E is for Egg, to suck out the sick –
Common across folk traditions from several cultures, eggs are often used as a magical container for illness or evil. In the Ozarks, the idea is that as the egg is passed along a person’s body it will suck out anything that might be troubling the patient. The egg is then destroyed, usually by throwing it in a river or smashing it against a tree, thereby nullifying the evil forces contained inside. On rare occasions, as with curanderismo, the healer might crack the egg into a glass of water after passing it over their patient’s body. They will then look for certain signs about how serious the sickness might be or what witch might have sent it.
F is for Fever, cured with a stick –
An Ozark method for magically curing a fever involves a healer taking three sticks, usually from the spicebush (Lindera benzoin), common elm, or witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) and passing each stick across the forehead of the one with the fever with the words, “Spirit of the sick, pass into this stick!” After each stick has touched the forehead they are brought together and broken then sometimes tossed into a river so as to carry the fever away or put into a jug of cold spring water to sympathetically chill the fever.
G is for Granny, for praying and birth –
The Granny Woman was an important subclass of healer in the Ozarks. She was responsible for all things to do with “female complaints” as there was at one time a strict taboo against men healing women. Even today amongst old folks there’s still an uneasiness about a male healer doing any work for a woman, even if they’re family. The Granny Woman was a combination of herbalist, midwife, and magical healer. She not only knew what plants to use when a birthing is going wrong, but also the specialized prayers and rituals to help calm her patient down. The Granny Woman is almost always an older woman who has had children herself. Often it’s a widow who is guided toward the work.
H is for Haint, a ghost from the earth –
The word “haint” has its origins with “haunt” and is another word for a ghost. Haints are almost always trickster spirits or poltergeists, who use their afterlife to annoy or harm the living. While kindly spirits are often the subject of Ozark folktales, they’re never called haints. This seems to only be used with those wandering or lingering sorts who are bent on causing trouble.