a table full of show-and-tell
“No fancy bottles or charmed symbols, just grandma’s grandma’s herbs in left-over jars, ways whispered back when. But they googled her, “witch”, and lost.” Granny Kate, on Facebook
a quilt at the Smith-McDowell House, Asheville
“The days of young and old came together in a room we all gather. Tales were told, knowledge was shared. We were all amazed at each other. Gossip was shared and fools did follow. But the wise ones did gather and shared the matter. Times were fun with lots of laughs, makes your mind wonder how it was lost.” Robin, also on Facebook
Saturday was a learning day for me–even though I was teaching. Funny old life. The group that braved the weather sat on comfy couches and listened very seriously to what I had to say. I spoke a bit about the roots of Appalachian healing–and healing was my focus for the whole talk. Then I passed around all the jars and bundles and we talked about what I used each thing for. They were curious, inquisitive, interested. I encouraged people to get up and help themselves to the luscious potluck feast but most stayed put, their eyes shining.
Here’s the thing–we get told, we mountain folk–that all this old stuff is something to forget, that it doesn’t really work or it’s against our religion/of the Devil or that it’s literally old wives tales. To see these women (all but one were) hear me talk about the stuff they mostly knew as if it is precious and important–I think that was important to them. All that old country stuff–it has real value. We all know that our grandmothers were precious to us and so we remember some of the things they did out of love and loyalty. And to be in a room of people who were sharing information and stories gave us all a kind of validity that isn’t often afforded to country women, except maybe by their families.
I took so much away with me–so much–but this stuck with me and you will hear it again–I am honoring my heritage and sharing the knowledge. This is our heritage and some of us choose to honor it. If you think this is some Devil stuff from “lost souls,” you are sadly mistaken and missing out–as my host Granny Kate pointed out in the quote above. And if you are choosing to give in to what you’ve heard and your fear of it, then you are also choosing to not honor part of your heritage, and your Ancestors.
asfidity–you may hate this, actually
Robin said it in the beautifully poetic quote at the top of this post. Old ones, young ones, passing on what is needful and sometimes lovely. Our oral history fades a bit with each death, each new Ancestor.
I choose heritage, not hate. How about you?