July 17-20, 2020 - Viridis Genii Symposium - Cleanin’ the Blood: Ritual Emetics and Purgatives in Ozark Folk Medicine and Magic
“Strong medicine forces sickness down and out. If you ain’t throwin’ up, it ain’t workin’.” An Ozark healer once told me. This lecture covers the often taboo topic of vomit, piss, and poop. We will be looking in depth at the use of emetics and purgatives within the medical and magical tradition of the Ozark Mountain region. This includes medicinal plants like sassafras, mayapple, and blackgum, all used as spring tonics to “clean the blood,” a euphemism for a strong laxative. We will also look at the ritual use of purgative plants in Ozark folk magic to clean out evil spirits, hexes, and other malign work from out of a patient’s physical and spiritual body that might be causing them serious illness or harm. Emetic plants from the talk include: sassafras, dandelion root, burdock, Solomon’s seal, pokeweed, mayapple, tobacco, and more.
July 17-20, 2020 - Viridis Genii Symposium - Methods of Purifying the Body and Soul in Ozark Folk Healing
Working off of themes presented in the lecture, we will be looking at the three major methods of magical cleansing and purifying in Ozark traditional healing: water, fire, and emetics. Water includes washing the body in herbal mixtures chosen for their quality to remove malign curses. In this section participants will be able to assemble their purifying bath mixtures. Fire and smoke uses traditional Ozark fumigants like red cedar, tobacco, and asafetida. Participants will learn proper methods of Ozark fumigation as well as take home some smoking plants of their own. And with emetics and purgatives we will look at gentle purging plants like sassafras, often mixed with soothing plants like horsemint or catnip. Participants will learn a simple and non-vomit inducing cleansing ritual and be able to take home a sassafras drink mixture of their own. Other methods covered by the workshop include: tying off curses with string, counting down rituals, sweeping off hexes with a broom, and more.