Tag Archives: #floridafolkmagic

Adder’s Tongue

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“Erythronium americanum (trout lily, yellow trout lily, yellow dogtooth violet) is a species of perennial, colony forming, spring ephemeral flower native to North America and dwelling in woodland habitats. Within its range it is a very common and widespread species, especially in eastern North America. The common name ‘trout lily’ refers to the appearance of its gray-green leaves mottled with brown or gray, which allegedly resemble the coloring of brook trout.” – Wikipedia

Wikipedia photo

The perennial forb/herb, which can be found in the eastern United States and Canada, but typically not in Florida, is also called Adder’s Tongue. While some people call it a dogtooth violet, it’s not related to violets. Even  though this is a native plant, you can purchase the seeds commercially. My focus here is folk magic usage, but I’m noting traditional edible/medical uses for reference only.

While the plant has a strong emetic impact on some people, the petals have been used in tossed salads. WebMD has the following caution: “People apply English adder’s tongue directly to the skin to treat ulcers. Don’t confuse English adder’s tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum) with American adder’s tongue (Erythronium americanum).” Other sites say that the plant can be made into a poultice and applied to wounds that aren’t healing. Check with your doctor before using any part of the plant as a poultice or a tea even though those have been traditional folk medicine uses

Hoodoo

Traditionally used to stop people from slandering you, including nasty relatives. Dry the leaves and grind them into a powder and then sprinkle them around the front door the home of those who are slandering you, or gossiping about you in ways that border on slander.

Or, you can combine the leaves with ground-up Slippery Elm bark, brew it, cool it and strain it and then pour it over yourself from your shoulders to your toes. Some suggest reciting the 23rd Psalm while doing this. If the people who have been slandering you are visitors to your house–such as relatives or neighbors–collect this mixture from your bathtub, add one teaspoon of ammonia, and you’ll have a wash you can use for scrubbing our doorstep and front walk. If your entry hall can be cleaned with liquids, use the wash there as well.

As for the name, potentially it was inspired the shape if the spore-bearing spike and, for usage, by Psalm 140:5, “They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips.”

Voodoo practitioners would keep meddlesome people way with powdered dried beef tongue for use, sometimes in combinations with herbs, in mojo bags or as a sachet powder. Witches (traditional natural religion practitioners) have been known to use the drug for healing, divination, and magical spells involving dreams.

Some curio suppliers provide adder’s tongue in small packets for you to use with your own spells. This is rather expensive when contrasted with finding colonies in of the plant yourself in places with plenty of spring sunlight.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

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Excerpt from my novel ‘Lena’

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Lena, the third novel in my Florida Folk Magic series was released July 27 by Thomas-Jacob Publishing, following Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. The novel is available on multiple on-line sites in e-book and paperback and can be ordered by your bookstore via standard bookstore purchasing agreements through its Ingram account.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the novel to tempt you into buying the book:

“So, our Lord of the worlds above—ha!–walked down the springtime path from Eden, all the way down to enjoy the splendor of orchids, lilies, and white-birds-in-a-nest, and He saw that they were exquisite and profoundly good, ha! Yet He found not a bog, nor a marsh, nor a swamp to make a fit home for cypress, tupelo, bulrush, pondweed, leopard frog, alligator, black swamp snake, sandhill crane, and great blue heron. He scooped Earth’s foundation with His hands and filled the scrapes and holes with tears and breath. When the plants and animals came, God Almighty was satisfied, just as we here today are satisfied that this everlasting water provided a fit place for Him to call our sister home.”

“Amen, James,” said Dorothy, using—for the first time as far as I knew—her husband’s name rather than “deacon” in public. Together, leaning upon each other on the roadside with Lane Walker and Eulalie’s daughter Adelaide looked suddenly old. He wore black and she wore blue.

Some people called James and Dorothy “Mutt and Jeff”—though not so as they could hear—because she was short and almost plump and he was tall and almost as fit as a football player. Today, he needed his wife’s shoulder and the starch in his white dress shirt to keep him standing straight enough to address the Lord.

She began singing “Sacred Lord, Take My Hand” and that steadied him though he didn’t sing even when Adelaide joined in, her strong alto voice almost as pure as her mother’s soaring soprano. Lane took off his faded grey poor boy hat and closed his watery eyes.

They arrived in the church’s 1948 Roadmaster, the same black car the coroner borrowed to carry Martin to the morgue and left it on the shoulder a respectful distance away while they stared at the green pickup my conjure woman borrowed from Lane as though it were a closed casket.

“This ain’t right,” snapped Adelaide in the don-t-give-me-no-sass tone of voice she must have learned from her mother.

“God’s plan,” said James.

Adelaide stood as close to the deacon as she could without kissing him which her crossed arms and tapping foot made it obvious was the last thing she planned to do.

“So our almighty God of the worlds above decided Florida would be a better place if Martin Alexander busted into a freight company owned by the chief of police, stole a tanker truck, drove south at top speed while being chased by the cops, and ran Mother and Lena off the road in Lane’s truck, drowning the old lady who served the Him with devotion and burning Martin to a crisp even though he went through hell already this year so that the four of us can stand here today and learn a lesson from it? No offense, Deacon, but was that the plan?”

Dorothy shoved between Adelaide and her husband. “Sorrow’s got your tongue. Let it be.”

Adelaide stood her ground.

“She ain’t here. Can’t you tell?”

“Adelaide, what are you saying?” asked Lane.

“I’m not as psychic as my mother, but I’m sharp enough to know she’s gone and that Lena is still here.”

“Find Lena, then,” said James, “while Lane and I pull his Studebaker out of the swamp.”

“I will.”

She turned away from them while Dorothy backed the Buick up close to the bed of the truck and Lane waded into the water with a long chain. Adelaide was coming up close on the dry end of the fallen Ogeechee Tupelo when Lane shouted “Hot damn—sorry, Deacon” and held up two, quart Mason jars on Eulalie’s moonshine.

“My word,” said Dorothy, “it’s still in good enough condition to pack a punch.”

“I’ll testify about the punch,” shouted James.

“I remember the night she got you drunk,” said Dorothy. They burst out laughing like they needed something to relieve the cares of the day.

“Here, take these, James, there are more down here,” said Lane.

“I’ll just put these in the car, sweet wife of mine,” said James, “to help us resist temptation until we get home.”

Adelaide watched them salvage the shine, muttering under her breath so that only the tupelo and I could hear her, “Finding that jick’s probably part of God’s plan.”

Copyright © 2018 by Malcolm R. Campbell

Malcolm