood from a black chickens toe to cure shingles in an aunt. None of these things were considered witchcraft. They were just part of who these people were. They even considered themselves Christian. I'm proud of my hillbilly heritage and don't mind being called such. Thank you for the article and keeping alive a dying culture.

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      Debbie Stewart 22 months ago

      I am so totally blowed away! Im 54 yrs old, been trying to figure this path out a long time. I started reading this and seen my great grandma back in the early 60's. My mom knew, she just tried to hide things or ignore them. There's a lot more goes with it but thank you for finally giving me a name for it. Oh, and i know who the next healer is.

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      Brenda (Elaine Marie) 22 months ago

      My birth father (whom I never knew) was a Doyle and my birth mother was a Phalen. I was adopted as an infant and live in Nova Scotia, where Irish and Scottish blood runs through many of us, along with Acadian and Mi'kmaq. My adoptive family was a mix of Scottish, German and Jewish. Lots of traditions in their background too! We're at the northern end of the Appalachians and have our own history of healers among the people. This article has been a pleasure to read and I'll share it this morning. Thank you for writing it.

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      moonlake 22 months ago from America

      Both my grandmothers were probably known as granny women. Both from Mo and lowlands of Arkansas. I wish I could remember the things they said would heal this and that. I just can't remember any of it. My great-grandfather was also known herbal healer. Enjoyed your hub.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi modernalchemyst. Thanks for stopping, reading and commenting. Yes, they are amazing women. Thanks for the compliment on my article.

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      Josephine 22 months ago from New England

      My great grandmother was one of these mountain dwelling granny women, although I doubt she would have called herself a witch as I do today. She was also part Cherokee. Your article really rings true about everything I've heard over the years. Amazing women, amazing Hub!

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Sandie. You and your mother must be very proud of your great grandmother. Granny Women worked hard to help people. They were very wise of the laws of Nature and the healing herbs. They were so dedicated to their practice that was handed down to them from past generations. Thank you for sharing your great grandmother's story. And thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Well thank you very much, Priestess Nibhadea.

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      Sandie 22 months ago

      My mother who is now 83 years oldtells me story's of how my great grandmother would go out sometimes in the middle of the night to deliver a baby or check on the sick and all about her herbs. This was a fascinating story for me to read. Thank you for sharing as it brought back so many memories of my great grandmother. God bless

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      Priestess Nibhadea 22 months ago

      LOVE YOUR STUFF!!!

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi lorddraven2000. Thank you for such a kind comment. You are most welcome. I am so glad you enjoyed my article.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi S. Pyle. Yes, Mathew 18:18 ""Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." That is one of the verses my Father recited a lot when I was a child.

      Thank you, for the visit and comment.

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      Phyllis Doyle Burns 22 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

      You are most welcome, Dianna Bailey. Thank you for sharing about your grandmaw, I so enjoyed reading that. Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting.