Folklorist and healer Brandon Weston gives us a fascinating account of the history and life of Ozark folk healers. Told in an informal and personable manner, Weston makes us feel as if we are sitting around a pot bellied stove in a cabin listening to stories of demonic crows, haints, little people, and of being 'goomered' by a witch.

Having spent the bulk of my life living on the edge of the Ouichita Mountains, reading Weston's book felt like coming home. I could almost smell chimney smoke and the musty smell of old leaves on a wet November day, hear the cries of the blackbirds as they roost in the trees. It made me think of my late Missourian mother who told me stories of blue racers and the little people. She used camphor to cure my sinus infections and earaches. And there was my little step grandmother who came at me with a ghastly homemade cough remedy every time she heard me clear my throat.

Weston provides a treasure trove of information on traditional healers, both spiritual and physical. Unfortunately, the traditions are dying out and the knowledge of how to “try” for someone is dying out as well. This is due mostly to modern medicine as well as younger family members have little to no interest in the old folk ways. Thankfully, folklorists like Weston collects information from a wide variety of healers and folk magicians and is preserving it for future generations.

This is not an academic treatise by any means. Nor is it a primary source document. It is also not a how to book on Ozark folk magic, although the author tantalizes the reader with the outlines for a rudimentary personal practice. But it does fit comfortably between the works of Mooney and Vance Randolf and is worthy of study.
~review by Patricia Snodgrass

Author: Brandon Weston
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2021
p. $19.95, pp. 264