What Came First, the Indian Chicken or the Hoodoo Egg? Exploring Native American Influences on Southern Conjure
A long time ago the Cherokees went to war against a giant monster. They killed him, brought his head home in triumph, and placed it upon the top of a cedar pole in front of the townhouse. The blood trickling down along the trunk colored the pole red and so the wood of the cedar is red to this day.
Cherokee medicine is an empiric development of the fetich idea. For a disease caused by the rabbit the antidote must be a plant called “rabbit’s food,” “rabbit’s ear,” or “rabbit’s tail;” for snake dreams the plant used is “snake’s tooth;” for worms a plant resembling a worm in appearance, and for inflamed eyes a flower having the appearance and name of “deer’s eye.” A yellow root must be good when the patient vomits yellow bile, and a black one when dark circles come about his eyes, and in each case the disease and the plant alike are named from the color. A decoction of burs must be a cure for forgetfulness, for there is nothing else that will stick like a bur; and a decoction of the wiry roots of the “devil’s shoestrings” must be an efficacious wash to toughen the ballplayer’s muscles, for they are almost strong enough to stop the plowshare in the furrow. It must be evident that under such a system the failures must far outnumber the cures, yet it is not so long since half our own medical practice was based upon the same idea of correspondences, for the mediæval physicians taught that and have we not all heard that “the hair of the dog will cure the bite?” ~ James Mooney, 1891
Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Alligator Foot (Alligator mississippiensis)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi)
Black Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
Lightening Struck Wood