Charms, Cures, and Herbal Remedies From Ancestors of Granny Women
Irish Woman at her Spinning Wheel
Charms, cures, herbal healing practices and beliefs from ancestors of a Granny Woman goes far back in time.
The healers of Appalachia know their knowledge and wisdom has been passed down for generations in their family. Where and when did this wisdom and art of healing begin? It goes far back to ancient times, to peasants throuhout Ireland, and many other parts of the world. In this article we will focus mainly on Ireland. The methods of healing that Granny Women practice are thousands of years old. The use of herbs is the oldest form of healing. Herbs, roots, bark and other plant parts were (and still are) used for healing purposes.
Step Through a Doorway to the Ancient Past
Irish Doctors of Ancient Times
Irish doctors, from ancient pagan times, were well-known to be highly skilled in the treatment of diseases. Since those earliest of days the Irish, peasants as well as the adept, have had great knowledge of the power of herbs.
Their professors of medicine were so skilled they held high, influential positions in the Druid order. Always followed around by a large group of pupils, the master taught how to diagnose and treat disease then prepare the necessary curative potions. These physicians had skills that were mainly based upon their profound knowledge of the healing nature and properties of herbs.
The physicians also practiced magic with great results. They instinctively knew how strong the charms, incantations, and fairy cures effected the nerves and mind of a patient. Their methods were thus of a medico-religious character which along with ceremonial ritual helped the curative process immensely.
Through the centuries these medico-religious and magico-religious methods have come down to the Granny Women healers of Appalachia. In ancient times people lived in villages with kinfolk, or clans. Essential to survival was good health. They had to depend on the land to give them what they needed. Illness, injuries and diseases were treated with methods that stemmed from instincts, observance of nature, and traditional beliefs.
Druid of High Position
Learning From Nature
Since those early times people have learned in the same traditional and instinctive ways. The secrets and wisdom of a Granny Woman was passed down orally to her granddaughter who was taught to be aware of what messages nature sends.
When one saw an animal with an injury rub the wound against moss growing on trees in the forests, instinct told the observer that some healing properties were in the moss. Thus moss became a source for healing - it has antiseptic properties. Moss was used for bandages on wounds. Eventually moss was found to be beneficial in the diet of folks, it was also used for preserving foods.
Granny Women knew that crushed garlic rubbed on a strip of moss and placed on a wound was a protective as well as a healing bandage. It worked in ancient times, it works now in the same way. Garlic is one of nature's super food and healing products. Crushed garlic is very beneficial for fungus issues, it is a natural anti-fungal source.
Willow bark has been used for healing since ancient times. Willow bark is a natural immune boosting source. Its healing properties are also a health benefit as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, fever reducer, and anti-oxidant. Now, it is obvious the ancient ones did not have these names of the beneficial properties, but they did see sick or hurt animals eating the bark and watched the animal for days to see what the results were.
Herbs we use today just for flavoring foods were first found in nature by our ancestors and used for healing. Many healing methods the ancient folks learned are still helpful and in use today.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.— Albert Einstein
Ancient Beliefs and Cures
Clay was used for treatment of diseases. It has been known for ages that Earth is the source of life. Using clay from special places named after Saints was thought to have great healing power. Clay is known to draw poisons out of the skin, such as poisons from insect bites and poisonous plants. Still today, clay is used for deep cleansing and detoxifying the skin. Clay has been used for healing since prehistoric times.
Potatoes have been used since early times to take the redness and pain out of minor burns. A slice of raw potato was immediately placed on a burn. Honey was also a quick first aid for burns, either spread directly on the burn or on a linen bandage and applied. The bandage was changed every few hours.
It was believed that eating carrots, when boiled down soft enough to mash, would purify the blood. Today we know carrots are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, an antioxidant. Studies in the medical field have shown that carrot juice extract kills leukemia cells, which is cancer of the blood.
Mint has always been helpful for upset stomachs. The ancients believed that mint tied to the wrist would ward off stomach disease and infection.
The bed of a sick person should be aligned north to south.
Why do you think a sick person's bed should be aligned north to south?
Ancient Druid Charms and Cures
When Christianity became more prominent the Irish embraced it - however, they still retained their unshakable faith in the Druid charms. They are still used today by descendants of village peasants. These charms are considered to be talismans of magic power when said over an ill person.
Argue if you must, but the Irish who believe in them will not let it shake their faith in the mystic formulas. To laugh at them would surely cause an evil fate to fall upon the doubter.
Charms must be said with fervent faith or the mystic words will not work. The charms have the best effect when said on Wednesdays and Fridays while fasting and before sunrise.
Some Good Charms to Know
- Charm for Falling Sickness: By the wood of the Cross, by the Man that overcame death, be thou healed." The words are to be said in the left ear while the fit is on the patient, and he is to be signed three times with the sign of the Cross, in the name of God and the blessed Lord, when by virtue of the charm he will be cured.
- Charm for a Sprain: As St Agnes went over the moor to the mountain of Moses, she fell with her foot turned. But sinew to sinew, and bone to bone, God makes all right to him who has faith; and be thou healed, in Jesus name. Amen
- Charm for a wound that Bleeds: "A child was baptized in the river Jordan; and the water was dark and muddy, but the child was pure and beautiful." Say these words over the wound, placing the finger on the spot where the blood flows, adding: "In the name of God and of the Lord Christ, let the blood be stanched." And if the patient have faith, so it will be.
- Cure for Weakness: Drink water from a river that forms a boundary of three properties for nine Sunday morning, before sunrise, fasting, and before anyone has crossed the stream. This must be done in silence, without speaking to anyone. After this has been done repeat nine Aves and the Credo.
- Cure for Cramp and Deafness: An eel's skin tied round the knee alleviates pain, and for deafness nothing is esteemed better than constant anointing with the oil of eels, used perfectly fresh.
- Cure for Inflammation: Nine handfuls of mountain moss, dried on a pan to powder. Nine pinches of it, and nine pinches of ashes from the hearth, to be mixed in whey and taken every Tuesday and Thursday.
Myths, Superstitions and Legends
The myths, superstitions and legends of a people are expressions of their faith. Their mythology and superstitions define their origins and natural relationships to all things.
Ancient beliefs have been handed down through generations and are so interwoven in the daily life of the people they remain fixed as part of their character. This is especially true of the people of Ireland.
Since very early times there was, and still is, an intuitive belief in mystic beings. These unseen beings influenced every action of life and the forces of nature. Early races felt that everything had a spirit. It was felt in the winds, the trees that swayed in the breeze and in all primal elements of existence. Fire was a sacred symbol of divine essence, ever reaching upwards. Water was a symbol of purification and always finding new paths and levels. The power of Earth was revered, for it produces all things that live, gives burial to that which dies, and gives life again.
Ancient Irish peasantry were not committed to book learning. Their beliefs and faith were bound to the spiritual realms, the world of the Sidhe (fairies), and the mysteries of nature. The unseen world of mystery was of vital importance which became a vivid reality to primitive races - more than any other culture in Europe, it is the Irish who held on to these beliefs. For the Irish to violate a superstition or discard ancient traditions of their ancestors is almost unheard of. The Irish have an intense faith and a strong instinct for the mystic and supernatural.
If a house is to be built over a fairy trail, or a road is to cross over an ancient meeting place of the fairy clans, the outrage of the people will put a stop to the plans and diversion has to be made so as not to cause harm and curses from the Sidhe. There have been cases where a house was unknowingly built over a path the fairies used every night. In that case the front door must open to a straight through path to the back door, no obstructions, and the doors have to be left open so the wee folk can pass through freely.
© 2016 Phyllis Doyle Burns