Today we learn about Ozark folk magic from author Brandon Weston. Known for its unique blend of nursery rhymes turned incantations and secretive charm practices by those with “the gift,” this regional magic stands out distinctly from its Appalachian counterpart. Brandon, a practitioner of “the charming tradition,” brings to light the fascinating aspects of Ozark magic, haint lore, tokens, boogers, and the practices that define this tradition.

About the Guest: Brandon Weston

ozark folklorist Brandon Weston wrote this book of magic charms and spells

Brandon Weston is a guardian of Ozark traditions in three dimensions: he’s a folklorist, an author, and a spirit worker. His books, including the recent “Granny Thorneapple’s Book of Charms,” delve into Ozark folk magic. His writings can be explored further on his official website or through his Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Brandon Weston, Folklorist, Healer, and Author

Charms and Spells: The Heart of Ozark Magic

The Art of Secrecy in Spells

In Ozark folk magic, the effectiveness of a spell hinges on its secretive recitation. Practitioners often whisper the incantations or speak them behind their hands to protect their power. Traditionally, a charm can only be shared with three individuals before it loses its potency for the original holder. Charms are only passed from older to younger family members, across genders. This practice seems similar to ancient customs like the concept of the “seventh son of the seventh son.”

Tokens and Omens

Brandon defines “tokens” as omens or signs within the Ozark tradition, where natural occurrences carry messages from the spirit world. For instance, a butterfly signifies a visit from a deceased loved one, and a red bird pecking at your window warns of a looming death of a loved one. Encounters with these signs often necessitate specific counteractions to mitigate their foreboding messages.

The Ozark Spirit World and Its Inhabitants

The Ozark Spirit World

In addition to haints, the Ozark spirit world encompasses fairies, land spirits, and demonic entities. Individuals gifted with ‘second sight’ have the ability to perceive these spirits. He believes, however, that anyone can develop the ability to recognize the tokens they present.

Nature magic is usually highly regional, because it is dependent on the regional flora and fauna. When the early European settlers arrived in the Ozarks, they were excited to see that the red cedar trees grew there as well. Back in the old country, Scotts and Germans used this wood like we might use sage for cleansing. Strangely (or obviously, depending on your worldview), settlers discovered that the Native Osage people were already using red cedar for the exact same spiritual purpose, without any prior crossover communication.

Folk Exorcisms using Ozark magic

Haint lore in the Ozarks encompasses a variety of spirits, from mischievous fairies and land spirits to more malevolent entities. Brandon has refined techniques of “rehoming haints,” which he calls “a kinder exorcism.” Ever practical, he uses a mason jar with graveyard dirt as a haint trap. He tells us that graveyard dirt attracts spirits because it smells like death. He advises collecting this dirt from the edges of cemeteries, avoiding graves, and seeking permission where possible. Apparently, a little bit of graveyard dirt is all you need to catch a ghost.

Boogers in Ozark Folklore

In Ozark folklore, ‘boogers’ are described as elusive, ghostly creatures that challenge conventional understanding. Brandon says boogers are nocturnal, unusual, and have a solid black appearance without features. They also leave no physical traces such as prints or indentations. Brandon uses divination to uncover the desires and intentions of these mysterious beings, but says he’s still trying to figure out their exact nature and how they differ from ghosts, hell hounds, or cryptids.

You’ve heard a few of our guests talk about boogers before. The subject has always seemed shrouded in mystery, for some reason. Boogers also appear in Appalachia paranormal folklore, but they’re never well-defined. Perhaps it’s part of their elusive nature to be mysterious? Do you believe you’ve seen a booger, or truly understand their nature? Please let us know, as we’re still trying to figure them out!

Cryptids of the Ozarks

Speaking of cryptids, the Ozark region is also home to a variety of other creepy critters.

  • Gowrow: A formidable monster reputed to dwell in caves and capable of consuming entire cows. Its presence is steeped in local lore, suggesting a creature of significant strength and mystery. Learn more here.
  • Side Hill Hoofer: This unusual creature resembles an armadillo-sheep hybrid. It has legs of different lengths, allowing it to navigate the hilly terrains of the Ozarks. The key to overcoming a Side Hill Hoofer is to tip it over; its uneven legs prevent it from righting itself.
  • Underwater Panther: From Muskogee origin myths, this aquatic cryptid is depicted as a formidable black panther. Oddly, it is an amphibious panther, lurking in bodies of water, attacking its prey from beneath the surface.

Ozark Folk Magic

If you find these Ozark folk magic practices intriguing or have your own stories to share, join the discussion at Homespun Haints Facebook Group. Or, consider submitting your story to Homespun Haints for a chance to be a guest on the show. And next time you’re out on the lake, pray that you don’t spot a large, dark, lithe, furry body speeding at you just under the surface, or you’re sure to have a spooky day!