Appalachian conjure man Jake Richards takes us deeper into the backwoods, sharing root work practices and spells of traditional folk craft magic.
Who were the old conjurors and witches of Appalachia? What were their practices and beliefs? How can you learn the ways of conjuring for yourself? Appalachian folk magic and conjure are little known today, but forty or fifty years ago just about every person you might ask in Appalachia either knew something about it themselves or knew someone who did it. These practices and “superstitions” are at the core of Appalachian culture.
In Doctoring the Devil, Jake Richards speaks to those questions and more, offering the various ways of rooting out the “devil”—any unfriendly spirit bringing bad luck, poor health, and calamities of all sorts.
Like the blue smoky mists that glide up the Appalachians, Jake leads his readers up the hillsides too, introducing us to folks along the way—hunters, farmers, blacksmiths, faith healers, preachers, and root-diggers. We’ll also meet the local spirits and learn root ways. Further up the hill, we delve into Jake’s notebooks—a personal collection of tried-and-true Appalachian recipes and roots for conjuring love, money, justice, and success.
While Jake Richards doesn’t hold initiations, titles, or degrees, he clearly does hold his Appalachian heritage close to his blood and bones. He has practiced Appalachian folk magic for almost a decade and teaches classes on the subject in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where he owns Little Chicago Conjure, a supplier o fAppalachian folk magic supplies and ingredients.
“What some call superstition you will see in Doctoring the Devil is a way of life for the folks of the Appalachian Mountains. I love the stories Jake tells here and the weaving of the tales. Jake has out done himself! He always seems to place hidden gems within his writings.”
—Starr Casas, author of Old Style Conjure and Divination Conjure Style
“I do believe Jake has outdone himself. There are so many gems in Doctoring the Devil that should be read more than once. I, personally, love the explanations given here as well as the proper distinctions between certain works. The clouds in the sky definitely speak a message, as he so eloquently writes. This is a wonderful read and full of instructional jewels. You will be blessed by the words given here and the wisdom that lines this book’s pages.”“In this keen handbook, Richards (Backwoods Witchcraft), an Appalachian native and practitioner of folk magic, elucidates his techniques of healing, conjuring, and herb (“yarb”) doctoring. Part anthropological survey and part manual, the book pays tribute to Richards’s own family line of healers, dowsers, and witches, as well as to lore of other healers and seers throughout the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. The charms, spells, and healing recipes show the influence of different cultures, with Cherokee herbal practices blending seamlessly with Christian scripture. For instance, Richards recommends a Cherokee conjure bag of tobacco, powdered clay, mustard seed, and ginseng root for luck in hunting, and Christian verses to bless the spirit of the dispatched animal. Richards’s encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and deep commitment to it make this a great starting point for those hoping to practice Appalachian folk magic.”
—Hoodoo Sen Moise, author of Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic