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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MIPC: Granny's Love-Conjure

Angel's Hair
Wild Gander Foot
Turkey Bones
Moccasin Flower 
Boiled Mistletoe
Spell Starter 

Combine the first five ingredients in a small cloth bag, then add the spell-starter and quickly tie the bag shut. Hold the bag to your heart and say the magic words:

"Darling, darling my true love, 
come a swooping like a dove!"

The Beverly Hillbillies
Various Episodes (see below)
1962-1971, CBS 

Commentary: Before I analyze this recipe, I'd like to point out that several episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies center around Granny attempting to perform magic with comical results. 

In some instances such as "Jethro Goes to College" (original air date May 18, 1966) the recipe above is given but no directions are given as to how it is deployed; however, in "Pygmallion and Elly" (original air date November 28, 1962) the above method of deploying the love conjure is given. Nonetheless, in "The Courtship of Elly" (original air date November 3 1965) the love-conjure is actually burned on an open fire and different magic words are used. They are:

"Magic powder, magic brew, 
in the fire and up the flu;
fetch a man and fetch a minister
so poor Elly May won't be a spinster"

When the love-conjure proves too strong, Granny would often blow "Letting Go Powder" in the conjured person's face and say:

"Magic powder white as snow, 
make the conjure spell let go!"

In "Jethro Proposes" (Original air date February 28, 1968), Granny prescribes her "Anti-Love Potion X4" which is said to destroy romance between two people. It consist of a foul-smelling mixture worn in a sack cloth about the person's neck. Although no recipe is given, I would imagine it containing asafetida. Although there is a similar tradition of wearing foul-smelling herbs around one's neck to ward off disease, I have never heard of it warding off "love-sickness".

Now to the matter of Granny's Love-Conjure as given above. The following correspondences have been ascribed to the various ingredients. 

  • Angel's Hair (Convolvulaceae) also known as dodder is a traditional herb used in love spells among the people of the Ozarks. 
  • Wild Gander Foot- At first I thought that this was an example of the Herbal Code and referred to the herb known as Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae). However, I dug deeper and discovered that it is traditional for young men to make a love potion from the powdered web of a wild gander and sprinkle this in a girl's coffee. 
  • Turkey Bones- Like their male counterparts, girls in the Ozarks had their love charms as well. Turkey bones were carried by girls or hidden in their rooms in the belief that they would make a man more amorous.
  • Moccasin Flower- (Cypripedium)- Also known as Lady's Slipper, the roots of this flower are used to make an aphrodisiac. 
  • Boiled Mistletoe- According to Cat Yronwode, mistletoe was used by European witches to make "true love" powder (along with Verbena and Elecampane) and is used in love-drawing mojo bags to protect against love-jinxes. 
  • Spell-Starter- Within the context of the series, spell-starter is an ingredient that activates a spell and makes it go.I could find no reference to this ingredient anywhere, however, I suspect that it may be saltepeter (potassium nitrate) due to the fact that there were many Saltpeter Caves located in the Ozarks (from which the Clampette's hailed) and the fact that Jethro's love-conjure exploded when he tossed the "spell-starter" into a fire.  I liken the saltpeter to the hoodoo practice of blowing one's breath or dropping a match into a mojo bag in order to activate it and get it to working for you. 
Within the context of the show, Granny is said to have learned her magic spells and potions from her own grandmother and it is clear that she has unwavering faith in their power. The use of "magic words" are common among Ozark Witches. In some instances they come from the Bible while in other instances their true origin and meaning have been lost over time. Regardless of their origin these magic words are often passed down from one generation to the next and it is the witch's belief in their efficacy that drive them to work. 

As you can see, Granny's Love-Conjure is surprisingly traditional and I see no reason why this spell could not be used successfully for it's intended purpose!

Carolina Dean 



themaverickjester said...

I am enjoying reading through your site. This might interest you. My grandma(Nan) used to tell me stories about her mother. Her mom was a midwife and herbalist. Some of what Nan told me sounds like magic with a Christian bent. For example, when my oldest was a very young baby he had thrush. My grandmother asked me to blow gently into his mouth. When I asked why, she told me that people who have never seen their fathers can cure thrush. My father died in Vietnam. Of course, I took my son to the doctor and got medicine but that ancedote from Nan has always interested me.

There was also a belief in my family that some people could 'talk the fire' out of others.

I'm a skeptic but I think that there is value in these old beliefs. My great grandmother did have children before the discovery of antibiotics and they all made it to adulthood. That's extraordinary, I think.

Carolina Dean said...

Hi maverick,

I am from South Carolina and my own grandmother told us the same thing about having someone who'd never seen their father blow into the mouth of a baby with thrush.

I think a lot of these old charms have some value.

Eve Dia said...

Thank you for these, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and am extremely grateful for all the information you provide - some of it ha proved very useful in my practice :)

Carolina Dean said...

Thank you for your wonderful comment Eve. I always enjoy hearing from others and knowing that the information I've shared has been of assistance.