Ozark Encyclopedia – A – Animal and Human Parts


Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Associating various animal and human parts, such as teeth, bones, hair, fingernails, etc. with folk magic and healing is common in Ozark folklore. Many instances (which will be discussed in their own entries) likely trace their origin to both European as well as African and Indigenous sources. These human body parts, usually in the form of hair or fingernail clippings, create a sympathetic connection with the patient (or victim, in the case of malicious witchcraft). In the case of animal parts, certain animals are often associated with specific conditions or diseases (owls with malicious witchcraft, reptiles and amphibians with colds/flu, beavers or squirrels with teeth, etc.) in which case the animal part would be used (often alongside related charms or songs) to summon the spirit of the animal in to do the actual healing (or witchcraft). This animal is most often not an actual animal that lived and died, but…

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